I Want To Be A Vegetarian

Yes for many years I wanted to be a vegetarian. 

I can’t really explain the sentiment behind why I thought this was a good choice for me.  I wanted to live a healthy life.  I wanted my food choices to reflect that health.  I wanted to be different.  And for me being a vegetarian meant I had achieved something, some higher form of will power to be able to abstain from meat in a culture where the average citizen consumes so much of it.

I wanted to be a vegetarian.

So I became one for a while.  Really stuck to my guns.  Stayed away from all things meat.  For a while I felt better.  Lighter. More energetic.  But more importantly I felt PROUD.

Two months passed and I started to get these headaches.  I generally don’t get headaches unless something is really wrong with me.  But every evening headaches came my way.

I tried eating more plant based protein sources and that didn’t work.  I added more eggs and cheese to my diet and that just didn’t work either.

Ultimately I re-introduced meat into my diet.  And I felt better.  The headaches stopped.  I could focus again.  I could live my normal life again without the constant migraine type pain.

Initially I thought that, I “failed” at my run at vegetarianism because I just didn’t know how to cook/and prepare enough vegetarian meals that had enough protein and other vitamins and minerals my body needed.  I thought that maybe I needed to explore other grains, other seeds, nuts and beans to be able to give my body what it needed.

This little vegetarian experiment was completed over two years ago now and I have NOT attempted it again. 

I have thought about it, but just as I looked for evidence to support my becoming a vegetarian, I have (over the last couple of years) been bombarded with evidence for why I (personally) should remain a meat eater.

More recently, I have come to realize that just as our body composition is unique to our own individual person-hood, so too are our dietary needs.

For instance, I am naturally a lean and muscular person.  In addition I exercise constantly, whether it be my personal workouts that I engage in, fitness classes that I teach, or just running around after my kids and cleaning up the house,  my body is constantly moving and exercising.

Consequently, given my body and my lifestyle, I feel sluggish and get headaches when I don’t consume enough animal protein.

Keep in mind that my “experimental” findings with vegetarianism will be different for every body.  We are all made up differently.

Even considering these things about my body, my mind keeps drawing me back to the idea that eating meat may not be the most ethical way of living my life.

This is the part (the ethical component of vegetarianism) that made me feel PROUD when I managed to abstain from meat eating.

Is it right for me to kill another living creature for my own selfish taste buds?  Is it right to destroy the environment (and the conventional meat industry DOES destroy the environment, there is no getting past that)?

For me, the answer is yes AND no.

To the first question: “Is it right for me to kill another living creature for my own selfish tastes?”, I say yes.

Hear me out.  I’m not saying that I am any better than any other animal.  I’m not saying that my needs are greater.  But I do believe that there is a certain order to the world.  Scientists call it the food chain.  In nature bigger animals (or one’s that have better tools or weapons) consume smaller animals.

I had been thinking this for a while, until last year or so I saw the movie Avatar. These aliens were so in tuned and in touch with the nature around them, and embodied the idea that all is energy.

This idea really got me thinking.  It is not that I think killing is “good”.  Killing of anything for that matter.  But in the case of food, we eat and our bodies use wisely the ENERGY that we take from both plants (which are also living beings) and animals when we eat them.

This “energy consumption” should be done with reverence and in gratitude.  It is part of life to experience death.  And our food choices (whether we dine on exclusively plant-based foods or consume meat) reflect this simplest truth of life.  Some things do “die” to provide energy for other things to live.

As for the second question: “Is it right to destroy the environment to sustain my meat eating habits?, I say NO.

One of my main reasons for even attempting a vegetarian diet had nothing to do with my health, but the health of the environment.  Modern meat industry practices do much to destroy the earth’s soil, water supply and air quality.

But there is another way to decrease the impact my meat eating has on the environment.

See, if you think about your purpose for eating, some of your eating choices become more clear.  In reading my Foodie Book Of The Month – Weekly, “The Yoga of Eating”, I have been reminded of this truth. 

Eating is a means for us to maintain health and vigor so that we can live the lives we were meant to live.

Our diet is not just about achieving good health for no particular reason.

We all have energy (talent, skills, love, compassion), to share and food is one of the means that help us to share this energy.

If this is true for me, then this is also true for everyone AND everything.  That means if I have energy to share so does, the cow, pigs, chickens, lambs, apple trees, strawberry bushes, tomato plants and bean bushes that I eat on a regular basis.

Yes we ALL have purpose and that should be respected.

Again I am no better or any more special than any other creature of this planet.  We all play a role, a small piece, in making this place called earth a good place.

So when I eat meat I have chosen to eat meat that is in alignment with these ideas.

I chose, not to abstain from meat, but to eat meat from animals that have been able to live their lives fully as the animals they were created to be.  This means buying beef from farmers who allow their cows to act like cows, grazing on pastured fields.  This means buying chickens from farmers who allow their chickens to act like chickens, cage free and eating all the bugs they can enjoy.

