How Did We Get Here?
Like almost everyone’s story, it started when I got sick. Until I was 20, i didn’t really care very much about eating healthy. I specifically remember sitting at a bar in college eating a gigantic hummus plate with pita and congratulating myself on making good food choices, while waiting for the pounds to slip right off. Fortunately, life found a roundabout shitty way of bringing me down to my goal weight…right after I received my second Gardasil shot, rashes and sickness, and multiple food allergies took over my life, and after a lot of reading and google diagnosis and allergy tests, it was evident that I had to make some immediate and major lifestyle changes.
Crying a Lot.
I had to cut out a lot of the foods that were a staple to my diet: wheat and gluten, soy, legumes (no hummus!), dairy, corn, night shades, most alcohol, cigarettes. It was hard. I cried in a lot of restaurants, I had dreams that I was drinking beer. I bought really expensive allergy and gluten-free substitutes that mostly tasted like crap. And then like climax of the hero’s journey, I realized the only way that I could eat good food again would be to make it myself.
Ps. I avoid the following food stuff: Gluten, Soy, Cow Dairy, Corn, Legumes, Mellon; my husband is allergic to bananas, peaches, mellon, dill, peanuts.
Finding Paleo/ Eating Clean
I fumbled through a lot of trials and errors in home cooking, and spent a lot of time trying to remake foods that I missed. A cashier at Whole Foods turning me on to paleo. She saw my coconut products, and my love for Hail Merry macaroons and asked if I ate paleo.Say what you will about the good and the bad of eating paleo, but it opened up a whole world of clever recipes, substitutions, and building blocks to make some tasty food! Instead of living on a restricted diet, I was living paleo. It was a word that soon most people would recognize and more or less understand, and it was something I could use to find recipes that I could actually cook. I started this food blog about two years in to my diet when I was unemployed and cooking paleo meals on the side for some rich kid in the city. it was typical paleo love at first sight – bacon wrapped everything, zucchini noodles smothered in meat sauce, and lots of ground beef.
Now, I consider myself “paleo 2.0”. I recently watched Michael Pollen’s Cooked on Netflix and we realized that I was not doing such a great job at eating. The household (currently my husband and dad, who I will refer to as “the intern”) ate a lot of meat, and we spent a lot of money eating out of season vegetables.
Principals for my own eating philosophy come from standing on the shoulders of giants, as I am in no way a food professional. Michael Pollen (Cooked), Rita Romano, Donna Gates (Body Ecology), and the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Knifey Spoony Food Goals/Philosophy
- Eat well.
- Use whole, unprocessed foods. Stick to fresh produce and stay away from shelf-stable items as much as possible. Read the ingredients of boxed food to avoid any additives.
- Properly combine foods. Protein, starchy vegetables, or grains ideally should be 20% of your plate with the other 80% being vegetables.. Don’t make them compete – pick one to feature and save the others for another time.
- Fermented foods at least once a day. Kim chi, pickled vegetables or fruits, yogurt, kombucha.. so many ways to get your fill of helpful probiotics.
- Spend money on good meat with a high animal welfare rating. If you’re going to eat and animal*, vote with your dollar and buy quality meats. Commitment to quality will also help you stick with eating smaller portions of meat.
- Eat like the French. Savor rich delicious foods. Don’t eat a rich meal when you’re starving and standing over your counter top. Don’t eat them in your car before practice. Eat rich foods when they have time to be savored, not devoured.
- Share your food. “For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
*While I am totally on board for eating less meat, we have too many food allergies between us to ever become fully vegetarian or vegan. Red meat is too delicious to give up for good.
**I hope to bring something to the table in terms of plant-based meal inspiration. When I google/mindlessly surf through Instagram I see SO MANY of the posts are gorgeous smoothie bowls, fruit, more fruit, or alternative meat or gluten items. Where are the vegetables? Instagram is kind of like the fashion world in that way, very pretty, but totally not for my daily use.
Reshaping How to Eat (with a focus on anti-aging):
Eating healthy foods in only one part of the equation, it’s also important to pay attention to how food is eaten.
