What Should I Do?

Whole Food Eating

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 6:40 PM

Have we forgotten where our food comes from? The importance of a whole foods diet has become more and more vital to our overall health and well-being, because, well, we’ve strayed so far from food. Farmers’ markets bring honest food to us. However, I certainly get lost and frustrated while shopping for food at a grocery store because a) there are too many products on the shelves and b) the multitude of choices requires label-ready due-diligence.

I read a recent statistic that the average supermarket carries 48,750 items. Where have the days of the simple grocery list of eggs, apples, carrots, broccoli, fish, milk, and butter gone? Food today has been exploited and nutrient-rich foods exchanged for empty calories.

Now, more than ever, it’s time we get back to the basics; be resourceful, ask questions about where your food is coming from, shop farmers markets, know your grocery, plant a garden, buy bulk dry goods, prepare your food at home, and cook with fresh ingredients as much as possible. It will save you loads of stress, and if done right, money, too. 

As I share and encourage you to reconnect with your food, I hope you’ll explore new health-promoting hobbies, passions, and activities that can be enjoyed with family and friends.

Here are a few ideas and recipes to inspire you:

Plant a Garden

A few fresh herbs in your apartment or a tomato plant on your front porch is a start and can be done at home. Be sure to find a quality organic seed source and speak with your local garden store or nursery for guidance about which plants will do best in your area.

Community Gardens are another avenue for you to explore if space is limited at your own home. Or, join a CSA and support a community member’s farm and enjoy seasonal harvest without the getting your hands dirty.

Buying Bulk

Peruse the bulk section at your local health food store or co-op grocer and stock up on whole grains, legumes, nuts, and spices. Make an effort to buy a new grain (amaranth or millet) or spice (turmeric, paprika) each visit. You’ll add color and variety to your pantry and diet, while increasing your recipe repertoire.  You’ll also find bulk items to be priced more cost-consciously.

Store your bulk ingredients in glass – Ball or Mason canning jars from your local hardware store are inexpensive and effective storage containers.  Purchase exact quantities – small for sampling, large for staples – an advantage to buying bulk.

Making Stock

One of my favorite things to cook is vegetable stock. It’s a staple easily taken for granted. Homemade stocks are low-sodium and low-cost (compared to store-bought) and add nutritional value when cooking soups, grains, risotto, etc. Try heating a cup of stock in the morning or afternoon to calm stress and support the immune system. Stocks require little skill and are an excellent way to squeeze nutrients out of food scraps. 

Here’s the How-To:

Save carrot tops and peels, beet and celery leaves, wilting dark leafy greens, sweet potato skins, even apple cores. Keep a Ziploc bag in the freezer and add your vegetables scraps to the bag. When the bag is full, remove from the freezer and defrost.

Vegetable Stock

Ingredients*

  • 1 bag of vegetables scraps, fresh or defrosted
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ head of garlic, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, rosemary or mix
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • 1 pinch of cayenne chili flakes
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Preparation

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat
  • Sautee onion and garlic for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through
  • Add sea salt and cayenne chili flakes
  • Add vegetable scraps, herbs and water, bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 2-4 hours
  • Strain stock and discard vegetable scraps
  • Cool stock and refrigerate or freeze

Chicken or Fish Stock

*Add chicken or fish scraps and bones to broth to make chicken or fish stock

Spice it Up!

Avoid sauces and dressings you buy at the store. Hidden sodium, sugars, and preservatives lurk. Instead, try one of your new bulk spices, add fresh or dried herbs to a salad with a squeeze of lemon or a new olive oil, and cracked pepper or chili flakes to your fish or poultry.

Chili flakes are a something I personally cannot live without.

Peppers are bursting with vitamins and have proven to be helpful in weight loss.  With summer coming up, chilies will grace farmers markets. Here’s how you can make your own chili flakes at home.

