a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Simple Steps to Healthier Eating

It is summer! Our garden is thriving and we have just picked our first handful of peas and three cherry tomatoes. 

It is the perfect time for Dave and I to   once again recommit ourselves to    healthier eating. 

Last August 18th my post listed four of my favorite books.  One was a tiny book Food Rules: an eater's manual ---- full of wit and wisdom for healthier eating.   For details click  http://thecreativecheapskate.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-love-to-read-and-have-enjoyed-these.html

This past week I discovered the new, expanded, and cheerfully illustrated version of the same. Michael Pollan is the author; Maira Kalman, the illustrator.

The first Food Rules . . . was hatched from Michael's  hunch "that the wisdom of our grandparents might have more helpful things to say about how to eat well than the recommendations of science or industry or government."

"The deeper I delved into the confused and confusing thicket of nutritional science, sorting through the long-running fats vs carbs ward, the fiber skirmishes and the raging dietary supplement debates the simpler the picture gradually became....

"Nutrition science got started less than two hundred years ago...and is today approximately where surgery was in the year 1650---very promising, and very interesting to watch but are you ready to let them operate on you? 

"Populations that eat a so-called Western diet --- generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains --- invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer....

Maira's illustrations are simple and thought-provoking.

It's a Fact!
People who Get Off the Western Diet
see Dramatic Improvements in their Health

While Michael Pollan refers to them as rules, he says they are really personal polices --- not hard-and-fast laws. Heavily processed foods present risks to our health and those he prefers to call "edible food-like substances."

The book is divided into three sections:

I. What should I eat?  (Eat Food)
"Edible food-like substances, are highly processed concoction's designed by food scientist consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not long been acquainted. Today much of the challenge of eating well comes down to choosing real food and avoiding these industrial novelties."

Rule #14 - Eat Only Foods That Will Eventually Rot

Rule # 21 - If it Came from a Plant, Eat it; If it Was Made in a Plant, Don't

Rule #24 - When You Eat Real Food, You Don't Need Rules

II. What Kind of Food should I eat? (Mostly Plants)
"Instead of an eight-ounce steak and a four-ounce portion of vegetables, serve four ounces of beef and eight ounces of veggies."

Rule #30 - Eat Animals That Have Themselves Eaten Well

Rule # 33 - Eat Well-Grown Food from Healthy Soil

Rule #38 - Eat Sweet Foods as You Find Them in Nature

Rule #39 - Don't Eat Breakfast Cereals That Change the Color of the Milk

III. How should I Eat? (Not Too Much)

Rule #55 - Stop Eating Before You're Full

Rule #56 - Eat When You are Hungry, Not When You are Bored

Rule #67 - Buy Smaller Plates and Glasses

His rules have short explanations when needed - many stand alone!  He is not saying we should not have occasional treats but rather to "treat treats as treats." He asks that we give some thought to where the food we are about to consume came from.

Rule #4  states 
Eat All the Junk Food You Want as Long as You Cook it Yourself  - because we would eat a lot less if we had to take the time to prepare and then clean up after the preparation. . .

Think french fries, fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, ice cream. . .

Michael Pollan states  "Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them --- chances are it won't be everyday."

Included in last August's post  is another book that helped us along our path:  "Twinkies Deconstructed"  It is a easy and fascinating read---and you will think twice before ever eating another one.  (None of the ingredients are "real" and several are actually GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the Food and Drug Administration!!! I did find a recipe and made them myself.  And, while good, they weren't worth the effort.

We found more "help" in the documentary Food, Inc. and the latest pink slime disclosures.

The food manufacturers and processors do not keep coming up with "edible food-like substances" for our well-being although they present them as healthy alternatives that save us valuable time.

Whether you have your own garden or not, summer is a great time to get on the path to healthier eating.
Hopefully the excerpts from this book have encouraged you or at least intrigued you enough to give the food you and your family eat the consideration it deserves. Check out farmer's markets, co-ops and local vegetable stands.

Small changes can make a BIG difference.

