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Eating Wisely

Journey to Better Nutrition

By Eliane Proctor
Westmont, IL USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 5 September October 2000 pp. 181

Parenthood changes people in the most amazing ways. Eating habits that seemed fine before can suddenly seem inadequate when you think about what influence they will have on your little one. Making the transition to different habits and different foods is easier when you approach it as a positive, fun journey. If you see it as a negative, difficult endeavor, it most likely will be. Also, have a clear picture of what your improved diet will look like. Having a clear goal will make it much easier to achieve. There are many different approaches to nutrition and even the "experts" disagree, so pay attention to what feels right to you. LLL's simple guideline is to eat a varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.

One fun way to start eating more of the foods that you believe to be healthful is to ask people who already eat the way that you would like to eat to share their favorite easy recipes. Gradually increase your repertoire of favorite healthful family recipes, and use them to replace some of the old, less healthful ones. Also, ask these people if they know of ways to convert those old favorites in ways that would meet your new nutritional standards. Another way is to purchase or borrow cookbooks that feature the kinds of dishes or ingredients that you would like to include and try some recipes. In addition, LLL Group Libraries often feature a variety of books that include recipes.

Look for alternatives for foods you'd like to replace. For refined sugar, you could substitute honey, maple syrup, date sugar, or unrefined sugar. You can gradually increase the amount of whole grain flour in your baked goods. Replace soda with sparkling fruit juices (spritzers). Health food manufacturers have now copied many popular packaged foods without the use of additives, refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, some even sneaking in "health foods." You may be surprised by how many favorite foods you are able to replace without feeling deprived.

You may have some favorite foods for which you find no acceptable substitutes. Try eliminating these gradually, or reducing the portion that you eat. If you try to eliminate something such as chocolate too quickly, you might find yourself craving it, and eventually going on a binge. You might also find yourself eating all kinds of other foods, also not necessarily healthful, to try to compensate for this craving. If, instead, you eat a small piece of great chocolate when you really crave it, you might find that overall, your diet is much more healthful.

Another idea is to figure out what it is about a certain food that is satisfying and pleasurable. This might help you find a substitute. For example, one food that that I am working on eliminating from my diet is coffee. When I feel like having a cup of coffee, I ask myself if it's really the coffee that I want or if it's only what it brings me - the opportunity to sit down and do something for myself, such as reading or knitting. I often find that one of the non-caffeinated herbal teas that I stock in my pantry is an acceptable substitute. Pay attention to how your body feels after eating different foods. Foods that leave you feeling bloated and tired may start to seem less desirable. Foods that leave you feeling good for longer than the time it takes to eat them are usually healthful foods.

Health food stores can now be found almost everywhere and most offer wonderful selections. However, some people find that they cannot afford shopping at those rather expensive stores. One alternative is a health food co-operative(co-op), though this may not be available in all areas. Co-ops offer a great selection of good foods, usually at a reasonable cost. Since they serve a specific clientelle that is interested in healthful food, they can be a good source of substitutes for old favorites that you'd like to replace. Some offer free delivery with a minimum order. I gathered a few friends, installed the computer software provided by the co-op, and we all now have most of our monthly groceries delivered every four weeks. Within one or two hours, my friends and I can unload the truck and split our order. Having a refrigerator and pantry full of good-tasting, healthful foods and snacks makes it easier to change old habits.

Most importantly, make changes in your diet gradually and with love. Give credit for any improvement and compassion for any setbacks. Although you may not notice all the incremental changes, if you keep your goal clear in your mind, you will improve your diet. Over time, you will be able to observe your progress and will probably be delighted to notice how much your overall nutrition has improved, with comfortable, fun, and gradual changes. Good eating and good health!

Quinoa Broccoli Stir-fry

  • 2 C. quinoa or rice
  • 2 t. salt
  • 3 t. natural broth powder (optional)
  • 1/2 C. pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 C. olive, vegetable, or canola oil
  • 1 10-oz package frozen broccoli or 2 to 4 C. of steamed fresh broccoli
  • 1 can or 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (optional, I use them when I serve this dish as a main course)
  • 2 t. dried oregano or 2 T. fresh chopped oregano
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese (many people on dairy restrictions can use this cheese because it is made from goat milk)

Rinse quinoa in fine mesh sieve to remove bitterness and place in a pot with salt, broth powder, and 3 C. of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork to let steam escape.

In large heavy skillet, heat oil. Sauté pine nuts if using until lightly browned. Add cooked quinoa or rice, broccoli, garbanzo beans and oregano. Cook stirring frequently until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and sprinkle with cheese. Serve hot.

Wild Rice and Tofu Pilaf

This is a great main dish to serve to get your family used to tofu. Almost everyone loves it! If you don't use many of the optional vegetables, add extra seasonings such as celery salt, garlic salt, onion powder, and broth powder.

  • 1 lb. or 12 oz. block of extra firm tofu
  • 2 1/2 C. of water
  • 1 C. brown rice
  • 1/2 C. wild rice
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. mixed herbs
  • 3 T. parsley
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, or a few handfuls fresh

Place brown rice and wild rice, water, oil, and seasonings in a pot. Stir and bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer and cover tightly. Drain tofu well by squeezing in paper or clean kitchen towels, getting as much water out as possible to allow the tofu to better absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. Cut into 1-inch cubes and chop vegetables. You can add each ingredient as it is ready, bring back to a simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender about a total of 40 minutes, and until all liquid is absorbed.

Bread Machine Whole Grain Bread

  • 2 2/3 C. whole wheat bread flour or combination of whole and white flour
  • 1/3 C. wheat gluten (this is different than high gluten flour. It greatly helps in making high rising, airy bread)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 C. water
  • 2 T. olive or canola oil
  • 2 T. honey (this helps preserve the bread, you can omit if it will be eaten the same day)
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • Optional: 1 to 2 T. sesame, flax and/or sunflower seeds, plus more for top
  • 3 t. yeast

Place all ingredients except yeast in basket, and yeast in its dispenser and bake according to bread machine directions. For a shaped bread, set on dough cycle, remove and form in your favorite shape (or let your kids shape their own piece) using lots of flour to prevent sticking, let rise until doubled in size and bake in preheated 425 degree oven until desired crispiness. If you want to cover top with seeds, just before baking, wet with water before sprinkling with seeds. If you want to include different grains in your diet, you can experiment with replacing a few tablespoons to 1 cup of flour by other flours such as soy, spelt, oat, quinoa, etc.

Fruit Tortes

  • 3/4 C. canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 C. maple syrup
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 whole wheat, spelt, or rice flour
  • 1 C. almonds or walnuts
  • 1 1/2 C. oats
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C. flaxseed meal, (can be made from flaxseeds in coffee grinder or food processor. Make sure that you refrigerate it if you don't use it immediately.)
  • All fruit preserve of your choice (we like raspberry)

In blender or processor, grind nuts and oats until fairly smooth. Whisk together oil, vanilla, and syrup until uniform. Mix in dry ingredients. Shape into walnut sized balls and place onto a cookie sheet. Press down on the top with thumb, to fill with preserve. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

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