For today, the Practical Cook will emerge from the cloak of recipes, and address the philosophy behind them. If I were a poet, I might offer this up as a recipe for life, as they do in the self-print church cookbooks I adore and collect. However, I am neither a poet nor printing casserole recipes on demand, so this is more likely to turn out as a bulleted list. It all starts with the Practical Cook’s love of grapefruit.
What is so special about the humble grapefruit? Aside from the fact that I love them, eat them ice cold, and survived on them through a very rocky pregnancy, they are incompatible with statins.
For those of you who read the blog closely (hi Mom), you may remember that along with a love of food and cooking, I got smacked with a genetic cholesterol stick. So I had to choose—change my life or go on meds and give up grapefruit.
I changed. Oh the irony of this post following the ode to bacon. So when I talk about bringing the whole wheat along with the flavor, or portion control, that’s where I’m coming from. I love food way too much to give any item up forever.
Here are a few of my guiding principals:
- Do not rush. When and if you decide to change your eating habits, be ready to do it forever.
- Be kind to yourself. There’s a great article on the subject of how much more effective it is than some torture program.
- Break old habits. I spent two weeks eating really healthy, a detox program of sorts. After that, I only let things back into the house that I could manage to consume responsibly. There are only a couple of things on the hit list, and I save those things for restaurants or special occasions. (Hello brownies!)
- Buy higher quality, eat less of it. Multiple studies (and the entirety of France) indicate that the better something tastes, the more likely you are to eat reasonable amounts of it. As if we keep eating the mediocre in hopes of the next bite tasting better. Higher quality often means more expensive (mmm, cheese, another weakness), and for me that means choosing and eating wisely to not break the bank.
- Lead with vegetables and fruits. Your mom was right. Mine was, too. My brother and I can’t leave a table without eating something green to this day. Joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) can really help with this.
- Don’t ban foods. Nothing is better than forbidden fruit, but rarely is fruit on the forbidden list. Peanut butter is one of my great loves, but banning it would get me nowhere but hungry and with a fistful of Reese’s. I buy the natural stuff now (love the Whole Food’s 365 brand for this, just peanuts and salt, preferably crunchy), and pair it with apples.
- Cook more and differently. Improve your techniques and you’ll find your food tastes better without the crutches of some of the prepared stuff. This has been a personal challenge since a family member is allergic to MSG. Try cooking a Southern holiday dish that doesn’t involve a can of something that’s laden with it. I’ve had to up my game, because I’m very fond of my relatives.
- Celebrate. I eat a grapefruit most days when they’re in season. A tart and delicious reminder of what I’m doing and why. It’s my ingrediente secreto.
Ironically, all of the cookbook authors I know (and I know several) are very fit people. It’s inspiring to see that food can be at the center of one’s life, and not endanger it.
Tomorrow, in preparation for Birthday Month 2011, and as proof that healthy doesn’t have to be a drag, Cake Decoration: 101.
Have you made changes to how you eat and cook? Send me a line: practicalcook at gmail dot com