Archive | September, 2014

Art, Science & The Meaning of Good Food

28 Sep

I used to hate science.

In high school I was in art club. I had dreams of becoming an artist. A designer, a painter, maybe even a sculptor. I made my own clothes and wore them to school. I entered my drawings and paintings into contests and actually won on a few occasions. I made my own jewelry, I sewed quilts and gave them as gifts, I painted polka dots and palm trees on my bedroom walls. I was a creator.

Fast-forward 6 years. Imagine me sitting in a large lecture hall surrounded by pre-med students desperately trying to decipher what the professor was scribbling on the blackboard: organic chemistry. This was the worst of my science-heavy academia, but many similarly technical courses ensued: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy… you get the picture.

As I was cooking the other day- carefully examining a recipe in one of my new cookbooks while simultaneously improvising with a dash of this and a substitution for that- I started thinking about the opposing forces of art and science. Some of us naturally sway more in one direction than the other. But these are not “gifts”, they are skills, meaning we can become adept at both no matter which way we tend to lean. And, in my opinion,  we all need a little art and a little science in order to be balanced. As I half-followed that recipe, I realized that this opinion is also a perfect description of my philosophy on food.

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Food is fuel. (True). Food is memories, connection, and creativity (Also true).The sciences get us what we want (lower blood pressure, weight loss, faster race times). The arts are ends in themselves (the warm fuzzies from a bowl of soup on a cold night, the comforting memory of your grandma’s signature pie). Our relationship with food needs the sensibility of science to keep us healthy. It also needs the expression of art to make us feel alive and connected to our culture, to the people we break bread with, and to ourselves. I’ve seen how things can go awry if either of these aspects is forgotten. Ripping the art out of food leaves us with carbs/protein/fat, calorie counting, chugging lemon/cayenne/maple syrup concoctions, and obsessing over ways to “rev our metabolisms”. All art and no science ignores the compelling research that proves food really can be our medicine. Our disordered interpretation of how we should view and experience food has left us with a broken and abusive relationship with the thing that is meant to nourish us on all levels.

I am cooking much more now (for myself and for True Food clients). The creator in me revels in the vibrant colors, endless flavor combinations, and the reassuring act of producing nourishment for myself and others with my own two hands. The scientist beams with pride knowing that each ingredient, recipe, and final meal was carefully crafted with the intention of improving and supporting health.

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Wherever you fall on the science-art spectrum, I encourage you to seek out balance, especially when it comes to food. Without science, we are merely floating into an abyss. Without art, we live a rigid life. As for food, make choices based on what you know will nourish your health (I am confident your intuition will lead you to the right stuff), but don’t forget to create, play, savor, share, and enjoy what’s on your plate.

A soup recipe worth trying:

African Peanut Stew

(adapted from Peas and Thank You)

The Science: a meal of soup will fill you up (fiber- and water-licious!), fuel you up (nice balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and plant proteins), and make you feel great (loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants up in here).
The Art: a blend of the vivacious colors of nature, varying textures, and punchy flavors will have you smiling and “mmm..”-ing until the final spoonful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger (or 1 t. ginger powder)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils
  • chopped fresh greens (kale or spinach work nicely)

How-To:

  • Combine all ingredients except greens in a soup pot on the stove or in a crockpot and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Right before serving, stir in greens until wilted. 

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In the end, we all need a little of both worlds. The scientist must engage creative thinking to solve his hypothesis and the artist must learn technique to master his medium.

Psst… you still have one more week to win 20 LARABARS! All you have to do is share this post and sign up for the True Food newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

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True Bites + A Giveaway!

21 Sep

JWD and I are professional snackers.

At any given moment, we have at least one snack each in our possessions. We have snacks stashed in every bag, glove compartment, suitcase, desk drawer, and even a few jacket pockets. Our elite-level snacking habits recently resulted in what is now referred to as “The Epic Ant Invasion Of 2014”.

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The reason for our snack obsession is simple: neither of us enjoys being hungry. We also don’t enjoy being caught somewhere, snackless and faced only with the dismal offerings of a vending machine. Or worse… a “hangry” and snackless person is too easily persuaded by the alluring smell of cinnamon buns and pretzels at the mall or even by yesterday’s stale donuts in the office kitchen (you know you’ve been there).

Snacking between meals isn’t right for everyone, but it is something to consider if you feel ravenous on a 3-squares-a-day plan (me, me!). When hunger kicks in, sensibility flies out the window. We’d all like to forget that time we dove head-first into that basket of bread or tortilla chips before we even ordered dinner (guilty as charged).

Snacks keep hunger at bay (and sensibility in check) and they can provide an extra boost of nutrition… when done right.

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Snacking has a dark side. Between-meal snacks are singlehandedly blamed for the sharp increase in American calorie consumption since the 1970’s. So where does snacking take a wrong turn? In 2 places: 1) when you eat “snack foods” rather than “whole foods”, and 2) when you simply add snacks in without subtracting from your main meals. So skip the chips, cookies, and candy bars. Snack on whole foods like fruit, veg, nuts, edamame, and hummus. Adjust the portions of your meals and snacks so you feel ready to eat (but not ravenous) when you begin and satisfied (but not stuffed) when you end.

At our house, we dig whole food, easy, and portable snacks.  Here’s our current favorite:

True Bites

Why “True”? Because customizing a snack that is true to you and your taste buds is what it’s all about!

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used sunflower butter)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Sunwarrior Protein Powder (optional; simply increase the amount of another dry ingredient if you omit)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (honey works well too)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Customize: use your favorite nut butter, add shredded coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit… whatever makes you happy!

How-To:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well-incorporated. If the mixture is too wet or too dry, simply add more of the wet or dry ingredients until you have a not-to-sticky mixture that will hold together.
  • Wet hands, and roll about 1 tbsp. of the mixture into a bite-sized ball. Repeat.
  • Pop in the freezer for 10-15 min. to firm up. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

 

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When batches of bites don’t happen on Sundays, we reach for another favorite: LARABAR. This is one of the only bars I will buy because the ingredients are whole and simple. My favorite flavor, Cashew Cookie, has just TWO ingredients! Simple snacking at its best.

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It’s GIVEAWAY time! As a LARABAR Ambassador, my kind friends at LARABAR sent me samples to share with you!

What you get if you win: 20 LARABARs of 5 different flavors, including a few of my favorites: Cashew Cookie and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip; and a super cool LARABAR sticker so that everyone knows you too are an elite-level snacker.

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Here’s how you enter to win:

  1. Sign up for our True Food Co. mailing list (first newsletter is out today!).
  2. Share a link to this post on at least one of your social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

I will randomly choose the lucky snacker in two weeks, go!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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