Sunday, January 1, 2012

:: The Year of Eating Nutritiously ::

It's that time of year again, isn't it. I am reading great blog posts summing up the year that was, or laying out plans for the year to be, but I am resisting making New Years Resolutions, or commiting to any big challenges. What we will be doing is eating more real food... in fact, 2012 will be the Year of Eating Nutritiously in this family! The Year of Real Food... increasing our awareness, changing our habits, continuing on with the changes we've been making in 2011. There are loads of things (in the garden, in our home, to our bodies, for the planet, to be prepared) we could be improving, changing, finishing and paying attention to. However, I believe these changes we are making and focusing on, in regards to what we eat, will affect all the others. I believe that eating more wholesome foods (even more than we do already) and feeling differently about eating, will increase my energy, reduce my ongoing health issues, improve my mental health and general manner too! I'm about half way through my life (all things going well, I hope to have at least another 36 years) and it is more than time to be living a healthy, happy and content life. To get out of bed in the morning, instead of complaining about my stiff neck and shoulders, being unable to breathe through my congested nose, my stomach churning, my skin inflammed and itchy, and feeling sluggish and grumpy... to feel energised and be able to truly live with the gratitude I have in my heart, through my whole body!

You know, I have always been interested in nutrition and thought myself pretty aware of good food habits, of real food, and of food as medicine. Food, cooking & feeding my family are big parts of my life, and with a Coeliac husband who eats Gluten Free, and various dalliances with Dairy Free over the years, I spend a fair chunk of my time thinking & creating & planning around food. I advocate SOLE food, we grow some of our own organic produce, we try to source local/ organic and Fair Trade foods, we appreciate and are willing to spend time and effort on good food. For the most part, we eat well, we eat healthy, and we eat great tasting food. The downfalls are the convenience items I rely on, being a part-time working mother, such as packaged snacks (cookies, crackers, school items) and the 'treats' we allow ourselves to have because we work & live hard everyday (like occasional lollies or ice cream). The 'may as well' or the 'this will make me feel better' eating is the problem here... comfort eating in amongst the healthy eating. The mental resilience needs changing & supporting, as much as what we actually put in our mouths. I think that building mental resilience and the will, or self control, will only increase as we become healthier and nurtured!

The plan is to:
  • learn more and increase my awareness about 'traditional' foods
  • enjoy real food, with our treat foods being good for us too
  • cook and bake more from scratch (gluten free, low refined sugar, using good oils and fats)
  • create my own 'cookbook' of tried and tested basic recipes which can be adapted seasonally/ locally, so I have a go-to folder of recipes on hand
  • not stress myself out trying to be pure or perfect, or only-from-scratch all the time... and build the mental resilience by nurturing our bodies
Santa didn't bring me Nourishing Traditions like I thought he was, but I can borrow it from the library (currently no. 11 on the request list) or perhaps from a fellow UHCer, as I want to read it and research more. In the mean time, I bought a book they don't have at the library called Real Food by Nina Planck. I have a couple of decades of 'marketed nutrition information' to hammer out of my brain! You know, the stuff that you've been led to believe about what is healthy or a healthier choice, by those with invested interests, based on the research that suited them. Over the last couple of years, I have been slowly rejecting the data I had stored away as to what constituted healthy eating, along with all the other food awareness I've consumed! Now, I may be a little cynical, but I am not the only one. There are loads of people eating to the beat of this traditional drum! I am not an expert, and not planning on becoming one, just becoming more informed and not afraid of real food. I enjoy eating butter, I enjoy eating meat & some meat fat, I love vegetables & herbs, I love using homegrown produce, I know how to cook gluten free, I enjoy sourcing organic & pasture-raised foods, and want to experiment with cooking more from scratch. That is what makes me happy, and hopefully will make me healthier... and my family too.

While they aren't a huge part of our diet anyway, I feel sugar and processed foods need to learn their place again. I am not ready to go cold-turkey on sugar (obvious refined & high sugar foods can go, we don't eat those very often anyways) but I will start finding/ using alternatives, like honey, that we like and I can cook with. I reduce the sugar in recipes when I am cooking as it is, this is just taking the next step. I also know there will be times we crack open a box of GF crackers, or packet of GF biscuits, and I am OK with this. I do currently make gluten free cakes, muffins, and cookies quite regularly, but I just need to get a routine or habit about it. Cheeky A starts Preschool this year (and Miss M is in Year 1), so there will be a couple of days I'll have some kid-free hours. No pressure on myself, of course, because him starting preschool will take additional time & energy in itself. I also want to practice using our solar oven more, or making no-bake snacks, for hot weather when having the oven on isn't practical. Beyond crackers, I'd like to try making corn tortillas and other flatbreads, maybe even GF pasta at some point too. Breakfast cereal will be another challenge!

We eat organic meat most of the time, and have started eating game meats (in preparation for when The Bowhunter, my husband, actually starts bringing home rabbit, maybe even goat). I want to practice cooking these items well, in a few different ways. I also started cooking with lard last year, but didn't find time to source organic fat to render myself. I went back to cooking/ baking with olive oil and coconut oil, as well as starting to eat butter again too (we stopped while on a Dairy Free diet for my little boy). Making lard is something I am interested in doing this year, along with making my own stocks. It's all easy enough to do, I've done it before, it is just that convenience factor I guess that has stopped me. While Cheeky A (almost 4) and I will continue drinking goats milk, eating goats cheese and hopefully we can source goats milk yoghurt, too (making our own is further down the track). We'd like to try The Bowhunter and Miss M with raw cows milk, but they will keep having good ol' pasteurised organic milk and cheese where possible.

I am hoping we will start having eggs from our 3 chookies soon too, and perhaps we will get another chook at point-of-lay. If we have enough eggs, and the desire to eat them, I would like to learn & then perfect my own mayonaise, creamy salad dressings and custards. These are things we just don't eat that much normally, so I've never bought them on a regular basis, but if it suits & it's healthy, I would incorporate them. I have also been learning & starting to practice lacto-fermentation in 2011, so want to expand on that, with kefir, kombucha, pickles, salsa and yoghurt, perhaps GF sourdough bread too, at some point. We bought a benchtop water purifier while we were away, and water-filter drinking bottles for The Bowhunter and myself too.

Gosh, this is turning into a long post... that's what happens when I don't post for 10 days, go away on holiday, and have a whole heap of ideas busting out in my head. I feel better for getting it out here, though! Anyways, while there is a lot for me to think about, research and change in our eating for 2012, there is a lot we already do. There is no rush, there is no 'challenge', just a desire to be healthier and to nurture my family and myself better. Once we can start doing that, there will be energy for other projects and desires we have, and to handle any coming global issues or crises. I hope you will join me along the way and continue giving good advice, for those who already do eat more 'traditional' foods and have experiences to share... oh, and recipes!!