In doing this I maintain two basic principles that I want to live by. 

  1. My food buying choices enable that cow, or pig, or chicken to live the way it should, just as I wish to live the way I should until my time to die comes.
  2. My food buying choices supports an infrastructure where animals are used for MORE than just their meat, but also to give back to the land, by pasturing the fields, and provided fertilizer (by means of their waste) to the farms they live on.  My meat doesn’t need to be shipped hundreds of miles, polluting the environment because my farmer lives within 15 miles of my home.

 In the end, I wanted to be a vegetarian, but it just doesn’t work for me.  What are your thoughts?



Feeling the Need For Slow Food

School is back in session.  And for our family that means, each kid at a different school, rushing off to teach fitness classes after dropping them off, and trips to soccer practice and dance lessons.

I admit it’s a busy season.  I enjoy it but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for cooking slow food.

I love those traditional slow food meals.  Pot roast, roasted chicken, anything roasted for that matter.  I like to get up on a Saturday morning and take my time making whole wheat pancakes from scratch.  I love to put the kids down for the night and go into my kitchen to make a batch of whole wheat banana nut muffins for breakfast the next day.

These foods are nourishing.  They are traditional foods that feed our bodies, souls and taste buds.  These slow food meals are also foods that I’d rather make at home, instead of buying the “imitation” stuff from the grocery store.

But how do you fit in the slow food when your life is moving so FAST?

Well I’ve made some adjustments in my life recently and I’d like to share them with you.

The first thing I thought of doing to make cooking slow food easier was to batch cook and freeze it.  I use to do this quite a lot, but since moving into a rental I just don’t have as much freezer space as I did in my old house.

This is a great option for anyone who has the room.  Just schedule a “batch cooking day” and plan out, shop for, and cook the slow foods that you would like to have on hand. 

Some good frozen food ideas are: 

  1. Lasagna
  2. Any other pasta and sauce dish you can think of
  3. Frozen waffles or pancakes
  4. Basically any type of casserole
  5. Any type of soup
  6. Homemade pizza

I won’t be doing many frozen meal, but the second idea that came to mind when I thought about trying to continue to incorporate my slow food meals into our diet is to make good use of technology. 

One of the most obvious choices is to use the crock pot or slow cooker.  This really does come in handy, however because mine is a little on the small side (and it is about 35 years old now), I tend to use it only for things like soup.

The other piece of technology that I use to cook slow food with a fast pace schedule is my oven. 

I love my oven really.  It’s a typical gas oven, but it allows me to delay the start of the cooking process.  That means if I have to leave the house at 4pm to take my daughter to dance class and want to have dinner ready and hot when I get home at 6pm, all I do is prepare the food in the dish, set the oven to start at 5:30, set it took cook for 30 minutes and then set the temperature that the food needs to cook on.

Love it!

I come back home with a nice roasted corn beef and potatoes and everyone is fed as soon as they walk in the door.

Another option is to do a bunch of cooking on the weekend, and place it in the fridge for the week.  It won’t technically be a frozen meal, but it will be basically the same concept.

And finally, if you are home during the day, while the kids are in school or your younger children are taking a nap, take advantage of that time in the middle of the day to cook your slow food meal for the evening.

For instance, my son is in school full time now and my daughter takes an hour and a half nap in the middle of the day. 

This is the time that I sometimes take to actually cook dinner.  That way if we have activities to get done that evening I know that we won’t be scurrying around trying to find something good to eat.

How do you go about incorporating slow food into your busy schedule?



Foodie Book of The Month Weekly – Trust Your Body’s Appetite

So I’ve have been reading our Foodie Book of the Month Weekly selection “The Yoga of Eating” for a week now.  And the author speaks volumes about learning how to listen to and consequently trust our own bodies as it tells us what it needs.

Actually that is really the entire premise of the book, but he goes into great detail of how to do this.

As I was practicing what the author calls “attentive eating”, which is the practice of focusing on each bite and chew of every meal you consume (and not practicing so well mind you considering I eat my meals with a family that consists of another adult and two small kids) something dawned on me.

I spend so much of my time preparing food.  Planning what to eat, shopping for it, unloading it into its proper storage place, and then actually cooking and serving it.

Of course after I have put in so much work and preparation I expect that the food be eaten.  Not just from a “we don’t waste food” perspective, but also from a “kids be grateful that you have food to eat” perspective.

I don’t require that my children clean their plates, but I do require them to taste everything and eat until they are satisfied.

But what if they are just not hungry for the items that I have prepared?

Yesterday, I wrote about food cravings and how they just might be our body’s way of telling us that it needs some particular nutrient(s).

Thinking about this idea with regards to my own family I have to also assume that my children also have “cravings” or appetites the lead them to eat certain things at certain times.

