Paulo Coelho, a wise author wrote, “Sometimes you have to travel along way to find what is near.” These words are so simple and true and can be applied to countless facets of life. I reflect on them daily to remind myself that peace lies within, but today they imparted a different message of which I am inspired to share.Each and every moment, millions are making their way through a journey searching for the perfect diet. This exploration is not one of pleasurable adventure and does not steal one’s breath in awe of ancient pyramids or at the sight of St. Peter’s Basilica.Instead of heading out to explore ruins and cathedrals, their journey involves pontificating about the benefits of superfoods, squabbling over the pronunciation of alkalizing grains like Keen-Wah, debating whether it’s prudent to imbibe or best to refrain, and wondering if coffee bean extract is this year’s Get Skinny solution.Rather than visiting old libraries to appreciate their distinct smell and to read memoirs of great philosophers, they scan pages of blogs and websites to discover the ‘right’ answers to nutrition questions.
Instead of traveling the airlines in business, coach, or first class, they book themselves a seat in a class of eating such as vegan, gluten-free, raw, Paleo, or the like. This diet locks them down and just like when in the aluminum bird, once fastened in, they no longer feel free to move from one class to the next.
Before they know it, they become…
Conductors of their own confusion
Pilots of their plight
And tour guides of health torture
When it comes to eating, we have traveled way too far and the journey has been an exhaustive and expensive one. In an effort to discover the most healthy diet, we have overcomplicated matters by relying on SuperFoods and protein powders, supplements and complex ingredients. We have stopped listening to what our bodies truly need and instead put our trust in diet trends that quite possibly have steered us off course.
It would serve us all to shift our focus from a SuperFood diet to one of SimpleFood. This means we would eat with the seasons, avoid gross manipulation of ingredients, and feed our bodies the natural foods they desire which become known by way of intuition and not via the dogma of many popular diet programs. This way of eating is more approachable, sustainable, personalized, and certainly more affordable.
As you ease into this week, try the following:
• Relinquish the urge to make dishes using “super” ingredients or those that are rare or out-of-season.
• Really listen to what your body is telling you it requires for nourishment.
• Enroll in the narrative, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” For example, just because you CAN eat, doesn’t mean you SHOULD eat. Instead, eat when you are hungry. Just because you CAN have a smoothie in the morning, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. If you are craving warming foods like oatmeal or toast, your body is probably wanting the more grounding fuel.
• Visit your farmer’s markets and food co-ops and discover the abundance of seasonal foods grown near you and try something new.
• When you choose to cook at home, keep the number of ingredients to a minimum and season lightly. Citrus juices, sea salt, fresh herbs, and cold-pressed olive oil greatly enhance the flavor of your food with very little manipulation.
Curious what is in season now? The winter harvest yields some of my favorite crops. Many are roots, which have a warming and grounding effect, ideal for nourishing your body during cold and wet months.
The following list of fruits and vegetables are rich in flavor and texture and call for very little, if any, seasoning, spices, or sauces to actualize their flavor potential. To enhance natural sweetness, tang, or savor, and to enjoy the varying textures of each, experiment with cooking methods such as roasting, grilling, braising, or steaming.
Brussels sprouts are a perfect example of how versatile and flavorful a single vegetable can be. They are mildly bitter and full of crunch when shaved into a slaw, become tender and sweet when roasted, and take on a delicate nutty flavor and present a slight ‘bite’ when steamed only for a few minutes.
Include the following in your winter soups, stews, salads, smoothies, wraps, and casseroles, create sides to accompany a main dish, or even enjoy for dessert. Pears, for example, are absolutely divine when grilled!
Broccoli Rabe (rapini)
Butternut and other winter squash
Celery root (Celeriac)
Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)
TurnipsEnjoy keeping it simple!