Eating salads periodically
Sunday, June 9, 2019.
When we were growing up we never had any major problems with eating vegetables. Our parents would always have fresh greens or vegetables, corn or seasonal produce. There was no stigma to not liking spinach or vegetables. We just naturally grew up accustomed to eating vegetables all the time. Our staples in our family included perennial favorites like carrots and cabbage and tomatoes. If we had cucumbers or okra or zucchini we would eat it. If we had string beans, potatoes, or yams (a favorite of both my parents) they would scarf it down. And rice was abundant all the time. Breakfast often consisted of oatmeal or in some cases corn flakes and cereal. There was never lack of fruit because our family celebrated and revered the harvest and prayer offerings with fruit. Usually that would consist of fruits like bananas, apples, pears and oranges, grapes and occasionally kiwis. Sometimes with pineapple and sometimes peaches. Usually during prayer times we would also have some vegetarian acceptable cookies. And usually the fruits would not have seeds on the outside like strawberries or other fruits like guava. Melon was okay though.
So we always had plenty of fruits and occasionally vegetables. The most common ones including bok choy, various beans, lentils, pintos. Sometimes we would have zucchini, or kale, or mustard greens. Another common vegetable growing up included daikon.
And of course there were special occasions where we would get watermelon, always a personal favorite, or passion fruit or persimmons. One time there was even dragonfruit so it was always nice to be able to count on some kind of sweet fruit growing up.
There were also certain traditions and superstitions. We were brought up being taught to avoid pairing citrus fruits with milk due to the curdling of milk and thought that it could bring the onset of diarrhea. And spinach was also not to be paired with milk. Anything strongly acidic was not to be paired with milk. And then plums were thought to be bad to pair with chicken due to a superstition whether real or not for fear of toxicity or diarrhea. And the same went with pickled daikon and pork. Whether these were real or rooted in superstition is also up for study and debate.
We had some fruits and vegetables that were also difficult to eat. Breadfruit for instance has really difficult seeds to digest and it’s hard to get out the pulp. Pomegranates were a little bit easier and they are rooted in Greek superstition of Hades and Persephone and the rites of spring and onset of winter.
When we had artichokes were would try it. When we had asparagus we would eat it. Our relatives and such came from overseas also and it was part of our upbringing to always try new things and one of the best places to get fresh produce and vegetables was at the market. Every Saturday we made it a family ordeal or getaway where we would take the whole family in a car as kids and get in and drive to a Fairfield, Ohio Jungle Jim’s and enjoy the fun monkey and elephant model displays and Jungle sounds and giant King of the Jungle Elvis lion display. It was a family tradition to help our dad and mom get fruits and bag them up and look around the bok choy and grab green peppers or pick out the best grapes and vegetables and salads. We would check out the Lucky Charms Display and Trix Rabbits, the seafood and lobster tanks and also see the international food displays. It was one of our fondest memories. And I always wondered if it was easy to get stuck in the fencing bars between the fake storks and water display with the giraffes outside. Later this location would have weddings, festivals and a film made at the location. It has always had some fond memories.
So it wasn’t unusual to like trying fruits and vegetables. Many parents try to get their kids to try things and it should be a fun thing with their kids to at least try a vegetable or fruit a few times to see if they like it and if it’s and acquired taste so they are more adventurous in the future. I remember a younger sibling always had a deep seated dislike for avocados even though I though they were terrific and that cantaloupes were good. It was likely due to their first experience either through a father’s propensity to shop at the bargain and reduced aisle for discounted produce. Perhaps their first taste of browned avocado soured their experience so to speak or they had allergic reactions to cantaloupe having occasionally complained of swollen tongue or something like that. But of course, you never know till you try. Every family member has personal favorites. One sibling liked onions so much that to this day it’s a common occurrence to see that in their meals. Another tended to enjoy the basic basket fruit staples of orange, apples and bananas that are so common. Pears happened to be a surprising occasional treat also lately.
As we’ve aged over the years I’ve started to discover the simplicity and healthy necessity of fruits and vegetables and the “luxury” of just having some nice clean wholesome produce. It is so simple to want to grab chips or a bag and go or some prepackaged food or pop things in the microwave rather than take the effort to cleanse, wash, cut and put things to boil or steam. But it’s a habit that becomes ingrained based on how one is brought up and a mindset that can be changed and altered.