I’ve seen them at times in their life when they ate everything in sight.  And a few weeks after that they were eating little to nothing, just drinking water, juice and milk. 

They seemed to have made it through those times healthy and vibrant.

So why can’t I trust them to know their own bodies needs the same way that I am trying to learn to trust my own?

And here in lies the problem.

I believe that I am “out of touch” with my own body’s signals regarding appetite.  So likewise I also assume that my children are also “out of touch” with theirs.  After all they are younger and “less wise” than I right?

 Wrong!

I’m thinking that this works just the opposite.  I think that children (and some adults that have not been formally educated in nutrition) do rely MORE on own their bodies to guide them in their food choices than those of us who have been “educated”.

I’m by no means saying that learning about nutrition is a bad thing.

I AM saying that my children are probably much more intuitive eaters than I or their father.  They just don’t know any other way.  That is until I force them to eat their peas.

So yesterday was a lovely day with regards to food.

Both kids were so excited about helping me fix dinner.  Even my almost five year old boy who NEVER likes to help in the kitchen jumped up when I started dinner. 

We had corn (yes I’m still having my corn cravings), that my son just loves to shuck, a simple salad that both my children love to tear the lettuce.  All I did was fry the fish.  When it was finally time to eat, they were so helpful in setting the table.

And then for the “will power” on my part.  I put their plates in front of them, and let them do what they do naturally, eat what they want. 

My daughter ate a little bit of everything on her plate, although she didn’t clean it.  My son ate all of his fish, (which is his favorite) and some of his corn.  Salad was still left standing uneaten.  But I didn’t fuss about it last night.  I asked him if he was full and he said yes, so I sent him off to play.  Later he came back to eat his salad.  (yes I leave the food out on the table just in case such an urge to finish eating arises).

But the result of this little experiment was interesting.  My kids got to eat what they helped to prepare and also eat ONLY what they wanted.  They listen to their body about what was tasteful and distasteful to them that day.  They ate without mommy nagging them to “eat some greens”. 

As for me?  I ate all my food (as usual), in a nice calm and peaceful setting.  Not stressed about whether or not my kids where getting the proper nutrition because I knew I had placed in front of them “good wholesome” food.

In doing this, I also got to practice my attentive eating because I wasn’t nagging anyone and was actually paying attention to and enjoying my own meal.  Go figure.

So in conclusion, as I learn to trust my own body I am also learning to trust that my children also have an innate understanding of their bodies. 

This is good news for all of us as it makes for a much more peaceful and accepting food environment for our family.

Do you trust your body’s messages about food?  If so, what techniques do you use to better understand your unique food appetites?



Food Cravings – Your Body’s Talking To You

I’ve been thinking a lot about food and more importantly HOW to eat a healthy and balanced diet.  One thing that I’ve really been interested in lately is food cravings and the role they play in our healthy (or not so healthy) eating habits.

We all have food cravings every now and then right?  Sometimes it’s just a general craving for something sweet or salty.  Sometimes it may be very specific, say for a huge slice of lasagna from a particular restaurant. 

No matter what the desired food is, for me at least, I’m not quite satisfied until I get just want I has craving.  So if I’m craving ice cream and I settle on a bowl of cereal with milk because it’s “healthier”, I still really want that ice cream.

Most nutritionist will tell us that when we have food cravings, particularly for sweets or fattening items that we should select a healthier alternative, or just use our will power to abstain from the “treat” completely.

But is this really sound advice?

What if our bodies have evolved over the centuries to crave the things that will supply the nutrients that our body needs at that given time?  And if we don’t listen to what our body is telling us, what are the repercussions?

So being pregnant for the third time I know a bit about food cravings.  I have them all the time.  And generally speaking when I’m pregnant I listen to my body and eat what I think its telling me to eat.

Sure my midwife might say, “Keya, you really should stay away from fatty red meats”.  But honestly if I am craving a steak or a burger I generally go and have one.  After all there are lots of minerals and nutrients that a nice piece of beef can supply my and my baby’s growing body.  Iron for one, which is essential to the development of red blood cells.  And protein, which is absolutely essential to, well, building a baby.  All this in moderation – of course.

I’ve been back and forth about how to finish this post.  Should I give you guy’s advice on how to discern your own food cravings? 

I decided NOT to do that.  I’m not nutritionist and while I may have a way of dealing with my own body it is far from a scientific approach.

So I decided to just share my own experience as of late.

Just yesterday (as I was in the middle of NOT completing this article) I read in my “Foodie Book of The Month-Weekly” book, “The Yoga of Eating”, about just this topic.

In the book the author talks a lot about listening to your body, and consuming the foods that it tells/leads you to consume.

Lately I have had incredible food cravings for corn products and milk.  I have not been consciously thinking about eating this stuff, but when I get hungry, guess what items I reach for?

