One in five deaths globally are diet-related. Think about that. Too much sodium (salty snacks), sugar (refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks), and not enough whole grains, fruits or vegetables are the culprit. And it’s something most can control. No surprise, diets in the healthiest countries — Japan, Israel, France and Spain — contain lots of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and healthy oils (similar to the Mediterranean diet).
I’ve never been one to count calories or try one fad diet after another. Instead of “dieting,” I prefer the idea of eating in a new (and hopefully healthier) way. Moderation is my guide. Although white flour and white sugar are health no-nos for everyone, I do believe the body reveals what is best. (I just need to listen!) My thought process and physical energy, for instance, scream for a nap after eating refined carbs. Protein, greens and healthy fats like olive oil, on the other hand, are hi-test.
For years, I struggled with the notion that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” because I’m rarely hungry upon waking or for several hours afterward. When making myself eat when not hungry, I gained weight. Being a recovering potato chip addict, I love carbs but when I dump the potatoes and pasta and oh, that fresh-baked crusty bread, I lose weight — and feel better.
I can easily make a healthy salad at home but when traveling I doubt I’ll see salad on the breakfast menu. Still, I’m hopeful since fruit earned its place there long ago and breakfast smoothies have been popping up. So, go ahead, try it. Eat some greens for breakfast and see how you feel.
I made this salad for lunch. Well, actually Mother Nature made it for me, I simply chose to partake of her delectable edibles that nourish me in boundless ways when I choose to look her way.
Convenience or Necessity — Which is it and What Matters Most?
Too often, I grabbed a bag or box of processed food because I thought it was quicker, easier. But, digging deeper I asked what am I trading off for this “convenience”? Being sold on “convenience,” I’ve found is often a cover up for something that is actually not so healthy like the increased health risks from Fitbit or extended cell phone use.
At one time I bought into the “fast” food trap, thinking it would save me time in meal prep. But when I noticed the long drive-through lines and realized I could prepare a steak, vegetable and salad within 20 minutes — AND relax at my table to consume it, rather than behind the steering wheel at a red light — I began to change my ways. It didn’t make sense to be handed a bag of virtually dead food tainted with GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and any other nasty ingredient that deteriorates good health when I could choose more wholesome and satisfying real “food.”
Thinking Behind the Goods
My thinking was lazy. Naively trusting big business and government I thought if products are allowed on the market they must be safe, right? Right. When the money trail of lobbyists controlling government, health and essentially our lives uncovered that fallacy, my thinking turned circumspect.
Taking Time for All of You
There’s truth in the time-tested saying, “If you don’t have your good health, you don’t have anything.” I had to decide what’s more important — rushing to a class or making a deadline by quickly eating bad food, or nourishing body, mind and spirit through Mother Nature’s generous offerings for vitality and vigor? The answer seems obvious, but those “self-imposed” time constraints often get in the way.
Think you’re too busy to grocery shop for fresh produce? To rinse the spinach, red oak lettuce and red raspberries? Not enough time to chop some red bell pepper, and slice golden beets to roast? Too overloaded you say to whisk some strawberry balsamic vinegar with light olive oil while toasting the pecans…then dabbing some Chevre cheese on top and adorning with dried tart cherries? Think again. The benefits exceed the eye.
Creating a salad like this satisfies more than the belly, while a box or bag of processed food harms it. (No coincidence that shelves are flooded with probiotics and OTC remedies for stomach distress these days.) Rampant busyness robs downtime, a necessity for mind and body regeneration.
Still think you don’t have time to support your well-being?
This salad is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, protein, and nutrients through vitamins and minerals like A, B6, boron, C, calcium, copper, E, folate, folic acid, iron, K, lycopene, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, quercitin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and zinc.
Additionally, pecans which are high in healthy unsaturated fat, help lower “bad” cholesterol. Golden beets also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease heart disease risk, help prevent various cancers, and cleanse the kidneys. Tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan which can promote better sleep. Goat cheese offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and contains healthy fats, including medium-chain fatty acids that can improve satiety and benefit weight loss. These are only some of the “physical” benefits.
Selecting ingredients I thought would work together tapped into my creativity, while preparing the produce was an in-the-moment meditative experience. How divine to then taste each layer of color, flavor and texture. Raspberries and cheese melting in my mouth under the ying-yang, sweet-tart balsamic dressing and crunch of spinach and roasted pecans was far more pleasing — and nutritious too — than any bag of processed whatever I could pick-up. Mother Nature endows us with her riches. It’s simply up to us to accept the gift.