“Beet ever so onion there snow peas legume.”
There truly is no place like home when looking for the most healthy meals and snacks. We live in a society that is so obsessed with convenience that we are giving up quality of life. Our health as a country is very poor. Obesity rates are skyrocketing and poor diet is the leading cause of disease. We eat so much sugar, salt, and refined and processed foods, (even us vegans), that our brains are having serious withdrawal effects. We are all sugar addicts. We must stop adapting to our unhealthy eating practices by saying things to ourselves like: “This is just the way that I am.” “I’m aging, everyone my age is overweight.” “I cannot change.”
We can change and the change will at first be uncomfortable. But then it becomes easier and easier. We make decisions by being present in the moment. We think…. what do I want right now? Then we answer only with a healthy food choice. It takes a conscious effort to evolve and reshape the way that we think. We move the spoon from the bowl of ice cream into our mouths. It is our choice! It is the last 12 inches of freedom. There are wonderful recipes all over the internet that use whole plant foods that are naturally sweet to feed our “sweet tooth.” Or just try picking up an apple, or a handful of berries, or orange slices. Yes, eat something sweet, but get it from a bowl off of your table, or out of your fridge. Don’t eat anything with a label. The label is likely to be more healthy than the food product inside the label. But if it has seeds or a peel, you’re on the right track.
My Mom used to give us dates to snack on when I was a girl. We would first pit them and then put a nut inside (like a pecan). So simple and yet so satisfying. Dates and nuts are whole foods, which means that they have lots of phytochemicals, antioxidants, micronutrients, and fiber with all of their beneficial effects. When my grandmother was a little girl, Americans ate about a pound of sugar a year. Now we eat, on average, 150 pounds a year. That’s just plain and simply crazy. The American Heart Association says that if we choose to consume sugar we should eat no more than 5% of our total daily calories (somewhere between 2-5 t. of sugar a day).
Sugar is hidden in so many of our processed foods that we aren’t even aware how much sugar we are getting. If you read labels you will notice something very interesting. Sugar is listed as one of the ingredients, however you will never see the percentage of daily requirements on the package. That is because the sugar industry is so powerful that they have lobbied congress to keep those percentages off of the package. That means you and I are kept ignorant of that piece of knowledge. For instance one teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. A box of raisin bran has 17 g. per serving (that’s over 4 t.), and that’s before you add any of your own sweetener. The Prego bottled pasta sauce in my pantry has 11 grams of sugar in it. Elaine Magee, in an article on WebMD suggests that we all try going on a mission down the aisles of our own supermarket. Look for labels of your favorite foods and really find out how much sugar you are getting. It’s enough to make you want to make your own pasta sauce, tea, breakfast oatmeal, etc. The article about sugar shockers is at this Web MD site if you don’t want to run up and down aisles yourself: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar. (some examples: Hostess Ho-Ho’s: 3 cakes—42 grams sugar. I small cup jello instant vanilla pudding—21 g. sugar. 1 serving DelMonte diced peaches in light syrup—17 g. sugar. 1 Weight Watchers blueberry muffin—18-21 g. sugar. 1 Nature Valley Strawberry yogurt granola bar—13 g. sugar. 16 oz. Nesquick fat free chocolate milk—54 g. sugar. Really?!!!)
It’s time to forget the canned and bottled fruits, juices, pudding cups, snack cakes, and granola bars and look for whole and fresh food options. Try making this yummie “ice cream” out of frozen bananas:
3 Frozen bananas
I tsp of vanilla
4 tsps unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup almond, coconut, or soy milk
unsalted Walnuts or pecans
Put bananas, Vanilla, Cocoa, and milk substitute in a good blender. Blend until thick and smooth. Then add a few nuts, and pulse-blend them until chopped.
You can throw in strawberries or mangos instead of cocoa for one variation. For another, add peanut butter to the chocolate. Get creative with whatever berries or nuts or fruits you have on hand. When I eat this kind of “ice cream,” I don’t have to worry about the dairy or sugar side effects (allergies, asthma, chronic constipation, ear infections, autoimmune diseases, breast cancer, osteoporosis). Instead, I just feel energized and ready to go have some fun.
Eating whole, plant-based foods has changed my life. I used to say no to my husband’s requests to get out and exercise. I just never felt well enough to go. Now I’m pulling him out the door as often as he pulls me. Healthy cooking and eating becomes a family thing. The best place for that is right here at home. It’s time we took back the power of feeding our own selves with whole plant based foods.