Magic Tricks & Vibrant Health?
Are there similarities between a magician’s sleight of hand tricks and a lack of vibrant health? While the two topics may seem unrelated, you could argue that conceptually, one causes the other. Imagine big food corporations as magicians. Over the past 50+ years they have been simultaneously mesmerizing our taste buds and desire for convenience with one hand while using their other to convince all involved that what they produce and sell is “food”. Our health is now saying, “What happened? How’d they do that?”
Profit-seeking food producers have wooed us with convenience, expensive marketing campaigns, and eye-catching packaging. While paying attention to all the bells and whistles that entice us to purchase and eat these products we forget to question the quality and type of ingredients being put into them. Without realizing it, we relinquished control over what we’re eating, and I’d argue our health as well, to companies more concerned with increasing their bottom line than the increasing size of their customers. In an article published December 26, 2017, Dr. Kenneth Cusi writes, “…obesity is at its highest level ever, with about 40 percent of U.S. adults and 18.5 percent of children, considered obese.” Abracadabra! Nothing up my sleeve.
“Edible Food-Like Substances”
These food companies employ food scientists to concoct combinations that trick our brains into thinking we are eating something our bodies want. These scientists work in a kitchen lab mixing artificial flavors and colors, and adding highly refined sweeteners and trans fats. Abracadabra, they have created a product that tastes, looks and smells like food we want to eat. To make them stable and last on the shelves longer they mix in chemicals to preserve freshness, color, taste and hold things together. A 2016 Forbes article reports on research that found a “whopping 58% of the calories consumed by Americans and 90% of America’s added sugar intake” come from ultra-processed foods. The study defines ultra-processed foods as “industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.”
I believe that we can unite together to put real food onto our plates and fight the health crisis that obesity is creating. Let’s take back control over the ingredients we’re consuming by choosing more unprocessed foods and cooking at home. It’s time to get the magicians out of the kitchen.
What is Vibrant Health & How Do I Get There?
Vibrant can mean energetic, lively, vital, active, passionate, vivacious, happy and tireless. We would all like to strive for a life full of those adjectives, right? Health is a condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit. It’s a condition in which someone is thriving or doing well and free from physical disease or pain. You can assemble your own definition of vibrant health, but we like to think that we have achieved vibrant health when we are happy, bursting with energy, disease free and pain doesn’t limit our ability to participate in the activities we enjoy.
At TimeChop we believe that having a weekly meal plan and cooking at home with a variety of real, whole food ingredients to create plant-strong meals puts you on a road to vibrant health. This is the focus of the class we launched at the Bend, Oregon Natural Grocers on June 12th. And, it’s the message we will continue to spread as we take this class on the road through Oregon in June and Colorado in July. Keep checking our events page to see when we’ll be at a Natural Grocers near you. Remember, vibrant health is our destination and we want to show you what, how and where you eat will help you arrive at that destination.
Our 4 Steps to Vibrant Health
1. Eat a Variety of Foods
As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” When you pack for a vacation you choose clothes for a variety of activities and weather. Similarly, it’s important to approach filling your grocery bags each week with a variety of foods. This is the easiest way to ensure that you eat all the nutrients your body needs to thrive and achieve or maintain vibrant health. Even if you are eating broccoli and kale with a clean protein like grass-fed beef or organic black beans everyday for dinner, you’ll be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals.
TimeChop makes eating a varied diet easy. For example, our newest plan of connected meals uses red cabbage, spinach, romaine, carrots, celery, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes (yams), fresh basil and cilantro. However, we plan meals to use these ingredients more than once during the week. No one wants to buy a head of cabbage or a bunch of cilantro and only use it in one recipe before it spoils. We create our recipes to optimize these ingredients throughout the week. Then we shake it up by combining the ingredients in different ways to give you a varied palate of flavorful meals throughout the week.
