Bones

My food philosophy these days has three main parts:

1. Eat Real Food

2. Eat Ethically

3. Eat Frugally

My first attempt at this was getting too long, so let me address these one at a time…

Eat Real Food

As mentioned in my previous post one of the starting points for me on this road was finding 100 Days of Real Food.  This blog inspired me to look more closely at what  we were eating and cut out the junk. Not just the double-stuffed Oreos kind of junk, but the junk that hides in the ready made food packing the supermarket shelves.

It’s easier said than done. When I first decided I was going to clean up our diet I took to the panty with a bag and piled in all the offending products. I was on a mission and declaring our house a junk free zone. Cereal- out. Milo- out. Biscuits- out. Luckily I cooked a lot from scratch already so I didn’t end up emptying the cupboards, but all the snack and convenience foods were banished. Admittedly though, only banished to my parents house to feed my little brother. Technically that’s not really a nice move since I’d decided that it wasn’t food worth eating, but putting it in the bin felt too much like throwing money away. Anyway, we did well on the real food path for a while until a holiday in Europe derailed the train a little.

A year or so later the train completely lost sight of the rails when I fell pregnant.  Ideally, one would think that the desire to nourish a growing baby would lead a person to improve their eating habits. I wanted to, I really did. But I have to admit that the constant hangover symptoms and exhaustion of early pregnancy led me to indulge in more trips through the McDonalds drive-thru than I care to think about. Certainly more than I ever would have made before I’d even heard of ‘real food’. Once the baby was out though I felt a renewed commitment to eating well, to lose the baby weight and get myself and my family healthy. I want to set an example for my son and any future siblings he may have.

I also finally got around to reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (the inspiration for the Leake family of 100 Days of Real Food).  This book so clearly sums up what is wrong with the western food culture of today, how eating got to be so complicated in the first place, and offers some sensible advice on what, in fact, you should eat.  Pollan boils it all down to this “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He also condenses his thoughts into some catchy guidelines for eating in his book Food Rules, including “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.”  That is an approach to food that I can get on board with.

Now we’re back on track. Sort of. It’s an ongoing process.

We focus on a mostly whole food diet. For me this means following (as closely as possible) the ‘rules that are nicely set out by 100 Days of Real Food. I do still have a weakness for refined flour and sugar that is hard to kick. Especially since I enjoy cooking and eating desserts and sweet treats. I still make my own baked treats far more often than I buy additive-laden shop treats, but I’m working to cut down on those too, or at least opt for whole food approved sweet treats more often than not.

I do feel that there needs to be an allowable amount of processed food for social and enjoyment reasons. I’d like to aim for 90/10 balance, although we’re probably sitting at around 80/20.  The exact definition of an ‘allowable amount’ is a source of ongoing discussion between myself and my husband.

Managing this balance is going to be a work in progress, especially now the kiddo is eating  almost everything and people want to feed him things.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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Beans

Modern life can get a little crazy.

There are a million voices out there silently shouting things at you. It’s overwhelming. Most of the time they contradict each other. That’s just confusing. And you don’t necessarily realise that the voices exist. You just feel the pressure of them when you’re anxious that you’re not living life quite right. That you should be thinking/eating/doing more of a and less of b. That you definitely need to own x or y. Probably x and y to really get it right. Sometimes the ‘eat me’, ‘buy me’, ‘want me’, ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’ messages are just too much. The mixed messages can leave you walking around with an uneasy feeling at the back of your mind. What exactly is it that makes me feel slightly anxious, guilty and inadequate, all the time?

But there are some positive messages out there too, if you can filter out all the rubbish. Side note- I guess it’s up to the individual to determine what they feel is rubbish. Everyone has their own happy. I have stumbled across a few blogs in recent years that have caused me to reevaluate some things. The starting point was food. In 2012 I came across http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ and it began to transform my thoughts on food. It is, without a doubt, the most stress-free, common sense approach to eating I have ever come across. I was suddenly made aware of the extent to which highly processed food-like products have taken over from real food and I began the process of ditching all things processed.

That’s pretty much how it stayed until our first born arrived (9 months ago today- where has that time gone!). After having our beautiful boy I felt compelled to reaffirm a commitment to real food, and in doing so my passion for all things real food went off on a few tangents. If you ask my husband he’d probably tell you that being on maternity leave left me with WAY too much time on my hands for endless googling and blog surfing, but I prefer to see it as learning. Unfortunately (I’ll be honest, some days I regret my new found knowledge) once you learn things you cannot unlearn them. Somewhere along the way my interest in real food morphed into an interest in not only real, but ethical and sustainable food, which had another big impact on our eating habits, and consequently our lifestyle (more on that later).

You see, the problem with the internet (well, one of many no doubt, but let’s not get into that) is the hyperlink.  A delicious looking recipe contains a link to a page about veganism. That page links to one about natural living. The natural living blogger links to a post about homemade cleaning products on a page about frugal living. Which catches the eye of someone who has recently developed VERY expensive ethical eating and buying habits while living on one income! The frugal living blogger links to a fantastic movement called urban homesteading…and so it goes on. And don’t even get me started on the wonderous world of craftsy DIY projects I could lose myself in.

I began to dream of a simple life, one with our own vegetable gardens and even more wholesome cooking, and homemade cleaners and crafts.  I wanted to take on this new life, but I wanted to do it all at once.  All these swirling new ideas of a simpler life replaced joined the original set of screaming voices. Plus, the more I read the more I realised that the simple life is actually not so simple. And the overwhelmed feeling came rushing back.

But I like all these new ideals and goals. And, let’s face it, I like a lot about modern life. I’m not going to throw out our TV (ok TVs, we actually have three) or disconnect the wonderfully overwhelming world wide web. And while I now eschew so many of its fake food products, I don’t really want to give up the convenience of popping into the supermarket up the road when I need something.  So I need to sort out where the balance lies for me and for my family. To figure out what works for us in this crazy life with all its voices and choices. My husband’s on board my little ship of ideals, as long as I can explain my reasoning behind my sudden changes (and don’t go bananas when the poor man just wants an occasional can of Coke).

Beans are underrated. (Stay with me here, I swear this is still the same topic…)

Beans are a starting point. You can plant beans and grow more beans. You can cook some amazing meals with beans. They’re cheap. They’re filling. They’re nutritious. They’re delicious (or, if you ask my husband, they’re edible when suitably hidden amongst other delicious ingredients). There are loads of fantastic varieties to suit different tastes and dishes. Beans are also not so simple. They are a back to basics kind of ingredient but they can also take time, planning, and a bit of knowledge to enjoy properly.

I’ve embraced beans recently in a way I never have before, stepping out of my green bean and red kidney bean comfort zone and discovering black beans and pinto beans, butter beans and cannellini beans. And there are plenty more to try and plenty more for me to learn.  Some will become a staple for our family, and others just won’t be for us.

Those humble little gems are a metaphor for my new thoughts in every way. I’m excited to start figuring them out.