Food is fuel, but I think it is criminal to reduce it to simply that!
Food is about enjoyment as much as it is about nourishment and there’s no reason why we can’t celebrate both of these aspects. Eating real, nourishing food doesn’t have to take away from the enjoyment of it. In fact in many ways I think that being selective about sourcing and preparing good quality real food can enhance our enjoyment of it.
To me, one of the fabulous things about cooking good food is the endless possibilities. And the excellent thing about fuelling our bodies is that we get to do it (give or take) three times a day! Each meal is an opportunity to sit down and savour something delicious and a chance to try something new! I love flicking through cookbooks and food websites for mouth-watering inspiration (although I rarely follow specific recipes). The internet is incredible for the home cook! It’s like having a million cookbooks right at your fingertips with all the tips and tricks you need to try something different.
Of course this doesn’t have to mean every meal should be new or complicated. It’s fun sometimes sure, but a crisp apple or a piece of grass-fed steak with fresh vegetables can be mindfully eaten and enjoyed as much as a slice of carefully layered cake or fancy restaurant dish.
I think eating mindfully (and by that I mean consciously slowing down, tasting the food and enjoying the experience) is the key factor to a good relationship with food. Although it can be difficult, particularly if we’re eating on the run, lunching at the desk or otherwise attempting to multi task. All too often I find myself reaching down for another bite of something and finding I’ve already eaten it, or getting myself something to have with a cup of tea and eating it before the kettle has even boiled! I am constantly trying to remind myself to slow down and savour my food.
I do realise too, that we all have a preference for certain foods over others and enjoyment levels vary accordingly. Honestly, give me the choice between layer cake and an apple and I’m going to choose the cake 9 times out of 10. And that’s probably if the tenth time I was offered this choice, say, five minutes after consuming a whole cake. But my point is that we can still choose to eat mindfully and enjoy whatever we happen to have in the moment, for whatever it is (appreciate the appleness of the apple for example). Of course there are those moments when we only have a floury apple or otherwise unpleasant option, in which case we can take heart in knowing that the next meal probably isn’t too far away and may be much better!
When I do have the chance though I love to attempt new things. I’m always on the search for new ideas in the kitchen. A funny aspect of my travels through food filled web pages is that the majority of them tend to be written by people in the northern hemisphere, most often the US, which means that recipes are being posted out of season for me reading from Australia. I see loads of fabulous recipes for hearty stews and comforting soups and warming desserts when it’s the middle of summer and fresh salads and frozen treats when I’m all rugged up and sitting in front of my computer screen with a steaming hot cuppa trying to stay warm. And of course there are many recipes out there that I would never really think of coming from a different cultural background. This past spring and summer I saw loads of fantastic looking recipes using pumpkin as America went through autumn (sorry, fall) and winter. And most of them desserts which is unusual here! It recently occurred to me that now the cold weather has set in I should be trying some! I’ll see if I can dig them up and I’ll post a few if I’m successful.
What the wonderful worlds of real food and the internet have brought to my table is nut butters. I hated peanut butter as a kid. I think it was a texture thing. But my husband likes it so it was often in the house. When I made the switch to real food I traded his standard peanut butter for all natural 100% peanut peanut butter. He didn’t like it much so I found other ways to use it. Over time it has grown on me and the natural stuff has grown on him. And I’ve discovered almond butter and some wonderful recipes for other nut butters.
Yesterday I attempted my own for the first time. It’s unbelievable how easy it is if you have a good food processor or blender to do all the work. Since my favourite nuts are pecans I thought I would try pecan-almond butter. I also decided that since it was highly likely I would eat this nut butter with maple syrup I would just go ahead and flavour the whole thing. So maple-cinnamon pecan-almond butter was made!
I’m not a recipe following kind of person but here’s a rough idea:
2 cups pecans (I used raw unsalted)
2 cups almonds (I used dry roasted unsalted)
Maple syrup and ground cinnamon to taste
Process. A lot.
This slightly sweet nut butter is delicious thickly spread on a slice of good sourdough, as a topping on porridge or as a sneaky finger scoop on your way past the pantry. Not that I do that.