So my diet has looked a lot like this: 

  1. Corn Flakes and milk
  2. Corn Pops (yelp that stuff) and milk
  3. Corn bread
  4. Corn meal battered fried fish
  5. Succotash
  6. Polenta/grits for breakfast (yeah I put milk in those too)
  7. And of course corn on the cob (it is the end of summer here after all)

 Like I said, I have not been consciously aiming to eat so much corn.  Usually I’m a wheat and oat eating kind of girl, but I noticed this was ridiculously obvious over the last two weeks.  In addition, my body has seemed to be fasting from other foods.

I’m not really interested in eating chicken and beef or pork for that matter.  I could literally be content going the whole day (everyday) eating what seems to be breakfasts foods (as listed above).

Then there is the milk consumption.  I usually don’t just drink milk.  I generally get it in my cereal or oatmeal or other things that I cook.  But I’ve been flat out drinking glasses of milk these last couple of weeks. And it has tasted “extra” good. So has the corn – tasted “extra” good that is.

The first week I noticed my corny food cravings I simply blamed it on the pregnancy and didn’t think about it any farther.

But just today I really got interested. 

What if my theory is true?

What if your body has food cravings for just the right foods that will provide the nutrients that your body needs most right now?

So let’s take a look at what my body needs now, shall we.

Right now I’m 30 weeks pregnant. 

The baby’s brain is developing and his skull is hardening.  Let’s just look at these two points, because it may just help me to explain why I’ve been having cravings for things that really aren’t my typical junk food cravings.

In order for the baby’s brain to develop properly there needs to be lots of folic acid or folate present in the mother’s body.  Any midwife will tell you that a woman needs to be taking a multivitamin or even better prenatal vitamin with lots of folic acid before and during her pregnancy. 

But at 30 weeks this brain development is at a peak.  The fine lines of the brain (that give it is wrinkled appearance) are developing.  So once again, just like in the first trimester, folate is very important.

Can you guess what I found out when I looked up the nutrient content in corn?

Umm, yeah, one serving of corn is very rich in folate.  Not to mention the fact that almost all of the grain products manufactured in the U.S today are fortified with additional folic acid.

Okay.  Very interesting I thought.

Now let’s look at the development of the baby’s skull.  Of course the skull is just another bone.  And the hardening of said bones requires lots of calcium.

Could that explain my abnormal food cravings for lots of milk these days?

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I am NO doctor or nutritional scientist for that matter.  But I do find what is going on with my own body very interesting.

Will I ever be able to prove indefinitely that my natural food cravings are indicative of a true nutritional need?  Probably not.  But neither could our ancestors and they seemed to do well enough to procreate new generations so that we, as species, continues to live today.

Let’s just say that I am quite enjoying listening to my body and letting it lead me for once.

How do you handle your own food cravings?  Do you give in or do you try to abstain?



On The Yoga of Eating

Just yesterday my Barns & Noble book order arrived and I (in true Keya form) dove into my newest read for the months of August and September, “The Yoga of Eating” by Charles Eisenstein.

Admittedly, the plan for my Foodie Book of The Month- Weekly series is to write just one post each week about the book that I am reading (and perhaps you are also reading) for the month.

But can I just say “WOW”?  I only read the introduction and the first few short chapters of this book and it is very inspiring to me.

Why?

Well it is written from a viewpoint that is deliberately in direct opposition to the way most of us westerners look at food.

Most of us in this hemisphere tend to view food as a means to an end.  You know, something we consume so that we won’t die and so that we can have energy.  Those who have decided to “better” their diets tend to add to this thought that food is “nourishment” that keeps us healthy and vibrant.  But still we in the west have a very practical way of looking at food.

On the other hand, Charles Eisenstein takes a very different approach. 

Instead of looking at food from an “it vs. us” perspective.  He (in a very spiritual way) thinks of our relationship with food as “it AS us”. 

Yeah I realize I just changed one word.  But as he makes the analogy in “The Yoga of Eating”, his perspective is very much like the spiritual difference between thinking of God as being “it AND us” (separate entities) vs. God as being “it AS us” (completely ONE).

I’m not here to discuss spirituality with you guys but just changing those two little words makes a huge difference in the way we view and relate to the food we eat.

If we see our food as being something separate from us.  Just something that we have to grow, hunt for, or gather in order to live, then we miss the fact that we are as dependent on our food as it is dependent on us eating it.

What evolves from this line of thought is a very “selfish” perspective of eating.  We take (food) so that we can live, but we do not give back from which we take from.

This very ideal is striking as we look at the modern food industry.  We “grow” live stock who live unhealthy and unnatural lives, for the sole purpose of feeding ourselves.  We grow produce in chemically induced soils so that we can eat, but at the same time we rape the ground our food is grown from because of our agricultural practices.

We see ourselves a separate from that which we eat.  Okay.

