A major theme in life is continuous learning. Learning often leads to change. Because of this connection, I usually see those who want to make changes in their kitchen doing what they can to learn more– more about food, more about utensils and kitchenware, more about what is healthy and why. There are many things we can do to alter our levels of health, and the kitchen is a good place to start. However, if a person were to try to implement all of the potential changes all at once it could be overwhelming.
Because of this potential overwhelm, I want to break down the kitchen changes we can all make to improve our health and lives in segments, along with our lovely admin/blogger and wellness coach Kristen Tea’s assistance. A lot of what we will suggest is removing the ‘bad’ things from one’s kitchen, so I want to begin on an opposite note: what to add to your kitchen experience. I encourage you to explore!
Exploration of unfamiliar foods was part of my early transformation with food and health. I was around the age of 22 and 23 when I began that journey, and it was at this time when I first ate an artichoke! Looking back I’m a bit amazed that I hadn’t had an artichoke my entire life prior to that moment, other than some in a cream cheese dip from a can. I now look at my daughter, her palate, and everything she is exposed to and think, “Wow, how incredible– she’s three years old, has had artichokes 20 years earlier than me, and loves them.”
Something I have learned as my eating habits have evolved is how important it is to have a varied diet. I have found for myself, and a few others in my personal sphere, that when we eat the same foods over and over again we can begin to build an intolerance to them. Exploring new foods can help with bringing that variety into your lives.
So how does one go about exploring? Pay attention, shop at organic food co-ops instead of conventional grocery stores, look out for things in your market that you have not seen before, and follow unique recipe blogs. In my early 20s I would go to the grocery store and see things that I had not seen or tasted before. I would buy them and try them out. It can be this simple. You pay attention to what is new in your new-found awareness and check it out. There may be some things that you will want to research how to prepare to give yourself a more optimal experience. This is where the lovely internet is a blessing– there are recipes for everything. You can also check in with other friends and family members and see if they have any experience with that particular fruit or vegetable.
This reminds me of when I first had figs. I was traveling around the U.S. and stayed at my aunt’s house who had a fig tree. She picked some and left them for me in the morning when she went to work. I stared at them. . . then I called some friends in the Midwest. All were clueless as to how to eat these interesting things. I finally just bit into one, and ate the whole thing (except the little stem). I decided that if there was a part I shouldn’t eat I would find out when it entered my mouth.
Over time, I have been exposed to other foods that were at first “weird” or simply foreign to me. One of the first was Ugli fruit. Before my artichoke discovery, I saw this interesting citrus fruit in the store, bought one, and tried it. I liked it– those are the best experiences, when you find something delicious right away. Another citrus fruit which I found a few years ago, and LOVE, is pomelo.
This leads me to point out, that if you do eat a strictly organic diet, it may not be possible to try some of these things because they are foreign to this land and are shipped from places that are not USDA certified organic. However, that does not exclude everything. For instance, another food that I was just introduced to a few years ago was kholrabi. This I received from our CSA, so it is biologically grown to my standards. And these types of unique fruits and vegetables may be found at farmers markets, or local farm stands.
Another newbie to me, which I was introduced to while living with a culinary genius, was Jicama. Below is an image of Jicama, sliced thinly with a mandolin to create a healthier option taco shell. The genius creation credit for this goes to Simone Shifnadel with Zenbelly Catering. She can be found at http://zenbellyblog.com/
Now it’s your turn. Go out there and explore! See what you can discover and expand your knowledge. Perhaps other perks will arise too, such as the younger children in your family opening up their minds to new foods to keep some ‘picky eating’ at bay. Learning is endless.
I look forward to our next post to revamp your kitchen for health!