Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Hippie Earth Mama" food or just "food"?

A few weeks ago, my baby brother and I set up a date for him to come over. When I asked what he wanted me to make him for lunch, he said "what about some of that Hippie Earth Mama food of yours?" so I agreed. But that question caused me to look at the food choices I've started incorporating into the diet of my family and self, and determine, "are any of meals Hippie Earth Mama foods, or are they simply 'regular' meals?"

It turns out, the answer is both they are regular meals but also Hippie Earth Mama meals. I wake up and have a half of a cup of blueberry almond granola with a cup of coffee, and some home brewed iced tea with my vitamins. I'd say that's fairly "regular" or mainstream, but then at second glance, maybe not. The coffee is inevitably sweetened with soy or coconut milk due to James' milk protein sensitivity. The granola is more filling, but completely different than a "fortified" cereal from general mills. The iced tea isn't from Lipton, but home brewed and poured over ice. The baby eats his coconut milk yogurt mixed with a little wheat germ and has a sip of water or, more recently, a sip of goat's milk.

After nap time, I have the classic American meal: a sandwich, an apple, and a veggie of some sort. Except, my bread is whole grain (actually whole grain, not white bread turned brown again), and my peanut butter is actually almond butter. Instead of jelly or honey, I add agave nectar to my sandwich. The apple, of course, is organic, as I share it with James as part of his lunch, the other part being a piece of the whole grain bread. I either roast asparagus which the two of us chow down on, or I have a bowl of cold quinoa salad. The quinoa salad is truly delicious, similar to a rice or pasta salad, but with more protein (recipe at the bottom of the page). The baby either enjoys some of the quinoa or just the cucumbers, and we move on to our play time.

Dinner is a fusion of things. Obviously, unlike breakfast and lunch, where we eat basically the same thing every day, dinner changes every night. The structure of dinner remains the same, the classic American "meat, starch, and veggie" with different meals rotated depending on season, my mood, if I've recently grocery shopped, and my energy level. About once a week we end up having a frozen pizza or Subway sandwich because I've gotten caught up in playing with the baby rather than cooking. Occassionally we even go out to Chili's as our "mom is lazy today" meal. But the nights that I do cook, which tend to be about five per week with one day of leftovers, I cook from scratch.

Cooking from scratch really isn't an option for a mom who works full time and gets home at 6 p.m., having to cook dinner. I love Sandra Lee's concept of "semi-homemade" for this reason - buying pre cut veggies, or starting with a jarred spaghetti sauce is a good option for some people, but I am a firm believer those short cuts should remain all natural. Instead of a spaghetti sauce jar with preservatives, one made with organic tomatoes, spices, and olive oil only is a better choice. After all, we are responsible for what goes into our bodies. It's our duty to know what those ingredients are. Again, I invoke Pollan's 5 recognizable ingredients or less rule. The vegetables pose a challenge. My hubby is only willing to eat corn, green beans, spinach, bean sprouts, or salad. He IS willing to try new foods as I force them upon him, and has honestly taken both me and himself by surprise by announcing he enjoys some of them. Others, like sweet potatoes have failed miserably, but he is willing to try. We mainly rotate between the green beans, corn, and salad (which was one of his suprise likeables). I top our salads with different things. Mine gets carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and crutons, while his remains a fairly simple mixture of lettuce and spinach with crutons.

The starches inevitably are rice pilaf, brown rice, white rice, potatoes (red, Idaho, or yukon in varying forms from cubes to mashed), spaghetti or pasta, or bread. Brown rice is a new addition to our list, and thankfully it went over well. I will be trying millet, bulgur, and quinoa at some point, but we've agreed a new ingredient should only be introduced every other week or once a week at most. it's a fair compromise. Tabule was a definate no go, for both of us, but I hope it's because of the seasoning and not the bulgur itself.

Onto the meat. Now here is where it gets tricky. After reading "Eating Animals", I've switched this to "protein" rather than meat because I have taken to making two proteins. Phil and James get some sort of meat, and I get some sort of protein (left over quinoa salad is a staple for me). I've begun to scale our meat consumption down so that it comprises less than half of the meal as suggested by my recent readings. Of course, I now only buy my meat from Whole Foods and make sure it is antibiotic free, free range, blah blah blah. This summer, I intend to buy meat directly from a local farm, presuming they can answer my questions regarding the slaughter meathods.

Of course, one of the most effective ways to get a wider variety of nutrients is by varying our menus, so once every two weeks, I try a new recipe. Once a month, I try a recipe from a part of the world we don't typically cook from. Tonight, we'll be having pork chop suey (i'll be picking the meat out of mine, of course, enjoying the sauce and veggies) over udan noodles with a side of white rice just in case we don't like the udon noodles.

After analyzing my diet, I have to say, it seems completely normal to me. It also seems fairly healthy. Then again, if I were more concerned with image rather than health, I could also completely understand it being considered a "hippie earth mama" specific diet. Nothing is completely main stream, and yet, it's all mainstream. I encourage everyone to follow this type of a diet, following what is natural, tastes best, and provides the most nutrients rather than following traditional foods that come in packages. You'll feel healthier and that attitude will spill over into your life enriching it!

Because I mentioned it specifically, here is the cold quinoa salad recipe. I will post the pork chop suey recipe tomorrow because it is downstairs and the baby can't be left unsupervised :)
Cold Quinoa Salad:
Cook quinoa according to directions. Cover and put in fridge for 30 minutes. Take out of fridge, and fluff with fork. Toss grains with olive oil, diced carrots, peppers (any color), cucuumbers, tomatoes, or any other veggies you enjoy. Olives would probably be good as well :) Keep refridgerated for up to 5 days.

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