I see where the author of “The Yoga of Eating” is coming from.

On the other end of the stick, the author suggests that if we could see ourselves as one with what we eat then our practices surrounding eating would be wholly different.

For instance, if we are one with our food, then we would understand that to rape the soil that we grow our food in of its vital nutrients, not only rapes our own health initially because the food grown from chemical mediums in much less nutritious, we also rape the supply of that food itself, because an unhealthy soil DOES NOT produce more food for us to eat.

Like I said “WOW!”  This book got much deeper than I thought it would.  And it did so right at the beginning.

These insights and perspectives were presented to us in just the first two chapters of “The Yoga of Eating”.

Weather I agree with everything the author writes or not, I must admit that they are very interesting and thought provoking ways of thinking about our food.

The most interesting part of his perspective is that if we asked our ancestors of 200 years ago how they looked at food, I’m thinking that, while they may have used less sophisticated language than the author of this book does, they would still probably share his sentiments.

So in the spirit of understanding our (as a species) traditional food roots and as I journey towards practicing the traditions of nourishing the human body (and spirit), I happily dive back in to this intriguing little book.

More to come on “The Yoga of Eating” next week on our real Foodie Book of The Month-Weekly.

How do you view the food you eat?  Do you think of food more like the author of “The Yoga of Eating” or from a more conventional “western” perspective?



Introducing Foodie Book of the Month – Weekly

The Yoga Of Eating, Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self.  Written by Charles Eisenstein.

Yes I realize that the title of this post sounds a little strange.  But the idea is to post something about the book that I’m reading for each month, but to make a post about it each week. 

Since today is the day that my book “The Yoga of Eating” by Charles Eisenstein arrived from Barnes and Noble, I figured today was as good a day as any to start this series.

I’ve been looking at doing a “book of the month” series since I started this blog and I am very excited about it.

See, I LOVE to read. But most of all I really enjoy reading books that inspire me to be a better person and better at what I do.  I do a lot of things but in this case a “better” eater, if that makes any sense.

So for the rest of this month, and also the month of September I will do a weekly blog post about interesting insights from the book “The Yoga of Eating”. 

I have to tell you the title in and of it self inspired me.  Here’s why. 

  1. I love yoga.  I love practicing it and I love teaching it.  One of the things that I like most about yoga is the concept of self acceptance and engaging in the “journey” of the practice.  This book really speaks to the essence of how I would like to begin to view my eating habits and practices.
  2. As I may have written before, I think that the way we eat in the West these days has become very “robotic and algorithmic”.  What I mean by that is we as a culture tend to NOT understand our own bodies.  So much so that we can’t even intuitively feed and nourish ourselves.   Nourishing ourselves is the most basic survival instinct that we have, but because we have “experts” to tell us what to eat, how much to eat, and where to eat it, we tend to neglect our own intuition.  I’m hoping that this book will give me some things to think about in that regard.

If you are interested in following along as I read through this book feel free.  I know that you can buy the book from Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com.  But honestly if you don’t like to collect books (I love to collect books. Maybe I think it makes me look smarter) then check to see if your local library has it in stock.

I will tell you that when I find a book particularly interesting I dive in and never come up for air until I’m done.  But for the sake of my sanity and everyone else’s following along in this book, I will blog only about a chunk at a time.

The book has 23 very short chapters along with two appendices and a short introduction.  I will break these chapters up accordingly over the next six weeks.

With all of that said, here is a little bit about the book taken from the back cover page:

“These are confusing times for the health conscious consumer-hundreds of conflicting diets competing for public attention, each backed by authoritative advocates and compelling testimonials.  Which diet is correct?  Which authority should we believe? Which sources of information can we trust?

The Yoga of Eating presents a wholly new approach, a path of self-trust and self-exploration.  This book does not tell you what to eat and what not to eat.  It is not a book about nutrition, nor is it about ‘yogic diet.’ Instead it is a practical and inspiring manual that explains how to

  • Distinguish superficial cravings from authentic appetites, to give your body the nourishment it needs;
  • Bring your diet into alignment with who you are, and who you wish to be;
  • Choose from among the hundreds of diets on the market to indentify which comes closest to meeting your unique needs;
  • Transform the delight and pleasure of eating into an ally in the quest for health;
  • Build trust in your natural body and natural self.

The Yoga of Eating offers original insights on the physical and spiritual functions of sugar, fat, meat, and other foods; fasting, dieting, processing, willpower, and the deeper principles of self-nuture.  Dispensing with conventional doctrine, this book appeals to a higher authority-your own body-and shows how to access and trust the wisdom your body has to offer.”

If this book sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means, get your hands on a copy and let’s get reading.  I’m so excited about reading this book and so looking forward to sharing it with you!



Busy Morning? Cooking Traditional Foods In A Rush

Cold breakfast cereal and milk. Frozen waffles and syrup. Instant oatmeal.

