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Lets Talk About Food



I think it was the other week that I heard on the television that people who consume a diet which largely consists of highly processed foods do not live as long as people who don't.  This makes sense in many ways.  When I was a child we only ever rarely ate processed food, unless you counted processed cheese slices.  I went many years considering cheese slices to be, well . . . "Cheese!"  Once a year my mother would buy a brick of Cracker Barrel cheese, for Christmas . . . as a treat.  Other than that our diet consisted basically of simple food, cooked simply, and from scratch.  Anything which might have been processed such as a frozen pot pie was a rarity and considered to be a treat. 

Food was pretty basic and seasonal for the most part. We had fresh carrots and turnips, potatoes, cabbage and tinned peas and beans  . . . and once in a blue moon tinned corn.  In the summer months we would have corn on the cob during corn season and we would fill up on that, and there was always plenty of sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. 

Meat was also pretty simple. Once a year our parents would purchase a hind of beef and that was our red meat.  Chicken was a very occasional treat, and maybe pork chops every now and then. At Thanksgiving and Christmas we would have a turkey. New Years and Easter brought a ham.  Sundays we always had a roast of some kind . . .  pork, or beef for the most part.  The pork was always cooked the day before and served cold, sliced into very thin slices and there would be mustard on the table to have with it. Sometimes we had pork sausages, which we enjoyed with dollops of mayonnaise, something which I still enjoy to this day.  Occasionally we would have fish, but it was not battered fish, or fish fingers  . . . my mother would buy a block of Captain Highliners Frozen Fish and it would be cut into portions to feed the family.  In the summer we sometimes had tinned salmon served cold on a plate with perhaps some potato salad and coleslaw. Always homemade.  Mushrooms came in cans, and my mother made her own soups.

Dessert was a rare treat, served for special occasions, like birthdays or holidays meals.  On Fridays we always had hot dogs for supper, I know processed . . .  but they would be followed by a dish of ice cream and sometimes we were allowed to spoon jam over top of the ice cream.  

We were not allowed to fill up on things like cookies or cakes . . .  occasionally my mom would bake an apple pie or a lemon meringue or coconut cream.  Sometimes she would buy cake donuts which she would reheat in a paper bag in a low oven.  They were delicious, but again a rare treat. 

Everything was pretty basic. My father didn't like strange food, or exotic flavours.  He liked his food seasoned simply, with salt and with pepper.  The only time we ate out in restaurants was when we were moving house. 


We picked wild blueberries in the summer and strawberries, which my mother froze to make into pies and such in the winter or strawberry jam.  We hardly ever had store bought jam. We had bananas and apples to eat, but otherwise we had mostly tinned fruit.  Potato chips were a Saturday night treat, something to eat while Hockey Night in Canada was on.  We each got a tiny fruit nappy sized bowl with some chips in it.  At Christmas there would be treats like my mother's homemade War Cake and Date Squares, maybe some gumdrop cake, some homemade fudge, a bit of hard candy and barley sugar toys.  At Easter we got spoiled with chocolate rabbits and marshmallow eggs.  We didn't have soda pop or even cool-aid to drink really, except as an occasional rare treat. We had water and were allowed a glass of milk with our meals and a glass of juice with our breakfast and milk on our cereal. None of us were overweight, and I don't think we ever really felt deprived.   At least I didn't.



We in the Western world are really spoilt for choice when it comes to food.  I don't think many of us are what you would call starving and very few of us know what it is like to go well and truly hungry. If we want strawberries in December, we can get them.  We have access to some of the most exotic produce from around the world 365 days a year.  Eating seasonally is almost a thing of the past, and we are fatter than ever.  A lot of families rely on processed foods or takeaways.  With both parents working, time is of the essence and nobody really wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a meal after working hard all day. Most people just want to relax and quite rightly so.  But it's killing us. 

Some families rely on box meal plans like Hello Fresh or Gusto where all the pre-packed/planned recipes/ingredients are delivered to your home ready for you to cook up healthy meals quickly and tastily.  They are not a bad thing and for the most part pretty healthy, but they come at a premium price.  

I will be honest.  I don't know how family's manage these days.  Good, healthy food, is expensive and becoming more so all the time. It should really be the other way around.  Junk food should be expensive and healthy food should be affordable.


I've been really thinking a lot about how we can eat healthier in this house lately.  I am a diabetic and I need to watch my carb count and my sugars.  Sugar just doesn't come as something white and powdered that you sprinkle on your cereal and bake into your cakes.  It is hidden in just about everything, truth be told, and especially in processed foods.   They are high in salt, fats and sugars.  Low fat goodies are also not so good for you.  When they take the fat out of things, they put the flavour back in somehow . . .  and it usually comes in the form of sugars. 

