i was teaching at a whole foods market the other night when someone asked me the question i have been asked thousands of times over the years i have been doing what i do...'how do i get started with all this?' so i thought i would tell you what i think...which is what i do here on this blog, right?
getting started has such intimidating undertones, but it doesn't have to be that way. people find vegetarianism, veganism, macrobiotics to be terms that are all about what you 'can't eat' anymore. if that's the way you think about making a life change, then you will find it daunting and grim. changing your life, your food is about taking on a new adventure, a new way of looking at life and the world around you. if you look at it that way, then it becomes exciting, with new experiences and possibilities at every turn.
once you have your attitude adjusted, then it's time to take on the practical task of changing your life. should you clean out the cupboards and the fridge; dump all the food you know and re-stock with unfamiliar items and hope for the best? if you want to fail, this is the perfect way to go. in two weeks, you'll be standing in the kitchen, wondering what the heck to make for dinner and think, 'screw this...' and you will slip back into your old ways because you know them; they are comfortable.
no one likes change. it can be tough to take. so here is my recipe for success in getting started with health eating...a recipe that will guide you through life.
take it gently, slowly and a little at a time. if you never, ever eat vegetables, then how successful do you think you'll be if you toss all the food you love and stock the fridge with broccoli and cauliflower? if veggies are not your thing, you need to fall in love with them a little at a time. try a new veggie each week. you'll find so many recipes for preparation, that you will never be at a loss to know what to do with them. you'll discover new flavors, new seasonings, new textures, new cooking techniques and you just might find yourself wondering why it took you so long to discover nature's bounty.
whole grains are the foundation of any healthy diet, but they require cooking, so take it slow here as well. if you are used to eating white rice, switch to brown rice. you will love the nutty flavor and chewy texture and you will adore the fact that you don't get hungry again so quickly. once you have mastered brown rice, begin to explore the other whole grains available to us. quinoa is a wonderful option, high in protein, yummy and quick-cooking. there are so many grains to try...head off to a natural food store that has bulk bins and commit to trying a new grain every week. before you know it, your pantry shelves will be lined with jars of grains that have become as familiar to you as the food you ate before.
if meat is your thing...you can't live without it, well...yikes! okay, sorry...if meat is your thing, think about reducing your intake of it, rather than eliminating it completely at the start. i won;t go all animal activist on you here, i promise. but look at what meat can be doing to your health, with the effects of growth hormones, pesticides and disease wreaking havoc on our well-being. as you chow down on that steak, remember that heart disease (linked directly to animal food consumption) is the number one killer of both men and women and is the number one most preventable disease known to man...double yikes!
there are other options to protein than animal foods...beans, tofu and tempeh are great sources of protein that the body can use without harmful saturated fats, so give them a try before you turn your nose up. and with so many meat substitutes on the market, from sausage to 'chicken' fingers, you might be surprised.
as for the pantry, keep it stocked with great oils, vinegars, herbs and spices...stock your kitchen with pots and pans you love, a wooden cutting board and a fabulous knife. shop for your knife in a kitchen store that lets you hold them in your hand. this may sound airy-fairy, but the minute you hold the knife that is right for you, you'll know. a good knife is the best way to get started and the finest tool you will ever use.
okay, enough for now...i am off to cap cod for the weekend, so we will chat again next week. enjoy the weekend and happy cooking!