For the Love of Food
Something I am passionate about is food. I love it. I grew up with a family who celebrated life’s greatest thrills and accomplishments around the dining room table and mourned life’s deepest losses in the same way. Food just has a way of bringing people together. Some of my best memories are around my Grandma’s kitchen table, eating her Portuguese fare made from scratch and love, while my mom and Aunts all laughed and talked about the happenings of life. Now, as a mom and Aunt myself, I find much of life’s connecting happens in the same way. Around the dining room table.
Not only do I love food, but I love to cook and do so about four times a week (I also love leftovers – they make my life easier). Health and fitness are big in my life and because I am frequently asked what I eat, where I shop, and how I prepare my food I thought I’d share with you what I do in my kitchen from time to time. Hey, I might even vlog about it (look out, Martha Stewart)! ;-)
A little background: As a kid/teen/young adult I was one of those lucky girls who could eat anything she wanted. In jr. high and high school I was a competitive swimmer and was extremely fit. I remember after my swim meets going to Taco Bell and ordering the 10-taco pack (remember they were all lined up in the box with the handle on top?) and eating ALL of them myself, in one sitting. I was always the super fit petite girl who could eat like a man. Fast forward to my mid twenties when I started having babies and I could no longer get away with eating like that. It took me a long time to realize that I had to be deliberate about what I ate and how/when I ate it when I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted. I have never been obese, largely in part to always being fairly active and cooking my own food, but I have been overweight and out of shape. Now I eat better than I ever have and just this summer incorporated exercise 5-6 days a week for at least an hour (holla if you love Insanity and P90X!). But still, I have learned that the largest component to looking and feeling great is food. Abs are made in the kitchen, after all.
Today I will share with you the basics of what I do. Remember, I am no expert and I am far from perfect (yup, sometimes I do curl up on the couch with my two friends Ben & Jerry), but for the most part, this is what I do:
- I only buy organic food. From dairy, to produce, to meats, to anything packaged – its all organic. Of course there is the occasional instance where I’m eating out and I know its not going to be organic – that’s okay – I’m not ridiculous about it. But if I’m at a grocery story, I’m buying organic. I’ve been eating this way since 2007 and although its more expensive, I see my doctor a whole lot less than I used to. I consider it preventative care. I could really go on and on about the benefits of eating food that is free of chemicals, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics… but I wont. At least not in this post.
- I grocery shop at Trader Joe’s once to twice a week. This was a big change for me when the convenience of buying in bulk had me at the grocery store only about 3 times a month. But when you eat organically, your food doesn’t have the shelf life of food loaded with preservatives.
- I food group. What this means is that I only eat protein with vegetables OR I only eat complex starchy carbs (like whole wheat pasta) with vegetables but never a protein and a complex starchy carb together. I do this because the stomach uses different acids to break down protein than it does to break down carbs. Eat them at the same time and you slow digestion and ultimately your metabolism. Also, I only eat fruit (aka simple carbohydrates) 30 min before or 30 min after I’ve had a meal, but never with a meal for the same reason.
- I eat 5-6 small meals a day. I do this because it keeps my blood sugar levels even throughout the day and I’m never starving. Also, this increases metabolism.
- I eat very little meat and rarely red meat. I also have very little dairy. This is just a personal preference. When I do eat meat its either chicken, fish (wild caught, not farmed), or turkey. When I do have dairy is non-fat milk (usually in my protein shake for breakfast) or occasionally cheese – super occasionally.
- I stop eating at 7pm.
- I drink TONS of water. Because most of the time, when I think I’m hungry, I’m actually thirsty. I do drink a cup of coffee every morning and occasionally hot green tea in the afternoon, but other than that, its just water. I don’t drink soda or juice (unless I juice it myself, but I don’t often do that – although I should). And when I drink alcohol its almost always red wine – or tequila. ; )
- I use olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter when I cook.
- I eat clean. This is essentially the practice of eating whole, natural foods as close to their natural state as you can get them. One way of thinking about it is “if man made it, I don’t eat it” (fast foods, packaged foods). Another way of thinking about it is, “if your 4th great grandmother wouldn’t know what it is, don’t eat it”.