Do these items sound like your go to breakfast fair when you are rushed in the mornings?

With school back in session and the lazy relaxed days of summer coming to an end, how do we continue cooking traditional foods for breakfast with so many things on our to do list?

It’s clear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Even more important when you have young children going off to school who need to stay “full and focused”.  So I have recently made cooking traditional foods for breakfast a high priority, since I have my first born going off to kindergarten in a few weeks.

With that in mind, here a five tips to get breakfast on the table and the kids out the door in a timely morning manner.  Oh and keeping your sanity at the same time too.

1.  Figure out the time and allocate it.

Until I actually began cooking traditional foods for breakfast myself, I had this misconception that it would take so long to prepare.  I had visions of me rising before the sun and mixing up bowls of batter, long before anyone else in my family had gotten out of bed.

Funnily enough when I actually tried getting up, (on a weekday) and preparing breakfast I realized just how uncomplicated and NOT time consuming it was

On average it takes me about 15 minutes to prepare something like bacon and eggs, and that is what I consider a “complicated meal”.

So in keeping with my “average”  I plan in 15 minutes of preparation time so that I can continue cooking traditional foods in the morning.

2.  Prep the night (or day) before.

Honestly, this is one of my least favorite things to do.  Just like many of us, I would rather wait for the last moment to do something and still get the same good result.  But sometimes this is just not possible.

So the night before, do things like, soak your oatmeal or other grains, defrost any meats that you may be cooking for breakfast, bake your muffins or breakfast bread and at the very least, PLAN your meal.

3.  KISS (keep it simple silly) cooking traditional foods for breakfast DO NOT have to be gourmet.

I have to constantly remind myself that simple is almost always better when it comes to getting out of the house on time in the morning.

That means, a weekday breakfast may NOT be the time to tackle a complicated scone recipe (unless of course you bake that scone the night before).

A simple homemade muffin with honey butter and a piece of fruit makes a great and simple breakfast.

4.  Make store bought items at home.

Who said that cooking traditional foods for breakfast had to be really “traditional”?  Sure there was no such thing as cold cereal or frozen waffles centuries ago, but no one said you couldn’t still have those things for breakfast now.

One of the things that I have found to be a HUGE help is to make some of the “store bought” breakfast items at home.

So for instance, I might make a double batch of pancakes or waffles over the weekend and freeze them.  This way on a busy weekday morning I have waffles to put in the toaster (made of healthy whole ingredients) and pancakes to put in the microwave.  YUM!

Also, if you have gotten to a point in your journey where you no longer buy store bought cold cereal, there is still no reason that you could not have homemade granola in a bowl of milk.  After all, it’s quick and easy and it falls right in line with our goal of cooking traditional foods on a busy breakfast morning.

5.  There is nothing wrong with leftovers

Many times we get caught up thinking that breakfast has to consist of certain foods in order for it to be called “breakfast”.  But the term breakfast simply means to break the fast.  Meaning to stop fasting after your body has rested all night.

Any food will do to break the fast.  So if you have some leftover soup, pot roast or fish and home fried potatoes, that you’d like to make use of, have at it and gobble them up for breakfast too.

If those foods were good enough to be considered a healthy and nutritious meal last night, then they are still just as nutritious for breakfast the next morning.

How have you planned to continue cooking traditional foods for breakfast as your mornings become hectic?



Making Peace With Your Traditional Food Journey

I arrived at the gym this morning to teach my 8:30 class.  As usual there was a woman, who comes there every morning, not to take a class or run on the treadmill, but to put on her ipod and dance.

This is her exercise and more importantly to her, this is also her spiritual practice.  As she finished up her dance we began to make small talk.  She happened to mention to me that she thought I “looked like I had peace in my life”. 

I had never really put that much thought into this idea, but this particular morning I was NOT feeling very peaceful.  Today, in my third trimester of pregnancy, with a whinny three year old and an alarm clock that did not go off this morning, I was NOT in a peaceful place.

But her comment inspired me.  It made me think about the traditional food journey that I find myself on right now.  And it made me realize three very important things that I hope to share with you as you travel on your own traditional food journey.

Here are three things to keep in mind to help you make peace with your traditional food journey. 

1.  Remember that this change, just like anything else in life (and life itself) is a journey.  We are not meant to go from point A to point B in a blink of an eye.  There is a road that must be traveled between A and B, and that journey makes us all the better.  So as you make this foodie transition, bear in mind that it is okay and in fact necessary for you to be RIGHT WHERE  YOU ARE at this moment.

Yes I know it sounds hard to hear, but you really DO NOT need to make all the changes in your diet at once.  Start small, by eliminating high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils.  Or switch your white bread out for a natural store bought whole wheat variety.

Small changes are what make our traditional food journey manageable and stress free.  So today, be alright just where you are in your journey.

