Food for Thought

What is the most memorable gift that I’ve received this year?

My very first thought was the gift of health (for me, my family, and my friends), but I think that’s a cop-out, as no one bestowed that upon me.  I think I am going to start with the definition of a gift so that we are all on the same page.  Here’s the definition that I’m going with, from dictionary.com:

gift – noun
1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

As I think back on the year, the most memorable gift that I’ve received (and Christmas/Birthday gifts are disqualified because of the recentcy of those events)… has been vegetables.

“Vegetables?” you ask.  Yes.  Vegetables.

My friend Alissa would bring me vegetables from her parents garden; zucchinis, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.  As health has been a big theme for me this year, being given vegetables was a great gift for me.  In fact, “health” probably should have been my word of the year.

She also knew I would enjoy them, so there was a purpose behind the act of giving.  And I DID enjoy them!  Very much!  I wish I had pictures of them, as they were beautiful vegetables.  No pesticides.  Just home grown, straight from the earth, veggies.  They taste so much better when they are fresh.

One more day of #reverb10.  It’s been fun and I am looking forward to this last prompt.  I hope it’s a good one!

Note: This is my response to the #reverb10 prompt for December 30. #reverb10 is  an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Each day has a prompt. Today’s prompt is: “Gift.  This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable.  What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?”

Corn and I are Having Relationship Issues

reverb10 – December 16 – Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

(Author: Martha Mihalick)

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It didn’t happen overnight, I’ll tell you that much.

My friend Alissa is a health coach.  She got to me at the right time.  When I met her, I was in the middle of my second round of P90X and had a pretty good diet going.  I was eating well, but the constant talk with her about what Americans constantly put in their bodies opened my eyes to a whole different world.  A world of people who really care about what they eat and the effects that food have on them.

This friend who helped change my perspective on the world didn’t do so by herself.  She had help.  Help in the form of corn.

Lots and Lots of Corn

It is not a secret to those who know me that I have a pretty healthy diet.  But I ratcheted that up this year.  In my quest for long life, a healthy body, and a six pack, I learned a lot about what I eat.  I cut way back on the amount of sweets I eat, but that wasn’t enough.  I made a conscious effort to include a lot more vegetables in my diet.  I have never had an issue with the amount of fruit that I eat daily, but I very rarely got more than 2-3 vegetables a day (if that).  It is something that I still struggle with, but now I consciously think about what I eat at every meal.

Not only did I cut down on sweets and increased the amount of vegetables I eat, but I also chose to eat natural peanut butter (rather than the kind with loads of sugar), Shakeology, and bread without high fructose corn syrup.

This is where the corn comes in.

Everything seems to be made of corn.  Corn Flakes?  Obviously, but any cereal probably comes from corn.  That soda your drinking?  Yep, even soda can’t be made without corn.  Basically anything that you find in the inner aisles at a supermarket has corn in it.  In fact, much of the meat that you would buy is corn fed.  But I guess the thing that totally opened my eyes was looking at all the loaves of bread in the supermarket.  90% of them had high fructose corn syrup in them.  Why would there be a need for sugar in my bread?  Banana bread?  Yes, I can see that.  But just regular whole wheat or white bread has sugar in it.

That was the turning point for me.  From that point on, I became hypersensitive to what was actually in my food.  I started to eat more whole foods.  I am not quite to where I want to be, but I am in a better place than I was 12 months ago.

If you’re at all interested in what goes into making food, I HIGHLY suggest “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Amazing Eggs!

When I cook, I like to experiment now and then.  I’ve always been a big fan of eggs.  The problem that I have had when making scrambled eggs is the cleanup afterward.  Inevitably I end up cooking them too long and I have to scrub and scrub to clean my pots or pans.

But then I found this video:

After trying this a few times, I have now found my new way to cook scrambled eggs.  Having the tomatoes and bread just add to the experience.  I’ve been using bigger tomatoes, and I end up cutting them in half after cooking them for a while.

I also am just using the bread that I have as opposed to the sourdough bread (although, I think the sourdough bread would be fantastic).  Just plain old whole wheat bread.  Sometimes I spice it up with some mushrooms and scallions.

Really, what I am saying, is that you can experiment as you like.  It probably will still be edible when all is said and done, and you probably learned something from it.

Ingredients:
3 Eggs
Nob of Butter
Half Table Spoon of Crème fraîche (I typically leave this out)
Little bit of Salt & Pepper
Chopped Chives (another that is optional)

Fat cap mushrooms
Salt & Pepper
Vine tomatoes

Sour Dough Bread (thick cut)
Drizzle Olive Oil

Result:

Breakfast from last Saturday morning

Did Meat Make Us Smarter?

There was a very interesting article on NPR that I just found.  It’s called Food for Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter.

Essentially, the article is saying that when our ancestors switched from eating only fruit, vegetables, and nuts, to eating more meat, we had more time to spend on other things.  Digestion was using up the majority of the bodies energy supply, but then we started to eat meat and:

Meat is packed with lots of calories and fat. Our brain — which uses about 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle — piped up and said, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

When we started to eat meat, our teeth, jaw, and mouth changed – as well as the big gut we were carrying around.  We had a big gut because we were eating everything raw.  Not that raw diets are bad, but cooking some foods helps the body digest those foods.  Raw foods were just being kept in our bellies being digested.

What does this mean to us?

Is it wrong to be a vegetarian?

I don’t believe this article is making that claim, but it’s fun to think about.  It is only saying that eating meat and cooking our food allowed humans to have more energy to do more things while thinking about other problems to be solved.  I guess one could make the argument that humans today need to have meat in their diets, but that is another argument and not at all the focus of this article or the research behind it.

All this article is saying is that eating and cooking meat helped humans evolve faster.

In and Out of Shape

I’ve been thinking a lot about food recently.  I definitely have noticed a “wearing down” effect when I don’t keep my calories in sync with my workouts.  If I eat too little in a day, I feel like a slug at night.  This shouldn’t happen as I’m in pretty good shape.  It isn’t like my days are physically stressful or anything.

What we eat has an enormous influence on how we feel and how our body deals with things.

This is why I can understand why some professional athletes put on a lot of weight once their playing days are done.

Put yourself in their shoes…  Here they are, working out every day.  Burning thousands of calories.  They need to maintain their weight, so their diets need to reflect that.

So say a professional athlete has been doing their sport for 10-20 years.  They have the same routine.  They eat the same things and maybe even have a set meal plan.  Over the years, they just get used to eating as much as they do.

Then it all stops.  Whether they retire, get hurt, or they decrease the amount of effort they put in, they burn less calories in a given day.  But if they don’t decrease the amount their eating (by a lot), they are going to gain weight.

One of the biggest revelations that I have had in the last couple months is that it is REALLY hard to change your eating habits.  It is comfortable and in some cases a lot easier to go with what you know.  And if all you know is unhealthy food or eating a lot to keep up with the calories you are losing, then it takes a real effort to put forth any change.