Real Food … the Easy Way to Health

This is one of my favorite bits of real food inspiration … because it has the potential to stop us in our well-worn tracks of thinking of food – particuarly healthy food – as time-consuming and complicated.

Real Food

REAL FOOD

– Real food is a beautiful apple, sliced with love, and eaten one gorgeous slice at a time.

– Real food is a couple of farmer’s market carrots sliced into dimes and sizzled in a bit of olive oil until they caramelize.

– Real food is broccoli roasted until it’s crisp and brown, with simple sprinkle of salt.

– Real food is a half of an avocado, maybe with a squeeze of lime and a twist of black pepper … or not.

– Real food is parsley and mint, tossed with quinoa.

– Real food is a tomato, freshly picked from the vine and eaten while still warm with the summer sun.

– Real food is a mash of warm white beans, with a bit of roasted garlic.

Real food is simple, beautiful, and soul-warming. It can be mixed with other foods, but it is also complete unto itself. It demands to be eaten artfully and with attention, and returns this favor with flavor and health. Big thanks to the great Jamie Oliver for the reminder!

On food as ART … and eating as ART

Eating as art

I’m recently home from a vacation trip to Italy and have SO much to share about the food (recipes coming as soon as I recover from jet lag and a backlog of work!).

But the most meaningful thing I can share isn’t a recipe for a meal, but the overall Italian approach to eating/ food as art. In two weeks of meals, I never got one plate that wasn’t photo-worthy. The foods were all beautiful, vibrant, simple, whole foods presented beautifully. There were no distracting sauces or over-salting … rather, each food was an invitation to enjoy one clean flavor at at time. The crunch of fresh lettuce. The bite of basil. A sweet, ripe tomato. Soft eggplant, a spoonful of creamy ricotta.

With this sort of attention coming from the kitchen, I found that my attention to the food – and my enjoyment of it – were naturally heightened as well. And as a result, I was MORE than satisfied with a bit less food than usual.

Which left room for a bite of tiramisu :-) (recipe coming soon, I promise!).

The Farmer’s Market Organic Tomato, vs. the Grocery Tomato

Also, one traveled 1000+ miles to reach me, the other traveled 20 miles.

Hold onto this to send to people when they complain that organic is “too expensive.” This organic tomato looks like a bargain when you look at it this way, doesn’t it?

I know which one I want in my body, and which world I want to support with my purchase.
tomato regular vs farmer

Friendly Foods: Eat what your body knows

Friendly Food!

You know that feeling you get when you see fresh, local, in-season food at the farmer’s market? How it almost has an aura of life around it? That’s your body’s way of signaling that it knows that food, knows how to process it and get nutrients from it … and welcomes those “friendly foods.”

In contrast, most of the packaged foods of today contain piles of ingredients that your body can’t recognize and is unable to process. Scientists once considered these chemicals “inert” because they tended to leave the body intact, and didn’t bind with your cells and cause immediate damage. What they missed, however, is the impact of the consistent assault of unrecognizable substances would have on the body.

This would be similar to your boss piling 20 boxes of paper on your desk, but just two of them contained real work that you knew how to do. How much more “sluggish” would you be in completing your tasks, just because you had to process all the “non-work?” That’s what is happening in your body when it has to process all the non-food … and the physical result is our ugly friend, inflammation.

Instead, take a cue from your body’s natural response to the real, friendly food it sees, and give it a week, a month, or a lifetime to show you how spectacularly it can work for you when it doesn’t have to deal with the chemical assault of packaged non-foods!

Shopping List for the REAL FOOD $100/4/7 Challenge!

OK, we’re just a couple of days away from the start of the REAL FOOD Challenge! As promised, I’ve worked out a shopping list for a week of meals that will feed REAL FOOD to 4 people for 7 days, for under $100. You won’t find a lot of frills in here, but you also won’t find processed, packaged fake foods.

You’ll note that I made some assumptions (Pantry items) that you have some spices on hand, and some olive or coconut oil. Spices can be mixed/matched, so if you don’t have one thing, feel free to sub your favorite in its place. And if you’re missing something entirely, I left a few dollars to cover it. If you don’t need to buy anything else, use those few dollars for something special just for you – an avocado, a bit of dark chocolate, or whatever makes your heart sing.