Food Rules . . . are simple suggestions and I am
                        Simply, Gail

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Noteworthy Holiday: "JUST BECAUSE"

Hopefully you will be able to handle one more of my "reminisce-ings."  I started writing a weekly column for a Midwestern newspaper in early 1996.  It probably won't surprise you that the title of the column was Simply, Gail and I wrote about mom-hood, and ways to make do with little or nothing---i.e. creative cheapskate-ness!   The only difference between then and how is the color of my hair!

One day I came home to find that Dave had commandeered my tiny box-like Macintosh. (I hadn't even realized he knew how to use it!)  What he wrote was good and it was my column for that week. It is still good and I think it is worth repeating.

You won't find "JUST BECAUSE"                                  on any calendar

          Gail went off and left her computer on again. If I hurry I can get something written before she gets back.             
          Another Mother's Day has passed.
          I'll tell you what I got Gail for Mother's Day this year. Nothing. The same as last year, and the year before that, and . . .                                                            Well, you get the idea. However, before you start looking for the lynch rope let me explain, she doesn't give me anything for Father's Day either.  
          We're just not much into holidays. Now Christmas and birthdays we do, and we remember our anniversary, but we just don't make a big deal of that. I'm sure this would bother some of you but for us it's just not a big thing. Since our anniversary falls right before Christmas it kind of gets lost in the bustle of the holidays. 
          I'll tell you what we do celebrate instead. We celebrate any day that takes our fancy.

          From time to time, and for no logical reason . . .
notes appear in my lunch, or a special treat for my desert that Gail knows I like really well. She brings things home to me that she thinks I might like. No special occasion required. In turn, my token to her is usually a flower. Perhaps one red rose. (I'm too cheap to buy more.) Or a pot full of daisies. I've been told that, "Daisies don't tell." Now I've never been told what it is that daisies don't tell but I believe it anyway, so I go ahead and give them.
          Same occasion, none. In fact we'd be really surprised if we received something on a "special" occasion. The point of this is that we display our love and respect for one another on an ongoing basis, not controlled by anyone's calendar, including our own. 
           Now before I get in trouble over that statement let me explain that what is good for us is not necessarily good for everyone. But you know a spontaneous gift or note does go a long way to put spark in an old relationship, or a young one for the matter.
           We used to write notes to each other with soap on the bathroom mirror, but it didn't take us forever to discover that then we had to scrub the soap off. We are practical people after all. We also share in mowing the lawn, and doing the dishes. Working together and playing together seem, to us, good ways of expressing our feelings.
           What I hope for each of you is that your Mother's Day (or other special day) was a special one, that you were remembered in a special way. Or to the men that read this, and I hope there are some, that you paid special attention to the woman/women in your life. Even though not all women are mothers all women deserve to be recognized for the awesome contribution each makes to us and our society. 
          Not many women are like Mother Theresa who aids thousands of people, and gets the accolades of the entire world. But each of you makes your own contribution, and none of them are small. And each of you deserve your own personal recognition, and I hope this day brought it to you. We men are terribly remiss if we have let this opportunity go by. Using the system we discussed earlier in the column there is always an appropriate time to do so. We don't need to wait for the next "occasion."
           To paraphrase Robert Frost, "We love the ones we love for what they are." That is, the things which they do for us, for the way they make us feel, for the joy they bring into our lives. Consequently we owe them the very best we can be. 
           In my opinion, real love is a relationship in which both individuals are better as a couple than they are as individuals. Our concern for those we love must be greater than our concern for our self. Recognizing that all of us have what Gail and I call "in-spite-ofs" (those little things that we'd like to see gone), love is going to look beyond those and rule the relationship, and joy and happiness will prevail in every home. At least that's my dream.
          I know Gail often includes recipes with her columns. Here is my recipe for this column: Take one or more sheets of paper and a pen or pencil. Now, applying the writing utensil to the paper, express to the person of your choice your genuine appreciation for all they bring into your life, and express your love for them. I promise you'll feel good after doing it, and I know they will too.