My First Infographic

When I changed over to real food eating, it was a step-wise process.  To confess, I took two years studying and immersing my facebook page into collecting recipes, listening to wellness summits, websites and interviews of health experts, reading books and more reading and more listening.  It started slowly and then I sucked it up like that first glass of water in the morning!

One of THE most important ideas I subscribe to in real food eating is to ADD in the good stuff and crowd out the junk. At the point where junk is being crowded, choose the junk outlined on this pictogram first!  Especially important for those with glutamate imbalances or those sensitive to MSG and children.

 

Gratitude and Good Health,

Nicole

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Forgotten Interconnectedness: the importance of the connection to what nourishes me

A theme in my life over the past year has been my new-found passion for discovering where food comes from and of being mindful of how it is processed and its entire journey of how it got to be my food.  This mindfulness has inspired me, perhaps due to feeling connected to the natural cycle of life.  I think it’s why we say grace before a meal – in recognition of where our food came from, of the vastness and greatness of cycles and interconnectedness required to get each morsel of food on our plates to that point and of the recognition of what it will do for our body.  How can one not be overwhelmed with gratitude when we realize what it takes to feed us?  This is the kind of gratitude I refer to when I think of being “Gratefully Fed”.

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I’ve drawn some inspiration today from an article written by Tovar Cerulli the author of “The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance”.  He points out that we rely on animals for the soil or sacrifice some living creatures, like worms or beetles, to keep plants growing.  There’s no getting around that fact.  But we can show reverence and respect for it.

I like that.  There’s something intensely deep about being able to look at a piece of meat in the store and knowing what the animal ate, how it lived before arriving there.  There’s something intensely deep and connected about knowing where the green pepper was grown, the details of how it was grown, ripened and prepared before finding my plate.

To go to the grocery store, look at the produce and think this piece of fruit or this vegetable was ripened artificially with chemicals and to go to meet my CSA with a box of fruit and veggies that I know were ripe when they were picked one or two days ago from local farmers that care about how they were grown is something so empowering and it keeps me connected to Mother Nature.  It’s so easy to forget, and so easy to be disconnected and so tricky to discover the steps involved in our ‘food’ supply.  It’s so satisfying to taste the difference between my grocery store lettuce and the local lettuce in my CSA box.  I can taste the difference in treatment, the simplicity in steps, and the nutritional value in them.  For this, I am grateful!  Oh, how I’ve missed FieldBoxes over the long winter season here in southern Alberta!

Update:  Now that I’ve settled in Kelowna area, the CSA that I favor is Urban Harvest Kelowna.  With the increase in prices for produce in the stores, I find that this CSA is economical, especially since it’s delivered and I can customize it at anytime!

How do you even begin to find out where our food comes from or how things are processed?  Here are some links to start.  I’ll add to the list as I can. I only list that which I have personally consumed or made and are among the best! Here goes:

My 5 Food Groups – Herbs & Spices, Healthy Fats, Proteins, Veggies & Fruit, Carbs (for exercise days)

FatsBalanced Bites, How Canola oil is madeWhich Fats Should You EatGood & Bad Fats,

Garden VeggiesA bit about what’s involved in growing a garden and the soilFor Good Soil,

Herbs & Spices – InfoHerbed SaltsList of Spices,

ProteinsCows & Sheep, Chicken, Heritage Berkshire PigGrassFed Cheese, Yak-Beef Cross,

Healthy Carbs (for exercise days or transitioning) –

 

Celebrating Easter – and the simple things!!!!!!!!

 

Right before my son left for his Easter holidays with the grandparents, we celebrated in our own, simple way.  We spent the evening cooking, eating and then went for a long drive, my two sons and I.  It was lovely.  It was simple.  A definite, simple job for this mom!!  We cooked this Paleo brownie recipe and this Paleo cookie recipe.  They were hits!

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     For the brownie, we used a pan instead of the skillet.  Overall, I found it rather sweet, especially the caramel sauce even though I couldn’t get it to thicken much at all even using full fat coconut milk.  The brownie is likely fine without the caramel sauce.  For a gluten-free, grain-free, processed sugar-free, dairy-free brownie, or any brownie for that matter, it was tasty!  When I make this again, I would definitely try it in a skillet and maybe without the chocolate chips or caramel sauce.  It’s a recipe I’m saving for my recipe collection and one to pass on to clients.  I’m still a sweet enough tooth that I need some Paleo-fied baking to help me avoid the sweet cravings getting out of control.  And I take some comfort in the fact that there is nutritional value in these – between the plantains, the raw cacao, the eggs, the coconut oil and the cinnamon – it’s all good!  But don’t expect to be able to stop at one slice, so invite company!

