A special delivery came yesterday, which provided a much needed mood-boost. Chocolate (especially Love Bean Fudge) and a good book can heal most problems, after all… So now I finally get to crack into Liz Wolfe’s book Eat the Yolks. It’s as awesome as I knew it would be. A fellow English major, the girl can write, and she’s witty too, which is a huge plus. Then there’s the fact that despite the fact that I am currently fully engrossed in studying all of this stuff, Liz still manages to leave me passionately nodding my head and agreeing out loud to only my dogs, who think I am nuts sometimes. Anyways, it’s a great read and the inspiration for this blog post.
The point of this post is to simplify things down a bit. Eating for health, longevity, and quality of life is not that complicated. You know what is complicated? Unlearning all of the crap… Liz sums it up well in just a few short lines…
“Eating real, natural foods with a long history in the human diet isn’t hard. Unlearning all the crap we’ve been taught? That’s hard” (18).
The reality is that The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which provides credentials for registered dietitians among others, is sponsored by companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogs, Soy Joy, and more. Seems ironic doesn’t it? Ya, I think so too. the sad thing is that something as universal, basic, and natural (even though that word has lost most meaning these days) as food has been turned political, corporate, and corrupt. Whether I sound like a conspiracy theorist or not, the truth is that there is A LOT of big money to be made off food, and the companies and politicians who make the money want the food they sell (ie: grains, processed foods, and anything in packaging) to be considered healthy, no matter the devastation. Meanwhile, real foods have been left demonized, and somehow the most nutrient-dense foods have become the bad-guy… raw milk will kill you, grass-fed steak and pastured eggs are a sure precursor to your next heart attack, and the saturated fat in coconut might as well be a death sentence. Confused? You’re not alone.
As Liz puts it, “We’re more confused and less healthy than ever” (17).
This confusion about food is unhealthy for multiple reasons. First and more obvious, we’re eating the wrong foods, wrapped in packaging, extremely processed, filled with sugar to mask the stripped away fats, and with little to no nutritional value. Second, and probably more scary is that this confusion leads to a serious issue of altered mindset, self-blame, and an overall unhealthy relationship with food. Because people are so under-nourished, they have constant cravings. When our bodies lack the nourishment needed to function, we constantly crave because that is our body telling us to continue eating until the needs are met. These cravings lead to what so many think of as a lack of will-power, which is perceived as weakness. These thoughts coupled with the imbalance in hormones and overall sickness that result from eating the crap leads to an emotional roller coaster of weight gain, lowered self esteem, and depression, and it’s a vicious cycle.
The impact of believing and living out what we are taught to be healthy (ie that learned crap) has a different impact on everyone. Many can’t seem to lose weight, while I couldn’t keep it on. I thought I was doing everything right and put on a front of being super healthy. In reality, though, I was sick, underweight, moody, and constantly in pain. To the outside world, I might have seemed like the pillar of health (or maybe like a crazy person). I ate all low-fat foods, no meat, lots of whole grain bagels, and at least 3 bananas a day. I had supreme will-power, right? Maybe, but it was a constant battle in my mind, and I thought eating fat free ice cream at the end of the day was a “reward” for being so good, but somehow this didn’t EVER fulfill the cravings. Not surprising….
Turns out that at 5″6″ and 109 pounds, I was wreaking havoc on my body. My cholesterol was through the roof (not the good kind), I was anemic, and I was doing serious damage to my reproductive health. It’s a breath of fresh air to read Liz’s book and see that I am not alone in making some serious health mistakes and finding a path to true health.
“Turns out, it wasn’t about will power. It was about eating some emotion-balancing, hunger-regulating, body-nourishing real food and, above all, learning what the junk was – and eliminating it” (16).
Finding CrossFit and taking my obsession with health in a new direction literally saved my life. Eating properly raised, happy animals, removing all processed foods from my diet, adding in tons of healthy fats, and shifting my whole mindset on food has been a serious game-changer. It’s not about putting titles on “diets”; it’s not about the next “fad”; it’s not about counting or weighing (yes I know I have talked about Zone, but that’s just to get a basis of portion control); and it’s not about will-power or rewards. It’s about eating nutrient-dense foods the way they were “before feedlots, global commerce, the refinement of sugar and grains, and the hydrogenation of fats changed our food landscape from one of nutritious, natural food to one of wast, cheap, and shelf-stable products” (20).
I could go on forever on this, but I’ll save some for later posts. For now, I hope I can just get across my passion for this and my desire to help others forget the crap and rediscover real food from a time when fat was cherished, eating was natural and not emotional, and modern ailments like heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmunity were unheard of.
Now, onto a recipe that I created in the kitchen yesterday. I love when I pull stuff we have out of the pantry for experimenting and it turns out so well on the first try. Lucky? Probably…. I hope you like these tasty snacks, which are great with coffee for breakfast, as a midday snack, or anytime really! Plus they have a surprise secret ingredient, and everything is more fun with surprises!
Cacao Energy Bars
WHAT YOU NEED:
- ¼ cup organic ground flax (Costco find)
- ½ cup organic shredded coconut
- ½ cup chopped, organic, unsulfured dried figs (we get this at Costco too)
- ¼ cup organic cacao nibs
- ½ cup sprouted sunflower seeds (also from Costco)
- ½ cup chopped raw organic pecans (or nut of choice)
- ½ cup raw organic cashew butter
- 2 TB Love Bean Fudge (super secret ingredient!)
- 1 TB coconut oil (big jug from Costco)
- 2 TB date sugar
WHAT YOU DO:
- preheat oven to 350
- mix together flax, coconut, figs, cacao nibs, sunflower seeds, and pecans in a medium bowl
- in a saucepan melt together cashew butter, love bean, coconut oil and date sugar – keep a close eye on this and mix continuously until melted and combined
- pour melted mixture over dry stuff and stir to combine
- line a baking dish with wax paper, pour in mixture, and flatten out evenly
- bake for 15 minutes until the bars don’t wiggle when you shake them and darker brown (not burned)
- let them cool for a bit and pull the whole thing out in one piece, lay on a cookie sheet, and remove wax paper (I might have used a magazine instead of a cookie sheet to make it fit in a full fridge)
- put them into fridge for at least 30 minutes
- take them out and cut into 6-8 squares
- ENJOY! Save them for the week (or day, depending on self control)