135 March 24, 2010

Thinking About Food

I want to be healthier for myself and for my family. No junk food! Healthy and fresh! Seasonal produce! Organic! Free-range!

Whew. Sounds good, right? Except I was a little lost.

I don’t really know how to cook. Actually, it’s more like I don’t know what to cook. I had a vague idea of what’s good to eat, but I could only come up with a few options for each meal. Isn’t that sad? Well, help has come in the form of my two new favorite books: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver.

Thinking About Food

Inspired by Pollan’s book, I’m trying to stay away from processed foods with unfamiliar and unpronounceable ingredients. He has three guiding principles: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pretty genius in its simplicity. And Jamie has given me the tools and inspiration to cook simple, healthy meals — I feel like it’s the missing companion cookbook. Jamie also likes the idea of passing it on, growing a radical new food movement person by person, which is what I’m doing here. Passing it on.

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135 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle
    March 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve been following the glycemic index recipes in the following book and found they really are delicious, easy to prepare, healthy and best yet, filling. I’ve never bookmarked so many pages in any recipe book with recipes I want to try, nor had so much success with those that I have tried.

    Rick Gallop, The G.I. Diet Cookbook
    ISBN 9780679314400

  • Reply
    Kait
    March 26, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I also like the Fatfreevegan blog. It’s really helpful because even though as a vegan I eat all plant stuff, I also tend to get into the habit of cooking with with too much oil or using a lot of processed vegan margarine in dishes. I agree with the thought that “eating clean” and being vegan/vegetarian aren’t always synonymous. My sister loves this Dani Spies blog:

    http://www.danispies.com/recipes/
    it seems like it may be helpful for a novice healthy cook.

    I love my Veganomicon cookbook: http://www.theppk.com/nomicon.html
    It’s my most used vegan cookbook- even though I have like, 15 on my shelf!

    Also, I would be lost without my grain cooker and am toying with the idea of buying a (new, improved, safer) pressure cooker for homemade beans and quick soup. One step at a time:) Good luck!

  • Reply
    Kait
    March 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I just saw that another healthy food documentary is coming out this summer: http://forksoverknives.com/about/

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    March 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Nicole, just found your blog and I love it. We are also very interested in passing on this food revolution, yeah! I’ve always been interested in the origins of our food, but since having a child, I’m quite obsessed with what goes into her tiny little, growing, bubbly body. The first step, is getting people to actually notice that somewhere along the way our ‘food’ turned into a ‘product’. Aye. That has to happen in multiple venues to reach all types of folks. Check out 2010-love.com: just our way of trying to get the word out about food and all things that need to get a little better in the world. 10% of our t-shirt proceeds go to Slow Food. Nice work on keeping the discussion going. Cheers!

  • Reply
    laSiciliana
    March 28, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Jamie’s food movement is something that i’ve been talking about for almost three years… people need to really see what they are buying and eating in all this processed food that is available. It’s really bad for us, our bodies aren’t meant to digest it but it’s cheap and esy and that’s why people buy it.

    so many people thing “cooking” a meal is complicated when it’s really not. something as simple as a salad with some nuts and cheese and a piece of crusty bread can be a meal. Throw a bunch of things in a slow cooker and come home to a real dinner vs. ordering out when you know you’re going to be coming home late. Marinate some chicken and put it in the oven with some veggies or cook up some ground turkey with salsa and seasoning for a quick burrito or taco filling.

    my passion is helping people see that eating real food is easier than opening in a box and sticking something in the microwave. be good to your body, treat it right and feed it real food!

    If I lived closer to you i would come show you some basic cooking techniques and recipes to get you started.

  • Reply
    Megan
    March 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

    We started trying to eat more real food in the past year. The two books that made the biggest impact for me were Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (which includes tons and tons of recipes!) and Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. As I am currently the mother of a 10 month old little girl, the Nina Planck book was especially helpful. It does a great job of talking about breastfeeding as well as what foods to introduce to your baby. We’ve been following what she’s doing and our little girl loves it. Good luck with everything. Oh! And a couple blogs to check out:

    http://kellythekitchenkop.com/

    http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/

    Both blogs have been incredibly helpful in dealing with how completely overwhelming it can be to try to feed your family real food.

  • Reply
    Trina
    March 29, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Food Rules is the book that changed it for me. Same author but condensed info

  • Reply
    jane
    March 29, 2010 at 10:10 am

    There is currently a farm-to-school initiative in Oak Park and the Chicagoland are—“Seven Generations Ahead.”
    http://www.farmtoschool.org/state-home.php?id=35

    So Eleanor might be in luck! :)

  • Reply
    Kate
    March 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Your bread box is adorable (not that I’m surprised, everything you have is adorable!) Is it vintage?

