“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

04 October 2013

Affording Good Food (the follow-up)

I've received some questions about my last two-part essay on eating and Crohn's Disease. I decided to address them in a little follow-up here.

1) How do you afford meat on this budget?

Answer: We eat less of it. There's no way around that. I've written about this before. If you want to spend less money on groceries, the quickest way to do it is to cut your meat consumption. Don't misunderstand me-- we still eat meat every day. I find it's easiest to 1) eat a meatless dinner, usually pasta or an egg dish, at least once a week and 2) use less meat in my recipes. Shepherd's pie doesn't need two pounds of ground meat, even though the recipe calls for it. It will still taste good with one pound. Or even half a pound. Bulk it up with more vegetables. My rule of thumb is to cut the meat the recipe calls for in half, and supplement with veggies if necessary.

2) What kind of bread/peanut butter/dairy products/snacks do you buy?

Answer: Huh. I sure got a lot of these! I have an easy rule of thumb for purchasing boxed, bagged, and canned foods: Look at the list of ingredients. Can you pronounce all of the words? Do you know what each ingredient looks like in its raw form? If you can, and you do, then buy. If not, don't. I also look for a few trigger words: "unsweetened" (good), "artificial" (bad), and "for freshness" (debatable). I do the best I can. The bread I buy is supplied to my grocery store by a local bakery; no commercial brand I've found can pass my two ingredient tests. If I want tortillas or hamburger buns, I have to compromise. So don't drive yourself crazy.

3) What do you think about this?:

A Letter to the TEDx Community on TEDx and Bad Science

Answer: The stance TED has taken on this, and on GMOs specifically, bothers me only because it seems so pointed. I agree that TED has an obligation to make sure its presentations are well-researched and presented by someone with authority on the topic. I, too, have noticed that increasing numbers of TEDx presenters don't seem to be experts in their field. I don't choose to watch them. I think it makes sense for TED to keep their standards high. But their choice to single out presentations about GMOs, alternative healing, and food-as-medicine is not good. TED seems to have acknowledged this and corrected their error.

4) What's a green smoothie? Why do you drink them?

Answer: I did post a link for this in the last post, but here's a brief run-down: I eat green smoothies because they make fruits and greens easier for me to digest. And because they taste good. Green smoothies are made from any combination of berries, fruit, and natural sweeteners that you find pleasing, along with leafy greens. Sometimes I use kale, sometimes chard, sometimes spinach. Whatever is affordable in an organic variety at the time. A big handful of greens is sufficient, and doesn't negatively affect the taste. I freeze the greens to preserve them. I love adding frozen cut-up bananas. You can add yogurt, almond milk, or coconut milk to give it a creamy texture. Coconut milk is my favorite. Sometimes I need to add water to thin or ice cubes to freeze it more. I've never tried milk, but you certainly could. Here is a nice list of recipes but really, you can make it up as you go.

5) Can you post the meals you get out of this shopping trip?

Answer: Yes. Although it seems weird, because I'm not one of those people who take pictures of their food. But I will photograph my dinners this week and next, to satisfy your curiosity. I will let you know what I ate for breakfast, lunch, and snacks but I won't bother photographing it. I'll also update with any additional groceries I might pick up.

Two nights ago, we had beef tacos. The meat had onion and bell pepper in it, as well as spices, and we ate it with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, cilantro, and sharp cheddar cheese. I ate it on corn tortillas, and Casey chose flour. Casey also had some tortillas chips with guacamole on the side. This is one of our most common dinners, and we love it.

This was a serving. We had two servings of meat leftover.

Yesterday, I had two slices of bread with peanut butter and honey for breakfast. I made a salad for lunch with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and some leftover taco meat. I broke up tortilla chips and added them to the salad as well. My snacks included handfuls of granola, snack mix (cranberries, nuts, and white chocolate chips), and tortilla chips.

Last night:

One serving of pasta. We had at least three servings leftover.

We ate pasta, green peas, mushrooms, and fresh spinach in homemade alfredo sauce. If you learn to make your own sauces, you'll cut a lot of chemicals and additives from your diet. The sauce included butter, flour, chicken stock, half-and-half, cream cheese, salt and pepper. We topped it with parmesan cheese and basil. This was a meatless meal, and it was very satisfying.

I encourage you to keep questioning. You can ask me, of course, but you can also research for yourself. Talk to your doctor. Read what's available online and in your library. The more you question what you eat and why, the easier it will be to make positive changes.

Food is fuel, and it's also self-love.
Love your food, love your body. Good luck.