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The government has made an effort to let us know what we should be eating on a daily basis by creating the Food Pyramid. Rather ironic, wouldn’t you say? Here we are at the top of the food chain and we’re the only animals in need of eating instructions.

And in light of more and more evidence of poor decisions made by our elected officials, maybe we should educate ourselves and figure out what we should eat on our own.

Okay, having said that, I’m going to throw my two cent’s worth into the mix. More irony, you say? I suppose so, but at this point, there’s an overload of complex and confusing information from too many sources. It’s time to slow down and rethink things. We all have to eat, why is it so confusing to choose a healthy diet? Why are we so obsessed with food and yet so unhealthy as a culture? Part of the problem is too many choices in a world of food politics and an industry worth billions of dollars a year — in the United States alone. That can make eating complicated and even stressful.

It doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few tips for healthy eating and a simple recipe for snacking.

1. Eat whole, fresh food (preferably organic).
2. Make whole plant sources, especially vegetables, legumes, and fruit your foundation. You can even eat veggies for breakfast — it’s okay, trust me. Use gluten-free whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and teff.
3. For the most part, choose foods you can hold in your hands and wash. Can you wash a box of Kraft mac and cheese or a package of ding dongs? You can wash a tomato and you can rinse brown rice. See how easy that is?
4. Don’t eat food that never spoils. Remember my HFCS post? The pink snowballs and the chocolate hockey pucks? As I mentioned, I’ve had those on my closet shelf for over a year. If it doesn’t rot, it’s not food.
5. If animals, insects, and bacteria won’t eat it, maybe we shouldn’t. Food that has been sprayed with chemicals to repel critters is not a good choice for people either. Whoa, that doesn’t mean bugs are smarter than we are, does it? Yikes, maybe so.
6. You’ve all probably heard this one before — don’t eat foods from the middle of the grocery store. Stick to the periphery where the real food is located.
7. Make it yourself. Learn from your grandmother. Enjoy the cultural wisdom of food. My mother grew up in a very poor family in the south during the depression. I mean dirt-floor poor. They had few food choices, but somehow the family was fairly healthy. All they could afford was assorted beans, cornbread, dandelion greens, whatever fruit or nut tree was around, some oatmeal and an occasional pig, chicken, or fresh-caught game (birds, fish, rabbits). My grandmother also made them all take a dose of cod liver oil regularly. Hmmm? When you think about it, you’ve got some very healthy food choices there. They either grew or caught everything they ate. I know things are different now and you just don’t have time to go rabbit hunting on your lunch hour, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
8. To sum it up: eat less, eat slower, use smaller plates, choose fresh ingredients, eat more vegetables, skip the junk food, and savor your food. Part of eating healthy is enjoying what you eat, how you prepare it, the cultural variations, and sharing it with others.

Gluten-free, dairy-free yummy hummus to eat with all those veggies

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (15 ounce can — preferably organic)
3 cloves peeled garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water (add slowly so you don’t end up with sloppy hummus, you may not need all of it)
1 teaspoon wheat-free tamari (I use the San-J brand as they routinely test for gluten) *
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or omit if you don’t want zingy hummus)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

This is another one of my “launching pad” recipes. You can customize this any way you want. Switch out the garbanzo beans for pinto or cannellini beans, add minced chile peppers, parsley — whatever your heart desires (or whatever ingredients you have on hand).

Mince peeled garlic in the food processor until finely pulverized. Add beans, tahini, lemon juice, water (a little bit at a time), tamari, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate. Remove and let hummus reach room temperature before serving. Blend in cilantro and serve with fresh veggies. Carrots, celery, broccoli, jicama, gluten-free crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers original flax seed crackers are a favorite of mine), olives — whatever you can think of.

* San-J Wheat-Free Tamari is gluten-free, but contains soy and corn.

In good health,

12 Responses to “food pyramid remix”

  1. Kristi Dale says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It’s funny, true, concise, and a great summary of the value and importance of healthy eating for ALL people … not just us GF folks. I’m forwarding this post to all my friends. Thank you for inspiring me today.

  2. eat2evolve says:

    LOL Melissa! I love the part about being at the top of the food chain and not having a clue. How true! (Based on observation I’d have to say this doesn’t only apply to human food choices, either…)

    Your tips are great – hadn’t thought about number 3 but you are so right! If you can’t wash it, it’s probably a soggy excuse for nutrition.

