Food in simple terms

I have many friends that ask me, how do you know so much about food?  Let me first just say that I don’t.  However, my approach is a lot more basic than what we are all used to with diet fads and, therefore, could be disguised as “knowing a lot”. I have gone through many “food” stages in my life which have all contributed to my current approach .  Most of them involved some level of weight management (obsessively, I might add) and very few of them have involved food quality.  I have survived the stage of “eat whatever I want and stuff my face with diet pills”. That one kept my weight way down but I assume contributed more to the deterioration of my body than any other stage.  Then there was the “count calorie stage”.  Then the “replace food with martinis stage”.  There have been many of the “screw-it, I will eat whatever I want” stages which I adopted fully during both of my pregnancies. However, what all of these stages lead to was a person that thought about food constantly and never felt good (or good enough).  At some point I realized that food should be a heck of a lot more basic than this.

In reality food is fuel. It is broken down by the body in an incredible scientific process to provide energy (note that in Europe calories are actually called energy so as not to confuse the purpose of food). Eventually this fuel is utilized by the body in the form of glucose. On a side note, just because food is broken down to glucose, this does not mean that you can eat a sugar based diet and still be healthy.  Remember that in order for your body to function well, it needs all of the nutrients especially all of the vitamins and minerals that are rich in a primarily plant-based-diet and are not rich in a sugar or a processed-food-based diet. Anyway, really we should consider ourselves lucky that this fuel provides pleasure.  But, pleasure has somehow overtaken the basic importance of food. This battle is something I still fight.  I often find myself munching tortilla chips at 9pm and trust me, it is not because I am hungry nor is it because by body is in need of corn and safflower oil.  However, for the most part, I focus on consuming and creating foods for my family that taste good but provide them all of the nutrients that they need.  Let me clarify that nutrients are vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, protein and water. We need all of these and we need a variety.  The way I now approach eating is by consuming as many foods as possible in their basic form, prior to processing, and making sure at least half of what I eat is raw.

I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with many experts in the field of health and nutrition over the last 5 years and each one has given me a little token of knowledge that I don’t know how I lived without.  My naturopath taught me that garlic oil cures ear infections (trust me this one really works, my kids have never had an antibiotic for an ear infection) not to mention about a million other awesome home remedies like “wet socks”. I met a great dietician that introduced me to juicing and Lara bars which are my kids favorite snacks.  Then there are my chiropractor and acupuncturist that are constantly offering me little words of wisdom that seem to change my life each time I see them.  Last year I was dealing with some chronic health issues and  my incredible acupuncturist, Tracy Thorne, told me about Dr. Weston Price, a dentist that practiced in the early 20th century.

Talk about bringing it back to basics.  Price traveled the world studying indigenous people.  His focus was their diet and their dental health.  He uncovered amazing similarities between the different groups of people who had the healthiest teeth (note they also were healthy head to toe, it is all connected).  The villages were not eating the same diet, they were eating the food that was available in their region. However, the nutrient content was very similar across the cultures.  None of these cultures ate anything processed or refined including sugars or flours.  However, if and when people left their village to join more developed areas, their health and teeth deteriorated quickly and they continued to be unhealthy unless they went back to their village and returned to their original diet.  Dr. Price actually began successfully treating children and adults with food and was able to heal cavities just with a change in diet.  (If you are shaking your head right now convinced that I have lost my mind just Google Dr. Weston Price). I was so fascinated by this information that I wrote a very long research paper on it.  Turns out there are many followers of Weston Price and many doctors and dentists over the last 100 years that have confirmed his work through their own studies and research.  Well, the three months that I spent studying Price lead me to believe in the importance of bone broth…yep, broth made from bones.  One huge supporter of Price is a lady named Sally Fallon who published a comprehensive cookbook with Price-style recipes.  The cookbook is so comprehensive that it often feels like a text-book. It is explains why most of us think of chicken soup when we are sick.  Bone broth is rich in minerals that are found in an animals bones, cartilage and bone marrow.  The gelatin from the bone broth helps to draw in digestive enzymes from the gut so the food is more readily absorbed and utilized from the body.  So, this is a recipe that I do weekly.  It is a double recipe.  Day one is roasted chicken with roast veggies.  Day two chicken soup.  Do not be intimated, it does not have to be Thanksgiving to roast a bird.  It is sooooo easy.

