eating can be an adventure.txt
Eating Can Be an Adventure - Make It Simple, Healthy,
and Fun
by Alan Detwiler



I have been preparing my own meals for many years. Like most 
people, I suppose, I would fix only familiar dishes.

That has changed. For health benefits, I began eating more 
fruits and vegetables. Trying unfamiliar vegetables and fruits 
made eating interesting and more enjoyable. Many of those new 
fruits and vegetables became favorites. I tried many other foods 
that were new to me, for example, whole grains, various types of 
beans, seeds and nuts. Many of those became favorites. Using 
unfamiliar ways of preparing food also made eating more of an 
adventure. A few of my new favorites are pesto (pureed greens and 
oil), raw foods that are normally eaten cooked, and unusual 
combinations such as bread with peanut butter, covered with 
pizza sauce.

The circumstances of my life encouraged more changes. Making do 
with a small amount of money gave me a liking for oatmeal, beans, 
and other very low-cost foods. Growing up on a farm and having a 
garden each year provided new fruits and vegetables to try and 
enjoy. Having been raised to 'waste not, want not', helped me not 
to pass up unusual foods: gifts such as my sister's 'beans 'n'
greens', the landlord's parogies, and my son's homemade deer 
jerky. The point is: Changes in my diet gave me more foods to 
enjoy. I now know that I can like a great many unfamiliar foods. 
At first some of those foods may not be enjoyed because they are 
so different and are unrecognized as a 'goody'. For me, that
recognition is typically made gradually by many small trials. 
Once that recognition is made, the food 'hits the spot' and can 
be nutritious, healthy and convenient. Then I have yet another 
favorite to enjoy.

The process of trying new foods and having them become enjoyed 
fare, makes eating an adventure. Eating becomes more 
interesting and more enjoyed. Meals become more than a time to 
enjoy what I have enjoyed before. Awareness is heightened by 
experiencing the unfamiliar. There is anticipation of discovery 
of a new enjoyment. Meals become pay-off times of previous 
experimentation efforts. The food is more appreciated for having 
creative effort invested in it. A little bit of my heart and 
sole is in the food.

Changes to what I eat can mean health benefits, saving prep time, 
saved money that can be used for other purposes, and adding to my 
repertoire of pleasure. I
value those and other improvements. I now try to keep in mind 
that finding a different way of doing things often produces a 
reward that makes the effort worthwhile. Just the psychological 
effect of continually trying for improvement, is uplifting.

A cookbook might help you get ideas about what new foods to try. 
A cookbook about a particular ethnic food or some other 
unfamiliar category of food can be particularly helpful. Buy one 
or get one from the library. Some ethnic categories are Middle 
Eastern, Southeast Asian, African, soul food, Southern, and 
Mexican. Other categories are health food, quick and easy 
recipes, weight loss diets, vegetarian recipes, and using food 
from the garden. You might even enjoy some obscure categories 
such as pioneer food, early American/Native American food, wild 
food, early European food, food from storage, and low cost food. 
I particularly like quick and easy cookbooks.

If you need help becoming comfortable with trying new foods, 
try small changes:

- Eat breakfast foods at lunch or supper. Or try a vegetable at 
breakfast. If you normally have a sandwich at bedtime, have a 
salad instead.

- Try different brands from the ones you normally use.

- Leave out or add an ingredient from a standard recipe. Or 
change the proportions - a little more of this or a little less 
of that.

- Substitute a similar ingredient for a usual ingredient, for 
instance, orange juice concentrate or lemon juice instead of 
vinegar on a salad.

- It may help to eat smaller portions but include a greater 
number of foods at each meal. That may help you develop a 
liking for variety.

- Try unusual combinations such as cooked chicken and raw fruit 
cut in small pieces and mixed together...or pizza sauce on a 
peanut butter open-face sandwich...or a teaspoon of honey or 
pancake syrup on a dark green, leafy salad.

Salads are great to experiment with. Many vegetables can be 
enjoyed in a salad. Try adding various amounts and combinations 
of carrot, tomato, cabbage, broccoli, bell pepper, cucumber, or 
other vegetables you enjoy. Use other types of greens: romaine 
lettuce, bibb lettuce, collards, mache and basil. Many types of 
dressing can be used to soften the strong flavor of raw cabbage, 
basil, or dark green lettuce. Dressing can be just oil, pesto, 
syrup, tomato sauce, ketchup, fruit juices, mayonnaise, peanut 
butter mixed with oil, and even jam or jelly.