I baked some really nice little muffins the other morning.  They were delicious and had no fat, refined sugars or even flour in them.  They were the exception to the rule.  I also baked a cake this weekend.  I got the recipe from Sugar Free Londoner for a low carb, sugar free, gluten free almond cake.  It looked really good, and as you can see from the photograph, even the one I baked looked really good . . . 

  

It cut like a cake . . .  as you can see . . .  but that is where any resemblance to a real cake ended.  It was blah.  Blah. Blah.  Seriously BLAH!  Even Todd, who is my biggest fan ever and thinks I walk on water when it comes to cooking, even he said it was blah.  I can't even begin to describe it.  The consistency was like a thick almond omelet. 


I tried dusting it with some sugar free icing sugar, and serving it with some sliced pears and  a dollop of yogurt . . .  there is no redeeming it in my opinion.  This was totally disappointing.  I was expecting cake. I did not get it.  I guess the lesson here is clear.  Cake is cake.  This is not cake, no matter how much you try to dress it up as a cake.    More's the pity.  And it used a crap load of ground almonds, which aren't cheap and 5 large eggs.  (No wonder it tasted like a stodgy almond omelet.) 

I think from now on if I want to eat a cake, I will bake and eat a proper cake.   No more monkeying around. No more playing around with impostors.  I am not ready to give up cake altogether. I like cake.  A cup of tea and a slice of cake is one of life's little pleasures. 

 Now I am wondering about bread.  I had clipped some recipes on keto type of breads and even went so far as to buy almond and coconut flours  . . .  but after this cake experience . . .  I am thinking that I am only going to get more of the same eggy omelet things, but in a different shape, something masquerading as bread, but not really bread at all. 



Oh, and further in my quest towards healthy eating I recently purchased some turkey sausages the other day.  HUGE disappointment.  They were pasty  and flavourless . . . we did not like them at all.  And they were in beef casings.  What's up with that?  Read the fine print people.  You are not always getting what you think you are getting.  So for now at least . . .  its back to the drawing board.  

Perhaps if we just eat plain and simple, REAL food with the occasional treat we would be a lot better off and healthier.  People who were living on rationing during WW2 and afterwards were some of the healthiest people ever, despite school dinners.  Just my two cents worth.  What do you think??  I really want to know.



 

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Marie Rayner
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14 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you stated in your post. I was brought up the same way. I'm also pre-diabetic, meaning I have to watch what I eat so I don't have to go back on diabetic meds. It's a never-ending struggle. I think it's best to just eat what you crave but not a huge amount. I make regular cakes and freeze individual small portions; I also give a lot of baked items to family and neighbors. I have learned that cutting recipe sugar amounts up to 1/2 makes very little difference in taste and texture. Then I take that 1/2 amount and use a stevia/granulated sugar blend. I rarely frost a cake any more. When you get away from sweet, you really don't want much, just enough to know it's there, like a shake of powdered sugar as a cake topping instead of frosting.

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    1. Thanks for this Gwen. I will try cutting the sugar amounts in half as per your suggestion!! I love that we can share like this! xoxo

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  2. baked gluten free goods do not compare to ones baked with ordinary flour both in taste and texture and there really isn't any point in eating gluten free unless you were born with celiac disease. specialty flours are expensive and unnecessary unless you really enjoy the taste. instead limit these foods to special occasions and keep to portion sizes. you can substitute whole grain flour for up to half the white in most recipes to get more fiber. stay away from processed foods as much as possible. to save time do food prep ahead of time (ie chop veggies, measure ingredients, etc) so meals take less time to prepare on a busy day. I think one step people can take towards healthy eating is to educate yourself and know what is in what you are eating so that you can make healthier choices.

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    1. You are right. They are always disappointing. Like all your suggestions for healthier eating! xoxo

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  3. I find people who eat out a lot tend to eat less well.I too make sweets for J but small..no biig cakes or things like that unless I give or freeze.We never eat fried..he eats a plate of vegetables for lunch..Our fries are baked..everything we eat is home made.One thing we do have..on hand..always are cheese slices.That's the cheese Oli ikes in his grilled cheese,and it's the kind my chicken loves as a treat lol.We both eat way less and never out.
    One of my daughters did a keto type thing..I think she is the smallest she has ever been.Never heavy but now super slim.
    Jacques brother and my brother died in their forties.
    From that day on.J stopped all cold cuts.Anything w/ nitrates never came in the door.Nary a hot dog is to be seen.

