It is back-to-school time again which means lunch boxes and family dinners! If the word cancer has become a household name in your family, then you know the enormous responsibility of offering healthy food to those you love the most. Before I step up on my health soap box, it is important for you to know that I eat an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Whole Foods almost everyday, the entire Mason clan loves Great Harvest Bread’s gooey cinnamon and raison sweet rolls, and most nights watching Dowton Abbey, you’ll find my husband and I sharing a big bowl of popcorn with M&M’s! With that said, my almost ten year old’s favorite food is broccoli and that was not a happy accident! I have had to do a lot of reading and asking around to professionals concerning the best food I can serve my family to avoid the Big C rearing its ugly head again, but also so that food is understood as a way to nurture the body and the spirit! Food should be joy!
Michael Pollan, the author of Food Rules, said raising healthy families boils down to common sense. A new school year is a great opportunity to shape up our pantries, refrigerators, and dinner tables. As Pollan so keenly remarks, “Pay for your groceries now or your health care bill down the road.” And I would add, if you are eating broccoli, then what’s wrong with a homemade cookie, preferably with chocolate chips?! Also, follow the European rule of thumb, “If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry.” That should give goldfish a run for their money!
Here is a quick mental check-list when you are next walking the grocery store aisles:
- Avoid fake, processed foods. You know the ones that get lost behind everything in your pantry and three years later pop up looking the exact same.
- Eat a wide variety of foods. Think lots of color on the plate.
- Don’t buy anything that if your great grandmother was to walk down the grocery aisle today, she would have no idea what it was.
- Avoid foods that contain ingredients that your third grader could not pronounce.
- Only eat foods that will eventually ROT! Food must be alive and then die. Looks like goldfish, fruit roll-ups and pop tarts are out!
- Never eat foods that are pretending to be something else, like artificial sweeteners for sugar, margarine trying to be “fake” butter, low-fat anything, or flavored anything. Instead of chocolate-flavored, go for the real deal. A scientist’s chemical concoction is not REAL FOOD.
- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. Saturday night cotton candy at the Predators hockey game is out, homemade chocolate chip cookies and french fries are in!
My best rule of thumb is think simple. A rotisserie chicken, a branch of broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of Kosher salt, an offering of fruit, and a simple starch (my crew likes noodles with butter and parmesan cheese (not from the can, the real deal!) And one oatmeal chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
Simple preparation. Simple ingredients. Clean Food. Gratitude around the Table!