No question this week, just some real talk to start the year. I propose we all resolve to re-think the entire new year’s resolution thing.
The most common resolutions are health and food related. Along the lines of “eat less sugar” or “exercise more” plus there's always the multitude of “new year's diets”. These kinds of resolutions take a negative view of food and health that propagates the myth that if food is delicious then by definition it must be unhealthy. We are at the point when “big diet” admits that dieting doesn't work for 95% of people and Carrie Fisher has to defend her body on Twitter simply because she is no longer 19. Fad diets and restrictive New Year’s Resolutions are clearly not working for us as individuals or as a society.
So this year I implore the whole FredParent community to create goals for yourselves and your family instead of resolutions. Goals of enjoyment and celebration instead of resolutions of deprivation. Goals made with an eye towards a more healthful 2016, framing them positively to make them easier to achieve.
Starting just baby steps away from resolutions, let's say you set a goal to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in your life. This isn't a negative goal like "no more baked goods" or "no sugar", just a concious effort to avoid a highly processed sweetener that we know is bad for our bodies and for the earth. To reach this goal, enlist your whole family. Teach your kids how to read food labels, specifically to always look at the ingredient list first. Or simply find a time to grocery shop when you will have time to reject any item where HFCS is first on the ingredient list.
An important thing to remember is to frame any goal in positive terms. And remind yourself to look on the bright side. For the example above don’t despair if you can’t find a salad dressing without HFCS, instead celebrate that there is Ketchup available made with real sugar and spend 5 minutes making vinaigrette for the week when you get home.
Your goal could be hyper-specific instead of aspirational (mine is both as you’ll see below). For example, pick one Saturday a month when you will always go to the farmer’s market. Yes, even when it’s raining. Especially when it's raining; the farmers will still be there and will have more time to talk to you about their products since there will be fewer customers. They probably have favorite recipies or preparations they'd love to tell you about.
OR choose a dollar amount that fits your budget to spend on new-to-you food each week/month. $5 a week on a vegetable, fruit or grain you’ve never tasted before will make dinner that night a fun experiment. Everyone loves roasted celeriac with cheese melted on top; unfortunately most people have never tried it.
OR on the 15th of every month spend $25 to try a new cooking/baking technique, idea, cuisinne, etc. Even something as easy as trying a new restaurant instead of going back to the same one or two again and again can be healthful since you will be more mindful of what you are eating and all of the options available.
The advantage to being hyper-specific is that you can put the whole year's worth of reminders to achieve your goal on whatever calander/agenda you use all at once, like right now. Scheduling your goals makes them so much easier to achieve.
Since there are few things more important than leading by example here's my goal for 2016: get more nutrients out of the things I’m already eating/ make them easier to digest. I’m not going to stop eating carbonara for breakfast when I’m especially hungry, but I will make an effort to have sprouted lentils and high protein noodles around to make that carbonara a more healthful and energizing way to start my day.
My goal was inspired both by a Christmas present and the January 2016 issue of Bon Appetit. What the magazine had been calling “the Food Lover’s Cleanse” for the past few years has spun-off into a book so they changed the magazine feature's name to “the new healthy”. Sprouted red lentils is a "building block" they espouse always having on hand. I’d never given sprouting much thought because it seemed like a vestige of 70’s & 80’s health food stores which I imagine as having very nutritious but not flavorful offerings. After some internet investigation I learned that the sprouting/germination process increases nutrient levels while getting rid of the things that make beans and pulses hard to digest. Plus all of the energy used to do those two things means that sprouted things also have fewer calories. Crazy. I've already started some chickpeas and lentils sprouting (pictured above).
I’ve known about the powers of fermentation and "good" bacteria for awhile and already make various kinds of refrigerator pickles with excess produce. But this year I was gifted a heavy-duty glass jar with an airlock lid and ceramic weight. Full on fermentation here I come! I started with green beans in a garlic-peppper flake brine (pictured below). As you can see, I haven't quite figured our the weight that is supposed to hold the veggies down in the brine. Perhaps I cut the beans too small, but I'm sure it will still taste good and I'll cut the cabbage for sauerkraut next month with that hypothesis in mind. Percieved fails are actually just lessons for next time.
So to reach my goal of more nutrients and better digestion I will ferment something new and interesting each month, and aim to have something sprouting or sprouted as often as possible. I think I will be able to achieve this goal and it is because the time frames are set. Fermenting once a month I have already added to the calender on my phone. And since I already have a bread starter I have to take care of every few days, adding sprouting to my daily routine shouldn't be too much trouble. And since my goal is about the DOING I can achieve it with a variety of ingredients and creativity.