I feel like I’ve addressed this before, but I thought this picture was a perfect opportunity to discuss my dietary philosophy. I have a lot of friends who would be aghast at the amount of sugar and saturated fats in this cake. Some , don’t even allow their kids to have a birthday cake which I honestly I find to be ridiculous. The occasional celebratory cake is not the problem with the standard American diet. It is our inability to relegate sugar to its proper place in our diet. The issue lies in daily soda or juice consumption and the additon of high fructose corn syrup to the pounds of processed foods Americans consume, daily. Also, when people do eat dessert, their serving sizes are far too large. You would be amazed how many people I can make a cake like this feed. I also have friends who only eat honey or sugar substitutes. That doesn’t work for me either. Honey isn’t really any better for you than organic evaporated cane juice, if you eat too much. I am also not going to set myself up to be the target of every slimy advertising campaign promoting the newest, greatest sugar substitute. Excessive sweet is not health producing, regardless of its form. I wish I could tell you differently, but that just isn’t the way your body works.
Like wise other friends tut tut when I post pictures of breads and grain products. Personally I don’t think carbs are going to destroy your health and make you fat. I think that Americans eat too many of the wrong kind of carbs. Also, Americans don’t soak our grains or ferment them. There is a reason grandma used to leave the buttermilk pancakes on the counter overnight. The predigestion of those grains helped rid them of certain elements such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, that were not health producing. I truly don’t believe people need to avoid gluten because wheat was bad for us in its traditional form. But , along with corn, soybeans, and other crop foods, wheat has been modified in the lab to become something poisonous to our bodies. Or perhaps, our bodies just can’t handle all the toxins and we are all walking around on overload. The impact genetic modification has had on our food supplies and our health is best left as a topic for another day.
I base a lot of my dietary beliefs on the fact that I come from a long line of individuals who lived to be damn old eating sugar, bread and cake at birthday parties.
D0 you know what they didn’t eat? They didn’t eat chemicals. They didn’t eat high fructose corn syrup, preservatives or petroleum based food additives. They didn’t eat hydrogenated fats. There was no plastic in their foods because it was dehydrated, fermented, stored in burlap bags or canned in glass jars. But my family also skipped a generation and my parents were kind of hippies. I think that sort of food preparation has been, for the most part, been erased from cultural memory. Many foodies out there miss the boat when they tell young people to eat like their grandma ate. Because I’ve seen how my husband’s grandma cooks, and I don’t think Franco American Spaghetti out of a can was what Michael Pollan had in mind when he penned that recommendation.
There are some things that we try to avoid:
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Additives, Preservatives, Food Dyes Basically if it isn’t a plant derivative, I don’t want to eat it.
2. Processed, packaged foods that have a shelf life longer than my batteries.
3. GMO’s ; especially in the form of the grains that I bake with.
4. Hydrogenated fats
5. White foods (sugar, rice, flour, etc) We do use organic, unbleached flour when we bake but I always try to mix it with whole grain flours.
6. Soy, unless it has been fermented.
Things we try to include in our diet:
1. Organic food ; especially grains and legumes in an attempt to avoid GMOs.
2. Nourishing Beverages; including smoothies, nourishing infusions, chai made from nourishing dried roots, and bone broth.
3. Foods we’ve made from scratch.
4. Variety — I can think of many different kinds of grains, legumes, seeds and nuts we have in the house for cooking with right now. I tend to think we eat far more different kinds of vegetables than your average household does, although I admit I am currently struggling with the kids and their eating their veggies.
5. Spices – Since my days of running around renaissance faires, I have know about medieval cookery and its generous use of herbs.
Sometimes though, we cheat and I don’t really make any apologies about it. I think you are setting yourself up for failure if you are too restrictive about anything. Failure just leads to feeling guilt and stress. I don’t need that in my life.
I am pretty sure that there are many ways to eat healthily. Which diet you choose is not the issue, what is important is actually taking the time to think about what you eat, how much you are eating and why you eat it. I don’t think most people do that, and that is what is wrong with the standard American diet.