Cayenne Chili Flakes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs of cayenne peppers

Equipment

  • Spice or coffee grinder, cleaned

Preparation

  • Pre-heat oven to lowest temperature (110 degrees)
  • Place peppers on baking sheet(s)
    • Note: It’s ok to crowd peppers, but do not pile too high. Use multiple baking sheets, if needed
  • Cook on low heat for 24-36 hours, or until chilis are deep red and dried
  • Cool well
  • Removed tops/stems and discard
  • Grind in small batches to preferred size - fine or coarse
  • Store in glass container
Reinventing Leftovers

If you’re committed to cooking and eating more local, organic foods at home, let’s not let food go to waste. Leftovers can be tasty the next day, but how about adding a little creativity to reinvent your leftovers into more than just leftovers; how about a whole new meal?



It’s likely the Southern Italian in me that doesn’t like to waste even a crumb of day-old bread. I’ve seen week-old bread rehydrated and the water wrung out into the spaghetti sauce. Or that same bread added to soup.

I like the simplicity of “Just Add an Egg”

  • Side of Cooked Vegetables = Morning Frittata, Scramble, or Omelet
  • Brown Rice = Fried Rice
    • Reheat 1 cup rice over medium heat. Add ¼ cup water. Add ¼ cup shredded carrots and ¼ cup green peas. Crack in one egg and stir well until cooked. Top with one diced scallion.
  • Quinoa = Breakfast Porridge
    • Reheat 1 cup quinoa over medium heat. Add ¼ cup water and dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in an egg. Top with almonds and/or blueberries and banana.
  • Fish = Non-Nicoise Salad
    • Served fish cold over a bed of lettuce with red onions, tomato, basil, one hard-boiled egg, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, cracked pepper.

*When you’re reinventing leftovers, always add at least one vegetable, fresh herb, or fruit.

Recipe Resources

For recipe ideas for your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices, here are links to fantastic websites:

- Teresa




Tersea Piro is an advocate for eating whole foods and practicing mindfulness. After getting her degree in Holistic Nutrition, she started a CSA (community supported agriculture) program and managed a gourmet restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area.

From this combination of academic study and hands-on experience, she formulated the CAN CAN Cleanse, a nutritional program designed to detoxify the body from dietary and environmental contaminants. It is helping hundreds of people towards health and nutrition goals.


This What Should I Do? blog series is intended to surface knowledge and perspective useful to preparing for a future defined by Peak Oil.  The content is written by PeakProsperity.com readers and is based in their own experiences in putting into practice many of the ideas exchanged on this site.  If there are topics you'd like to see featured here, or if you have interest in contributing a post in a relevant area of your expertise, please indicate so in our What Should I Do? series feedback forum.

If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series, you can find them here:

This series is a companion to this site's free What Should I Do? Guide, which provides guidance from Chris and the PeakProsperity.com staff on specific strategies, products, and services that individuals should consider in their preparations.  

Related content

10 Comments

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1027
Good tips! Generally eating

Good tips!
Generally eating whole foods is a lifestyle I've come to find incredibly rewarding. I went out to the garden tonight before supper with my daughter so she could clip some lettuce leaves from under the cold frame, and she said "Daddy, I'm so glad you grow all this stuff!" Not only do we save money and enjoy higher quality food, we have more fun doing the extra work it takes to produce it ourselves too.

I've figured out a few good basic recipes for bread, pancakes, and crepes and make them all the time now; no more store-bought mixes or dried cereal. Today I made my kids' hands down favorite bread: some "Rustic Italian Bread" right off the Pillsbury Better for Bread flour package. Water, olive oil, flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and egg wash; that's it. Compare that to the long list of suspicious ingredients on a loaf at the store that costs twice as much and tastes half as good.

I just found this great resource, the Harvest Eating Pocast. Chef Keith Snow combines his professional cooking skills using whole local foods with the awareness of impending debt and peak oil issues that are presented by CM.
http://www.harvesteating.com/public/department28.cfm

I'm trying this year to go beyond growing vegtables to learn how to grow and use herbs as well and would appreciate some good basic tips.
Tom

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 2533
Dietry inhibition and home brew.

