I am in love with food. I love reading about it, looking at it, growing it, cooking it, talking about it, and, of course, eating it. My idea of a good book is anything by Alice Waters or the latest issue of "Cooks Illustrated". My fervent wish is that there will be an endless Farmer's Market in heaven, just waiting for me to come taste the raspberries, squeeze the melons and admire the rainbow chard.
If there is any truth to the old adage "you are what you eat" then I only want to eat delicious, beautiful, healthy real food.
For me, Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday. Everywhere I look there is food porn. I can engage total strangers in the supermarket about their favorite stuffing recipes or the best way to make turkey soup on Black Friday. And then there is the gratitude. I wrote about it here last year. As a Life Coach this is like the greatest bonus ever. I spend all year talking to my clients about gratitude and then along comes this Thursday in November where everyone can talk about what they are grateful for all day long.
One thing for which I am personally grateful is my kitchen. It's the heart of my house and I spend more awake time here than anywhere else. Lots of miracles happen here. I think it’s a miracle that I can chop up an onion, some broccoli and a butternut squash, drizzle them with oil and salt, roast them in the oven for 45 minutes and then be delighted and satiated. Heck - I even think it's a miracle when I bite into a ripe pear or eat a perfectly cooked egg - but I digress.
It feels like a miracle to cook with real, whole food because I grew up in the 70's, eating what I now know to be SAD (the Standard American Diet). At some point most of our food passed through a factory on it's way to our table. The Jolly Green Giant and Birdseye were the king and queen of vegetables. The closest we got to farm food was white bread from Pepperidge Farms. A bologna sandwich with a slice of American cheese was lunch and dinner was some version of meat, dairy and carbs; bread it and fry it or shake it and bake it, add some sauce from a jar and call it good.
No one I was related to had a clue what asparagus looked like in it’s natural habitat and I definitely couldn't tell a turnip from a rutabaga (actually I still struggle with that one sometimes...).
Moving to the west coast at the height of "California cuisine" opened my eyes to foods I had never considered. I developed a new palate and tried things like fresh herbs, avocados and beets. And coming to Seattle a few years later raised the bar even higher. I clearly remember one of my first dinners here where the host served halibut with potatoes that she grew in her own backyard!! The whole thing boggled my mind.
Now, years later, there are so many more choices to the SAD regime that ruled when I was a kid. Eating healthy has never been easier and yet many of us are still dragging our heels or telling ourselves that we will do better tomorrow, even as we pop a frozen pizza in the oven or a Lean Cuisine into the microwave. Stop and read what's actually in those "foods" sometime. Yikes!
The crazy number of people who are overweight and diabetic in this country confirms that not everyone shares my obsession with real food.
We Americans are a sugar loving, fast food eating, carbohydrate craving people and we are fighting a constant onslaught of old habits and big businesses that want to keep us that way.
I used to be that way too. I turned it around after I repeatedly noticed that there were ingredients on my food labels that I couldn’t pronounce. I went to great lengths to feed my babies real, whole foods, so why wouldn't I give myself the same consideration? I started hanging out in my kitchen more and more. I realized that when I prepared my own food I felt better and I saved money. And most importantly I knew what my family and I were actually eating.
You may be thinking "that's nice for you missy but I can barely even boil water". You may have some belief that you have to do it perfectly or think that you don't have enough time. Maybe you have some picky eaters in your house and it all seems overwhelming.
I'm telling you that if I can do it, so can you.
Start small. Take some time on a Sunday to do a little planning. The internet is crawling with websites like Food 52 or The Kitchn that have delicious recipes that call for only 5 ingredients or less. Or check out this awesome book called How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman. He explains recipes in a way that is super clear and simple. He's got a million good suggestions. And his mission is to get people back into their kitchens.
Not only will this be healthier and more economical, it can be your own little protest against Big Food companies whose advertising has been getting jingles stuck in your head for years (I'm talking to you Kraft Foods).
Food is life. And this is your life.
I think we all deserve to have the most beautiful and healthy lives we can, don't you?