Holistic Eating - Part 1

I'm no dietary or nutrition expert, so please take any information with a grain of (sea) salt. I read an article a while ago about holistic eating for athletes and I was intrigued. After we returned from vacation, it seemed like a good time to try it out. So we've been slowly purging our pantry and fridge of processed foods and switching to healthier alternatives. I'm no purist - I have no intention of giving up caffeine or alcohol completely but I think almost everyone has room to improve his or her diet.

Here's the rules:
  1. No processed or refined carbs like flour, pasta, sugar, etc.
  2. No pre-packaged meals or meals out of boxes, including cereal. *Gasp!*
  3. Limited meat. Grass fed instead of traditionally raised.
  4. Lots of fruits and veggies.
  5. Lots of beans and whole grains.

We made a few other changes to our food as well. We decided to switch to organic apples and peppers, Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt and bison instead of beef. I prefer bison anyway, it's always grass fed, has lower fat naturally, and I think it tastes better.

The verdict so far: good. Our groceries are more expensive, but we're eating out less, so our actual food cost hasn't changed. We don't have any easy crap in the pantry, so we're snacking less as well. And the garden and abundance of in-season produce is making this easier than expected.

But it is more work and planning for meals. I gave up cereal cold-turkey and John has given up his favorite meal of chili mac with hot dogs (could you find a meal more artificially processed??) I need to eat more often since carrots, cucumbers, apples and berries don't really last through a whole afternoon. I'm trying to bring more food in to work so I can eat at my desk throughout the day. It can be inconvenient when I'm in a meeting all afternoon and can't eat.

We've been doing this for almost a month now and we are not strict with this by any means. We're just trying to make permanent changes to how we shop and eat. I will say I've noticed an increase in energy. Another side affect: we grilled out last Friday night and I ate a brat, which promptly made me nauseous. Too bad, I really enjoy the occasional brat even though I know they're not exactly a health food. Don't worry, it was boiled before it was grilled, so it wasn't a raw meat issue.

I'm going to try to share recipes as I go. We made a turkey/bison meatloaf, bison chili, fish tacos, catfish ceveche (sp?), and pictured below, black bean and corn couscous salad.

I made the salad up on the fly, so all amounts are approximations. Feel free to adjust to taste. It's a cold salad, so it's great for picnics, too. And seriously delicious.

1-1.5 cup dry couscous, cooked to directions
1 can black beans, drained and well rinsed
1 cup corn
1 red peppers, chopped to about the same size as the corn and beans
1/4 cup jalapeno, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Fluff couscous with fork, let cool. Mix all ingredients. Add dressing and mix again. Salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more cilantro and jalapeno as well. Chill for several hours before serving.

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