It’s not easy to want to eat healthy, but then again it is. Simply going to the market and spending some time in the fruit in vegetable aisle and getting reacquainted every now and then is important and an important skill and bonding experience for parents to distill into their children. Teaching them how to pick and select ripe good vegetables and tell what is season, what is good to eat is an age old art and skill of survival that’s passed down from generation to generation and farmer to consumer and parent to child. And we need to keep doing this so that it’s not lost and all our kids know are to grab fizzy sweet drinks from the aisle and the salted cheesy spicy chips in the aisle.
Being able to pick out radishes, Brussels sprouts, and colored peppers or peel a clove of garlic will help our generations and kids and families eat better, feel better and think better. Had I not grown up with the selections and abundant variety and mindset of cooking foods fresh we probably would have been raised and eaten differently, but our parents had been raised with a knowledge of an agrarian background so washing and steaming rice, peeling potatoes and carrots, and shucking corn was just as much a tradition as anything in our daily lives. To this day I still miss some of the good traditions and recipes that we probably no longer do any more.
Why not? Well as our family had started integrating more and assimilating customs we gradually started eating out more and our diet changed. What used to be either bitter melon and black beans and pork changed to pizza or fried chicken. What used to be tofu and tomatoes and soy sauce has changed to pita and lettuce and shredded chicken. Various customs and old recipes have either been adapted or lost or discontinued simply because our older generation are getting older and too tired to cook or just opt for simple convenience and are too tired. And so we started having more canned foods: pinto beans, mixed vegetables, kidney beans in syrup, pickles, trail mix, dried fruits and figs and raisins. Although one thing was always constant and never changed and that was our monthly prayer fruit offerings. We could always count on fresh fruit even if our parents did tend to hog or enjoy the best ones on occasion like the bananas! It was sad to see that many of our greens and rapini and taro we used to enjoy, the pumpkin and squash and beats start to go away. And so did the traditional way of food cooking and preparation of meals. And no one has really duplicated it. My mother’s side also started having some age related forgetfulness and doesn’t do much food prep as much any more and so often they opt for simplicity instead.
Now, when I do my daily back and forth to work I’ve changed my diet habits. It used to be tupperware and microwave which changed to Pyrexware when I discovered that plastics were considered possibly dangerous and unsafe due to certain plastics melting. And then later I discovered the Pyrex and microwave wasn’t cooking thoroughly on the bottom or that my food wouldn’t cool fast enough in the half hour or forty some minutes of lunch time at work. So I changed to quick faster meals without heating trying MRE’s and military style foods of crackers, jams and jellies. But later also realized that I hadn’t enough fiber or veggies and way too much sodium in prepackaged crackers, chips and such. I had fallen into the trap of fast, prepackaged, high sodium, high fat food for many months and didn’t realize the dangers of hypertension which is all too common for people in 9 to 5 jobs behind a desk. And it was all too easy to come home, sit in front of a TV, tear open a package and scarf and then jump on the Internet when in college walking back and forth to campus was the daily habit. Even not too long, a year ago a gym membership was a regular thing for me.
So for me it’s back to basics, and if you’re a regular reader of this site, we encourage you to shake things up again if you haven’t in a while. It’s all too familiar and all too easy to fall into lazy, convenience, daily zombie habits because it just is. We eat mindlessly, we watch TV mindlessly, we go to work and punch paper mindlessly because we are raised often to not think critically, evaluate and question. Doing something that is opposite what everyone is doing and what your body is accustomed to do is not easy but that’s why you have to make it a habit and start early and ingrain it early especially when young and when you are receptive to it. If not, you do it when you’ve experienced pain to such a great enough extent that you wake up, snap out of it, and say “Enough”. “No”, I don’t want any part of this any more and decide you want to change and tell yourself “I’m going to change my life and take concrete steps today to change my life how I envision it to be and commit to fulfilling a life that I know I deserve.” And then you do it and follow through.