The cookies were even better the second day after being in a glass container in the fridge overnight.  They are in my collection of recipes worth making again, and kid-approved!  I made my own ‘sunbutter’ from sunflower seeds in my high speed blender.  I also added 2 T. of coconut flour.  For some reason, all the Paleo baking I’ve tried seems to make batter that is much too fluid and not thick enough.  I haven’t quite figured this out yet. Maybe the eggs I use are a larger size.  I’m not sure yet.  But in the end they worked.  Very tasty!  A great flavor and very close to the conventional chocolate chip cookie.

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My son has a very strong dislike for onions.  On the other hand, I adore onions.  We compromise.  I don’t use onions at home.    But……he’s away with the grandparents this week.  Sooo…….I am definitely cooking food with onions.  First it was homemade soup and today it was an omelet.  I got a little creative and added garlic, diced sweet potato for a bit of hash, all sorts of spices – turmeric, cumin, basil, parsley, thyme, cinnamon, feta and raw cheddar!  Topped it with a side of sauerkraut (new to this girl’s food repertoire), my digestive enzymes and some zinc-copper balance supplementation.  This grateful mom wants to see how zinc will help beautify and healthify the fingernails.  I topped it all off with a bulletproof coffee, Gratefully Fed style – with a 1/8tsp of almond extract, coconut milk, and  a teaspoon of unpasteurized, organic honey!  I am well on my way to rediscovering, or just plain first-time discovering, my love of cooking and most of all, of food!

 

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An aside for a moment:  As one of my goals for this blog is to help those in Canada find quality foods and quality information, this aside has both.  I’m using this sauerkraut brand as I’m not quite ready to try making it homemade.  That’s in my future. And then I’ll turn to this website about fermented foods for help.  In the meantime, I’m getting a taste for sauerkraut.  The tart, sour taste is quite satisfying.  Not bad stuff, actually.  I pretend it’s like eating a sour candy and that its little, friendly microbes make my gut happy!

 

 

     While I prepped, cooked and tidied my meal, I listened to a free podcast entitled “Latest in Paleo” and let it inspire me.  Hosted by Angelo Coppola, the tagline is that ‘humans are not broken’ and is also the title of his blog.  It covers Paleo in the news and controversy in the ‘paleo world’ as well as his insights commonly in the form of logical, well-framed questions.  I’ve been listening for some time now and like his insights, comments and information.  The episode I listened to today was Episode 102 on the topic of ‘Rhabdo and Beans’, among other things like Chris Kresser and the controversy stirred up after his visit to The Dr. Oz Show.  It was followed by a clip of an interview with Michael Pollan talking about his book “Cooked, A Natural history of Transformation” and the politics he observes in the food industry; definitely one of my favorite topics.  Admittedly, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve added it to my list.

In the interview, Pollan talks about the food industry protecting its’ processes so that we cannot know where our ‘food’ (or food-like products) comes from.  An example of the food industry power is how New York lost it’s battle to somehow regulate soda sales in order to reduce consumption.  (When I stopped allowing my children and myself to have pop, it made a big difference and helped him to get close to a healthy weight, losing 15lbs. So it’s an important issue. But we don’t need the government to do it for us.  It’s something we can all do right now.  Stop drinking soda.  We replace flavored drinks with organic, herbal teas like chai, lemon water and freshly pressed vegetable juices with a little fruit.  So from experience, rarely, if ever, drinking soda, really works to move toward health.)  There is a food movement, somewhat inspired by events like food safety issues, that Pollan figures will begin to take hold in about five years.  The growth of organic and local food is continuing in part because our youth is recognizing the unsustainability of a conventional food system.  Pollan says that “the logic of industry and the logic of biology are in conflict. And when that happens, biology always wins.”  So he thinks our current food system will inevitably break down.  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.  And I agree with the reasons he gives which are complex and he reviews some history of agriculture.  One of which is potentially because of the reduced quality of our soil.  “The health of the soil may be the key to the future of agriculture, not any fancy seeds by Monsanto. We may be focusing on the wrong solutions.”  The problem won’t be solved from negotiating the nit-picky details with food industry, and though he has no solution there are a few things we need to do:  Move toward whole food eating and away from industrial agriculture.  This, in and of itself, will promote a need to ‘revolutionalize’ North America’s food system toward sustainable practices.  Pollan has seen highly productive, sustainable agriculture models that work.  So have I.  An example of this is the research that is done at the Savory Institute and a powerful TED talk.  I share his hope that this revolution can happen and I will continue on a path of evolution towards it in my life.  My hope is to convince a few people to join me along the way!  The first one on board with me?  My 11 year old son!  He feels so much better emotionally, mentally and physically and can do better in school.  He likes eating whole foods, though it was a transition and a continuing process.  It’s so satisfying that he recognizes the difference it makes in his life!  He works to help me out and keeps reminding me to stay motivated!  Will you join us?

