We thought we ate healthfully, and we've sinced learned that we didn't...we just ate less badly than we did compared with a decade ago.
I've been experimenting with raw foods, and one of my realizations is that we never ate enough real foods to begin with...cooked, raw, or otherwise. We had a processed mentality. I raised my daughter on chicken nuggets and homemade entrees, but the "homemade" was loaded with processed things like cream of mushroom soup, packet dry onion soup for seasoning, and so on.
I'm not religious about any of these things per se, if they are the exception and not the rule...not a die-hard purist.
Anyway, being aware of better choices and actually making them are two different things. Loving the occasional vegetable and fruit and eating them daily as the bulk of preferred meals are also two different things. I realized last year we not only weren't eating enough greens, we weren't eating a variety of them or even liking them. Most of our vegetables were the starchy ones, with some roots thrown in.
Anyway, we've graduated from foods heavy in cooking oils (and the worst of the worst ones at that) to better oils and less frying. From margarine to real butter. From soup from cans to soups homemade beginning with the chicken slow cooked and turned to broth, and etc.
We have not, however, changed our reliance from supermarket to garden. There are reasons, but we're expediting elements so we can have that garden for the long-term, and the waiting chafes, but other goals speed by so at least there is movement. Oh for closure! But if buying and exploring our local resources could be considered necessary "research," we're much more educated as to what grows here and what's available during different seasons.
We did grow some things last year and likely some of them will grow "on their own" again this year without too much input from us, despite our garden nixing. Okra will grow here even in the thickest bermuda...in fact, will grow astoundingly tall and prolifically though the bermuda doesn't make it the most sightly of patches. The other thing that will grow here smack in the bermuda, if started in a clear spot to begin with are the calabazas/tropical pumpkins. And the purple hulls peas will grow like gangbusters if given a good soil, and can be mowed right back to the ground when done, or pulled up. So even though we won't have my Fantasy Tomato Patch, we'll have something coming in.
We can sure eat those pumpkins. Sweet potatoes grow well here, too. And beans.
So, realizing this, our eating has changed a lot. Now we crave the pumpkin, the sweet potatoes..roasted, baked, or in soups.
We'll have to learn to grow the greens...those and the berries are the bulk of what we buy most at the store right now. But at least we're eating the greens...finally. We're eating a higher percentage of raw veggies, and a higher percentage of veggies at all, and we'll never go without the best of the cooked. Many of our local types of veggies have to be cooked...but the point is we're training ourselves to eat them.
I know this sounds like we're spoiled. But...we're spoiled, and not to good things, but to fast "easy" things. The more familiar we make ourselves with real food, the more we discover we haven't been eating mostly real food.
The adjustment to limit our breads and, for me, to eliminate most-to-all of my processed sugar is for health reasons, and has had benefits...mostly the education to buy things that don't require labels, and when we do buy labeled things, to read the labels. That in itself is an education. Most of the items at the store are not as "fast" as the veggies and good meat prepared at home, if we get a sense of what we really like.
The greens/fruit/berry smoothies will stay with us, hopefully daily, because of their sweetness and delicious taste...and flexibility of ingredients...and ease of preparation. Less than 5 minutes and everything's made and cleaned...hard to beat...and wonderful to eat. And raw.
Black beans/pintos/etc along with pumpkin/winter squash, flash-braised spinach or shredded cabbage or kale or chard...has become very satisfying to us.
We're also beginning to love nuts and seeds. I'm glad I've had the chance to look into some of the raw options such as dehydrating pureed onion mixed with some ground or whole seeds, to make dehydrated crackers...I don't have the tools (dehydrator) to do it myself, but like the ones I've tried elsewhere. I never knew seeds were as delicious as nuts are. We've recently tried chia seed, which can be prepared with water hot or cold, no cooking necessary if we wish. Shredded apple, some fresh fruit chunks, dried cranberries, finely chopped almonds...and so on in any combination or none at all is great with a drizzle of honey...who knew? Three teaspoons literally is a serving size...it swells with the water, and is chock full of so many nutritional benefits. We love oatmeal, too.
Oatmeal can be made so quickly, I marvel that anyone bothered to prepackage it for microwaving. We don't use a microwave, and in the time it takes to heat a very small pan of water for cooking, it's not a huge time investment to see it through cooking with a pinch of salt and then jazz it up with whatever good things are at hand when it's done.
I've digressed. Anyway, I like the track we're on.
I've struggled to rid myself of some of my worse eating habits, namely fast food, which seems to be both a habit and a strange mental connection where my head registers "Yum!" but the reality is a gut bomb...is that the product of too many years past of advertising voodoo? :) And certain things, such as real Mexican food and Indian...well, howdy...I'm there...it feels like a real treat to have a date out to eat if they're on the menu.
I had no idea how many grams of processed sugar I consumed daily in this and that till I started keeping count. Big wakeup call. Totally different than having an occasional piece of pie or marmalade on my toast. If I'm not eating something from the produce section, just about anything in a box or a can has some form of processed HFcorn syrup or white sugar in it in big amounts.
We've also gotten off preservatives and stuff like food coloring. I know a lot of people out here did that long ago, and I've cooked at home for a long time now...but have realized more and more there's a difference between Home-cooked and Homemade-with-real-foods.
Interestingly, the monetary shift has been slight rather than gigantic...we're actually affording a good many organic veggies but only because just about nothing packaged is going into the grocery cart. It's cut down on our garbage considerably, too. It's my goal to eventually have very little packaged stuff in my pantry except my own home canned, home dehydrated, and bulk items.
The biggest and most lasting monetary shift will be the eventual, and hopefully lasting, shift from store produce aisle to back forty growing area. Learning now what we most want to eat will determine largely how that garden will be plotted. I can't say I ever had much desire to grow greens, but now our plan will include a way to grow them here year-round when possible. THAT will impact our budget in a BIG way. The garden will BE our grocery store. That's the goal we hold always before us. Even while it's not the present reality.
The Beating Diabetes effort is still afoot. We're buying a few supplements for the initial stages of that transition, and they are helping a lot. I am not yet reducing the meds...but I am charting all my sugars and trying for the right combination of low-GI real foods ...produce and a few good meats.
I'm already Garden Jealous. I don't know how I'll make it through this summer without an "official" garden...there are sooooooo many things we want and need to grow. But there are reasons we have to concentrate our efforts elsewhere for the short term. That short term sure seems long, though.
I'm still working on liking salads, which I know won't be a problem once we're growing our own fixins. Here is the salad of my dreams...
...and in the meantime my seed catalogs continue haunting me with refrains of "if you plant them, it (the endless beautiful veggies and magnificent salad) will come" (nods to Field of Dreams...guess that would be Field of Greens?? ha)