Roast Chicken   4 servings

3-4 lb organic chicken (Trader Joes has then for $2.99/lb)

Handful of herbs, sprigs of herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram etc.)

2 beets

4 carrots

1 lb brussels sprouts (just try them…)

6 garlic cloves

1 lemon

salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken and remove anything in the cavity (you can save this and add it to the broth).  Line a roasting pan with foil and set chicken on it breast up. Separate skin from breasts creating little pockets between the breast and skin.  Stuff a few sprigs of herbs between the breast and skin on each side.  Use the remaining herbs and lemon (halved) to stuff in the cavity of the chicken. Salt and pepper your chicken lightly. Cover your chicken with the other side of the roasting pan or foil and put in the oven.  Set time for 1 hour.  Peel the beets and chop into 1″ cubes. Rinse carrots and chop into 1- 1 1/2″ segments. cut the stem off the brussels sprouts and remove the outer layer of leaves.  Rinse your brussels sprouts. Chop the garlic coarsely.  Mix all veggies in a separate bowl with about 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt (your salt should be gray or pink, that means it still has its minerals).  You can get Himalayan salt at Trader Joes for $1.99). Add 1/4 tsp of pepper and toss everything in the bowl.  After your chicken has been in the over 1 hour, add your veggies to the pan by carefully placing them around the chicken on the foil. Cover your chicken and veggies and place back in the over for 30 minutes. Remove and check the temp of your chicken.  It is finished at about 170.  You should be able to put your chicken back in uncovered for another 15 minutes but depending on where you are, the size of your chicken and your oven, your chicken may be done.  After your chicken reaches 170 degrees let everything sit for 15 minutes.  Remove your chicken and set on a carving platter. Scoop out your veggies and dispose of the juices from the chicken (Many people like these for gravy or flavor in the broth but I find it too fatty). Toss your veggies with the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.  Add your veggies to the platter and you are ready to carve and serve. Note that if you give out the chicken legs and wings, you will want to get the bones back. (Don’t worry, it makes for interesting table talk)

Chicken Soup made with bone broth

Bone broth

After dinner take your bird carcass (including herbs , excluding rosemary if you used it to roast because it gets too bitter) and put it in a stock pot on the stove.  You want to pull it apart a little and then cover with 4 quarts filtered water.

Add the following:

5 celery sticks chopped

1 large white onion chopped

3 carrots chopped

1/4 cup vinegar

Any gizzards that you removed before roasting

1 tsp salt

Boil this for at least an hour.

Per Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, adding 1 bunch of parsley 10 minutes before removing from heat will draw out more minerals.

After an hour, let the broth cool and bit and then throw the whole mix into the fridge overnight to sit.

Chicken Soup

1 bunch celery

1 large white onion

4 medium carrots

1 cup peas

3/4 cup brown rice rinsed and soaked overnight or two potatoes

1 minced garlic clove

2 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper

(I often add veggies that  I need to get rid of like brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, etc.)

After the broth has sat overnight (you can wait up to three days to make the soup with your stock), skim the fat from the top of your chilled broth and discard. Then set a large strainer over a stock pot and pour your broth through the strainer.  This should catch the carcass and veggies and you should be left with broth in the pot. I normally pull the last bits of meat off of the chicken and add it to the soup.  In a separate pot saute celery, onion and garlic until slightly translucent on low/medium heat, stirring often. Add broth, bay leaf, rice and other veggies and bring to a boil.  Once the pot has boiled for a few minutes lower the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes until veggies and rice are cooked.  I love rich flavor and I love salt so sometimes I add a little bit of organic chicken bullion but it depends on how the soup comes out.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.  The magic of this soup is the broth, not the veggies that you fill it with.  You can do the same thing with any kind of bones.  You can even ask your butcher for cow bones if you don’t want to roast a bird.  Bone broth is perfect for times when your body needs a little extra love like pregnancy and postpartum or times of stress and illness.  But as I said, I do it once a week and keep soup on hand always for quick lunches or easy dinners. Soups On!


2 thoughts on “Food in simple terms

  1. Megan, so you gave me these recipes last month and they have revolutionized my dinners. They are so easy and now I have healthy simple food for the whole week, my family is even getting used to the chicken wings & legs as well as soup that follows. Thanks so much….you have really changed my current food foucs in a way I could never begin to thank you enough for. Im realizing there are things in the grocery store that I didnt know even existed. Its so fun…..really thank you:)

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