    Thanks for the smiles, and another super post.

    🙂 Diana

  3. Heather says:

    Hehe. You made me laugh! So true though. Seeing what most people eat is pretty depressing to me. It is best to eat as much raw food as possible, in my opinion, and very rarely eat processed food. Less packaging means less waste too.

    Good post!

  4. Melissa says:

    Kristi — thanks for the nice comment — I really do appreciate it. We all need to inspire each other and your kind words inspire me!

    Diana — good point. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering if you were going to the Celiac Sprue Association conference in Omaha. If so, I’ll see you there. Loved your food combining post, by the way.

    Heather — I’m glad you added the less packaging means less waste comment. That’s important too! Thanks.

  5. Cindy says:

    I love it Melissa! Vegetables for breakfast are essential for us. Man oh man am I one very grumpy woman if I’m deprived of something dark green (not by mold) and Jon’s espresso. Yeah, I do the caffeine monster (or it does me), but just don’t withhold the greenies 🙂 I love the grandmother story! My dad’s family is also (still) very poor… though somehow pecan pie, fig jam, and okra were/are plentiful in their diet, somehow they never ate dandelion greens. Collards, sure, but I think the dandelion things still mystifies some of them when I talk about it, hehe. Glad to read your post! Have a fantastic week!
    PS- I take no responsibility for the grammar in this post- I am still espresso-sipping (savouring, mmm). No awakeness to proofread, so read at your own risk 🙂

  6. Miles says:

    Where would we all be without politicians telling us what and how to eat? I am particularly grateful to my unelected Scottish Prime Minister lecturing the English on their eating habits when his own country has one of the worst records for unhealthy eating in Europe. If they can’t deep fry it then they don’t eat it. I love your blog Melissa, it’s a breath of fresh air.

  7. Emilia says:

    That was a great post and I totally agree with everything you said.

    I wish I would have learned more from my grandparents and not been as stubborn as I was with my lazy ways 🙂

    These days I am very interested in the way food was prepared before we had ready made meals covered in plastic and things like that.
    I just found an old cooking book from something like a hundred years ago and it had two recipes with dandelion greens along with many other interesting recipes; a big part of it consists of organ foods like brains and liver, I haven’t seen recipes like that in modern books.

  8. michelle says:

    What a great picture to start of a great post with some sound, logical advice! I love the thought of going back to what our grandparents used to eat. And maybe bugs really are smarter in some ways…

  9. Melissa says:

    Cindy — I think you have a good mix of things going on, espresso or not. And hey, we have to enjoy life — I say as I sip my El Salvadorian Santa Adelaida organic coffee with coconut milk. (Not exactly locally grown, but it’s a favorite of mine.) It’s only 5:30 AM right now, I’ll have some kale in a little while!

    Miles — I made your English stew last night and it was SO good. Adding the ginger and sweet potatoes was over the top yummy. Yes, I noticed that while I was in Scotland. Everything is fried. Gosh, and I’m a McLean! Well, we don’t have to go along with it.

    Emilia — thanks for the comments. Yes, we should listen to what our grandmothers said (and our moms). I often think that’s another way to assess food. Would your grandmother know what the food is by reading the label? If not, it’s probably not real food.

    Michelle — I imagine you’re learning all kinds of new cultural variations of food. Sounds fun and your photos have been wonderful lately. The food always looks so fresh!

  10. Kay says:

    I was hired to provide the “tasting component” of nutritional seminars the last time the government changed the pyramid. The seminars were funded by the USDA and took place all across the country. I was astounded to learn that the government spent a gazillion dollars to tell folks to stop eating fast food for every meal and occasionally eat fruits and vegetables. My part of the presentation also included advice like “Sit down and eat with a fork,” and “Don’t eat in your car.” I was surprised that those suggestions got a laugh every time. The target audience thought them to be absurd and impossible.

    I love cooking like a pioneer. I inherited all the grandma aprons in my family. I wear them proudly (and daily!)

    Great informative post!

  11. Melissa says:

    Kay — thanks for the feedback. Very interesting! It’s always nice to hear someone’s experience who was an “insider” during something like the seminars you’re referring to. Yes, wear those aprons with pride!
    Good comments, Kay.

  12. Sylvia says:

    I think you have a fantastic list of things to keep in mind when trying to eat healthy and gluten free. Thank you for the insight.. I think you should grow all your veggies if you can! And the cod liver oil?? YIKES! 🙂


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