It makes for long ears and GREAT BIG FEET.
(Name the movie!)
So. I've never exactly been a fan of salads. Through high school, college, and the life thereafter I have attempted on several occasions to order a salad and like it, to force myself to crave leafy greens over a hamburger. I mean, I should like salad, right?? It's healthy! But I realized the only salads I liked were the ones topped with at least seven items, preferably some sort of fried chicken and cheese, where the poor lettuce smooshed on the bottom barely peeked out, almost as an afterthought...which kind of defeated the purpose of ordering a salad in the first place.
So, naturally, when this whole non-dairy thing emerged, I cringed when The Pediatrician suggested a diet of primarily veggies and fruit and meat. My first thought was SALAD.
For a couple of days I did the salad bit, chewing lettuce as a cow chews cud, miserably knowing that I would not feel full afterwards. I like spinach leaves okay, but, without cheese? Meh. Pleh. This is when I recognized that if I was going to make it through at least a few months of not eating dairy, I was going to have to get creative. So, I tossed the salad idea aside (pun intended! ha ha!) and started with a clean slate, mulling over the 'safe' items I could eat. And I realized that I do like most vegetables. And most fruit. And I do like meat. And I could put those items together and make some yummy dishes.
Dishes that WEREN'T SALADS.
(Tacos with cous cous, black beans, tomatoes, peppers, corn, organic hot sauce, and beef)
And y'all, it was the most liberating thing to realize that I do not have to eat salads. So, let me take a deep breath and declare:
My name is Katie. I do not like salad.
Ahhhh. Exhale. Fabulous.
This whole non-dairy bit has made me examine all of the food that I eat. After reading various articles on all the crap that gets sprayed on our produce and the genetically engineered "food" we put in our bodies (Kraft mac 'n cheese isn't bright orange because of the "cheese"), the diet in this household has been on major overhaul. In the past, I had skirted around the issue of organic food and such, shrugging my shoulders and deciding it was just too hard (and expensive) to forego packaged stuff or to buy organic. But, after doing a little research and talking to my various health nut friends from college, I've been able to assemble affordable ingredients to create dishes that my family likes. I've almost felt like it's my duty--my responsibility--as the self-proclaimed chef in this house to feed my family healthy food. I guess when it's the food I'm putting in my babies' mouths, it suddenly becomes more important. And thusly, all of us have started to make some changes.
(Thankfully my husband and Cub like raw vegetables.)
Firstly, we're incorporating way more veggies into our diet. Local produce is cheaper than store-bought and isn't pesticide ridden and I'm excited to hit up local farmer's markets for those. Lots of raw carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and sauteed veggies in various dishes. If it comes in a package, it has to contain ingredients I can pronounce. But I'm trying to limit boxed food, with the exception of rice, cous-cous, cereal (Annie's and Ezekiel have been our favorites), and, of course, coconut milk ice cream. Thankfully, the absence of a pantry in our kitchen makes it hard to store food anyway, so we pretty much eat week-to-week when it comes to dry packaged goods. Rice and cous-cous have replaced our mealtime bread for the most part, and olive oil has replaced our butter. If we can't find veggies we want, I buy frozen instead of canned.
(Chicken fajitas with cous cous, black beans, peppers, and organic hot sauce on corn tortillas.)
I've started adding chia seeds to random recipes for an added health boost, too. My husband loves Mexican food, which makes it easy to use raw, whole ingredients. I have yet to find organic tortillas, but I'm on the prowl. Surely they're somewhere??
Anyway. This has been a large undertaking, but hasn't been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I'm not hardcore--my cupcakes have plenty of white powdered sugar--but I'm learning and I'm listening. I just think that somewhere along the way, our generation allowed our taste buds to settle for high sodium processed food, and we're passing that onto our kids when we feed them McDonald's chicken nuggets. I want to keep myself and my family healthy by feeding them whole foods. And at large family gatherings where there's tons and tons of casseroles and pies? We'll jump right in and enjoy ourselves. It's when we're under our own roof that the rules apply.
And it's nice to know those rules don't have to involve salad. :)
So, that's what I've been learning. I will step down from my soap box now to eat some ice cream!!
Have a lovely day!