My cooking is based nutrient-dense, sustainably-sourced whole foods and the core beliefs that:
- What we eat directly impacts our health and our environment.
- We have to enjoy what we eat or we won’t continue to make wise food choices.
Lots of Color
A colorful plate is appealing to look at, eat and enjoy. Colors imply more nutrients in each bite and in every meal. Use a wide variety of plant foods — roots, leaves, tubers, fruits, spices and herbs. Add plants wherever you can, such as:
- berries, grated apple, pumpkin or beets into pancakes, waffles or scones
- nuts, grains, beans with greens (spinach, arugula, kale etc)
- shredded broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts into tabbouleh or brown rice or other grains
—and voilá! Food is tastier, more interesting and better for our bodies.
Quinoa was cultivated in the Andes thousands of years ago. Known during the Incan Empire (that extended across South America) as the “mother grain,” it was a diet staple. Quinoa often appeared in soups and dishes of my childhood, part of my diet long before it was discovered in the U.S. for its incredible nutritional value.
Whole grains—barley, buckwheat, bulgur, brown rice, faro, quinoa— are so versatile, flavorful and nourishing! They have a combination of fiber, vitamins, minerals and health-promoting phytochemicals (natural plant compounds) that can stabilize blood sugar levels, improve intestinal health, and decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Minimize intake of refined grains (breads, spaghetti, white rice). They are so processed that vitamins, minerals, antioxidants; phytochemicals have been removed.
Aim for sustainably raised choices — beef, pork, poultry. Consider this a side dish, aim for plants on 75% of your plate. Eat more leafy greens, rainbow vegetables, beans and whole-grains. This provides higher intake of fiber, protein, folate, zinc and other essential minerals and phytochemcials (plant chemicals) vital for optimal health.
Avoid feedlot beef. Feedlots, officially called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) are densely populated animal factories. Cows are severely over-crowded and corn-fed, an unnatural diet for herbivores causing painful health problems for the cows and for humans who consume their meat. It also wreaks havoc on the environment.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food” source_title=”In Defense of Food” full_quote=”The diet of the animals we eat strongly influences the nutritional quality, and healthfulness of the food we get from then, whether it is meat or milk or eggs.” short_quote=”The diet of the animals we eat strongly influences the nutritional quality, and healthfulness of the food “]
Beware of Sugar
The average American consumes 160 – 170 pounds of sugar a year. It is a significant factor in chronic disease and linked also to mental health issues.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Mark Bittman” source_title=”Food Matters” full_quote=”Over the past few decades, our consumption of sugar has skyrocketed to nearly 130 pounds of added sugars per person per year, which is 1/3 pound (or 2/3 cup per day)! ” short_quote=”Over the past few decades, our consumption of sugar has skyrocketed”]
Consider sugar a treat, not an everyday essential.
Avoid artificial sweeteners.
Best sources are those that come from nature: honey, maple syrup, molasses, monkfruit and real stevia.
Choose organic milk and cheese from pasture-fed animals (without antibiotics and hormones and exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers). This means superior nutrition for the animals and for us, and it better for the environment. Organic milk and dairy products are more expensive, but don’t need to be consume in copious amounts every day.
Kefir or plain Greek yogurt is the most regular diary product I use for the probiotics. Can use used instead of sour cream for chili and tacos, for breakfast with granola and fruit, and as a dessert with fresh berries, pureed mango, or just a bit of honey and nuts.
I alternate almond milk or oat milk. Coconut milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk, cream and even butter in many recipes. Aways check ingredient labels to ensure there are no unnecessary additives.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Marion Nestle” source_title=”What to Eat” full_quote=”Fruit flavored yogurts have more sugar than fruit and many have no real fruit at all—just fruit juice concentrates, added colors to make them look fruiter, and thickness (flour, con starch, pectin, and carrageenan) to hold them together). Even the 4-ounce “baby” yogurts contain half an ounce of sugar. Yogurt has performed a marketing miracle; it is a fast-selling dairy dessert with the aura of health food.” short_quote=”Fruit flavored yogurts have more sugar than fruit”]
Lots of baking happens in my kitchen, but it is often without any flour — blender pancakes or muffins, European-style flourless tortes. Occasionally I use whole-wheat or spelt flour. White flour is for special occasions.[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Joel Fuhrman, M.D.” source_title=”Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting your Bodies Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger and Disease Free” full_quote=”The key to eating healthfully is to stock your house with a good variety of healthy foods, cook up delicious healthy recipes and remove unhealthy food choices from your home.” short_quote=”The key to eating healthfully is to stock your house”]