The menu is pasted below, and the recipes will be coming shortly, in the next post – but first, here’s the link to your shopping list for the week: REAL FOOD Challenge Shopping List

REAL FOOD Challenge Menu

Note: Vegetable pricing may vary widely in your area – I used the current USDA numbers as a reference to compile this. Feel free to sub in similar items – acorn squash for butternut, etc. – if they are on sale and less expensive.

Six Ways to Hook Kids on Real Food

6 Ways to hook kids on real food

With the world (meaning, food marketers) trying their best to hook your kids on their junky packaged foods, you’ve got to fight back hard! And we know – you’re already busy just trying to get your kids to school/practice/lessons/play dates/etc. … you don’t have time to give them food lectures (and lectures don’t work, anyway)!

Here are 6 fun, simple ways to help break the hold the food companies have on your kids, and instead hook them on healthy, amazing, REAL food:

1. Grow Food: Even if you only have room for a small pot of herbs in a city apartment, involving a child in growing has been shown to pay lifetime dividends in vegetable consumption. A child who helped grow the parsley will HAPPILY urge the whole family to taste their very own parsley salad.

2. Introduce kids to “ingredients” in their native form: If you’re making soup, keep little bits of the raw ingredients aside for a “tasting session,” then have them try to identify the celery, the onion, the carrot, etc. in the soup. Discuss how cooking changes the texture and flavor of the ingredients.

3. Keep herbs/spices and interesting condiments on the table, and encourage experimentation: I learned this when I left cinnamon on the table, and my son added it to an almond butter sandwich. It turned out to be a great flavor combo, and he gobbled down the sandwich that “he” had made. Hot sauces, flavored oils, fun spices like ginger and vanilla, and other tasty add-ins will help build interest and creativity around the whole foods you’re serving, and help kids personalize their food.

4. Build a family cookbook: Encourage kids to take pictures of their favorite meals/dishes (get family members in the pics, too!), name the dishes together, and keep them in a photo album. Keep it in the kitchen as a frequent reminder of the great real food family times you’ve had, so your kids learn to associate real food with great moments.

5. Celebrate with Real Food! Don’t fall prey to the seductive marketing message to use celebrations as an excuse to eat junk. That sends exactly the wrong message: that these foods are “rewards,” and these false “rewards” become anchored in the pleasure centers of your child’s brain. Instead, celebrate by making extra-beautiful, extra-fresh meals together during the holidays and other special days.

6. COOK TOGETHER: Nothing else will make your child more immune to the marketer’s siren song about “convenience” than this. When your child knows that an egg can be cooked, a salad can be tossed, a veggie can be braised, or a smoothie can be blended in literally minutes, you give them the tools and the tastebuds they need to resist the call of the microwaved Frankenfood that marketers want them to buy.

Most of all, make real food a centerpiece of loving family moments, and kids will grow up associating real food with great family feelings.

Six Ways to Hook Kids on Real Food, by Jennifer Silverberg, Eat Yourself Well

The Power of the Plate

The Power the PlateResearchers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on medications and other medical interventions for diseases that your body is already fighting every single day. To quote from one of my favorite Ted Talks, William Li, “Can we eat to starve cancer?“:”Autopsy studies from people who died in car accidents have shown that about 40 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 50 actually have microscopic cancers in their breasts, about 50 percent of men in their 50s and 60s have microscopic prostate cancers, and virtually 100 percent of us, by the time we reach our 70s, will have microscopic cancers growing in our thyroid. Yet, without a blood supply, most of these cancers will never become dangerous. Dr. Judah Folkman, who was my mentor and who was the pioneer of the angiogenesis field, once called this ‘cancer without disease.'”

For the most part, our bodies can handle foreign invaders and internal threats, as long as:

1. They are identifiable as an invader – meaning they aren’t some new bacteria/virus/compound that the body can’t identify, or to which it hasn’t developed a response. This is why new chemicals, GMOs, and such have the potential to be so problematic.

2. The body isn’t already so compromised from dealing with known invaders, injuries, etc. that it is too taxed to fight back. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including clean foods, regular exercise, stress management, etc.

Right this very minute, probably the best thing you can do to support – and thank! – the amazing systems that keep your body healthy is to go find the darkest, greenest, leafiest organic vegetable around, and eat it. Then in an hour, do it again – and throw in some cooked tomatoes – and blueberries for dessert. The beautiful thing is that you have 3-4 opportunities to do this every day, and every one can be health-supporting, beautiful, and absolutely delicious!