Why Do You Cook Like That?

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Where I Used To Be
Packaged breakfast or instant just-add-boiling-water foods used to comprise many meals for my family. There was a time when we thought we didn’t have anything to eat if we ran out of bread or cold cereal.

Why We Changed
Adult onset allergies sent me to an allergist. I asked my doctor a key question: "Why am I suddenly allergic to all of these things when I never was before? What changed?"

He said that ‘these things’ happen and offered me a prescription and some shots, advising me to avoid allergens. That was going to be difficult, I was suddenly allergic to EVERYTHING it seemed.

I left his office and determined to find a better answer. What was wrong with my body that it suddenly decided to react to things which had never bothered me before?

The journey has been eye opening.

Eye Opening Experience
photo of lost boys grocery shoppingThis photo is from the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us" about Sudanese boys who immigrate to a new life in the U.S. Here, they ask if corn is used to produce the baked goods. The answer from the baker is "It's bread." The scene illustrates how far removed our society has become from the actual FOOD harvested to the packaged product that is retailed.

One of the things I learned was that I had to stop eating foods that have a list of ingredients on the label. Processed foods contain a lot of elements that aren't actually food. Ingredient lists contain items that are fillers, binders, preservatives, coloring or additives for texture. Additionally I found that there are traces of chemicals that are NOT listed on labels of processed foods which remain after processing.

It turns out, I wasn't really allergic to milk protein, peanuts, wheat, or sliced turkey after all. I WAS allergic to the resulting 'food' after manufacturer's processing methods and chemicals were added.

I wasn't really allergic to pet hair, pine, pollen, dust mites, etc. In fact, I was suffering from an over-stressed immune system that was hyper-responsive to the innumerable natural flecks and specks of stuff that it had once handled without complaint. My body was tired of having to deal with all of the UNfoods that I was ingesting.

Starting over
With nearly 20 years of kitchen experience, I found myself having to re-learn how to cook and even how to shop for food! Most of my cookbooks were useless. What good is a recipe that calls for a box of this mix and a bag of that blend? Some of my favorite 'foods' didn't even START with real foods as ingredients!I had to learn how to prepare a meal using ACTUAL food. If I wanted to enjoy peanut butter and jelly, I needed to figure out how to get there by starting with some peanuts and fruit.

At first, I thought I would COLLAPSE under the weight of it all.
Imagine! In this day and age, actually preparing three meals a day from REAL food.
WHERE would I find the time?

More Time in the Kitchen
The walls of my small galley kitchen began to feel like a prison. When I say small, I mean that you can touch the cabinets on one wall with your feet and lean over to touch the opposite counter -- WHILE STANDING. It's like a hallway that someone decided to wedge a sink, refrigerator and stove into. NOW, I found myself spending MORE time in this tiny space learning to do things that no one did any more. I felt frustrated, trapped, and ALONE.
Giving Up Some Favorites
Luncheon meats were one of my FAVORITE foods, along with chemically fortified bread and pesticide riddled vegetables on top (not to mention the toxic condiments). When I use the word toxic in reference to ingredients, I am speaking of additives that were never intended by nature to be ingested as foods. Basically, if it didn't grow as a food, it isn't food.

A turkey sandwich contained the following
2 slices Bread:
Wheat Flour, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less of each of the Following: Soybean Oil, Yeast, Salt, Monoglycerides, Whey, Calcium Sulfate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Diacetyl tartaric Acid Esters of Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Propionate (a Preservative), Ammonium Sulfate, Mono Calcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Potassium Bromate, Azodicarbonamide, Ferrous Sulfate (Iron), Niacin (A B Vitamin), Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (A B Vitamin).

Thin Sliced Smoked Turkey:
Turkey Breast, Water, Corn Syrup, contains 2% or less of Smoke Flavoring, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Potassium Lactate, Natural Flavors

Lettuce (non-organic and likely genetically modified)
Tomato (non-organic and likely genetically modified)

Soybean oil, eggs, water, distilled and cider vinegar, salt, oleoresin paprika, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor. Contains: Eggs

Distilled Vinegar, Water, No.1 Grade Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Paprika, Spice, Natural Flavors and Garlic Powder.

Even with Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, I was a bit overwhelmed. If I could have found an alternative route (other than to continue to be medicated) I might have taken it. Eventually, I learned to be patient with myself and even see my failures as a learning experience. Rather than bewail the lost time, I began to see it as an investment in my future, and the future of my children (and grandchildren).

I sat down with my thick copy of Nourishing Traditions, determined to learn just one thing at a time. I also determined to figure out WHY I was preparing foods in new (to me) ways.

Inner Struggle
This required me to adjust more than just my methods. My inner I-don't-like-to-change person was balking at every challenge. This inner struggle made every new task a battle. I needed to adjust my perspective.

Back To School
I decided to become a student and treat the task as a research project. I even learned to appreciate my small kitchen. Now that I was a student of health and nutrition, my cozy kitchen became an efficient laboratory space. Everything I need is right at my fingertips, no wasted space, no wasted steps.

The improvements I saw in my health were an additional encouragement.

My friend, Linda, is going through this same transition. Linda is what I call a 'hard sell.' She doesn't like change and won't incorporate a method unless it works for her. It's been great to watch her make these discoveries for herself.

"But it takes so looooong to let things soak. I don't have the counter space!" She tells me.
"You don't have to stand and watch it soak," I remind her. "Go do something else. . . And get stackable containers . . . or use jars." I encourage her.

"Tell me again, WHY am I doing this?" she asks.
"Because you are tired of feeling lousy and breaking out in hives," I remind her.

"It's just easier to buy it rather than make it," she observes.
"No," I tell her, "It isn't easier, it's quicker and more expensive. Your time investment will repay you with saved money and improved health."

"What if I CAN'T?"
"You CAN." I tell her. "Be PATIENT with yourself. This is just a different way than we've been used to doing things."

Thankfully, she really does want to learn. I recall my own experience as she expresses her frustrations. Along with the her struggles, she calls to tell me about her victories . . .

"OH, YUM!" She exclaimed into the phone between bites, "This is the BEST bread!" *crunch*
along the way.

Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping used to be a chore. Now, it's an adventure. I take the children with me to go see the 'chicken lady' when we purchase eggs. The local vendor that sells our favorite homemade soap knows us by name and asks after the children. Yes, it takes more time and planning, but it forces us to slow down in some pleasant ways. You make new friends when you take the time to appreciate the effort that goes into producing quality foods.

I'll write more about the HOWs of what I do later. For now, here is a brief list of the WHYs.

Soaking grains neutralizes the phytochemicals that kill digestive enzymes in our colon. You need those enzymes to draw nutrients out of your foods and remain healthy. Soaking grains allows you to get the greatest nutrient benefit without damaging your digestive tract.

We sprout seeds -- even beans -- before eating. This not only neutralizes phytochemicals, it increases the nutrient content of the food.

We use raw milk and raw milk products because modern processing damages the proteins and fats in the milk, making it indigestible. Even now, processed milk makes me ill.

We use whey from our milk to lacto-ferment foods and vegetables. This helps populate our digestive tract with live beneficial bacteria.

It really is about learning a different approach to food and food preparation. Just as you wouldn't expect plants to spring from the ground overnight, or expect to locate a fast food restaurant during a remote camping trip, you learn to think ahead and arrange the ingredients for your next meal. Tonight before I go to bed, the children will put in a request for tomorrow's breakfast. I will place either oats or meal into a glass container and cover it with some filtered water and whey (or yogurt).

Tomorrow, I will boil water and add the soaked grains and any additional ingredients. I have everything at my fingertips and ready to go.

While I make the breakfast, I mentally go over what I have available for the day's lunch. If I have veggies left over, I may add some eggs and milk to make a quick casserole. If not, I might get creative and put some leftover sauce onto some sprouted grained tortillas for pizzas. I might just put some raw cheese between some sprouted grain bread. This, I dip into some beaten eggs and then cook in a pan of butter for melted cheese and egg sandwiches. . . . OR I may just add some rice and leftovers to a homemade broth or stock for a nice soup.

None of this takes more than 15 or 20 minutes to prepare (well, the soup might take a little longer just to let simmer -- if I want). It just requires taking a quick inventory of what I have on hand. If I want to serve beans later that day, I'll check to be sure they have sprouted sufficiently and set a pot on to simmer throughout the day.

Taking the meat out of the freezer to thaw for the evening meal only takes seconds, but you have to remember to do it early in the day.

None of these things are overly complex, but like learning to care for a baby, it can be strange at first. Given the opportunity to settle into a routine, I have found that they aren't that time-consuming either.

So, if you are trying to learn a few of these new ways and feeling as though no one else understands, give yourself a pat on the back. You aren't alone. There are at least a couple of us out here. *waving hello*

Whole Foods VS Processed Foods:
What's a whole food vs. a processed food? Nutrition by Natalie explains. Whole foods can help your health and help you lose weight. Processed foods like fast food can make you fat and cause health problems. A whole foods diet will ensure you get the nutrition you need.


patty-jean said...

I'm a huge fan of Nourishing Traditions - we are members of the weston a. price foundation and always pour over the quarterly journals!

Treasures from a Shoebox said...

Thank you for posting this Kay. I have multiple food allergies and am so frustrated with the whole business of eating at times! It is such a bother when at fellowships or at other people's homes. Then to be told that it's probably all in my mind... ARG! But I've made progress and figured some things out. Reading this article today was VERY encouraging! Thank you my friend :)

Kay said...

Be encouraged, Cheryl :-) We have found that making a little ahead and packing a bit of food is an easy fix. When that's not possible, we stick to salads or veggies and avoid commercial grain products. At family get-togethers and socials, I just try to make certain that I bring a large enough contribution that I can serve our family and have enough to share -- eating a filling snack before going helps with this also.

Once everyone knows you are there to enjoy their company and aren't the 'food police' they actually enjoy trying your food and may ask for a recipe or two.

If asked, I'll offer the why of what we do and teach, but I have learned that this can be a touchy subject for people. It's always heartbreaking for me to hear a mom of a child with allergies and respiratory problems tell me how she can't afford to even try whole foods when they spend tons on ER visits annually, but I have to realize that an overwhelmed person that's not looking for a solution can't really listen in that state. Telling her how she would save money by investing in health at that point would only make her defensive . . . So I share what they can receive as often as I can do so and pray for progress.

. . . But then, you already knew that, huh? *wink*

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