Eating Well: My New Hobby
I recently realized that I want to start eating well. I don’t mean eating fewer calories per se — though that’s certainly part of it — but I mean eating whole, fresh foods that are rich and nourishing in more ways than one.
It began when it occurred to me that I need a hobby. In my close circle of friends, I am surrounded by artisans and crafters: people who knit, refinish furniture, and make windchimes out of antique teacups and silver. They tell me that their hobbies relax them — give them something to do with their hands that is satisfying and creative. I, however, have zero crafting skills. I can scarcely hot glue sequins on paper. (What’s that you say? No one hot glues sequins on paper? I rest my case.)
My hobbies tend to be cerebral — reading, writing, thinking. Even when I’m running, one of my favorite physical pastimes, I usually pop in a podcast or audiobook to occupy my mind (and to keep myself focused on something other than how badly my legs hurt). 😉 Which is great, but since reading, writing, and thinking are pretty much what I do for a living as a professional copywriter and content development director for an internet marketing company, sometimes I (and my brain!) need a break.
So I went in search of a hobby. Something I could do with my hands. Something creative. Something I would enjoy. And because I run a business and am always looking for ways to spend quality time with my family, preferably something I could do with my daughter.
That’s when it hit me: FOOD.
I LOVE to eat. And, remarkably enough for someone with as few domestic skills as I have, I love to cook. I love how satisfying it is to put together a really delicious meal and share it with other people, who also appreciate how delicious it is. But lately I’ve been “too busy” for cooking. At the end of a long day, I’ve decided it’s just easier to grab a sandwich at Subway or microwave some frozen food. And sometimes, sure, that’s how it’s got to be. But what if I could make cooking my hobby — that creative thing I do with my hands to relax and unwind? What’s more, what if I could use it as a step toward something else I’ve been thinking about lately: sustainable eating — a movement that focuses on environmentally-friendly, fresh, healthful foods that express love and gratitude for life and the world God has given us?
The more I considered the idea, the more I loved it — both for the hobbiness of it, but also for the spiritual implications (if you haven’t noticed, spirituality is very high on my list of values…which means any hobby I undertake would need to feed this aspect of my life if it has any hope of “sticking”).
Now, I’m not ready to dive all the way into sustainable eating. I don’t have the money, time, space, or inclination at this point to raise my own chickens, build a greenhouse, or shop exclusively at the local food co-op. But I can begin to focus on what I’m calling eating well.
Here are a few of my goals for the new hobby I’m undertaking…
1) Eat less meat. I enjoy meat, but there are a couple of problems with it. First, while in moderation it’s excellent, in excess it’s harmful. (That whole “eat meat sparingly” thing, you know?) Second, I’m concerned with the ethics of the way meat is mass produced in America. I don’t believe there is necessarily anything ethically wrong with eating meat itself, but eating meat from animals that are bred and raised under inhumane conditions, fed chemicals and hormones that impede their quality of life (and their healthful qualities for humans), and tortured at slaughter is probably dubious.
The solution? Eat vegetarian 3-4 times a week to start with (a HUGE change from basically 7 days a week), with one of those days being totally vegan. And then, because we’re eating significantly less meat, we should be able to afford at least some meat from local sources, making a positive overall impact on the amount of factory-produced meat our family consumes.
(Oh, and in case your wondering? My husband is totally on-board with this whole vegetarian/vegan thing — I’m blessed!)
2) Eat way more fresh fruits and vegetables. Ideally, we’d grow our own fruits and vegetables…or at least buy local, organic produce. Practically, however, that’s not something we’re in a position to commit to right now. Still, making fresh fruits and vegetables a staple of our meals will have a huge impact on both flavor and nutrition. Of course, we’ll continue to shop at the local farmers’ market when it’s around and try to buy produce in season as much as possible.
3) Make treats REALLY treaty. Confession: I’m the kind of person who buys a bag of Frooties from the bulk section of Winco and eats them half-consciously over a period of a few days. While I love me some empty sugar, the truth is, I don’t need it and it doesn’t nourish my body or soul. But some of these babies — which I’ve made twice now over the holidays, shattering my self-perception that I can’t bake and opening up a whole new world of sweet goodness — well, that’s a different story…
Tell me you didn’t have a spiritual experience just thinking about that.
4) Involve my kid. I want this to be something that my child and I do together. She’s only 5, so that means it’s mostly me measuring stuff out and asking her to dump it in bowls, but we’ve already had some wonderful talks and bonding experiences cooking meals together. I hope it becomes “our” time several days a week to be with each other.
5) Plan ahead. The hardest part of all this is fitting it into a busy schedule. So I’ve set aside Sunday evenings to plan the menu and Monday evenings to shop as a family as part of FHE. (UPDATE 12/18/11: I’ve decided to add a weekly menu page to my blog that I’ll update on Sunday nights; the hope is that it will help me stay accountable, since planning is hands-down the hardest part of all this!) I’ve made a goal to turn off work earlier in the afternoon so that my daughter and I have time to prep meals together. And, because the fastest way to hate a hobby is to put too much pressure on yourself, I’m planning in allowances for nice meals out or quick trips to Subway.
So that’s my new hobby! Here on my blog, I’ve added a new category: cooking. I’ll be posting periodic updates about recipes I’ve tried or experiences I’ve had! What about you? What hobbies do you enjoy? Any advice for me as I undertake something like this?
Posted on December 17, 2011, in cooking, Personal and tagged cooking, ethics, food, fruits and veggies, hobbies, meat, nutrition, recipes, spirituality, sustainable eating. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
Woo-hoo! Way to go, Katie! This sounds like an awesome plan. Can’t wait to see what meals you come up with!
Wonderful! One of my favorite sites for vegan recipes is nutritionMD.org.
Yay! Sara and I are starting to try to eat better, so I’ll definitely be following your plans and picking up tips!
Do it, Hen!
Mmm food. We are lucky–we found a meat CSA when we moved here, so we get sustainably raised meat from a local farmer who we know. On top of that, we ‘host’ the CSA pickup (so other people get their monthly shares of meat from our house), so we get a discount on the meat, making it incredibly affordable for us (and convenient…).
Something we are working on, in the same realm as you, is trying to eat more sustainably. So, when produce was in season, we would buy lots of it and preserve it. We froze about 40 red bell peppers this summer, and have whittled them away by tossing them into lots of our meals.
Another idea–if you wind up missing your meat, we have found that if we use a small amount of meat in a dish, we can get better meat but use less of it. Also, beans = AMAZING. I can give you a black beans recipe that will knock your socks off.
I’m so excited about this! With the new baby, I have forgotten all the meals that we used to make and enjoy, so your weekly plan will hopefully help inspire me too! Or, you know, convince me to write a grocery list!
I sampled those salted chocolate caramel bars. Only a sample. Delicious! I have a fond memory of how excited you were when they turned out so well. I surely did love being with you over Thanksgiving!
Although this is very interesting, Katie, I’ll have to put off thinking about it until AFTER Christmas Day (when I’ll be eating prime rib for dinner). Then I promise I will re-read this. I have already begun making changes in how I eat (doing Weight Watchers). I think this adds a more spiritual dimension to the process that I have not considered before. Thanks! I love you.
It’s true, I was VERY excited. Thanksgiving was so fun!
Mom, don’t forget that the idea is that you can include prime rib in eating well. Because it’s good, high-quality food. Better to eat a modest serving of prime rib than some nasty processed meat that’s low in calories AND nutrition AND enjoyment!
Katy, that meat CSA sounds FANTASTIC! I bet there are things like that around here. I just need to look.
Send along that black beans recipe, woman! I love black beans. 🙂
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