People are resistant to dietry changes. It is the yuck factor.

For instance, would you eat fermented fish? Have you ever eaten Worchestershire sauce? Fermented sardines.

How about fermented cabbage? I opened my first batch of sauerkraut last month. It was a basic but has been a welcome addition of uncooked cabbage to my diet. My Polish friend said it was improvable. Captain Cook kept his men alive on the stuff. At the risk of overstepping the line, I recommend the Harsch crockpot for your attempts.

How about fermented barley corn? Fermented rye? They seem quite popular.

Why try to digest the indigestable soya bean?  Let mycelium do the digesting for you. The Japanese call that Miso, and it makes a very good soup.

All hail the Mighty Mushroom.

mobius's picture
mobius
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 18 2009
Posts: 152
Really enjoyed this

Really enjoyed this post.   Good ole'fashioned back to basic stuff. 

VeganD's picture
VeganD
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 18 2008
Posts: 642
Teresa-thank you for a

Teresa-thank you for a lovely reminder of what makes food great.  I also appreciate your encouraging us apartment dwellers to garden on our terraces Laughing. Beautiful.

Arthur-I have just ordered a bunch of starters to learn fermentation-I got cultures for Kimchi (basically spicy korean cabbage), soy products like tempeh and natto, and of course sourdough bread starter...good luck with the cabbage and I appreciate your recommendation for a good fermentation crock.

Also making my own soy milk at one tenth the price, 2 ingreident, water and soybeans. The taste is different but I would never go back to store bought. You really just need a blender and the desire to make it at home, although the soymilk maker is one investment I don't regret.  Big time saver.

Happy Sunday

Denise

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1604
excellent

This was a great post. I've been on a self-imposed low sodium diet since I was 12 (heart disease in the family; it only made sense to start addresing my risks) and a low carb one for the last ten years. This meant making my own meals from scratch, obsessive label-reading, and some incredible savings - as well as fantastic-tasting food. Our menu this week included salads from our garden, home-canned fig jam (no added sugar) pecans from my inlaw's yard, local strawberries, and onion rings made with local vidallia onions that were fried in the following batter: 2 cups of home-ground hard red wheat flour, a splash of milk, three eggs from our neighbor's chickens, sea salt, pepper, a pinch of baking soda. They were practically a meal in themselves.

Eating healthier does not mean chowing down on roots and berries. It means choosing local, seasonal, naturally nutrient-filled foods that build your immune system instaed of tearing down. It means taking control of your food choices so you can eat less additives, chemicals, sugar, white flour, salt and other unecessary things. Every time you choose oatmeal instead of (white flour) pancake mix you strike a blow for whole foods. Each time you purchase eggs from a local farmer instead of a supermarket chain, you increase your sustainability. I cannot even begin to describe the incredible satisfaction of a panry full of heathy, home canned foods. My new husband's psoriasis totally disappeared on a healthy diet of simple foods, The over-processed, pre-made, additive-filled things he was eating were killing him.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 721
Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's: ~4,000 SKU's per store.   Inventory that doesn't sell it not rebought (or sent to Aldi's it sister store?)

Teresa Piro's picture
Teresa Piro
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 21 2011
Posts: 1
Thank you....

...for teaching your children! What a wonderful, whole foods lifestyle you embrace and live. Very admirable. Thanks for commenting.

Teresa Piro's picture
Teresa Piro
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 21 2011
Posts: 1
Food is definitely our

Food is definitely our medicine! Thank you for sharing, safewrite.

ved12's picture
ved12
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2012
Posts: 1
We always know that our food

We always know that our food plan is the best way to maintain our health and fitness. There are many people who do not care about their food plan or diet plan. But in case of diabetes people should maintain the proper diet plan in which they must include the Foods that lower blood sugar and low carbs. Healthy food is always good for health and fitness.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments