I have loved good food and enjoyed cooking for as long as I can remember. I bought my first cookbook when I was in second grade and found my way into the kitchen as often as I could. As a child, I helped my father in the garden – watering plants and vines, and watching miracles happen. I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 100 people are the norm. Some of my fondest memories are of family gatherings – both large and small – with long tables full of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.
The food I grew up with was never fancy, even though my mother always had a subscription to Gourmet Magazine, but I knew where the food came from, and it was always real. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned more about the nourishing and healing power of food, and specifically, superfoods. After becoming a volunteer as a nutrition docent in an elementary school for a non-profit organization, it truly crystallized for me: our society has a big problem. I knew I wanted to do something to help people learn how to support their own health, but was unsure of where to start.
At the same that I was contemplating how I could help people grasp the importance of proper nutrition and eating real food, I was asked to teach a “healthful cooking class” for a group of young mothers. From that first meeting, my business grew quickly and organically, so I knew I had an important message to share and a new mission in life.
My hope is to spread my passion for eating real food and superfoods, and share how to make them a part of our lives. By getting back to basics and getting back in the kitchen, we can better nourish our families and ourselves, and enjoy balance and health in our lives.
The motivation behind my cooking classes is to encourage and inspire people to cook real food. This has been a journey for me (not something that just happened overnight) and I wouldn’t expect anyone to overhaul his or her family’s pantry and regular diet in one fell swoop. However, the Standard American Diet (literally S.A.D. for short) is not a sustainable one in many ways. The food that most of us rely on is processed, refined, nutritionally lacking and works against our body’s natural processes. In addition, much of this food has a heavy environmental impact.
Food has changed dramatically over the last 100 years, but our physiological bodies have not. So, these so-called enriched or processed foods that we eat are laden with chemicals, preservatives and pesticides, and are disruptive to our bodies because they are unrecognizable. There is a lot of confusing nutritional information out there and our country always loves a new fad, but there is nothing controversial about the fact that what we eat matters. Food matters. The kitchen matters. I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that the Standard American Diet is making us sick.
So, what’s the answer? I have a philosophy:
We need to take steps toward a more whole foods-based diet with conscious thought to its impact on the environment. That means buying and preparing food that is natural to our bodies. Ideally, we are eating food that has been changed very minimally from the way it came into this world.
I have a 90/10 rule about food: 90 percent of the time, I try to eat the best that I can and 10 percent of the time (which I save for the weekend), I eat whatever I feel like eating. It’s helpful for many people to have some flexibility built into their diet so that they don’t feel guilty about enjoying a piece of birthday cake or stressed about eating a certain way all the time. It’s what we eat most of the time that really matters. Navitas Organics provides an extensive selection of delicious superfoods and unprocessed healthful products to make eating well easier.
I don’t know what the right diet is for every single person since we are all highly unique individuals and there is no “one size fits all” diet like most fads would have us believe. However, our bodies naturally communicate with us when we are eating appropriately or not. I do think there are several basic dietary principles from which everyone can benefit:
• Stick to whole foods
• Eat a wide variety of food
• Choose organic whenever possible
• Cook at home instead of eating out as much as possible to control what goes into your food and to impart your loving energy into the food you serve
• Eat seasonally
• Shop locally
• Listen to your body
Don’t be discouraged if things don’t turn around overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will new eating habits!