Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Whole Foods Journey {#FRD2014}

One of the month's challenges for the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassadors (I'm the Monterey #FRD2014 rep!) is to answer the following:


Why do you eat real food? 
We want to know what inspires you to eat real!

First, I want to say that I see eating whole foods as a journey; you'll encounter road-blocks and take detours. Just keep your eye on the destination. This journey is a conscious decision to eat fewer things from a package and more things from the ground. You don't have to throw out all of your packaged foods, though you can if you like, but I see that as a waste of money that you have already spent. Just make your way through it without replenishing the supply.

Second, learn to forgive yourself. We don't always have time to do everything from scratch. Don't beat yourself up. Just make small changes.

Okay, on to the question asked...and my answer.

I eat real food because, well, it's real. Why would I want to put something in my body that was created in a laboratory, or something that I can't even pronounce? I don't. And I see real connections between food and how my body reacts.

Funny story - and perhaps TMI - but my son had gotten a gift certificate to a chain restaurant that shall remain nameless. He did something good at school, but I put off taking him there. Finally, a friend of mine insisted that I let D use the certificate...and said he'd be a good sport and bring his two boys, too. So, off we went. We ate some awful food and washed it down with awful drinks. And on our way to the bowling alley (the boys' chosen activity post-dinner), both D's and my systems revolted. We dropped R and Jake off at the bowling alley with our friends and ran home to get sick. Yuck. Our digestive tracts were unhappy. Jake joked that his system "remembers eating crappy food, so [he was] fine." I can't explain R's imperviousness.

That's the answer to the question asked. Now, I want to delve into a few challenges and what I do to combat those.

(1) Not planning ahead and then grabbing whatever is available;
(2) Finding the time and energy to cook from scratch; and 
(3) Wanting quick and easy options.

Can you tell that most of the pressure, for me, is time? I know everyone has varying commitments, work schedules, numbers-ages of kids, access to farmers' markets, and more. I also know that what works for me and my family may not necessarily work for everyone else. And I am cognizant of the fact that not everyone will agree with my suggestions. However, this is how we eat real at home a majority of the time - how I stay on this side of sanity! If you read this in its entirety and glean even just one suggestion that might help you eat a little more ‘real’ on a regular basis, I’ll be a happy girl!

Not planning ahead and then grabbing whatever is available
I am not as disciplined as some who create a weekly meal plan. But I do plan ahead. For breakfast, if I have oatmeal, homemade granola (here's a Cacao Nib-Coconut Granola), eggs, chia seeds (for chia seed pudding - here's my 50-50 Chia Pudding), we're set for the week. Lunches are usually leftovers or have bread and tortillas for quick veggie wraps. And talking about dinner, I keep my staples - grains (rice, couscous, and quinoa) stocked; I make sure that I have three or four proteins (fresh seafood, pok tenderloin, ground beef, and chicken) in the fridge for the week; and I pick up our weekly CSA box so that we have plenty of vegetables. If I have all of those - grain + protein + veggie - I can pull together a fresh, home-cooked dinner easily. If any of those elements are missing, it's tempting to just grab something to go; those are usually unhealthy and expensive.

Finding the time and energy to cook from scratch
Cooking foods from scratch has simply become routine for me. But, breakfast consists of grabbing one of the  items I listed above; it's nothing fancy. Lunch, as I mentioned, is whatever is leftover from dinner. So dinner is really only the labor-intensive meal to cook from scratch. As long as I have food in the fridge, I can manage. I banish the kids to do their homework, I crank up some tunes, and get cooking. A good playlist definitely helps!

Wanting quick and easy options
My weekday dinners tend to be simple. No need to resort to packaged stuff just because you squeezed in a run between piano lesson and mandolin lesson and bedtime is in less than two hours! Breakfast for dinner is always a quick solution for us: omeletes, scrambled eggs and toast, or even waffles! If you have bread and cheese: grilled cheese. And my boys will never turn down a BLT. I know these might not be super-thrilling, but because dinners like these are more of a special occasion, I don’t feel badly serving them for dinner every once in a while. It keeps us from picking up take-out or ordering pizza for delivery!

So, I'll readily admit that eating real food does take some extra time and forethought. But remember this: if you don’t buy processed foods, you can’t eat processed foods at home! I truly believe that anyone can eat real if they really want to. You just have to figure out how to make it work for your family.

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