A wise woman (Jen Hatmaker), recently wrote, “We don’t think our way into a new life; we live our way into a new kind of thinking.” I read that today while getting a pedicure (yes, the planets all aligned, babies slept, toddlers napped, older children read, and the Hubs was working from home, so I grabbed my purse and made a dash for it, before anyone could “need” anything else).
Now the wise author’s reference was to a story about our hearts and where we store our treasures. Some of you may be familiar with that one – wink. But I found myself thinking about how much that saying applies to what we eat. What if we rephrased it this way – – – we don’t think our way into new eating habits; we eat our way into new thoughts about food. Make sense? It totally rings true to me.
If you had told me even 2 years ago that I would be eating flexitarian (mainly vegetarian with a little meat thrown in here and there, because who can live without bacon???), avoiding processed foods,making my own bread, and growing our own little backyard garden, I would have looked at you with that weird scrunched up mouth and one raised eyebrow look. You know, the look accompanied by “Whaaaaaaaat?” But we started, eating differently bit by bit. First the no read meat. Then the no chicken. Then the slight avoidance of processed foods. Then the major avoidance of processed foods, and so on. And here we are. I now steer the boat known as my kitchen in a totally different way because I have totally NEW THOUGHTS about food.
When I started this blog, one of the only things I knew I DIDN’T want to do was to be prescriptive. Just because something works for me and my family doesn’t mean it’s something that will work for everyone else. But I have had a lot of people ask me how they can transition to eating more real foods and eliminating the processed stuff. So here’s the short list, folks. Some simple steps that I took and that might help you too.
1) Go through the effort of cleaning out what you already have in your kitchen. Eliminate the processed stuff and give yourself a clean slate. If you go through the time, effort, and expense of getting rid of the foods you don’t want to eat, it will be that much harder to justify buying more of it.
2) Get a clear idea of what it is you DO want to eat. Real Food is food that is as close to its natural state as possible. It’s not produced in a factory or engineered in a lab. The sad truth is that 70% of the “food” available for sale at your grocery store isn’t really food at all. So in order to eat real food, you’re probably going to have to shop differently. Probably the best definition of real food that I have come across is right here.
3) Decide to shop differently. First of all, if you are going to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, you will more than likely need to shop more frequently. This way of shopping is pretty standard for most Europeans. They have bi-weekly markets (like our farmers’ markets) in most towns and villages and so stock up on fresh produce twice a week. Decide to do the same. Choose two days (Wednesday and Saturday, for example) when you will shop for fresh produce. Make a plan to have one fresh fruit and one vegetable with every meal you consume. That leads us nicely into suggestion #4.
4) Take a piece of paper and a pencil, yes, I said a piece of paper and a pencil, and make a 5 day meal plan. No don’t faint. Stick with me now. It’s not as hard as it sounds. For Monday through Friday, decide on a protein you will eat, a vegetable you will eat, and a fruit you will eat at each meal. You can also throw in whole grains if you’re feeling ambitious. Now take that paper and walk over to your refrigerator and stick it on the front.
5) Try it. If you purge (1), understand (2), plan (3), and shop (4), the only thing you have left to do is give it a try. What do you have to lose? I have found that this is totally an incremental transition. It’s not like going cold turkey overnight. You will slip back into some old habits, but hopefully you will acquire more new ones. Me, for example, I have made a lot of progress in the area of meals. On-the-go snacks? Not so much. So while I aspire to become that mom who makes her own fruit leather, for now I still throw the occasional baggie of goldfish in my purse on my way out the door. I’m a work in progress.
I bet that if you were to give these five steps a try for just one week, you could start the incremental process of eating differently. If it’s something you think you may try, I would love to hear about your experience. In the meantime, let’s talk salads . . . specifically a little orzo number that has been in my repertoire for years.
Super simple, I started by cooking up about a cup and a half of orzo (rice shaped pasta). After I had drained it, I added to it some sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I let that sit until it was completely cooled. Then I added in one head of chopped radicchio and a big bunch of basil.
In a dry skillet, I toasted some pine nuts.
I tossed the pine nuts, along with some freshly grated parmesan and minced garlic into the orzo.
I gave that all a good stir and called it a wrap – not that kind of wrap, silly! I like to let this one sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving because I just find that it allows the flavors to blend better.
Here’s the complete recipe for Orzo with Everything.
Oh, and if you decide to try a baby step toward eating real food, good luck to you. I would love to hear about your journey.