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    1. One thing I am lucky about is that I love fresh vegetables and fruit. Processed meats are really not very good for you at all. Moderation in all things. I do enjoy a hot dog every now and then. And bacon . . . thankfully you can get nitrate free bacon and ham these days! xoxo

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  4. Hi Marie, I liked your post today and agree with you 100%. I also think a lot about the quality of our food. After WW2, when the economies of the allies began to recover and boom, one of the biggest boom industries was food, processed food. It was all about ease, speed and great taste. The homemakers (many of whom were now also working outside their homes) were thrilled with new ways to quickly get dinner for their families. What they didn't know or understand was what the manufacturers were putting in those boxes and cans and jars to make them appealing and last a long time on the shelf. Throughout the 50's, 60's & 70's this stuff was ingested by everyone! I believe it's why so many are so unhealthy today.
    I don't have Diabetes, but I do have a string of other serious diseases starting with Systemic Lupus. My husband has Diabetes. We both have digestive ailments as well. I had to leave work in 2014 and am now disabled. My point is that along with you, I think all the chemicals, sodium, sugar, fat, etc. in all those foods we consumed growing up has led to this. My Mom is an awesome cook, but she worked hard (teacher) and we ate great meals, however they were made with lots of convenience items. No shame to Moms, they didn't know what we do now.
    I only started to research and create good food after I stopped working. (Love your blog and your recipes!) I try to use real food, organic, local and in season as much as possible. We grow herbs and some veggies in the summer and we read labels now! If you can't pronounce it, spell it or understand what it is, don't put it inside you! We don't get take outs or restaurant food anywhere near as much as we did when we were both working. You don't know what's in it! But..., as you say, good, real food is expensive! I love a good meal out at a nice restaurant and I don't worry about it. Treats & desserts now and then are fine (specially homemade ones like your recipes)! I also firmly believe in the old maxim "Everything in Moderation"! A good balance is the key, heavy on real meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, reliable dairy, organically grown and sustainable when possible. And above all, less packaged goods.
    Thanks for posting this and giving me the opportunity to express how I feel on this subject too. xo Mary

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    1. That old saying, "You are what you eat!" rings true Mary! Thank you for this! All things in moderation for sure, and some things even less than that! Thanks so much for your viewpoint! xoxo

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  5. Hi Marie, I am your avid reader and recipe user :) and I agree with what you have said. My husband and I are in our thirties and we have a 4 year old daughter. We both work but thank God my hours are not bad and I work very close to home which allows me to cook every day for my family. One of my favourite websites that has low calorie delicious dishes is skinnytaste.com I don't think I have ever been disappointed in her recipes and even my 4 year old cleans up a plate :) I always cut the amount of sugar if I see that it is too much or substitute with Maple Syrup (we live in Canada so that's easy). Every week I do meal planning and I make sure that we eat different protein and lots of veggies on different days and fish at least on one of those days. More grilling, baking and less frying. And even when I fry I wuite often use non stick pan and simply spray it with oil spray. I never use cream or even half-half and always substitute with regular 2% milk. I agree about zero fat products that's why our sour cream, yogurts and milk always have some fat percentage to them. Eating healthy is expensive, you are right. But I am trying to buy in bulk at Costco when I can or go to some Asian grocery stores which sells fresh produce for very cheap. And I just want to thank you for all the wonderful fool proof recipes that you post. You have no idea how many of them have made it into my wooden box of treasured recipes :)))

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    1. Thanks so very much for your response to my query Anastasia! Every little helps! I think fat gets a bad rap! Sugar is the real demon and if we can go as natural as we can with that and with anything really, we will all be a lot healther for it! xoxo

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  6. I really enjoyed this post, Marie. In many respects, I had a similar experience growing up - except I grew up on a farm, so we had a LOT of dairy (which I still can’t live without), and always had plenty of meat....beef, pork, chicken...and wild. We also had a lot of desserts - it’s just how it was....but everything was homemade an with things we grew, raised, or picked. I remember the first time I had a TV dinner and I thought it was amazing LOL. Unfortunately, when my son was growing up, we had to rely on processed foods and things that were “quick” as my hours did not permit true home cooking. Now that I no longer work, I thought I would be able to cook more, but since it’s only the 2 of us, it is very difficult to “downsize” meals and my husband won’t eat leftovers. (I know, I know....to me, many foods are better the second time around). So, I guess my point is that, yes...you would think with the options we have for food now and the accessibility, we’d be healthier than ever...and it’s actually the opposite. ~Robin~

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    1. What is it with husbands and leftovers Robin! My husband isn't fussed about them either, but I am a master at disguising them and making them taste just as good or better! I agree with much of what you said! xoxo

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  7. I agree that some of these recipes developed to accommodate the gluten free and ketogenic diets are not what we are accustomed to. I have followed a keto plan for nearly a year and while it isn't for everyone, the improvements I have made to my health are real. That being said, the things I have loved in the past are in part what made me unhealthy so I have given them up to improve my health. That includes baked cakes and bread. Perhaps when I make my goals, I can reintroduce them in moderation. Again, not choices everyone can or chooses to make. In the meantime, I can enjoy your "food porn" with my eyes and know the delicious offerings will still be in my recipe box to moderately enjoy in the future. Thank you for your work and provoking the conversation.

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    1. I have played with Keto off and on and I know people do lose weight on it. I take all of your comments on board. Thanks for that Colleen! xoxo

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