Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Defense of Food

I read this book a few months ago, but just recently found the notes I took while reading it. It wasn't a completely new idea and thus, didn't transform the way I eat or think about food too much. The one thing it did do was challenge me to eat less meat and more vegetarian. The book starts out telling you in 7 words what the rest of the book is going to be about:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I had a friend in Bend who was basically a vegetarian, and that, along with some other reading I did while there, began to challenge me on the health benefits of eating less meat and more veggies. I am not sold on a completely vegetarian way of life (I just like meat), but both Mark and I are really interested in having more vegetables in our diet (beyond simply being a side dish). The bonus of living where we live now is that everything grows here and everyone has a garden, which has resulted in us being on the receiving end of the overflow of veggies that people can't finish themselves. Here are a few other thoughts from the book that I liked:

*Don't eat anything your great-grandma wouldn't recognize as food.

*Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than 5 in number, d) include high fructose corn syrup (these indicate foods that are highly processed and may no longer be what they purport to be).

*Get out of the supermarket whenever possible (farmers markets, CSA's, your own garden).

*eat meat as a condiment to veggies, not the other way around (less than 1 serving/day).

*The diet of the animals we eat has a bearing on the quality and healthfulness of the food itself (have they been injected with growth hormones? Are they eating nutritious food themselves?).

*If you have the space, buy a freezer. Freezing produce, unlike canning, doesn't significantly diminish the nutritional value of produce (I still want to learn to can though) :).

*Don't look for the "magic bullet" in the traditional diet: in the same way that foods are more than the sum of their nutrient parts, dietary patterns seem to be more than the sum of the foods that compromise them.

*How a culture eats may have as much a bearing on health as what a culture eats (i.e. snacking, eating alone vs with others, etc.).

*We tend to believe that the portion served to us is the proper amount to eat (i.e. in restaurants). Often the serving is much larger than we should actually eat.

*eat until you are 80% full, then stop. Consult your gut: stop when you're full!

*the less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare.

*do all your eating at the table (not at the desk!).

*Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does :).

*try not to eat alone: we eat more when we're alone. Eating with others is also a cultural act and forms community.

These were just a few of my notes (I had about 3 pgs). It was an interesting and worthwhile read and it will definitely challenge or remind you what it means to eat actual "food" vs. some of the stuff we buy in the stores. I know that I find that as I eat more and more real food, I notice a difference in how I feel and my energy levels when I eat more processed food. It's not totally unavoidable, but we do our best to eat decently without breaking the bank. I challenge you to try to find some good vegetarian recipes as well. I have found several that I love and that taste just as good rewarmed up as leftovers. Best of luck! Cheers!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Random Update...

A good chunk of my time is spent here these days. Good ol' Blackboard. I have fallen into a schedule of working at the church in the mornings and doing school in the afternoon, which seems to work out pretty well. If you would have asked me a year or two ago if I would enjoy doing an online school program, I would have said no. But I really am enjoying this format and the freedom it brings to the schedule.

This is my "garden." Basil and Rosemary. They started out so tiny and have flourished. It's so fun having fresh herbs. I had them outside, but Oregon has these wonderful slugs (that we first met when we were hiking) and they apparently like to eat Basil. So, once I figured that came the plants :).

Everyone here has a garden. We were having lunch at the home of a couple that goes to our church, and we discovered that they grow corn, summer squash, tomatoes, green onions, apples, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. There may be more, but that's all I can remember. I am summer I am going to try and have a garden of my own...maybe less extensive to start, but I definitely have my pick of what to seems like everything grows here!

mmm....triple chocolate scones. I got the recipe from a fun blog I found that has tons of great recipes. These are super easy and quick. If you want something yummy for dessert or just enjoy baking...give these a whirl. Of course, you have to like chocolate :).

Other than these few things, we have been spending our time getting to know people at the church and in the neighborhood, getting the house organized and settled via craigslist, and discovering what our new area has to offer. Did you know that we live an hour from downtown Portland? There is also a great array of fun date places for less than $10 between the two of us. We are really enjoying it here, although we are continually being warned about the rainy winters, which we have yet to experience. Something to look forward to :).