2.  Remember that even if you don’t see the change your new habits have had in your life, other people still might see it.  My conversation with the lady at the gym this morning reminded me of this very fact. 

We are usually our own worst critics.  Just as I felt like I was having a very crazy and anxiety filled morning, my friend there still saw the peace in me.

The same thing goes for your traditional food journey.  Just because you don’t notice that you have more energy, your kids may notice that you are playing with them more, or your boss my comment on how much more productive you’ve been at work.

Ultimately, while we are making changes in our eating and lifestyle so that we can live healthier, happier lives, that “healthier and happier” is what enables us to give more and be more to the people that we love and care about. 

3.  Remember that peace is NOT found in perfection.

This kind of goes along with what I was talking about in the first topic.  You don’t have to soak every gain, consume only raw dairy products, and cook with only natural fats in order to find peace in your traditional food journey. 

While these things might be your ideal way of eating, the peace you feel should be separate from the end result.  So find peace in making any little change.  Find peace into replacing your coffee habit with water, or in replacing your all purpose white flour with whole wheat.

Whatever change that you can manage in your life right now, is not only a reason to feel at peace about your journey, but to rejoice and be glad about it.

How do your make peace with your traditional food journey?  I’d love to hear your ideas.



A Closer Look At Healthy Fats

I’ve been thinking a lot about fat lately.  Particularly what it means to eat “healthy fats” as defined by mainstream nutritionists.

Maybe I’ve been thinking so much about dietary fat because every time I go to the grocery store, contemplating a snack for my kids, I’m tempted to go down THAT aisle.

You know the aisle with the prepackaged cookies, cakes and crackers all neatly packaged and ready to eat?

Part of me wants to buy them and be lazy.  Too lazy to take the time to bake those same items myself at home.  I know how to bake cookies, crackers and cake.  And I know that I can bake these things much cheaper than it cost to buy them in those pretty little packages.

I also know that I can bake these things using the healthy fats that I already have stocked up in my kitchen, instead giving the prepackaged items to my kids that are loaded with hydrogenated trans fats.

Ultimately I bake and DO NOT by those packaged “goodies”.  My mom thinks I’m a lunatic with way too much time on my hands to be able to actually bake snacks for my family. 

I say when you have certain priorities, like eating well and as nutritiously as possible, you have your reasons (and good ones) for taking time out of your schedule to do certain things.

You may or may not have heard or read any of the recent news about hydrogenated oils and trans fats.  So here is a bit of a quick primer.

In the 1950’s up until five or ten years ago, trans fats use to be considered the “healthy fats”.  You remember when nutritionist and doctors recommended margarine over butter, and shortening over lard?

Well this was advice to get us as a country AWAY from animal based saturated fats and to consume more of the fats that had been manufactured to be “healthy”

More recently, scientist are finding many detrimental side effects to eating hydrogenated oils and trans fats and the government now requires food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fat in each serving of their foods.

Now these manufactured “healthy fats” are considered in many ways to be more harmful to your health than the saturated animal fats that they were meant to replace.

Here are five reasons that I bake my cookies, cakes and crackers at home and steer clear of the manufactured so called “healthy fats” in the store. 

  1. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL), which leads to thickening of the arteries.  Over the last 50 years this artery thickening has led to more heart attacks and diabetes in the US and other western countries that consume foods with lots of trans fats.
  2. Trans fats lower good cholesterol (HDL). Lowering this type of cholesterol also assists in increasing the risks of heart disease.
  3. Trans fats are associated with an increase in cancer rates.  And by this I mean ALL types of cancer.  On the other hand saturated fats from animal sources have NOT been linked to cancer.
  4. Trans fats lead to weight gain around the belly.  So if you are wondering why you are having a hard time getting rid of that belly bulge, it may have to do with the amount of trans fats you are eating.
  5. Trans fats alter our metabolism, leading us to feel more sluggish and generally to have less energy. (Maybe even leading us to have too little energy to make it to the gym to workout?  But that’s another blog post all together).

 So do I have anything good to say about trans fats?

 No, not really.  I pretty much try to avoid them like the plague.  Yes, we end up consuming some of it just because we do go out to dinner weekly and I do not prepare our meals at home 100% of the time.

But in general a few simple steps will help you to reduce the amount of trans fats you and your family eat.

First, cook from scratch.  Prepackaged foods are loaded with hydrogenated oils, just because they are cheaper (they are man-made after all) and they extend the shelf life of foods.

Second, when you cook or bake at home use butter.  Yelp I said it, butter.  My thinking is, our bodies “know” how to digest and assimilate the nutrients in butter.  Humans have had thousands of years of evolution in which we consumed butter and other milk products.  For this reason I go with the thing that is most natural.

