Our simple aspect of cooking is all about using a combination of fresh and dry ingredients most of us have in our homes or can affordably get in our local grocery stores. Our healthy aspect of cooking focuses on natural ingredients that are full of flavor, color, easy to digest, and meet the nutrition our bodies need to have plenty of energy.
I grew up with a mother that came home from work by 5:30 and had dinner on the table at 6. She was a master multi-tasker, super organized, and very resourceful. We ate well on a low budget with fresh ingredients, plenty of variety, little meat and fats, and a proper balance of foods. That was her European upbringing influencing me. Dessert after dinner was my father’s mid-western contribution.
Years later, as a wife and mother, I took what I learned growing up and adjusted it to our family’s tastes and habits. Susan and I cut out eating meat early in our relationship when we lived in California and became pescatarian (no meat, yes fish) together. Julia and Nick started out that way, and as they grew older, we exposed them to meat. Julia didn’t take to meat or fish, and Nick took to both, but the emphasis remained fresh ingredients, balanced meals, variety, and all in moderation.
I remember feeling good about my ability to feed my family with a simple and healthy approach where we talked openly about the merits of balance and choices in eating. As kids get older, they have to deal with what we adults have to; the daily reality that our culture is obsessed with size and weight, diet, and exercise. Our mentality about food and our bodies influences our ability to find balance and enjoyment in eating. We each are affected by our genetics, our environment, and our mental state. I didn’t truly understand this until I witnessed Julia lose her ability to feed herself as a young teenager. As experts explained, it was a “perfect storm” for her when her unique biology, psychology, and response to the environment collided and thrust her into an eating disorder. It was years before she could find peace and understanding in the basic food concepts she learned in her childhood.
Julia and I had to work together in and out of the kitchen to find mutual respect for our loves and fears of food. She taught me in her recovery how much the way we talk about food, weight, and exercise can impact ourselves and others. So today, we no longer talk about food and our bodies as good versus bad, fat versus thin, but more about the energy food provides us with, how our bodies work, and our relationship with food.
Each of us has to find a way that works for our minds and our bodies. That takes time and space, practice, and support. The recipes and stories on Nourish can help provide a simple and healthy framework for that journey.
I’ll end this post with something I heard while caring for Julia that helped: that your journey will be much easier and lighter if you don’t carry your past with you. In our home, we found a simple and healthy way that’s also kinder and gentler, and it works.