30 Days of Real Food (and the science of food)

I wonder when we as a whole forgot how to eat?  I doubt my Depression-era great-grandmas ever had to overthink it; what do we have to eat?  Women all over the world wake up in villages and towns and prepare food every day dictated by culture and availability.  The women in Okinawa make sushi and rice dishes, in Sardinia pasta is being made, in India a curry can be found, in America (and probably other places), we don’t know what the hell we are eating.  Most of us have lost any cultural identity we had and foods are so prevalent, shipped in from everywhere, that we haven’t an inkling of seasonality or even health.  It is incredible that we have forgotten how and what to eat.  Convenience and big companies dominate.

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You can find a fad a minute and I trust none of them.  Keto?  Come on.  Extreme veganism?  Not healthy or realistic.  Paleo?  Don’t get me started.  I might be a housewife, but I do research like a University professor.  I want to know what we should eat, why, when, how, and I desperately want to stop overthinking it.  My theory (which is not a new one) is that we are dying and sick from sedentary lifestyles, stress, loneliness, and chemicals.  Aka: fake food.

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Doug and I decided that in May we would do a 30 day Real Food challenge.  Is that the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard?  Can you imagine great-grandma saying something like, “You guys eat fake food?”  It sounds like a sci-fi movie.  Most of the food that we eat is indeed chemically altered and processed.  For example, my day yesterday: coffee (real!), cereal, almond milk, a cookie, a previously frozen breakfast sandwich at the book store, 3 dates (real!), and a breakfast bar.  I did make a mean Shepherd’s Pie from my daughter, Emily’s recipe.  Instead of lamb, as she called for, I used Beyond Meat crumbles.  Delicious, convincing, but my intuition screams that these new fangled veggie meats are not what they seem.  And they are, in a nutshell, chemically altered.

30 days of Real Food.  Which means, no eating out, and I need to conquer my lack of creativity in the realm of lunches.  Cookies are not lunch, y’all.

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While I figure all that out, I have two great books to share with you.  One is called, 100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le.  It studies the eating habits from then to now and how in each area of the world, our enzymes and needs changed.  Much of his research comes out as, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but it is fascinating information.  Yes meat will make you stronger, more fertile, and fast, but you will also peak and die early.  Yes, being vegetarian extends lifespan but at the expense of energy and nutrient deficiency.  Yes, dairy makes you grow strong and tall, but also increases the risk of hip fractures.  (Incidentally there are only a few places in the world that the people developed the enzymes to process dairy; Nordic, Celtic, and some African regions.)  Fruit is good for you unless you eat too much, then you increase your risk of Pancreatic cancer.  The whole book is like that but I enjoy the research and the ideas it triggers within myself.

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The second book is called, The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.  You all know I wanted to attend cooking school, and I have even toured a few, but let’s be honest, I probably won’t work in a restaurant, I just want to be a better cook.  I saved roughly $9000 by purchasing this book!  It is the science and exact how-to’s and why’s of cooking.  Love it.  I can’t wait to cook my way through it, not unlike the popular blog, book, and film, Julia and Julia.  I will have to, for the first time in my life, actually follow the recipe.  But there is no chemically altered food found here.

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Along with our food ideas, we are also walking 3+ miles a day around the lake in the evenings, completing the exercise stations at the lake on the weekends, and incorporating yoga into our routine.  Our hope is, not only weight loss, but more vitality, energy, strength, and overall health, as well as a shift in our thinking so that we can sustain a healthy lifestyle.  Perhaps you would like to join in on the challenge!

How to Accept the Challenge of Living Fully and Embrace Destiny

ninjaThe biggest challenge is living life in the fullest right now.  To be neither in the past nor the future.  To face fears as one experiences them.  To constantly reassess one’s temperaments and ideals, perceptions and reactions to become a better, kinder, more graceful person who lives with great compassion.  To find what destiny was designed for us and follow the cues of passion and interest to find where we make the very most difference in the world.

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Writing a memoir was a profound experience for me because I was able to start at the beginning of this life journey and walk through it.  I saw myself at three years old, at eleven years old, I watched as I experienced bliss, intense sadness, confusion, joy, and I nodded at each character that has helped mold me in my life, from my mother to my mentors.  I was able to see, understand, forgive, embrace, appreciate, and release.  I highly recommend that you purchase a journal and begin telling your tale.  Everyone has a message and a life of lessons to share.

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When one finds themselves fretting about the future or reliving a memory in the past, try to pull yourself to this moment.  I believe the reason I love great food, cooking, and the mysteries of wine is because it makes me grounded.  It forces me to use my human senses.  Otherwise I am always flitting about spiritually or stuck in my head.  Balance is needed.  Try to close your eyes and smell, hear, touch, breathe, taste.  Hear the birds.  See the colors of nature out the window.  Feel the breeze on your skin.  Taste the tannins in a cup of tea.  Feel the air fill your lungs.  Put your hands together in front of your heart and feel gratitude.  This acts as a reset and brings you back to now.

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In my book, The Making of a Medicine Woman; the Memoirs of Bird Woman, that is soon to be released, I experience facing fears.  You will always have to face your fears.  They will keep coming until you do.  My fear has always been of ghosts and bad spirits.  Nightmares from when I was very young and stories that haunted me (I should not have watched “The Exorcist”) through adulthood kept me from doing the work that I do.  I lived in haunted house after haunted house and had experience after experience until finally I turned around and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore.

What are you afraid of?

On my birthday I posted some crazy what-if’s.  What if I stopped writing out a to-do list, what anything get done?  My fear of not being productive enough prompts me to write elaborate lists.  I stopped writing them for a week.  And sure enough, not a dang thing got done!  So the lists are back, just smaller.

I wondered if I stopped worrying about money if it would come easier.  Our income didn’t increase but once I stepped back and stopped worrying, I realized we make enough.

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I wondered what it would be like to shave my head.  It felt like a beautifully symbolic new beginning.  A spiritual oath.  A bit of freedom (from tangles, hair products, and dye).  But what if people thought I had cancer?  (White girls with shaved heads are unfortunately assumed to be ill if they have very short hair, it turns out…)  Well, sure enough, lots of messages came pouring in and strangers walked up to me and asked if I were ill.  I dealt with the fear straight on with a smile.  And I LOVE my hair.  I don’t look in the mirror much now.  It certainly is freeing.

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Challenge yourself!  That is another way to live fully.  What do you want to do with your life?  How can you become a better person?  How can you live more compassionately?  How can you spread your light to the world?

Maybe open doors for people.  Give some leeway on the highway.  Give hugs, compliments, forgiveness, and small gifts.  Give of yourself.  Laugh.  Notice.  Be here.  Follow your desires.

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If you are not happy, figure out why.  It’s time to live your destiny and your birthright of joy.  Joy follows when you are following your highest self and living for now.