in response to my recent healthy recipes, a blogger friend asked me if i follow a specific diet or resource for eating. while i don't follow a hard-and-fast diet, in my quest to learn more about preparing nourishing foods, i have stumbled upon a few resources that i use as guides and inspiration.
let me first say that i do not have any medical or nutritional training so any advice, suggestions, or tips are purely my opinion and not a medical recommendation. i'm sharing what i have learned so far and some of the tips that have worked for me. if you have a specific health concern, you should consult your doctor before making any radical changes to your diet. that being said, i think we can all agree that reducing the amount of processed foods we eat and increasing our intake of wholesome straight-from-the-earth foods might be a good idea.
i first learned about the proliferation of processed foods in michael pollan's in defense of food. i read it at a time in my life when i was pretty ignorant about what i was putting in my body and pretty opposed to making any changes. i figured that by limiting my intake of the obvious "bad" foods like mcdonald's (i had seen fast food nation, after all), that i was doing all right.
it was an extremely eye-opening read and by the end of the book, i was scanning every food label in our house and growing more and more anxious about the additives and chemicals we were ingesting. we made some ground rules like only buying foods with limited ingredient lists and ingredients we could pronounce, but we grew lax over time. i especially lost some of the passion around healthy eating because i never cooked and rarely made decisions about our meals. my husband is an amazing cook and sharing an interest in living and eating healthy, he prepared most of our dinners. but that also means he learned how to choose the leanest cut of organic, grass-fed meat, how to pair certain spices and herbs to compliment one another, how to cook chicken so it's your favorite meal, not your least favorite. and i only saw the end product.
i think because of my distance from the food i was eating, i thought less about it and didn't appreciate what it was doing for my body. i fell back into the trap of munching on store-bought chips, cookies, crackers, cereal at work and on the weekends. i can't deny it - i'm a carb-lover. but eating that way made me feel bloated, sluggish, and guilty. i'd often come home feeling so gross, i couldn't enjoy the delicious meal the mr. had made.
i realized i needed to take a more active role in my nutrition and that meant getting back in the kitchen. it was this blog first turned me on to a simpler way of eating and provided me with inspiration for cooking homemade meals with local foods. the author, coco, writes with a delightfully honest voice and captures the most stunning images of her culinary creations; it's hard not to be inspired. she her husband actually follow the specific carb diet, which was a decision they made to combat her husband's chron's disease. while i don't suffer from a diagnosed issue, i have noticed issues with digestion and a general unwell feeling after consuming processed foods.
i am also drawn to paleo eating because of the focus on lean meats and vegetables and because it's so popular right now, there are tons of recipe ideas around the web.
there is a lot more i want to learn, but here are a few tips i have collected so far:
1. when a recipe calls for...
- flour, i use almond meal or almond flour.
- butter, i use half butter, half coconut oil (i'm not a big coconut fan, honestly).
- maple syrup or honey, i use half syrup/honey and half agave nectar.
- sugar, i use agave nectar.
- peanut butter, i use almond butter (until i get sick of it and switch back). you can also use sunflower seed butter, but i don't really like the taste.
- pasta, i use spaghetti squash.
2. there is almost ALWAYS a healthy/grain-free/paleo option to a food or recipe, like these low-carb pancakes. when all else fails, just google it: e.g. "grain-free doughnuts" or "paleo snacks."
3. if you make big substitutions like making these crackers or cookies, just know going into it that the food will taste a bit different and the texture will be different. not all paleo/grain free recipes are created equal, so don't lose hope if one is a disaster (because more than a few of mine were). also, feel free to make substitutions to accommodate your tastes/what's in your pantry.
4. scout the web for recipe ideas:
and lastly, some food for thought: if you can believe it, this is a campaign poster sponsored by the FDA during WWI. oh, how the times have changed.