2. Cook at Home
Cooking from home is the vehicle we use to get us to our vibrant health destination. The act of cooking from scratch, at home, is a dying tradition and skill in America. Fewer children are growing up in homes where the evening meal is prepped, created and cooked in their kitchen. It used to be a tradition passed down from one generation to the next, but with the advent of TV dinners, fast food diners and dual income families the home kitchen soon became the least popular room in the house. Our society has become dependent on quick meals, readily available take-out and read-to-eat foods from the grocery store. With this, the health of Americans has declined as rapidly as their waist size has increased. In addition, young people, just starting out on their own, aren’t equipped with the skills and knowledge on how to plan, shop and cook for themselves.
We want to get people back into the kitchen where basic cooking gives you control over the ingredients you consume, and empowers you to have a positive impact on your health. We are creating a new series of Express meal plans that are designed to give you some options for 10, 15 and 20 minute dinners and 5-8 minute lunches (when you assemble them before cleaning up after dinner). In addition, this meal plan shows you how easy it is to create a versatile veggie patty using only 9 ingredients compared to the 29 ingredients in a popular frozen veggie burger. This meal plan is a good place to start when you don’t want to spend time cooking, but you know it’s the healthier and cheaper option.
3. Use Real, Whole Ingredients
Every vehicle needs clean fuel to reach its destination. You wouldn’t add sugar water to your gas tank and expect your car to run better. It would break down and require a trip to the mechanic. The same holds true for our bodies. We need clean fuel that keeps us running efficiently and disease free. On our road to vibrant health we keep our kitchen stocked with real, whole ingredients. We focus on using food that doesn’t come with its own set of ingredients.
Michael Pollan’s first rule in his book, Food Rules, is “Eat Food”. He goes on to explain that he is talking about real food and not the “edible food-like substances” designed by food scientists and containing ingredients “no normal person keeps in the pantry.”
However, to achieve the express meals, mentioned above, we will need to carefully choose some minimally processed ingredients. We look for “shortcut” ingredients like canned beans, condiments, sauces, etc… that contain ingredients we recognize and can pronounce. Sometimes taking a shortcut in the kitchen is what it takes to cook at home.
One reason we are excited to be teaching at Natural Grocers stores is their commitment to the “Highest Quality Products.” As this founding principle states, “Every product on our shelves must go through a rigorous screening and approval process. Our standards are second to none and our suppliers are continually evaluated to ensure their dedication to our guidelines. Providing the highest quality groceries and supplements, Natural Grocers branded products and only USDA certified organic fresh produce at the best prices in the industry are part of our mission.”
It’s great to shop worry-free with affordable pricing.
4. Create a Weekly Plan
For us it boils down to having a plan. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Without a weekly meal plan the best intentions can fall apart. When you’re tired and hungry and don’t know what to make it’s a lot easier to grab a take-out meal on the way home, or heat up a frozen box of something. You may have a fridge full of leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, a chicken breast and brown rice in the pantry. Even so, hunger and exhaustion will lead you astray if you don’t know how to quickly turn them into something you want to eat.
I started meal planning when I was first married 27 years ago. I was a first grade teacher and if I didn’t have a dinner plan when I arrived home, exhausted from a day spent on my feet with 25 six year olds, we would be ordering pizza or Chinese take-out.
As our family grew, meal planning took more time. However, I needed this itinerary to keep us eating healthful, home cooked meals. I spent hours on Sundays crafting a weekly meal plan. I read magazines, cookbooks or looked on-line for recipes I wanted to try. Then the tedious task of figuring out what to have with the main dish would frustrate me. I wanted a cookbook that would give recipes for the entire meal perfectly paired with the main and side dishes.
TimeChop will help you create a weekly lunch and dinner meal plan in 5 minutes. We’ve done the hard work of putting meals together to optimize ingredients throughout the week and share prep time. On top of that, these are complete meals. Often they are one-dish meals that nourish you with the macro and micro nutrients you need for vibrant health.
Back to Mother Nature
Magicians can be very entertaining, but there’s no magic or mystery to vibrant health. Food-like substances are not real food and our health is declining to critical levels. Stick with mother nature and follow these four simple steps to vibrant health.