I have two very disparate jobs: I write paranormal romance novels, and I teach fitness classes. I'm passionate about both, though, and I try to highlight a fitness or health topic at least once a month for my Friday Fitness feature. And part of a healthy lifestyle is good nutrition. Now, I'm not above diet sodas, dark chocolate, and pinot grigio. But I do try to educate myself and make good choices as much as possible.
Most everyone knows processed white foods are not great choices. By "white foods," then, I'm referring to processed and refined grains and sugar. Obviously, cauliflower is a different story.
I grew up on pasty white bread sandwiches. And we always had white pasta and rice as well. So I wondered, when, exactly, did the food industry decide to strip all the nutrients from grains? And why?
Well, not surprisingly, it comes down to convenience and profit. Seeds and husks are difficult to chew and digest. Early humans crushed or ground the seeds to make it easier - the result was essentially a coarse whole grain flour. But, crushing the germ releases oils, which cause rapid spoilage.
So in the late 1800s, people began using machines to remove the germ and the bran, and consequently, the nutrients and fiber. Even "whole grain" flour is not immune - the approved definition of this term is sketchy. It's been processed, generally, and restored to the same ratio of elements you'd find in its original state.
Aside from the lack of nutritional value, refined and processed white foods lead to overeating. Why? Well, they taste good, for one thing. And they are easy to chew and digest, which means it is easy to eat too much before your body realizes you're full. A lack of fiber means you're less full. Your body absorbs the food quickly, blood sugar spikes, and hunger returns a few hours later.
We need carbs - they're essential for energy. But there are tons of good carbs to choose from! Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, brown rice, etc. As a general rule, I try to go for the foods that are closest to their original form. That way, when I indulge in a treat, I know I'm not throwing myself completely off-track.
In a strange twist, my two passions came together when my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, chose "Healthy Recipes" as a theme for our 2012 annual recipe book. Each December, authors of TWRP contribute their favorite recipes, based on the year's theme. Our marketing department then compiles them into a pdf file, which is offered FREE on our website. If you'd like to download the Healthy Recipe collection, all you need to do is register (also free) and download A Healthy Garden Gourmet. You can pick up some other (more recent, still free) recipe books as well while you're there!
Another great resource for healthy cooking inspiration is Pinterest! Here's my recipe board if you're looking for ideas. Happy Friday!