Well as you all know I’ve been talking about various aspects of art for the last month and I am now about to make a major switch into a focus on food. The emphasis will not be on dieting for the purpose of losing weight or as some other strategy as in training for a sporting event, but rather just as a range of options for eating well and eating healthy.
In my case I lift weights and exercise through walking, running and gardening mostly. Others in the immediate or extended family have other aerobic and anaerobic exercise combinations favoring a good to excellent muscle mass to fat balance provided they continue to eat sensibly. Since I do almost all of the cooking, I can speak with some authority about what everyone eats, and so far that provides a good balance for everyone–although some have a different portion control regime than others. Even so, from time to time it’s necessary to do a little special cooking for some family members.
In general, there is a wide variety of food coming from my kitchen. I get very few complaints about when we will eat and what we will eat. There is a lot of variety. In general, we will eat 5-7 times a day. If an outing is planned those involved may be sent off with a care package together with some last minute instructions about what to eat and when. On site, breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, with snacks in between. There are many snack options. Big meals are rare.
A few general rules persist. There’s an emphasis on fresh spices most of which come directly from the garden. These can be dried and premixed in a container and used to sprinkle directly onto freshly prepared food. Spices can also be cut up and put into freezer bags and frozen and then used in soups or other cooked foods. In some cases specific spices can be taken directly from the garden and mixed with salads and other uncooked dishes. Some specialized spices that cannot be easily grow are purchased.
I cook a wide variety of soups, chili, bean and vegetable dishes. Occasionally but not often, these are dishes that can be served over rice, barley or other pasta. Fish and meat dishes are often cooked on a Weber grill–usually slowly with low heat and indirectly oven foil to capture oils and juices without pyrolysis. Some meat and fish can be kept refrigerated until the next day and cut up and used over a mid-day salad. Many vegetable dishes are cooked on low heat in an oven.
A general philosophy is to try to eat mostly non-starchy and green leafy vegetables, whole grain breads, beans, oatmeal and other sources of fiber, including nuts. Some dairy products and many fruits are used as well. Low glycemic index fruits and vegetables are favored. Intermediate and high glycemic index fruits and vegetables are also used, but sparingly. Overall, we eat a little protein and fat and much less carbohydrate that is provided in most diets. Most of the foods are prepared from fresh. We buy little if any prepared food and then only after following one cardinal rule: the youngest lad in the family has to be able to pronounce correctly each of the lengthy list of ingredients listed on the package.
The kitchen remains fairly well organized. We have a large collection of plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to package left overs for placement in the refrigerator or the freezer. Labels are sufficiently large to write a date and identify contents. Every attempt is made to prevent extended, unauthorized microbiological experiments in the refrigerator. The freezer nicely prevents us from having to eat the same dish again and again and again over the next several days. Breads are generally cut into slices and kept in the freezer as well.
Overall our diet is low in caffeine, alcohol, cholesterol and simple sugars compared with complex carbohydrate.
In later posts this month I will present many of our basic dishes and their method of preparation, special spices or other specialty foods or spices and how we prepare or use them, and where we obtain them from.