Eat Like Your Life Depends on It - It Does
Good food is just that! When it’s delicious and fulfilling, we don’t miss anything. We don’t say, ‘Hey, where’s the beef (or fish or chicken, etc.)?’. We just enjoy the meal and feel satisfied. We relish the experience of eating and sharing time over a table with family and friends. Even if you’re eating at the counter, and running to the next thing in your life, the satisfaction of fueling yourself in a yummy and wholesome way should be what it’s about. That’s what food is supposed to be: tasty and nutritious.
A compelling reason to add more vegetable- based meals in our day is to revent illness and romote health. For several decades, multi le scientific studies have affirmed the Mediterranean diet—rich in lants, whole grains, beans, nuts, good fats, small amounts of meat and weekly seafood intake—is key to a healthier (and longer) life. This diet is also associated with less brain shrinkage and better memory. The 2016 USDA guidelines recommend four to five servings of vegetables and fruits daily. A landmark article in the March 7, 2017, edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association, by Renata Mica and colleagues, confirms that almost half of the deaths in the United States are related to dietary factors: not enough vegetables/fruits, whole grains, omega-3 rich seafoods and too much salt, sugar and rocessed meats. In short, these deaths are reventable. We can take steps toward living longer and better lives as we choose how we fuel our bodies.
Learning new, delicious ways to prepare the wide array of seasonal vegetables, using proteins from meatless sources or small quantities of meat from a healthy source, is a way to achieve our health goals and keep us energized. Chickpeas, chickpea and nut flours, nuts and beans, and some whole grains are good sources of protein. Throw several handfuls of tender greens—such as spinach, chard or beet greens—into pasta sauces for color and extra nutrition. Roast Gulf fish on one night with vegetables for a quick meal rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Include meatless days with dishes that incorporate protein from other sources.
We are fortunate to have a very long growing season in Houston, and the variety of produce is stunning. Taking advantage of this requires a sense of adventure toward using fruits and vegetables we’ve never tried. The fresher the produce, the better the taste and the greater the nutrition. Visit your local farmers market or take part in a farm share, if you can. Try new recipes. You will be well rewarded.
Returning to a culture of cooking and eating at home is also essential to regaining our health. The Standard American Diet (yes, that’s SAD), high in salt and sugar-laden processed foods and meats, has fueled epidemics of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other illnesses. Getting back to whole, delicious foods is the key to good health. Here are a few easy recipes to get you started.