Quote of the week

If we were not intended to eat extraordinary food, we would not have been given such extraordinary senses of taste and smell.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Oscar Buzz

We are just hours away from the event of the season. How do you get ready for the Academy Awards?

Monday, February 20, 2012

I can't afford to eat UNhealthy

It is so often said, especially by many parents, 'I can't afford to feed my family healthy'. I get that. It's sticker shock when you look at organic produce at the market. I understand that many families have a budget and each family member has certain grocery expectations, and thus, organic or healthier food seems out of reach. It does not help that all of the coupons available to shoppers are for highly processed, low nutritional value items. You can always find a deal on hamburger helper, but rarely on organic whole wheat noodles. It is also a bit of a double edged sword, we are driven to be busy busy busy. Work all day, children's activities at night, other responsibilities throughout the week, it's no wonder we are drawn to convenience and ease when we are home. Who want's to fuss in the kitchen after a long day? But convenience has a cost and the question needs to become at what point is that cost too great? Based on a comment from a mortician, I'd say now!
A friend shared a story with me that had me gobsmacked. He has a good friend who is a mortician, and one day they were chatting. The mortician made comment that he has very little work to do anymore and really only have to embalm a body because it is required by law. When questioned, the mortician continued, saying we eat foods so full of preservatives, we are preserving our own bodies. The older the person, the more preserved the body. Some wouldn't even need embalming at all.
Have you recovered? It took me a while after I heard that. It also really got me to thinking about what we put into our bodies every day. It got me to thinking about the size of our grocery stores. Three-quarters of our grocery stores are highly processed, preservative filled 'convenience' food. Still grossed out beyond words, I started thinking about the advertising around food. So many of them based on quickness and ease for your busy schedule. Almost all things we CAN make from scratch. But why bother, when you can just buy it at the store and heat it up, or just add water. The mire fact that half of the grocery items sold on TV right now are sold as 'fiber full', 'whole grain' or 'probiotic'. Clearly, people are not eating enough raw fruits and vegetables. Why are we buying 'fixer' food instead of real food? So our lives can be 'convenient'?
When did we fall victim to 'convenience is the key of life', no matter what the cost?
So what is the cost? The long term cost is less work for the mortician, of course.  Seriously though, the long term costs of 'convenience' eating is health. Not only for you, but for your family. Are we really willing to start testing our children's cholesterol levels at age 11 and potentially put them on pharmaceutical drugs to control it, instead of changing the child's diet? Are you willing to allow your children to eat pizza and call it a vegetable source, or ketchup or fries for that matter?
Why would someone intentionally feed their family something they knew was harmful for them. No one wants to see their family suffer. We believe the government would never allow companies to sell food items that are not good for us, right? Wrong. Study after study after study have shown our diets have changed greatly in just a short 60 years. We eat far more highly processed foods and less fresh foods. We are drawn to quickness and ease, and are willing to ignore the added preservatives and sodium we are eating. We will fill ourselves with sugar alternatives in the form of diet soda or fat free/sugar free items that, according to many studies, can, in high doses, cause damage to the body. Almost anything you consume that is diet, sugar free, fat free, has a sugar substitute. It adds up quickly. Sugar itself has been shown to be addictive. Many top scientist in the field are showing just how damaging and addicting sugar is, in all forms. Think about the amount of soda we drink in this country!
So what can we do? Start with one simple realization; this is the only body you get. Know what you put into it. Would you put bad gasoline into your car if you knew it may cause the car to break down with perhaps expensive repairs? Of course not. You need your car...you need your body more. Start paying attention to what you are eating/feed your family. Start by being aware of your eating habits, where you do most of your shopping in the store. Do you plan your meals for the week or shop on impulse? Take some time to read the ingredients label on some of your favorite foods. Is it a nutritional addition to your diet or is it laden with sugar (often High Fructose Corn Syrup) and preservatives and additives. Look at the bread you buy, HFCS, your jarred spaghetti sauce, HFCS, prepared meals, HFCS and sodium. Sodium and sugar are the top two additives/preservatives in our processed foods.
This is a great time to reassess what we consider convenience. It may take an additional 20 minutes to whip together a healthy meal for the family, but aren't you all worth it? Why not start a new family tradition where everyone helps with dinner, or family members take turns. Perhaps the kids do homework at the kitchen table why you make dinner. Perhaps you are single and without children. Take time to relax in the kitchen and unwind with a glass of wine while making yourself a nice meal after a long day. Involve anyone who is in the household in finding ways to eat more real food. Check out the local farmer's market and create meals on what's in season. Use a cookbook recipe once a week. There are so many ways to pull ourselves out of the grips of the highly processed food vacuum.
Now, life is crazy, busy and hard, this I understand. I also understand an undertone of, 'ya, this from a caterer who loves to cook and has older kids!' This was a process for me. One that started when my kids were younger. I started my own journey with food. I had preemies with weak immune systems. I was a young and scared 23 year old. I loved boxed food, frozen food, pre-made food. I was a stay at home mom who wanted to do the best by her children, so started doing research and starting making my own food. I realized the benefits of making items fresh, verses out of a box, or can or microwave. Most predominantly was taste. When my kids were little, they ate a variety of foods and often 'helped' me in the kitchen, making it their creation too. Mangos and carrots were two of their favorite foods. My preemie babies beat a lot of the odds against them and are now 18 and out of high school. My daughter Logan, who lives with me, will spend a weekend away and come home pale and tired looking, asking for a salad or carrots and a cup of tea. Her body knows it hasn't had real food for a couple of days and it shows. It is rather an irony, in a world where we are so busy, we do not focus enough on proper respect of the body we expect to get us through.
Your mission, next time you are shopping, stop and read the label and ingredients of every item you put into your cart. if the ingredient list is longer than 5 and you cannot pronounce most of them, it's probably not good for you. If the second ingredient is sucrose, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup any other -tose, it is probably not good for you.  If your cart is devoid of any fresh/perishable item, you are missing something. Having said that, sometimes there are days that only Velveeta Shells & Cheese can make better. That and a martini. Don't deny yourself, just know what you are eating. Because you are worth it.

Life's a Feast...bring your appetite!

For a fascinating and powerful look at the truth about sugar, check out this video. The man in the video is a professor of pediatrics division of  endocrinology. It is long, but extremely informative.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Few things smell better than fresh baked bread

New Directions, New beginnings

I have been want to blog for quite a while, but with so many really good one's out there based on food, I was always worried I would never have a good enough blog, with the right picture, I wouldn't know what to say, always doubting myself. Well it's time for the doubting to end! Here I go!
Last year was a very pivotal year for me. I turned forty, I almost split from my partner of 14 years, my mother stopped speaking to me, as well as one of my twin daughters. I lost of my closest friends to alcoholism and then to death. I struggled to pull my life and world back together and struggled to keep my catering company afloat. It has indeed been a journey, and one I have only begun. I have realized a few things in the past year. One, I am so very blessed with good friends. I figured out how to be a better me, which helps me make those around me better. Two, I realized I am happiest when I am talking about food. Cooking it, buying it, nutrition, education, anything with food brightens my mood.
So, today are start the next part of my journey. Sharing my thoughts, recipes, video's and photo's. I hope you enjoy and thanks for joining me. Hopefully, it will help you LAF more in your kitchen.