Welcome to my crazy world of real food cooking ...

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. -- Michael Pollan

I wish I could take credit for that because I think it sums up how we should eat. Simply -- eat stuff that really is food, instead of stuff that is food like substance. The supermarket is almost entirely food-like-substances, and, my friends, you should probably never ever eat them.

Fortunately, there is a world of deliciousness out there, and it can all be had in a way that not only doesn't harm your health, but in a way that benefits you hugely.

I think it's important to eat stuff that satisfies you, that keeps your blood sugar stable, and that gives you stuff your body really needs to run optimally.

But baby, it's gotta taste good.

I really like getting experimental in the kitchen. I love cooking, I love layering flavours, and I love coming up with really super yummy food. I have very strong opinions about what constitutes food, and there are a lot of things I won't touch in the kitchen. Bottom line? Pretty much everything I make is ridiculously good for you even if it tastes decadent. Although there are occasional big fat cheats ... but even those stick to real food, my friends.

For food that is usual gluten free, usually free of cane sugar, usually super low on the glycemic index, full of protein, fiber, flavour, and excellent energy, join me and Alice down the rabbit hole.

Every recipe on this blog is my own original effort and idea, so please pass 'em on, giving credit where credit is due.

Many thanks, and come back often. I'm really glad you are here!


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Food and Nutrition. Four Letter Words?

Gentle readers, blog followers, lurkers, supporters, and blog stalkers, I have the nagging feeling it's time for me to talk a little about food and nutrition. I have very strong ideas about what 'healthy' eating is, and have done research on the topic for years. Years, I tell you.

Back in the seventies, there were crazy things coming onto the market like pop-rocks and sour keys, grape bubblegum (my friend had me convinced it was made of spider eggs), and an unbelievable array of convenience foods our ancestors had probably never imagined, and wouldn't have recognized. The eighties were the era of fat-as-a-four-letter-word (and I don't mean phat), and everything was high carb, refined up the wazoo, and as low-fat as possible, never mind that it didn't even remotely resemble anything even dreamed about by mother nature. The nineties brought us the Mediterranean diet and Atkins, and the 2000s taught us why French women are skinny. Now is all Paleo this and primal that, gluten-free, sugar-free, don't eat it if it's not organic, count every calorie and still STILL saturated fat is referred to as the culprit in stroke and heart-disease. And, we're fatter and sicker than ever.

We've come a long way, baby. But not in a good way.

I'm terrible about citing resources, and terrible about remembering sources, but I'll tell you that the internet is a tremendous source of information, and if you are a discerning reader, it is often possible to separate the nuggets from the quackery.

I think Michael Pollan says it best: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. He wrote a brilliant book called 'In Defense of Food', and another brilliant book called 'The Omnivores Dilemma'. He has written other brilliant books such as 'The Botany of Desire', but this is not a  Michael Pollan advertising blog, so I will not continue listing his other books that are off topic. The thing I like about his writing is it's well researched, well cited, funny, incisive, and very very very informative about food and culture. Fascinating, and should really be required reading for anyone who, you know, eats. Yup, everyone.

When I read the advice the Registered Dietician for theglobeandmail.com gives, I want to tear my hair out. When I watch people offering their children sugar-rich toddler snacks made with white flour, I want to gouge my eyes out -- "... but they are low fat! and organic!"  I can imagine them retorting ... And finally, when I realize that everything we have been taught about food for the past 50 years has only conspired to make us sick, obese, and old, I want to cry for the farmers we undervalue, and for the children whose health has been determined by the food pyramid, the cartoons on cereal boxes, and their parents who have blindly accepted what they've been told by 'authorities' who afterall have their best interests at heart. Right?

Even though I usually keep my opinions to myself, and don't try to tell other people how to eat or how to live or what to do or how to think, I am going to go against the grain and all that is holy, and tell you the following:

1. Read Michael Pollan. Or listen to it on audio-book. The reader is quite good.
2. Watch The Bitter Truth. It's long, but it's really good information. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
3. Stop eating 'low-fat' food-like substances. Stop eating food-like substances of any kind.
4. Reduce your sugar intake. It's hiding everywhere ... hunt it out and eliminate.
5. Eat food, instead of imitation food. Fat free yogurt filled with thickeners and starches and sugar is not really yogurt anymore. And it does you more harm than good.
6. Eat saturated fat, especially coconut oil. There are no vegetable oils that are good for cooking with, especially not the seed oils, other than coconut oil. They are just not stable at high heat. Use coconut oil, butter, and olive oil (but the last not for heat if you can help it). Don't use low fat dairy products. Use everything as close to nature as you can. Don't ever use safflower, corn, sunflower, or canola oil even unheated. ETC. Coconut oil is great for your brain, for your heart, for your entire cardiovascular system, for your whole body, and for your metabolism.
7. Corn is not a vegetable.
8. Potatoes are not a vegetable. French fries do not count towards your produce intake for the day. Neither do ketchup, relish, or pickles.
9. Monsanto is truly evil.
10. Cheap conventional food is only cheap because it's government subsidized. Someone has to pay the full price.
11. Get your kid accustomed to the taste of real food so that they won't want or like the fake stuff.
12. It's okay to eat crap once in a while. But it really has to be once in a while. And it might as well be really really delicious, so it's at least worth it.
13. Fortified food isn't food. If something says 'fortified' on the package, I can almost guarantee it is not food but rather food-like substance. In fact, if it comes in a package, it will often be ... yes, not really food.
14. There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Nutrition science is a extremely reductionist, and is missing a huge part of the puzzle. We haven't even begun to understand the roles of micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients, or even what they all are. That is why it's so important to get your food whole and fresh, instead of pallid fortified imitations. You actually can die of malnutrition on a diet of fortified foods.
15. Fruit counts as sugar. However, it does come conveniently packaged with fiber and micronutrients that, as I said, we haven't even begun to understand. But especially if you are sensitive to sugar, you can't go hog-wild on the fruit platter everyday.
16. Despite what Leslie Beck says, honey really is better for you than refined white table sugar. Raw, unpasteurized honey, while still full of sugar and may not be well tolerated by those who are sensitive to sugar, brings with it a wealth of micronutrients, and has documented anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and really does promote healing. But don't go eating the whole jar or anything. See, Registered Dietitians are basically nutritionists, and they reduce food to it's basic nutrition, and thereby doing so, make equalities out of inequalities, because they are missing ... so much of the picture. I will not forget that I was told by a RD that they believed avocados were bad for you because of the high fat content, and the saturated fat content. I say: Bring 'em on! (Avocados, not RDs).
17. Watch your portion size, and learn what is an appropriate serving of food. It makes much more sense to watch how big the pieces are rather than eliminating things like fat from your diet.
18. There's room for chocolate. If that's what you like. Or for cheese. Just eat the good stuff. It's actually good for you. Throw away the left-over foil wrapped faux milk-chocolate eggs from easter and enjoy a square or two of actual honest-to-goodness chocolate.
19. Humans need exercise. I don't mean like insane hours a day of marathon training. I mean activity. Like the 20 minutes of yoga you squeeze in before work, or the brisk walk at lunch ... or the trail ride ... or whatever flavour of activity rocks your boat.
20. Cancer cells feed on sugar.
21. Don't sweat it or obsess over it. Just eat real food, mostly plants, and not too much. (And don't forget a little chocolate :)
22. I'm not going to talk about the whole raw milk vs pasteurized milk debate here because I don't want to start a whole black market scandal, but it's just one more example of how we process the value right out of our food, sadly. Very very sadly.

Food used to be about culture, and culture used to also be about food. Now it's much more about politics, deceit, and control, instead of survival or celebration. Someone once said if your great-great grandmother wouldn't have recognized it, don't eat it. I'm not sure I would go as far as that, but, all these things we call progress in nutrition just seem to take us farther and farther away from what we really should be feeding ourselves and our families.

You can change this for yourself, and voice your opinion, food-wise, by what you buy and where you spend your money. You can buy tomatoes at the farmer's market from farmers who don't use chemicals or buy their seeds from Monsanto, and you can get unpasteurized, whole milk from your local black-market milk-man and his lovely pastured cows. You can choose eggs from happy pastured chickens with names instead of caged, beakless chicken-like creatures that have had the essential chickeness bred right out of them. You can stop accepting what the RDs tell you and stop looking at the food pyramid as the holy grail. You can start eating food again, instead of food-like substances.

Enough rant. Enough high horse. Thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for leaving comments. I'll post another delicious recipe next time, instead of another ranty rant about nutritionism, food and health. Sorry if I've offended anyone. Please let me know and I'll apologize directly. It wasn't my intention.



20 something said...

The way you care for your 'self' and your family is something I am personally inspired by, and think everyone should want to learn from. I really appreciate the word you're spreading.

stacey said...

Aww! Thanks :`)
I am inspired by you, too!

Rebecca said...

Love love love this rant! You say it like it is, thank you! I am currently in the process of refining my diet more and your blog gives me inspiration.

stacey said...

Rebecca, thank you for reading, and for posting. I'm excited to hear what others are doing. I hope you'll be back again soon :)