Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Are What You Eat

So then I must be a cookie. Or at least I was...

Thinking back as far as I can remember, I recall my mother making a full well rounded meal for every night of the week with the occasional exception of a pizza or Chinese order here and there. I didn't realize it at the time but my mother never served me anything that came out of a box. A typical meal in our house was  a meat, a starch (potato or rice), and a vegetable. As long as my dinner was finished, I was entitled to dessert which was never passed up in my family. I remember going to friends houses & they were having boxed mac & cheese, or fast food take out. At that age chicken nuggets & fries sounded so much better than homemade pot roast with all the veggies & gravy you could eat. It didn't occur to me until I was older that my mother was actually setting a strong foundation for me and I can't thank her enough.
Once I was eighteen and moved out on my own, I went on my first real grocery shopping trip. I went to the store without a plan or list & just bought whatever I thought looked enticing. A car load of junk and $200 later I realized I didn't have anything I could make a substantial meal from. So, back out I went to hit the take out counter at my local fast food joint. 
That started my journey down the wrong food path. I would spend hoards of money on canned, boxed & bagged items. I really don't recall wheeling my cart down the produce isle much at all.
When I was working full time and going to college part time in the evenings I noticed my food habits got even worse. The people at the local take out joint knew my voice when I called in my order. Now you're thinking I would have realized this was not a good thing. Not me! I thought, "Hey great, now they know who I am and they won't forget to add the extra dressing I always ask for."

Eventually, I gained an interest in cooking. I was addicted to the food channel as was my fiance. Slowly, we both started to try new dishes we never even heard of. I made sure when I went grocery shopping that I made a list so that we had every ingredient we needed. Both of us would fight our way around each other in our teeny tiny kitchen trying to assemble different portions of our meal. Then came the sweetest reward. The final dish. We started sitting down together for dinner and discussing the varied ingredients we used and what we'd like to try differently next time. That passion between us grew & soon enough we were the biggest "foodies" on the block. I no longer viewed creating a meal as a chore that needed to be checked off a list. I enjoyed choosing the ingredients, I enjoyed taste testing throughout the cooking process but most of all I reveled in the sight on my fiance's face when he tasted what I had created.
As time passed and we continued to explore different dishes I stood back and noticed something. I was looking and feeling a lot healthier than I did during my "take out" days. That's when I really started to take a turn towards healthy eating.
When I was expecting my daughter I remember going in to the grocery store with a new view of things. I was intent on eating only nutritious foods for the little one growing inside of me. I wanted to buy organic foods but when I got to the local grocery store it was not an easy feat to find the foods I wanted in an organic version.
Why is that you ask? Because unfortunately peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and nacho cheese tortillas are not part of the healthy organic diet. "Great" I muttered to myself, "I'm destined to eat rice cakes & raw carrots. Woo hoo!" Just what a pregnant lady wants to hear.
So, I did what I could to satisfy my cravings. If I wanted something sweet, I opted for fruit or all natural ice cream. I remember Breyers All Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was a staple on every week's grocery list. (Hey, I was pregnant.. I had to cut myself some slack...)
I remember craving nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips but I knew they were loaded with MSG so I stayed away from them with a ten foot pole.
After giving birth I decided to breastfeed (which I really plan to post a lot about in future posts). While breastfeeding I started to do a lot of research to learn about the things I should be eating so that my daughter would receive optimal nutrition. Along my quest for information I stumbled upon a movie about our food culture today. This was a documentary about organic farming (or lack thereof), GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and the meat and poultry industry. I must say, I was terrified to put another bite of ANYTHING in to my mouth after that. With each bite I took of something I had so many questions running through my head; "What if this has pesticides on it or in it? What if this meat came from an animal treated with antibiotics or growth hormones? What if the food I'm about to eat spontaneously combusts?!!?
It was too much for an already neurotic mother to handle. So, I sat down & decided again to research the food industry as much as I could.
Now, when I go to the grocery store I try to buy local, organic produce and free range meats and dairy products. I try to make every meal I can from scratch. I've decided, I'm going back to basics! If you take a look at my dinner table, most nights you'll find a meat, a starch (potato or rice) and a vegetable. I try to limit the amount of processed foods we have. Most importantly I try to arm myself with knowledge. A smart cookie is a healthy cookie.
Mmmmm.. Cookies are my favorite.