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A new month, a new menu

March 28, 2010

It appears that March is the month when I take an unintended absence from the kitchen, or at least from writing about it. As usual, I might not be posting, but I have been cooking. However, every time I sat down to share what I’ve been cooking, I couldn’t find a way to make it fit. See, I’ve been eating very differently lately. You might have noticed some of those differences: a lot more vegetables, a lot less pasta, butter, and cream. I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I decided I needed to make some changes in how I eat. I’m never one to advocate dieting. A life without pasta, chocolate, and burgers is no life at all. But balance? I’m always in favor of that, and this year, I realized I have to put my money where my mouth is, and eat what I advocate.

Starting in January, I started eating more grains, including barley, brown rice, kamut, bulgar, and spelt. I started eating more vegetables, and less meat. And most significantly? I cut way back on the french fries and pizza, two of my biggest culinary weaknesses. Oh, I still eat pizza. But I’ve eaten pizza perhaps three times in 2010, instead of my usual two or three times a month. I finally figured out how to treat treats in my diet, and because I eat them so much less often, man, do I appreciate them when I do. The hardest part was cutting back on the wine, especially living in the heart of tasty wine country. But again, drinking only a few glasses a week makes every glass even more tasty, and makes me appreciate it much more.

What does all of this mean? Well, I had my yearly check up in February, and after two years of increasingly high blood pressure, increasing weight, and increasing heart rate, after only three months of eating better and working out regularly, I heard my doctor tell me that I’m extremely healthy. In fact, neither the doctor nor the nurse believed me when I told them I still smoke occasionally, because my heart rate and oxygen levels were so good. It was an eye-opening moment that showed me that not only is this kind of diet better for the environment, but it really is better for me.

However, changing my eating habits has taken time, and involved learning to cook and eat in a different way. Most of the meals I’ve been eating have been, well, kind of odd: big bowls of grains and roasted vegetables, rather than the more traditional meat and two sides, or plates of pasta. I wasn’t sure how to share these meals here, especially considering that most of the things I’ve written here in the past focused on those traditional meals and cooking techniques. I’ve spent a lot of time this month thinking about how I might re-invent this site, whether I even should re-invent it, and how to share this new way of cooking and eating in a way that is appealing and not preachy.

The good news is that I think most of the country is ready for just the same kind of food revolution. In fact, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has been making waves this month for his attempt to re-invent the way Americans eat. And god knows, we need it. We have such skewed ideas about nutrition, diet, and health that most of us have no real idea what it means to eat a healthy diet. We think 100 calorie Special K bars and Organic Cheerios mean eating right, rather than focusing on whole foods, plants, and healthy fats. I’ve spent the past two years reading about nutrition, the food industry, and how Americans eat, and have been slowly assimilating what I’ve learned into the way I eat. It was a slow process, but when I finally saw real, concrete results at the doctor’s office, I realized that it was time to figure out how to share some of the things I’ve learned.

We are starting to realize the the way we’ve been eating for the last 30 or 40 years is killing us. Michael Pollan’s books are long-time bestseller’s, movies like Food, Inc. and King Corn are getting a lot of attention, and Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters began to take all of this information and put it into practical terms that people can live by. But I think a lot of people are still unsure where to begin to eat better and more sustainably. I don’t necessarily have all the answers, but when I first started this blog, I didn’t know how to cook, either. I figured I might as well share this new adventure with all my readers, too.

I still love to cook, and trust me, I’m not eliminating cream, butter, meat, or ice cream from my diet. I’m just trying to enjoy them in better proportions, and hopefully help others figure out how to do that, too. And for those of you who have no interest in changing the way you eat, I hope you’ll keep reading anyway. I think you’ll see that eating better doesn’t mean eating boring.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    March 28, 2010 8:22 pm

    This sounds good to me. I’ve liked how the last few months you’ve been making more things I like to eat. (I’ve yet to make most but I have the intention.) I agree with you, when I don’t have the rich stuff as often I enjoy it a lot more. Happy to hear the docs are giving you a thumbs up, but even though you fooled them on the smoking I hope you’ll continue to smoke less :). Looking forward to the meals ahead.

  2. March 29, 2010 8:18 pm

    i like your posting

  3. March 30, 2010 8:57 am

    How inspiring that it only took a couple of months to see serious results! And I think we could all use reminders of the good things in life that aren’t cream or wine. :)

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