I mentioned it previously, but about 2 months ago we read a book called “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan for our book club. This book has literally changed my world!! Okay, that’s pretty dramatic, but really, it has made a huge difference in my life. Prepare yourself because I’m about to get on my soap box and this is something I feel VERY passionate about. If that didn’t scare you off, then continue…
The title of this book truly sets the premise, “In Defense of Food, eat food, not too much, mostly plants” by Michael Pollan. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about their body and wants to enjoy food again.
Michael Pollan basically spends half of the book (if not more) breaking down the “Western Diet”, describing how incredibly damaging it can be on our bodies and why. He then explains the alternative which is… eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
I love how he refers to the majority of the “food” in the grocery stores as “edible food-like substances” because that’s exactly what it is. Many of our food choices these days are not even real food; they are chemical renditions of food, a form not made of God but of man. I personally would rather put my trust in God to produce my food than man, he knows a little more about what our bodies need to be healthy.
In response to this book, we opened up our refrigerator and our pantry and literally threw out (or gave to the food bank) anything boxed, processed, or refined. We replenished our supply with food that is fresh, whole, and as close to its natural form as possible. For those things that are boxed or packaged, if it had more than 5 ingredients on the ingredients list or had ingredients that we couldn’t pronounce, it didn’t make the cut.
For all those “dieters” out there, here’s why this system works. First of all, it’s how the Lord intended it. He mapped out His diet in the Word of Wisdom, D&C 89. Nowhere in His diet does it talk about “low fat/no fat”, “sugar free”, or “low carb”. He simply says eat whole grains, fruits and plants in their season, and eat meat sparingly. Science and my own personal experience can attest that when you eat ‘real food’, you don’t have to eat as much of it to keep you full for longer periods of time. Plus, it tastes a whole lot better.
For example: I started making my own granola a couple months ago (am I sounding like a hippy yet?) and it has been a staple breakfast for us since (I’ll add the recipe, it’s AMAZING). Previously, my breakfast routine included ‘Honey Nut Shredded Wheat’ with a banana or some other fruit on top and milk. After about a month of eating the granola (1/2 C – 3/4 C with fresh berries and milk), I grabbed a bowl of the ‘Shredded Wheat’ one morning. I was blown away by how hungry I was an hour later! The difference was unreal! I felt like I hadn’t eaten anything at all. I did not have that problem with the granola. Needless to say, I don’t grab for the cereals anymore.
The same story can be told about our switch from white rice to brown rice and refined bread to whole wheat bread. The closer you get to the real deal, the longer it last and the better it feels in your body.
Tonight is another great example. For lunch, Dan made a potato soup (potato, onion, garlic, spices – all creamed together) and a nice big salad with a few steak strips. Since I take care of the baking, I made some biscuits from “scratch” (that word is not as scary as it sounds, try it out sometime – the Better Homes and Gardens cook book is a great start). Let me tell ya, these biscuits did not go easy on the butter, they were delicious! We ate a moderate amount of it all (I did end up having two biscuits, yum). We then topped it off with some shortcake (not from scratch – Hostess) topped with a scoop of Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream (look at the ingredients list on Breyer’s ice cream, it’s pretty impressive), fresh strawberries, fresh strawberry sauce, and real whipped cream. It is now 7 hours later and I still feel full (granted all I’ve done this afternoon is nap and sit on the couch, but stillJ)! I’ll probably grab an orange and some water for dinner and call it good for the night.
Our bodies need certain nutrients and they are going to be looking for those until we satisfy that need. As much as nutritionists think they can pick apart those nutrients and plug them into “food-like substances”, they are missing the mark. When we eat something like ‘margarine’ we are tricking our mind into thinking we are getting a healthier form of butter without most of that ‘unhealthy’ fat; however, our bodies are still going to continue to crave those needed fats. That’s why we start grabbing for the chips or ‘big mac’ J.
I think the best part of this food transformation has been my attitude shift about food. I hate to admit it but I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Food was a necessary evil with one purpose… making me fat. Anytime I would eat something with butter, sugar, or anything yummy (heaven forbid), I felt guilty. I ate because I got hungry and whatever I could get into my body that would take care of that hunger would suffice. Consequently, I ate a lot of cereal. What was the purpose of making a big meal when all I would do is make a big mess, undoubtedly put something in it that I would feel guilty about, and be hungry an hour later?
Now I feel like I finally ENJOY eating. I know, I said it, eating is fun and guilt free for the first time in my life. I make sure I’m eating plenty of those yummy fruits and veggies, then as long as it is made with real food and I don’t eat too much of it, I can eat anything I want. It’s glorious!
I have to admit, this way of eating does take a little more time and a little more money, but aren't our bodies and health worth it? Priorities People!!
Once again, I think everyone needs to go buy, borrow, or checkout this book. Again, it’s called “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. I promise it’ll CHANGE YOUR WORLD!!!!
(It actually has prequel called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. Dan just ordered it yesterday and I’m curious to read that as well.)
Here are a few of my favorite “REAL FOOD” recipes. I’ll add more as I come across yummy things:
Annie’s Granola (stolen from Judy Ruden)
7 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut
1 cup whole wheat flour or wheat germ
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped or sliced nuts
¼ cup honey
1 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp salt
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup powdered milk
You can pretty much add anything else you want.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour stirring every 20 minutes.
I bake it in a large glass Pyrex dish. After it cools I usually put it in a big plastic Ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. I like it a little cold. Remember, you only need 1/2 C – 3/4 C to fill you up (no need for the mega cereal bowl). Any berries or fruit you add on top just takes it to ‘over the edge’ goodness.
For those who want to try their hand at some homemade bread, here’s a great one:
“Everything yummy and good” whole wheat bread (I named that myself)
(Note: I use a big Bosch mixer – you might need to cut this recipe in half if you have a Kitchen Aide mixer)
2 ½ T yeast in ½ C warm water – set aside
In the mixer put:
1 C sugar or 2/3 C honey
2/3 C oil
2 T salt
Add 5 ½ - 6 C HOT water
Stir in 7 C Whole Wheat Flour
Mix well, add yeast mixture, mix well
Add an additional 3 cups of whole wheat flour, mix well
Add 3-4 C White flour OR mix less flour and more MIX-INS (see below)
Mix for 6 or so minutes.
Form into 3-4 loafs and place in greased bread pans
Let rise in 175 degree oven for 25 minutes
Turn heat up to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.
Take out of pans and let cool on racks
MIX-IN ideas: raisins, oats, craisins, walnuts/nuts, seeds, 7 grain (found in bulk food stores), or anything else you think would be yummy. (I go heavy on the oats, 7 grain, and nuts)
ENJOY, no really...ENJOY!!!