When Kimlai asked me to do a guest writing spot on her blog I was so excited! After all, I had gotten her to ask me by “auditioning” with a couple of home -made meals. I love food…and as someone who talks for a living…I always have something to say. I thought: I approach cooking the same way I approach life, with a sense of adventure, curiosity and fun, how hard can it be to write about it! But when I sat down to do the writing, I was completely blocked!
Turns out after being a lawyer for 20 years, I have become pretty set in my writing style: rule of law, facts applied to the rule of law then conclusion. So instead of fighting years of practice, I have decided to give into it and write about food the best way I know how! Below I set out my philosophy to eating with 5 simple rules. The authority for my rules comes primarily from the little book recently published about how and what to eat from Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
Rule 1: Eat a little all the time.
In Food Rules, An Eater’s Manual, author Michael Pollan gives the reader 64 rules to eat by. The book is divided into three sections, the first two tell us what to eat, while the third tells us how. Starting off on the wrong foot, my rule actually goes against most of Pollan’s rules on how to eat, but follows an exception to the rule: “Eat Meals.” Pollan laments on the poor eating habits of Americans who snack all day long most often to the demise of their health. The exception to that rule is that “If you are going to snack, try to limit yourself to fruits , vegetables and nuts.” In reframing Pollan’s rules, my rule would go something like this: Eat a few healthy snacks and a couple of healthy meals a day.
My eating habits look something like this: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner or a snack and sometimes another snack. I find eating this way, mostly small meals, keeps me from ever being too hungry or too full, which in turn helps keep cravings and overeating in check. I carry food with me most of the time so I don’t have to resort to eating junk food or unhealthy snacks – which leads me to my next rule.
Rule 2: Eat Good Stuff
Pollan states this same rule in many different ways: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”; “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce”; “Eat only food that will eventually rot” just to name a few. The Skinny Bitch gals Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin are a little more direct in their commentary: “You cannot keep eating the same shit and expect to get skinny.” Their premise: Healthy = skinny. Unhealthy = fat. Plain and simple.
Well, naturally, if you are eating all the time and staying fit (and thin if that’s your thing) the food has to be good stuff! By good stuff, I mean unprocessed as close as you can get to the way it was in nature and transported to your kitchen good! Pollan says, “Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.”
When I grocery shop, most of the items I buy consist of one ingredient. Milk, beans, grains, tomatoes, veggies, cheese, pasta, herbs, etc. Buying items as close to their natural state means that the foods are close to their natural state and undergo little or no processing. When you buy food that is comprised of basic ingredients the logical conclusion in making a meal is that you must then prepare your food which leads me to the next rule.
Rule 3: Cook Your Food
Rule number 63 in Pollan’s book is “Cook.” He states “[c]ooking for yourself is the only way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors, and to guarantee you’re eating real food and not edible foodlike substances… [n]ot surprisingly, the decline in home cooking closely parallels the rise in obesity… research suggests that people who cook are more likely to eat a more healthful diet.”
I cook 95% of my meals. For many years now I have brought my lunch and most of my snacks to work. I tell my colleagues, ‘not only am I saving on money, but also on calories, it’s a win win situation.’ I typically have fabulous meals for lunch made from the extra I put aside from the fabulous dinners I prepare. I keep fixins for the occasional sandwich around just in case I run out of the gourmet fare. The best investment I made last year was a set of leak-proof containers to carry all that yummy fair. The best part about cooking your own food is that anyone can do it. All they have to do is follow the recipe! My authority for this rule is Disney’s Ratat.
I think the best cookbooks are the ones that give you basic recipes that you can extrapolate from… My favorite cookbook right now (especially for healthy food) is Martha Schuleman’s The Very Best of Recipes for Health. This book contains countless healthy recipes, which are simply delicious, and full of natural flavors enhanced my fresh herbs and seasoning.
Rule 4: Certain foods should be like an E ticket ride at Disneyland
Remember when Disneyland used to have tickets for their rides? There were several “A” and “B” tickets for the mellow rides a few “C” and “D” tickets and… and then just a couple of the most coveted “E” tickets. The “E” ticket rides were considered the best and most exciting of the rides. Well, let’s say that an “E” ticket is like a rich food or tasty dessert. My point is that these foods should be really special, they should be eaten at special occasions.
Pollan’s rule #60 states: “Treat treats as treats.” He states that modern food preparation has made foods that used to be time consuming to make or so expensive they would only be eaten on special occasions ready to eat at any time. Foods such as fried chicken or ice cream were labor intensive and time consuming to make, and as a result their consumption was limited to special occasions only. Such inconveniences served as a natural way of providing moderation in our diets. As Pollan succinctly puts it “The amount of work involved kept the frequency of indulgence in check. “
Rule 5: She’s gotta have it a.k.a. Eat Chocolate
Ok so this isn’t exactly a rule but it does sum up how I feel about chocolate. Spike lee’s movie, “She’s gotta have it” is about a girl who had 4 steady “boyfriends” who she loved to date and date a lot! Many of you out there might agree however, that chocolate is better than sex. Taken from this girl who hasn’t been doing a whole lot of “dating” lately, chocolate is pretty much as good as it gets. Chocolate doesn’t forget to call you after, leave hair in your sink, and let’s face it: chocolate is always a pleasure to swallow.
Chocolate is never boring. There are many different varieties of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white “chocolate”, semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder etc. Chocolate is even good for you, containing antioxidants and phenols that can prevent cancer, heart disease and fight tooth decay. Of course too much of a good thing can lead to non good: the cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated fats which could raise cholesterol levels and over consumption of chocolate can lead to obesity which can lead to heart disease….
What does all this mean? Well let’s consult the rules. If we just apply my 5 rules for eating to chocolate, then we can eat a little dark chocolate (because its good stuff rule #2) all the time (rule #1), and treat milk chocolate and white chocolate like an e ticket (rule #4) If we want to make something really special with chocolate we should….cook it ourselves (rule #3). But most of all, under rule #5: we have to have it!
Written by Lawren Cottles