Dining in the Raw (Groundbreaking natural cuisine that combines the techniques of macrobiotic, vegan, allergy – free, and raw food disciplines) by Rita Romano focuses on preparing fresh, live foods. According to Rita, premature aging and disease begin when the body’s enzyme reserves are continually run low, which can happen when one one eats too many foods that have had the enzymes cooked out of them. The ultimate goal is to conserve our own enzymes for repairing and rebuilding; while letting enzymes in the foods we eat take care of the digestion process. This is especially important as we get older and our bodies produce less enzymes.
When not enough enzymes are present, excess and undigested foods remain in the body and begin to rot, which according to Rita, is excreted through the skin in the form of body rashes. Specifically, undigested protein creates a ton of acid and waste and could be the cause of allergy problems that so many of us somehow manage to live through.
Sprouts are thought to have anti-aging properties due to their intense amount of easy to digest nutrients (buy the book to learn more!). Plus, many seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that can be dangerous in large quantities, either cooking or sprouting will inactivate them.
- There are a few types of seeds that when sprouted become complete proteins: alfalfa, chickpeas (I’m allergic), clover, buckwheat (no), sunflower seed (what I will probably use the most unhulled), mung bean (legume?), soy bean (allergic!), sesame seed (yay!), millet, lentil (allergic), quinoa (most likely to sprout), almond, and pumpkin seed (winner!).
ALKALINES AND ACIDS
80% of food should be alkaline producing food, 20% acid forming food. I’m going to jump into an explanation without telling you right off the bat, everything you love to put in your body is probably acid producing. Accept it and move past it and try your best. Acid and Alkaline foods are categorized by how the body metabolizes them. For example, a lemon may seem to be acidic (in cooking, for instance), but in the body it contributes alkaline properties.
- ALKALINE FORMING FOODS: most raw vegetables, most ripe raw fruits (especially mellons), raw milk, sundried olives, lima beans, avacado, soaked or sprouted foods, bee pollen, royal jelly, honey, algaes, sea vegetables, fresh coconut.
- ACID FORMING FOODS: meat, fish, dairy, sugar, alcohol, legumes, coffee, Brussels sprouts (noooo!) and asparagus, commercial vinegar and dressings.
- Body Ecology is a great resource – and this handy chart really illustrates the ratios that I go for when preparing meals: 80% Alkaline forming vegetables 20% acid forming vegetables/meats, a side of leafy greens or fermented vegetables, plus whatever fats and oils are used for cooking and dressing.
Food combining aids in digestion and into consideration 1. time needed complete digestion, 2. enzymes needed to break down food (isn’t it fun that each enzyme has a different job?) 3. ending in an alkaline-positive state.
Some basic rules :
- Eat fruit alone on an empty stomach.
- Do not eat animal protein and a starchy vegetable and/or grain in the same meal.
- Eat leafy greens and non starchy vegetables with your meals, especially if eating protein!
- Nuts and seeds don’t combine well with starchy food.
There is obviously a lot more information in this book with science and references and a bit of an agenda.
Properly combined food reduces the risk of leaving undigested food in your body to rot, which can manifest into skin rashes, as well as a host of other scary issues including cancer. By aiding the digestion process with the proper enzymes, your body can reserve more of it’s own enzymes to work on repairing and restoring your body. According to some, food combining is a key to anti-aging!
On this point, The Raw diet obviously encourages that vegetables are eaten raw so that the digestive enzymes are not killed off in the cooking process. Body Ecology specifically states that cooked vegetables are the way to go for optimal nutrient absorption, and also because cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage..etc) can harm the thyroid. However, the author admits that fermenting these vegetables is the way to get the best of both worlds.
This last point is great because this food combining principal has been around for ages, from eating a salad with every meal, to the ancient recipes for fermenting and storing foods…no one is arguing that fermentation of vegetables is a bad thing, it is something we can all agree on! Ps. There is a difference between pickled and fermented. Fermented foods will always be refrigerated (they’re alive!), pickled foods are usually shelf-stable.
Obviously there is a lot for information available out there from people who can better speak to the science behind food combining. As I have mentioned, Dining in the Raw and Body Ecology provide a lot of interesting information and resources for further reading. (The links on this page are affiliate links from Amazon, sorry if that offends you.)