In my more general, too infrequently updated journal, I posted a quick-reference sheet prepared for my younger sister, who began college this year. These guidelines, titled “How to Be a Vegetarian in College and Not Die (Cliff’s Notes),” closely match the guidelines we keep in our own home. The original post is here and will be added to this site when I have the time.
Because of the interest and questions I received from this former post I decided to begin a second journal, to detail how we eat, with some explanation as to why. We firmly believe that food matters- that it is at the root of our health, and our health, in turn, is at the root of living life well.
I do not subscribe to diet fads for the sake of their novelty or researched press, but if something makes sense to me I try to incorporate it into our food choices, and watch for a difference in my health. The food we eat is specific to our bodily needs, and these may not be the same for you. Just as we have spent time testing what works and doesn’t it is important for you to do the same. I have been eating carefully for long enough now that my body seems extremely sensitive to its needs, and I firmly believe that this will happen to every body, if you give them time and careful, healthful attention. I have come to crave the foods I need the most, rather than the processed fats and sugars that I once wanted despite the fact that they worked against my over all well being.
I often joke that I can eat anything, as long as I make it myself. We do not abstain from pizza or steak or bread, but we make it in such a way that it makes our bodies feel like they are thriving. It is a cost of time, but I would not compromise this time, as it has always felt like a compromise of my health.
I battle food allergies and digestion problems so my diet lacks olive oil, corn and non-fermented soybeans, and uses only fermented or soaked pulses and grains. These ingredients (provided they are not processed, refined, or genetically modified) are not all inherently bad when prepared properly, but you will not find them in our food menus.
I was taught in the kitchens of my childhood to work my memory and enough experience to make the logic of a kitchen feel intuitive. I still retain this bent, and rarely consult or provide step by step instructions. The original food guidelines that I established had my little sister in mind. She wants to maintain the vegetarianism that we practiced on and off in our mother’s home, but I have made my own food decisions since moving out more than ten years ago, and am no longer vegetarian. Many of the dishes we prepare in our home are vegetarian, or involve very small portions of local meats, and could be easily modified, if you adjust the food ideas to provide an animal based b12 source and the protein and fat from the meat (both of which you can get from eggs or raw milk products).
Much of our cooking is heavily influenced by the ideas of the Weston Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions. The three most influential cookbooks, to which I attribute the majority of my food knowledge are the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, Laurel’s Kitchen and Whole Foods for the Whole Family. Because I give my copies of these books away as gifts too frequently, so that I rarely own a copy, and the information I have learned from them has mixed and meddled in my head with other information I have learned from food experts and online, and I will rarely (and unfortunately) give proper attribution or page numbers. I find that the research in Nourishing Traditions is the most fascinating, and I find that when I make adjustments according to this book I see the most drastic health results, but I find many of the recipes lacking, and so rarely depend on them. Nourishing traditions has been the best location to look up method and rationale for things like fermentation, and soaking, and I’m sure comparable information is available online at the Weston Price site.
I will generally be providing food lists along with the occasional picture. I plan meals for 4-5 days at a time, often after the Saturday and Tuesday farmers markets, because our meals are largely determined by what is locally available. We attempt to purchase all of our food locally or in bulk (or both). This is a political choice, a community based choice, and a health based choice. The exception to this rule for us has been in the purchase of coconuts and coconut oil, fermented foods, and sea vegetables. We choose organic food always and fair trade where relevant (foreign bulk spices, bulk rice, coconut). I will make notes on where we purchase our local foods in brackets, so if you share our community in Bloomington, Indiana you will know some of the places to purchase local foods.
Because I am raising my first child, I will on occasion provide the simple ways that I modify dishes so that she may eat with us. Most of our foods are simple enough, that we need only to grind or cut up our foods, and she is fine with them. She is a little more than one, and I must emphasize that our foods would not be appropriate for children who are significantly younger than she is, especially dishes that contain honey. When she was younger we would use local maple syrup or fruit on the rare occasion that we had anything sweetened. Andjoli did not start eating table food until she began showing interest at about six months, and she is still dependent on breast milk to complement her food explorations. We believe that it is important to encourage a diverse palate at a young age, and to eat together as a family rather than preparing different meals for different members. She is considered in our food preparation, and so our food is flavorful but rarely over-spicy. Since she started with solids, we have chosen to have raw milk cheeses and egg yolks on hand (especially when she was 6-8 months) to supplement her fat and protein intake even when those foods were not a part of our meal.
I am a mother, a teacher, a graduate student, a gardener, an active community member, a wife, a volunteer, a friend, and a cook. I would like to be a writer, a painter, a reader, and a sleeper. I will not unfortunately always have time to maintain a steady online presence, or get back to many comments. If you have answers to other people’s questions, feel free to answer them. I hope this serves a an idea forum for meaningful living and eating.