I think people get overwhelmed with the messages, well-intended as they are, about eating healthier and avoiding highly processed food. They can’t imagine that they have the time or money, not to mention the cooking skills, to buy organic, responsibly sourced, whole foods and cook them from scratch every night, and, frankly, they probably don’t (especially the time part!). As a society, I think we tend to take an all-or-nothing approach to most things, and if we can’t do something well and all the time, we throw in the towel. It’s too bad because making small changes and learning basic skills can make a big difference in sourcing and preparing food, and they most often lead to more significant changes.
If you can’t devote the time to read about the latest “superfoods” and don’t want to watch the documentaries that explain the atrocities of our industrial food system, I don’t blame you. Life is overwhelming enough. Just remember, you don’t have to completely bury your head in the sand and take an all-or-nothing approach. I certainly don’t.
As much as I love to cook, there are often nights when I don’t want to, and I resort to ordering a pizza or talking everyone into going out. Some nights, I might heat up frozen pot pies from four little boxes and serve them to my family, leading my husband to threaten to take pictures and expose the healthy recipe blogging mom for what she really is. He thinks he’s hilarious. Most nights, though, I do cook because I believe it makes a difference to our family’s health, and I know it makes a difference in our bank account.
I’m not vegan or vegetarian, although I often serve meatless meals, sometimes several in a row. I don’t keep track or declare a particular day “meatless.”
I don’t eat gluten-free, although I do try (often unsuccessfully) to control my wheat consumption and have found I feel better when I do.
I don’t buy exclusively organic or local although I do make both a priority when grocery shopping for meat, dairy and produce.
Despite residing in and being born and raised in the same state that inspired Portlandia, I don’t insist on knowing the farm the meat in my entree came from, although I do think it’s kind of cool when our local restaurants share that information. Or I think it’s extremely obnoxious; it depends on my mood.
I almost always read the ingredients list and nutritional info on any food I purchase. Therefore, I buy very few highly processed foods. Except for granola bars, I buy a lot of those for my kids. For better or worse, they are too handy!
I obsess about my weight like most other women in our culture have basically been brainwashed to do, and I fight it every day because I know I shouldn’t. I also work very hard not to share that particular insecurity with my daughters, and it makes me sad I won’t be able to shelter them from it entirely because we don’t exactly live off the grid. Like most of my mom-friends, I constantly strive to balance nutrition, treats, and activity. It doesn’t get easier as they get older.
I think Greek yogurt is awesome. I use it in my smoothies, serve it plain with fruit, bake with it and use it as a substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise.
I hate mayonnaise. It might be the only food I truly can’t stand. I can’t even eat it to be polite.
I believe strongly in not drinking your calories. Still, I do have a particular weakness for an iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks when it gets warm outside, and it really bums me out when there’s no actual caramel sitting at the bottom of the cup. Otherwise, I like my coffee black as long as it’s good coffee; if it’s not, I’ll add some half and half, never sugar. (I know, thank goodness I told you this critical information!) Oh, and I know tea is better for me, and I like it fine, but coffee is my first love, and I keep going back to it. I am from the Pacific Northwest, after all.
I try to make my recipes healthier by adding or substituting with ingredients like good fats, fiber, whole grains, minimally processed sugar, extra vegetables, and lean proteins. I don’t, however, believe in eating things just because they’re healthy. They have to bring pleasure as well.
I have been on several diets and read countless books and articles on nutrition and have come to the conclusion that for every proclamation of the perfect diet there is a contradiction that says it’s the worst thing you could possibly do. The things that make sense to me are eating low glycemic foods or food combinations to keep blood sugar in check and, unless you have severe food allergies, eating a wide array of food that you mostly cook at home. And relax and be happy and get lots of exercise doing things you actually like to do. I realize it’s not that simple for some people because they have eating disorders or other serious health issues, but I know it is for me and I think it is for most of us.
Be happy and healthy, and be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others!