Third, instead of using processed vegetable oils, like shortening or even the liquid soybean and corn oils (yes at certain temperatures the fats in these liquid products hydrogenate too), sauté your veggies with leftover chicken fat from your roast, or bacon fat from breakfast, or even lard.  This also saves a bit of money in that you are using what you already have on hand and is a “by-product” of you cooking anyway.

And lastly, buy and drink whole milk.  Again my mother thinks I’m crazy for this (and so does my midwife), but many dairy manufactures actually add powdered milk (which contains hydrogenated oils in order to make the powdered milk shelf stable) to their reduced fat and low fat milk products.  Adding this powdered milk is supposed to give the milk more body once the “excess” milk fat is taken away.  Again, I bet on buying my food as close to its natural form as possible, so whole milk is my choice.

Have you taken a closer look at the “healthy fats” you eat?  If so, what strategies do you use to avoid consuming trans fats?



Fats In Moderation – How To Avoid Packing On The Pounds

So I go to my 26 week prenatal appointment, very excited about the weight that I thought I DID NOT gain.  After all, I exercise ALL THE TIME.  At least 5 or 6 hours a week.  I know I’m not breaking any records here, but I do the best I can to stay fit. 

I get on the scale, thinking I’ll see maybe a 3 or 4 pound increase and what do I see?

Ten pounds!  Yelp I said, I gained ten pounds in just 4 weeks. 

This is ridiculous even for a pregnant woman.  So what is the deal?

My midwife got me thinking about what I am doing different with regards to my eating and it dawned on me.

I have completely been going overboard with the fats that I eat.  Totally ignoring my mantra of eating fats in moderation.

And so continues our series on fats.  We’ve talked a bit about the so called bad fats and why they really aren’t that bad for you. But what about eating fats in moderation?

Now, inspired by my big brother again (he gets me thinking a lot sometimes), I’d like to talk a bit more about moderation.

Do you remember the Akins Diet?

You know the one that encouraged people to cut out carbohydrates completely for a period of time and give in to eating saturated fats?

When that diet first became popular, I remember several people on that diet who went through a “honeymoon” stage with the diet.  Meaning they went through a stage where they completely gorged on steak, eggs, butter, cheese and all the other things that they were finally able to eat again.

We all are familiar with this phenomenon, aren’t we?  We are completely doing things in moderation at one time, and then all of a sudden we are told that ice cream or coffee or bacon, whatever it is, is back on our list of things that we CAN eat.

And what do we do?  We OVER INDULGE!

I am no exemption to this rule. And that is exactly what I have been doing since I read the book Nourishing Traditions.

When I first read Sally Fallon’s book and saw that she really emphasized eating “plenty” of animal fats, I was just all too ready and willing to add some bacon and eggs to my breakfast menu.  And I did.

And what happened?

You guessed it.  The weight started to pack on.  Yes I am pregnant and I am suppose to gain weight, but boy, I not suppose to be gaining THIS much weight.

And that is where eating fats in moderation comes in.

While a serving of fat has almost double the calories of a same size serving of carbohydrates or protein, I would not fixate on the number of fat grams in all the food you eat.

For instance, we know that whole milk has more fat than skim milk. 

Okay.

So recognize that if you want to have a glass of milk, simply account for the fact that you will be drinking 150 calories if your milk is whole, verses 90 calories if your milk is skim.

Remember that weight gain and loss is all about the amount of calories you consume, verses the amount of calories you burn.  Not the individual components (grams of fat, carbs, protein) that you consume.

And so here are a few strategies to bear in mind to keep your fats in moderation.

1.   While you do need to get some saturated fats in your diet, you DON’T need to smother your toast in butter.  So with this in mind add just a pat of soft butter to your toast or bread.  Or add just about a tablespoon or so (which is one serving) to your veggies.

2.  Remember that if you are eating meat, cheese, eggs, and milk, you don’t really need to ADD much extra fat. 

3.  Rethink what a serving is.  Two slices of thick cut bacon will supply you with a scant 80 calories.  This is considered a serving and the calories are much less than most people anticipate. So for breakfast if you are eating bacon, eggs and toast eat just one serving (2 bacon, 1 egg and 1 piece of toast), and you will manage to keep your intake of fats in moderation, AND your calories and weight down.

4.  Eat your fat in foods instead of desserts and other “treats”.  What I mean by this is, while it might be a good idea to eat meatloaf with mashed potatoes that have butter and cream in them, you may not want to eat a bowl of ice cream or cookies.  Gram for gram, the meatloaf and potatoes will supply your body with more nutrients than the treats will, while also giving you the fats in moderation that you need.

 All in all, I don’t think Sally Fallon is suggesting that we over do it with the animal fats that she recommends.  I think just like anything else, eating fats in moderation and eating everything in moderation is the way to live a healthy (and weight gain free) life.

 How do you keep your fats in moderation?  I’m always open to hearing other tips and tricks.