17 June, 2012
The ongoing obsession with dieting, in the US and beyond, annoys me. There are various reasons for my annoyance, but let’s focus on just one of them for today: growing a stronger awareness of how we prepare our food, throughout our lives, makes much more sense. The key here is that we should be preparing our food more often, which is the primary goal of this blog. Processed products are far more expensive, and offer often dangerous levels of control to unknown, corporate, profit-minded entities who really don’t care how our food tastes or nourishes us, as long as it sells. Yes, this is cynical. It’s also well-documented, and easier to remedy than you might think. Here’s the bottom line:
- Buy real ingredients
- Get locally-grown produce, meat and dairy whenever you can.
- Cook more. (It gets easier with practice!!)
- As you cook, make conscious decisions.
- Keep it simple.
When I’m paying attention to my food, I tend to eat a lot of rice, stir fry, homemade chilis and curries, fish (I’m a sucker for good salmon, when I can afford it), bits of good cheese, whole-grain breads, and piles of gorgeous salad. Dessert tends to be homebaked cookies, muffins and bars, dried or fresh fruit, and ice cream. (I’m also a sucker for ice cream.) Instead of soda, I usually prefer homemade iced tea. I drink a little wine now and then, I love sparkling water on a hot day, and I have a Brita pitcher that makes my water taste better, and helps keep me on track. When I eat like this, my energy and stamina are high, I feel great, my weight stabilizes, and I sleep well. I can also maintain this culinary lifestyle for about $35 a week.
When I’m not paying attention, e.g. when I’m stressing over a deadline, too busy or generally depressed, I crave fast food, diet soda, sugar and everything that we know is bad for us. I’m no saint, clearly. I’ve just learned, by paying attention, that my whole life works when I eat well, and it falls apart when I don’t. I’m deeply affected by my food, and have learned what works for me. So, all I’m asking is that you start finding your “bliss de cuisine” as well. Start observing your habits and see what you learn. Note how you feel, how much you get done, and how much you’re spending. The results may surprise you.
Making conscious choices
Today’s breakfast is a good case in point for a brunch that feels decadent, but is actually guilt-free, and will sustain me, mind and body, through what will be a very busy day. here are the easy choices I made, even when I shopped, that make everything more satisfying, healthier, and leave me less likely to overeat:
- Two eggs, scrambled: Use a nonstick pan, so you don’t need a lot of oil. I use 1/2 tsp of canola oil (because I’m out of olive), which is actually 1/12 a “regular” fat serving (most nutrition labels list a serving as 2T) — only 20 additional calories, added for texture.
- Add mushrooms: brown (aka cremini or “baby bella”) mushrooms have more flavor than the ubiquitous white “button” mushrooms that add little to a dish like this. Sliced thinly with a paring knife, they don’t take long to cook, and stand up to the eggs well.
- Add cheese: Four small slices of sharp cheddar has a stronger flavor, but still melts well: I’ll get a little gooeyness without adding more than about 100 calories. I also get an extra 2 grams of protein, to boot.
- Whole wheat bread: One slice of toast is plenty. Eaten as toast, I forego the butter for really good jam. Or, forego the jam, too, and layer the eggs over the toast to give the dish a little heft.
- Fresh fruit: Cherries and grapes are in season and completely luscious. It doesn’t get better.
- Tea: I’ve learned that I crave less sugar and cream in tea than I do with coffee. Depending on the tea, some might need nothing added at all. Today it’s gorgeous Earl Grey with a touch of bergamot, from a friend in the UK. A little milk and about one teaspoon of sugar, and it a rich, creamy drink that can stand up to any expensive latte.
Get the idea? You don’t need to make a major scientific study of your eating habits. Just release the habit of forever “grabbing something”, and be present when you’re preparing a meal. This one took me about ten minutes to make, and the decisions started when I shopped. Better ingredients lead to a better life. Now that’s a way to live.