The subtle flavors of many vegetables are easily hidden with 
anything more than tiny amounts of vinegar, lemon juice and 
tomato sauce. Try a salad without any dressing to enjoy the 
full flavor of the vegetables. The vegetables can be
proportioned to subdue or enhance particular flavors - use less 
basil to lessen its pungent flavor, use more carrot to boost 
its flavor and texture. Other salad ingredients can be nuts, 
peanuts, coconut, cereal, baked beans, and fruit. Some
ingredients I like are raw beets, raw potato and raw sweet 
potato.

Watch out for raw greens and other raw vegetables that cause 
digestion system upset. It only takes small amounts of some raw 
vegetables to cause a lot of discomfort. Use small quantities 
of an untested food to begin with until you know how well your 
body deals with it. The body will adapt to some foods over a
period of weeks or months but results vary from food to food 
and, I suppose, from individual to individual. Some raw foods 
I avoid because of previous bad experiences are green beans, 
asparagus, and beet leafs. I don't eat more than a tablespoon 
of raw parsley pesto in a day. The same for kale. I don't eat 
more than the equivalent of 1/4-cup pesto of raw Chinese 
cabbage.

To develop a liking for a new food, eat it at the beginning of 
a meal when you are most hungry. Being hungry greatly improves 
the ability to appreciate the taste of a food. Eat only a small 
amount of the new food at each sitting. For some foods, a tiny 
bite, just enough to sense its flavor, is enough to handle at
first. Don't give up easily on a food that at first seems too 
strange to be enjoyed. Some foods will require dozens of 'get 
acquainted' trials.

Other strategies for liking new foods:

- Read about nutrition and health to know the benefits of a 
changed diet.

- Be aware of how much time you spend shopping for food and 
other food related tasks. Would you rather have some of that 
time available for other things? Non-traditional foods can use 
preparation methods that take less time.

- Make a choice about the money you spend for food. Atypical 
foods may be less expensive than traditional and popular food. 
Getting the most bang for the buck can add to the pleasure of 
eating.

- Make a decision to increase the pleasure in your life. Your 
success in developing a fondness for a new food, will 
encourage you to try other kinds of new pleasures.

Have reasons in mind to try unusual foods:

- to be able to enjoy healthy foods.

- to enjoy low-prep-time foods.

- to use what you can grow in your garden.

- for the satisfaction of acquiring new pleasures.

- to increase your enjoyment of eating.

Know why liking new foods is difficult. This is the know-your-
enemy principle. It seems to help me. People have an 
instinctive protection against eating toxic foods. Nature has 
provided you with a mistrust for new, unfamiliar food. If the
food is enough different from what you are used to, it will 
not be immediately liked. This is a necessary instinct that 
keeps you from poisoning yourself by eating the wrong 
mushroom, for example. Evolution along with chemistry
eliminated the gulp-down-anything individuals from our gene 
pool. The little-by-little taste-developers survived.

If it's the sugar, salt and spices you depend upon to enjoy 
food, other flavors will go unappreciated. To help your 
fondness for new foods come easier, ease up on spices, salt, 
and sugar. That encourages your taste to appreciate a greater
variety of flavors. You then can more appreciate the sweetness 
of cherry tomatoes, the sweetness of raw pumpkin, and the 
sweetness of sweet potatoes, for example. You can enjoy the 
mild flavor of raw chestnuts, the richness of nuts, and the 
subtle starchiness of cereal grains. Your palate will be more 
adept at experiencing the pleasures of subtle flavors. A great 
many foods that previously seemed mostly tasteless, can then 
be enjoyed for their unique flavors.

Your enjoyment of stronger tasting food will be helped by 
reducing sugar and salt use. You will be switching from 
depending on saltiness and sweetness to getting pleasure from 
other flavors.

Finding new foods:

- Browse at a health food store, a farmers market or an ethnic 
food festival.

- Browse at local ethnic food markets: Middle Eastern or Greek, 
for example.

- Take the time to look at all the items at a local 
supermarket.