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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comfort; the good the bad and the possible.

Lets get it out there…I have a FEW pounds to lose. I have always been a macho man who never would have thought of dieting, but in the last decade, I am learning a lot more about my body than I had in college (Biology major), and what it needs to not only survive but to thrive.
Most of my life I have been a meatatarian, the belief that there is no need for the life of senseless slaughter of vegetables for the sustenance of mankind. That mankind has all its dietary needs met by the consumption of the major food groups of my youth, being, all pork products, most beef products and some poultry mixed in with duck and bacon being superfoods.
Now in the inception of my midlife, I realize I was wrong, and my gut is proof enough.
When it comes to dieting, we have created a world of false plastic "foods" that are lower in calories and fat and higher in chemicals and salt and and other unspeakables. We have moved so far away from real foods and food traditions and left a lasting culture of plasticine, quasi foods for our children to accept as normal and the new real. We need to focus on rebuilding our health one bite at a time, we need to be concerned less about what we cant eat or eating less of it, and set our eyes on the prize of giving it what it needs…nutrition. If we give our hungry and sick bodies what they need in their simplest forms, it will heal itself. It will shed the additional adipose fat it holds on to, and mend the damage caused by foolish living and eating. If we start to eat real foods in their natural states, using real ingredients, we can learn to make real food for ourselves and our families. The choices outside the home are a far cry from real, and by cooking at home you can ensure the contents of your meal, you also can control your portions, and build of food culture in your home by filling your home with comfort in the smells sounds, and lessons of a real meal cooking in the kitchen. Mend your not only your body but your family bonds around a dinner table with plates of comfort and the ones you love.
I will tackle one of America's most beloved of comfort foods in our current era, the wonderful blue box of Macaroni and Cheese. I was one of those kids that craved this bowl of luminescent orange bowl of comfort as a kid and especially as a college student. But as I matured and travelled I began to crave home cooked meals and while traveling and eating in the south I found how truly misguided I was in thinking my comfort standard of mac and cheese was home cooked, and how much more amazing real home cooked mac and cheese could be, and realize that most of the foods we eat are emulations and some flat out facades of what food should be.
I began to understand comfort in foods and the power food holds in our psyche, it brought me back to some of the home cooked foods my mother made and how they could heal my soul. As a child, when I was sick to my stomach, my mother used to make me Arroz con leche, a rice dish similar to rich pudding but soupier, lightly sweetened and doused with cinnamon, served warm, it would sooth me like no pill or dose a medicine ever could, just the smell can settle my aches. We can create the soothing comfort of home in our own kitchens and create fond memories for our family, through a legacy of real foods. I implore to try.
Michael Pollan said it best "eat real foods, not to much and mostly plants" and in his 7 rules of health;
  1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.
  7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.   
You can make a difference one bite at a time, and don't forget…


  1. Chef Dave I'm going to follow your blog man! Good material here. You know what helps me with that 4/5ths rule? Making sure that at least 2/5ths are composed of tasty animals. Or at least something with protein. Then I can feel satisfied even when the tank is not topped off. I don't get that content feeling no matter how much of the veggies I eat. Case in point: I just finished off a huge salad as I read this, and am still not satisfied. (Fake bacon bits don't have protein. And yes I know they probably have ingreadients I can't pronounce.)

  2. Thanks! All in for animal protein! And the follow is much appreciated!
    Keep it real!
    CHef Dave

  3. Dave,
    What your doing is great. I know that so many of us eat packaged food for lack of time. Jen and I have been getting fruits and veggies from a co-op and usually have so much of it for less then what we would pay at the store. We receive new stuff we have never tried before, so we try to find recipes for these new veggies or fruits. Also, when the kids help make the food they are more likely to try something new. We have been trying to commit to not having any boxed foods unless it is a main one ingredient food or cereal. I have a sugar gram count limit the kids have to be under when they choose their cereal, plus no excess ingredients. The oldest boy likes oat, grains, and fruit cereal. I wish there was a Sprouts closer to our home so we could purchase more raw/bulk type ingredients. The boys like to eat peanut butter crackers and always ask for the packaged ones or lunchables, we will not buy them, we make them ourselves for cheaper. I believe that lunchables are a lazy/busy parents crutch. Our food rules of the house for the kids are 1. If your hungry you can have any fruits or veggies you want at anytime, 2. Snacks can consist of crackers, fruit, veggies, bread, cheese, peanut butter, popcorn, etc. (We very rarely have junk food in the house.) 3. Treats consist of dessert type foods and are usually rewarded at the end of the day based on good behavior. Our family loves to go to Sweet Tomatoes. We try not to go to fast food places, and when we do our bodies know. We have been a little out of practice lately so maybe we could help each other stay on track. MONIKA

    1. Monika, it sounds like you and your partner are doing an awesome job! I think you can cut yourself a little slack with the snacks as long as your kids now that it is a treat not a meal. By cooking at home with real food your are building a food culture that will be entwined into the lives of your children forever. They will look back fondly and with warmth in the times when they need their mommies comfort. We can definately keep each other in check. If you need any recipes for some of those new veg, Let me know! Kudos!
      Chef Dave