  • Reply
    Nat
    March 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Nicole, congrats on making such a great choice for yourself and family. I did the same thing for my family after having my baby. And let me tell you it was not easy. To top that, we went no potatoes-rice-pasta or any other kind of grain. Just veggies, lots of poultry and fish, red meat once a week, more veggies, fruits, and lots of water. It was harder to come up with recipes for dinner that was filling (because eat-less “diets” are not for us) than to stay away from bread :) But 2 months down the road we feel a lot better/healthier, we have survived the initial withdrawal and even lost a few pounds in the process. And actually don’t crave any of that stuff at all. It has been a very rewarding experience for us, as we have habitually failed every other “diet” out there. And this way we were never really hungry as we ate as much as we wanted of what we could. oh, and we still drink coffee every day and no longer feel guilty or sick eating desert.
    I’m not sure if this is going to be helpful to you. Just to say that a lifestyle change is so much more rewarding than any “diet”. I hate that word. And we have seen amazing results in terms of energy levels.
    So, good luck with this great journey. Don’t get upset at small set-backs, and have fun! :)

  • Reply
    ines
    March 30, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Nicole,

    It is sometimes hard to make the right choices while cooking, especially if you have to cook everyday! I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago, and always loved cooking, and it is now a shared pleasure, and we have been able to keep a fairly healthy menu, even if I bake cakes way too often :)

    In Portugal, we have access to fresh fish, and that makes a huge difference in your diet. Other thing we try to eat only when out for dinner is red meat. I love chicken and turkey and have almost eliminated red meat from our fridge – apart from meatballs, i guess.

    Also, we always have fresh soup, potato-free, and it is our weekly dinner, along with some cheese or fruit.

    of course, there are weeks when work is too demanding or we’re just too tired or bored and cook other things, but that’s ok, because we’re not in a diet, we’re just trying to eat healthy!

    As for the books, I have Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie, and there are a lot of good recipes to choose from.

  • Reply
    Marie
    March 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    So… when is the post on the layout of your new veggie and herb garden coming? ;)

    Seriously though, growing some of your own food is one of life’s chief pleasures, especially with kids. There is nothing like a summer picnic with fresh mozzarella sandwiches drizzled with olive oil and filled with tomatoes and basil you grew yourself… and maybe a homegrown watermelon afterward.

    If you do ever plant a little garden, tomatoes, herbs, and vine type things are easy to grow from seed in most conditions and produce a lot (think cucumbers, melons, squash)… nasturtiums are also a pretty (and yummy) addition to salads, and they grow really well in shade. And are hard to kill! ;p

  • Reply
    kelly
    March 31, 2010 at 10:42 am

    both jamie oliver and michael pollan really helped change the way i think about food. i don’t know if it’s just me getting older, but i get more excited about going to my local farmer’s market than i do going shoe shopping. nature is just so inspiring!
    my friends and i started a little food magazine that you might be interested in called remedy quarterly. http://www.remedyquarterly.com. it’s ad-free, community supported and full of love and recipes.

  • Reply
    JRM
    March 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Another thing that you can do, along the same movement, is reducing your acquisition/consumption of everything in general.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Tracy
    March 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    you might be into Jamie’s book Family Dinners

    we love it at my house and it’s full of good/hearty meals.

    http://www.amazon.com/Jamies-Dinners-Essential-Family-Cookbook/dp/1401301940

  • Reply
    Tonia B.
    April 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I loved the post! I am a Michael Pollan fan as well and was raised mostly living by his advice. I love the green box on your countertop, where is it from? I don’t recall you having mentioned it before, but I’m sorry if you have and I didn’t see it. It is super cute and looks functional too! Thanks for the great blog!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth H.
    April 6, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Haven’t read all the responses, but if you liked In Defense so well, you HAVE to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s a must. I grow most of my own stuff and our family raises our own meat, but none of this happened overnight. Small steps are best when making these kinds of changes.

  • Reply
    Inês Ezequiel
    April 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Hi there
    I just want to say that you really are doing what is best concerning to your meals. Jamie Oliver his doing a great job by introducing healthy food in our everday meals. Even that you haven’t any experience on doing but you will learn it. And when you get there you will see that’s a pleasure on doing it and eating.
    oh other thing i love your blog. I’ve already started to make drawings and plans for my dining room. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and your house photos
    Kisses for Eleanor she is beautiful

  • Reply
    Bridget B.
    April 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    have you heard of this site? http://brokeassgourmet.com/

    their recipe’s are wonderfully simple and healthy, plus they have so many tasty ideas that i would never have come up with on my own.

    the best part is the meals are intentionally made from inexpensive items and proportioned for two people. love them!

  • Reply
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