Why You Should Never Read Books About Food During the Holidays

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This is the mistake that I made: over the past couple of months I read Cooked by Michael Pollan and Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss.

These books are about food. The former about how good, essential, and elemental home-cooked food is to the health of our bodies, our families, and our society, the latter about how unhealthful and unnatural processed food is for our bodies, our families, and our society. When I started reading them I thought they would basically reinforce my own thoughts and feelings about cooking and buying food. After all, as much as I can, I cook in my own kitchen and avoid, as much as I can, foods that are made by the food-industrial complex. I expected to give myself a high five and be on my merry way.

And to a degree, that is what I did. I high-fived myself that at least I am on the right track. I told myself (and Micah), “See! I told you so!” many, many times. I read passages to my sister and asked for her validation that yes, indeed, these were the exact words that describe my philosophy of eating.

But there is always room for improvement, and the indulgences of the holidays highlighted my own capacity to do just that. And now, despite the fact that it is a new year and there are all sorts of “resolutions” going around, seems like a good time to start.

In my search for ways to improve I took stock of my cupboards and noticed this: too many crackers. Crackers, I have told myself, are one of the few conveniences I will allow myself. I tried making them from scratch a couple of times and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. But I think the time has come for me to try again – either to make them myself from more wholesome ingredients, or to replace them with something that is at least not entirely stripped of nutritional value.

And then there are salads. I think I mentioned having a revelation regarding salads, and the revelation is this: I don’t like weak leaves. Green leaf, romaine, red leaf – those lettuces that get all brown and wilty after a day or two? They make eating my vegetables a chore. But kale? And cabbage? Leaves that can stand up to a splash of vinaigrette for days at a time? Yes please. More please. All the time, please.

So my goal is to integrate some new eating habits into my life over the next little while: a container of sturdy salad in the fridge at all/most times is one of them. And right next to that container of salad is the container of chopped fresh veggies – things like carrots and celery, bell peppers and cucumbers – ready to be dipped and snacked on or added to the salad at a moment’s notice. I’m also hoping to wean myself away from crackers as a quick, portable snack and steer more toward home-tossed trail mix or homemade crackers. And finally, though it pains me to say it, I’m hoping to give fewer dollars to Breyer’s and Edy’s and Turkey Hill and Blue Bunny. This is not to say I will necessarily be cutting down on my ice cream consumption. But if I want a tasty treat, I’m going to have to make it myself.

And that’s that. I don’t expect to be perfect at it – right now or ever – but I think it’s worth making the effort.

And you? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Things that have worked for you? Things that you are hoping to change? I’d love to hear.

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(This is my current favorite simple, sturdy cabbage salad. If you ask nicely and are very patient with me, I may remember to share the reicpe.)

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5 Comments

  1. I have thought about reading these books too.
    I find their topics fascinating and glad you reviewed them. (Glad to see you back after the holidays too!) I think I do have resolutions but, they are for the next few months and not year-long. I hope to keep them more obtainable that way.

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  2. Yes please! I would love that recipe! 🙂

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  3. Somehow, I have missed nearly all your posts in January. I even though, “Huh, wonder why Lizzie’s not writing as much?”

    Anyway, I’m now catching up and enjoying it. I applaud your efforts and your desire. I long ago decided that it works for me and our family if I choose convenience over health in certain cases. I feel like it allows me to make better choices most of the time if I know I don’t always have to. But that doesn’t keep me from admiring your drive to keep getting better. It really does inspire my own choices and keeps me rooting for you. Well done! I hope it goes well for you!

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