Coppola lists the recommendations that are made in Brazil that parallel our ‘Food Guide’, ‘My Plate’ or ‘Food Pyramid’.  The interesting thing is that it doesn’t get into servings, keeps it simple, keeps it foolproof by essentially recommending cooking your own food, avoid ultra-processed foods and enjoy the process of making and eating it.  I like it. I may just post them on my wall at home!  From the article entitled “Food Politics” by Marion Nestle, comes these points for healthful eating from Brazil:

 

 

The guidelines are remarkable in that they are based on foods that Brazilians of all social classes eat every day, and consider the social, cultural, economic and environmental implications of food choices.

The guide’s three “golden rules:”

  • Make foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals the basis of your diet.
  • Be sure oils, fats, sugar and salt are used in moderation in culinary preparations.
  • Limit the intake of ready-to-consume products and avoid those that are ultra-processed.

The ten Brazilian guidelines:

  1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
  4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
  5. Eat in company whenever possible.
  6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
  7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
  8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
  9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
  10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.

Simple and unambiguous!  You don’t need a course to interpret them.  Unlike:

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Keep it simple!  Go whole food.  Learn to make your own food and enjoy the process.  Get family involved.  Like the Brazilians!

For a little something to do today:  leave a comment about new dietary guidelines here.  I did it in the middle of writing this post!   I welcome your thoughts, feedbacks, comments and ideas.  Please share!!

Rating the Paleo Diet

Most of the mainstream articles I’ve read that critique or rate diets, rate the Paleo diet/way of eating near last based on where it gets its name. What?  Whether or not one can literally “eat like a caveman” when we obviously just can’t find the EXACT foods our caveman ancestors ate, ie: mammoth, nor can we prepare them the same way, ie: electricity, doesn’t determine the health value of the diet.  It’s not literal.

Sometimes critics try to dismiss Paleo based on “errors” about what was eaten in the Paleolithic era. What does that have to do with evaluating whether or not Paleo is a healthy way of eating now?? Anthropology of today and of the Paleolithic era comes into play as rationale for what is true health given the way our bodies need to function. Since eliminating variables is difficult to do in scientific nutrition studies, anthropological studies can offer insight. The foods accessible to peoples of the past are rather simplified which lends well to studying nutrition by narrowing the variables.  It’s rather ingenious!  My respect to WestonAPrice!  I think there is some validity to the idea that our physiology hasn’t evolved as quickly as our food supply has changed. Therefore, our bodies cannot cope and be in optimal health if we eat modern processed, micronutrient depleted foods.  I doubt our distant ancestors lost micronutrients because their food traveled too far or because the soil was nutrient-depleted or it sat a long time in the fridge or was processed with chemicals and heat in a factory.  And they seemed to enjoy strong bodies and no degenerative diseases.  Definitely communicable diseases and injuries shortened their life expectancy, however, while they lived it a was in strong, energetic, agile, optimally healthy body.  Who doesn’t want the best quality of life they can have?

Most Paleo folk that I subscribe to base their health goals on eating the most nutrient dense foods possible, not whether or not they are imitating cave-people.  They consider the methods in which foods are raised, processed or grown. So to critique the diet by critiquing how it got its name is really a moot point. IMO. To claim the anthropology is wrong or un-imitatable is to completely miss the point of Paleo. Critique the diet by how it’s actually practiced by those that consider their diet to be primarily Paleofied.  Critique the diet based on what’s good for the true, optimal health of our bodies.  I find that’s a value in the Paleo movement, to debate science which points to optimal health, long term!  Rant over.

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