eating can be an adventure.txt
Eating Can Be an Adventure - Make It Simple, Healthy,
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
Other strategies for liking new foods:
- Read about nutrition and health to know the benefits of a
- 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
- 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
Finding new foods:
- Browse at a health food store, a farmers market or an ethnic
- Browse at local ethnic food markets: Middle Eastern or Greek,
- Take the time to look at all the items at a local