Kale chips. Greek yogurt. Green juices. Legumes. The list goes on and on: foods that are good for me that I’ve tried over the past twelve months. Stuff I would never eat if they didn’t have a big marketing push behind it from the gurus of the alterna-living crowd. We know that bag of chips is doing us no good, but do we have to go all the way over to kale? Couldn’t we just munch on a carrot maybe?
Here’s my general philosophy of eating well: stick with lean proteins, a ton of fruits and vegetables, and keep the starches and sugars to an absolute minimum.
You’ll probably be fine with that. But then I see a movie like “Forks Over Knives,” which talks about no oil-added vegan living. Or “Hungry for Change,” which is all about juicing and decide I have to try it. AND drag my family along with me (they are kind and patient souls and I know they love me … ).
Americans Eat Crap
We know this, right? Americans eat crap! We reach for the processed, high-fat, high-sugar, high-everything-else-bad-for-you junk all the time. In the process, we’re munching our way into killer size waistbands, and I mean that literally. We’re dropping like flies from our own food choices, shortening the quality and quantity of our lifespans in exchange for a few seconds of creamy or crunchy deliciousness we’ve been programmed to like.
How stupid are we? And then we whine like big fat babies when Mayor Bloomberg of New York City sets regulations banning large sugary drinks because we’re too coddled to do it ourselves. Wah, wah, wah … get over it people!
Health Benefits of Kale
Every few months I bring something home from the grocery store with a hopeful look, and my husband sighs and goes back to his laptop. He knows he’s waiting for me to bring him something that he’ll have to ingest and pretend to like in front of our son. It’s all in the name of healthy living, so he’s gotta suck it up.
I came home with some red kale after a lengthy discussion with my crunchy friends about red vs. green (red is less bitter, start there). I threw some into a salad with other greens, and my husband and son didn’t notice a thing. Then I threw some onto a homemade pizza … ditto! No reaction, just munch, munch, gulp. A win!!
Then it was time for the glass of green juice, heavily laced with some fruit, the only way I knew they’d drink it. I dragged my son into the kitchen so he could help grind the stuff up in our slow juicer, something I know he gets a kick out of. Plus, if he makes it, he’s way more likely to try it.
I swear the concoction glowed slightly in a radioactive kind of way. We all stared at our glasses, my husband and son with a slight pleading look on their faces. ”Bottoms up!” I shouted a bit too brightly, slugging the stuff back. They both took tentative sips. We all swallowed, looked at each other, and sighed in relief. It was good!!
We now juice somewhat regularly. I’m trying to do it a bit more often, but the machine is a royal pain to clean.
Greek Yogurt Versus Regular Yogurt
The kale was a success, and other exotic fruits and vegetables were creeping into the crisper draw in the fridge and being consumed. I was slowly converting my family into deeper levels of earthy-crunchy. Then I brought home Greek yogurt, a staple of “The Smarter Science of Slim” plan. It’s the most “SANE” of dairy products, so I figured I had to give it a go. My son, a yogurt fan (I don’t like any yogurt really), was gung ho on this one. We opened a container, dipped our spoons in, and swallowed. Thank. God. I. Was. Near. A. Sink! BLECHTTTT! We both spat it out and dumped the rest of the contents in the trash.
After a tall glass of water, I wrote off Greek yogurt as a total disaster. Greg (the smart one) sniffed at it and walked away unscathed. Wuss.
But You Really Should Try the Gross Stuff
Will there be tragic misses? Yes there will, and if it’s bad enough, it will become family lore. But there will be new foods that taste amazing and take residence in your kitchen. Of the list I started with in the first line of this post, there’s only one that I don’t eat regularly.
You’ll also find your taste buds changing over time as you reduce your sugar and starches and increase your produce and other healthy foods. I’m never a fan of wiping out your kitchen of everything “bad” then hauling home bags of green stuff to suddenly start eating “good.” I am a fan of gradual changes over time, and in a few short weeks, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far you’ve come.
photo credit: Darya Pino