My grandfather was a man who cherished every morsel; he ate slowly and with purpose. As a child, I remember he was always the last to finish—and we did not leave the table until he was done.
The midday meal was the most substantial and reverently honored. We sat and let him have the last indulgence. Comprised of garden vegetables, fresh or preserved, small animals, chickens, roots and bitter greens, my grandparents harvested and fermented many things.
Since sheltering in place, I have been examining how I eat and remembering the ways of my grandfather and wonder…
Do I eat to live, or do I live to eat?
Have breakfast like royalty.
I once thought that breaking my fast was something I had to ease into. Eating light at breakfast would somehow make up for the numerous snacks and large meals that came later in the day.
Then I went to the Middle East where they eat breakfast like kings and queens.
In Israel, I savored shakshouka, a savory dish of poached eggs over greens, tomatoes, olive oil, spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne and nutmeg. It was accompanied by fresh tomatoes and cucumber with flatbread and hummus. This dish has existed in some form for centuries.
Traveling in Turkey, I enjoyed many Turkish breakfasts. They consisted of local cheeses, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, kaymak, and sucuk, a spicy Turkish sausage. Sometimes börek, pastries filled with thin flaky phyllo dough, and simit, a round bagel-like bread covered with sesame seeds, would fill my plate.
When it comes to breakfast, we’re all different in what we like, whether it’s a bowl of cereal to a trying out a strawberry juicer recipe.
I prefer to eat a breakfast full of great protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables to carry me through the day.
Find foods you love to eat – experiment – have fun!
Finding the right foods for your body is important because we all like different things more so than others.
I am a firm believer in savoring my meals and choosing the food that not only tickles my palate but makes me feel energized and vital when I am finished.
I experiment with non-traditional cuisines from other countries and traditions. You can begin with your own family roots.
If your people are Irish, perhaps dabbling in a lamb stew laced with bacon, cabbage and potatoes is in order.
Perhaps your family originates from Japan. You are blessed because this is a country that hosts gastronomical delights that are healthy and delicious. From sushi to tempura to soba and udon noodles, your plate will never be boring.
If you’re a Heinz 57 mutt, then the world is your oyster!
Indeed, Consider the Oyster by MFK Fisher, is one of my favorite reads.
Plumbing the “dreadful but exciting” life of the oyster, she invites you to share in the delights that this delicate bivalve evokes.
Learning how much to eat can teach us much.
It can be very easy to over portion your plate, and it’s something to try and scrutinize when it comes to each of your meals.
If we eat mindfully and slowly as my grandfather taught me, we will naturally eat less and enjoy our food more.
I don’t fuss about carbohydrates, protein, and fats, as much as I do about the pleasure I am receiving from each bite and how I feel thereafter.
The slower I eat, the more time my body has to feel full—I naturally eat smaller portions and digest my food better. I feel more satisfied after each meal. In doing so, I have also shed a few pounds without trying.
Stock your larder with healthy organic ingredients.
Your kitchen plays an influence on your eating habits. And I try to have a voluptuous pantry at hand, so I can play with different recipes and cuisines.
My basics include organic Lundberg rice, black and orange lentils, feta and gruyere cheeses, pasture-raised organic eggs, kalamata olives and fresh herbs.
I am trying to reduce my trips to the store, so I base my shopping on the recipes and cuisines I want to make that week.
If you’re looking for inspiration, The Organic Center has a resource for organic recipes. Each dish comes with a side of science on the nutritional and environmental benefits of the organic ingredients used.
Why not eat delicious food and learn why organic is better for you and the planet?
Eating to live is a philosophy that embraces nutrition, enjoyment and health.
When we live to eat, we may be using food for comfort or as a way to release of stress. When food takes on greater meaning than nutritional value and enjoyment, we are clearly eating the wrong way.
As MFK Fisher once wrote. “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.
When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.
Since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto.”
Eat to live well, and your health and wellbeing will rise to the occasion we find ourselves in now.
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