As Dan Lok says, a motivational guru and successful social media entrepreneur says a person has to make a habit so ingrained into his or her daily life that he or she cannot fail. For example, if you know you need to go to the gym you tell everyone, your family, your friends, your coworkers and everyone your goals. You disclose the intention to the world, so that THEY CAN HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE and KEEP YOU FOCUSED. So if you fail to follow through it is either more embarrassing or humiliating to let them down and yourself down and then you have a team of friends or people that you show on social medial AND in real life to hold you the **** accountable so that no matter what, you’ve told the world, your friends are knocking at your door to get you to the gym and spot you or go to the yoga class, or spinning class, or jazzercise, or to your diet club or whatever pilates, Tai Bo, martial arts, gymnastics, ballet, swimming, parkour, American Ninja skydiver hockey ninjitsu football curling class. AND YOU JUST DO IT.
So to that end, here are some things to hold myself accountable which I hope many will take inspiration and also do:
- Am going to eat more vegetables and fruits as part of a healthy diet
- Am going to refrain from prepackaged and canned fruits and veggies
- Am going to reduce fruits in corn syrup and sugar
- Almost no sugar coated or candied fruit like yogurt raisins and chocolate fruit (lots of saturated fats clogs up the pores)
- Am going to eat more salads and soups
- Cut back on sodium by a lot (Accidentally dumped a lot of garlic salt on oatmeal once)
- Reduce my fat intake. (Had a meal that made me almost thought I had a heart attack)
- Eliminate ramen and eat fresh or frozen instead
- Get more sleep
- Walk more
- Get up from my desk more
- Eat less only 80% full (This tends to require emergency trips for evacuation the next day!)
- Eat also less rice (need to refrigerate rice due to fast spoilage, this can cause allergies from mold development
- Cut back on red meats
- Get rid of chips and fries and opt for something healthy
- If I do eat out at restaurants pick a healthier selection or healthier cut of meat
- Not pick the cheapest restaurant or cheapest item on a menu if something is a bit healthier
- Check nutritional content on menu (last time I didn’t realize chopped steak & gravy meal had so many calories)
How is my progress?
- I’ve removed a lot of sodium and chips from my diet and opt for slightly healthier snacks
- Had a few salads (likely going to post pics soon for accountability)
- Only had ramen once in the last 3 months
- Have started getting fruits and vegetables when shopping again, had been avoiding this for some reason or other for a long time which is such a bad habit state I’ve been in so long.
- Have been eating applesauce every now and then but discovered there was a lot of corn syrup in it
- Have started buying mushrooms due to its supposed benefits for brain and mind health
- Only eat a tiny amount of rice and maybe only once a week
- Rice goes in the fridge ASAP after cooking and cooling for an hour
- Smaller portions
As part of eating healthier I’ve posted a salad above. Here’s the recipe:
- 1 leaf of kale
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Red onion
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Red Radish
- Dried cranberries
- Coconut flakes
- Sunflower seeds
- Kalamata olives
- Lengthwise slice Kosher pickle with a touch of juice
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Braggs Nutritional flakes
- Vermont cheddar (Half cube)
- Kimchi (optional)
- Celery (optional)
- Green olives with pimento (optional)
- Touch of grape seed oil or olive oil (optional)
- Mushrooms (optional)
I have varied this up throughout the week by swapping and mixing and matching ingredients.
I even threw in some braised and season Brussel Sprout heads during the week that had a hint of fresh garlic. And added some garlic Naan. Obviously you fill up your bowl very fast and quickly with vegetables and get a lot of fiber. And then you can also eat some great fruit like cherries for dessert if you still have room.
Eating healthy does not need to be difficult or lengthy. It just needs to be fun and a habit. Making a salad like this only adds about half hour of prep time and another half hour to eat but I have noticed my energy levels up during the week and not feeling so tired or dehydrated and I’ve noticed my metabolism is a bit high since I seem to want to eat near my bed time but just drink some water and the feeling goes away. It’s all about habit. I’m less likely to want to sleep and the most important is that there’s not been constipation or problems so much at work from this kind of diet of one bowl. It does take a little bit longer to eat and prep but you end up feeling a bit better. The grocery bill for the week was about $50 for various vegetables and fruits.
I was disappointed the local Kroger eliminated one of my favorite things which was a simple salad bar that you could fill up on for around $6 while they are reorganizing their store. But I do like that Kroger is starting to stock up on organics and healthy food choices in their store and making it more competitive and easier to eat healthy. I think this is a good trend and hope others especially the millennials and others generations of the future will follow suit and eat and pick healthier choices.
Here’s to good health and good eating!