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Visit the Cook for Good blog for wildly good cooking tips, money-saving ideas, book reviews, and more from Linda Watson and guest bloggers.


Freda Butner helps bring farmers' markets to US military bases

Cook for Good Hero Freda Butner went above and beyond the call of duty this year, reviving a nearly dead project to start an on-base farmers' market at Camp Lejeune. Because she went all the way to the White House, her success will clear the way for farmers' markets on bases all across the US. I already knew her as a lively advocate for promoting healthy, local food, but when she told me this story, I knew I had to share it with you. The picture below shows Freda as we shared a delicious Kimbap lunch at the Raleigh Downtown Farmers' Market.

Freda Butner NCDA Nutrition Marketing Specialist having lunch at Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market 

Working for a farmers' market at Camp Lejeune

Freda is a Nutrition Marketing Specialist for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the only Registered Dietitian with a similar role in the country. She'd worked on the Camp Lejeune farmers' market project for three years. Several local Marine families and staff liaisons worked with her to overcome a virtual obstacle course of objections, including

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What to eat if you've got shingles

I've come down with shingles and computer problems for the past two weeks. Sorry I haven't been able to keep up with the Cook for Good Heroes! I'll highlight more as soon as my head clears.

In the meantime, here's what I've found on minimizing shingles symptoms through diet. I'll add more when I can see better again. You can get shingles if you've ever had chickenpox or been inoculated against it. Almost everyone has had chickenpox, with children getting cases so mild they aren't recognized as such.

As expected, the super-healthy Cook for Good diet already follows most of the advice I've found: eat plenty of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

The dangerous smoothie: high in arginine and low in lysine

Since I had blisters inside my mouth and strong tooth pain, I started living on smoothies and hummus on sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, these superfoods have a ratio of amino acids that encourages viruses to grow!

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Andrea Weigl: planner, connector, and pickler

When journalist and author Andrea Weigl comes home, she often finds the makings for dinner already set out on her counter. If biscuits are on the menu, for example, she might find a bowl, a mixing spoon, a baking sheet, flour, and other ingredients that are safe at room temperature. She says:

All I have to do when I walk in the door is set down the baby and start cooking. The sight gets me going.

Who welcomes Andrea home? Her early-morning self! Before she goes to work, she sets out pots, pans, and key ingredients for dinner. This wise habit is one of the ways today's Cook for Good Hero balances her roles of journalist, author, wife, mother, and friend. 

Even on busy mornings, Andrea knows what to set out because of another smart habit: spending thirty minutes making meal plans on Sundays. Planning is key for busy people who want to cook more healthy food, she says. Review what you have on hand and what you want to make. Brilliantly, she also notes ...

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Vicki Deem: helping others save money, get healthy, and feel good

Vicki is one of the earliest Cook for Good supporters. In the picture below, we're happy to finally meet in person. She came to Quail Ridge Books early to get the front and center chair at my first reading three years ago. We're wearing #WAO buttons I made to encourage tweeting.

Linda Watson and Vicki Deem at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh

Vicki is a Cook for Good Hero because she makes a difference at home and at work. She's smart, funny, strong, and generous. When the Internet gangs up on me for ...

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With Cooked, Michael Pollan enters the center aisles

MIchael Pollan talks about Cooked at NC State in Raleigh NC

Back at my first IACP conference, I made a crowd of writers gasp and then applaud by declaring that the main idea behind the Cook for Good project was that "Michael Pollan was wrong."  The claim was so controversial and juicy that two magazine editors asked for my card.

Back then, I agreed with 95% of what our country's most prominent food analyst wrote. But I started Cook for Good in part as a response to one of his most popular commandments:

Shop the peripheries of supermarkets, where the real food is, rather than the center aisles.

In my classes, people often say "avoid the center" is their primary rule for shopping. They cling to the store's edges, loading their carts with baloney, beer, sour cream, chips, and "fresh baked" cookies.  They might grab some bananas, a bag of salad mix, and a bottle of refrigerated salad dressing from the produce section in the corner. But they never see the true bargains ...

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