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Eliminating Single Use Plastics From Your Kitchen


 
Sometimes I come across articles that are so well written I don’t see any point in rewriting them myself.

Such is the case with How To Tackle The Single-Use Plastic Crisis in Your Kitchen which appeared in the Serious Eats blog this week.

With all the take-out food from the pandemic, the use of single-use plastics is at an all-time high, with corresponding environmental consequences.

This post thoroughly explains the issue and helps you figure out how you can reduce your use of single-use plastics.

My best advice on the subject, of course, is to prepare all your meals at home from ingredients purchased at the farmer’s market or and carried home in a reusable basket, or grown in your own backyard. No plastic involved.
 

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The Lifecycle of a Food Product


 
When we are evaluating food products, the first thing we need to consider is that we only see one aspect of the whole food—we see it when it’s sitting on a plate or in a bowl, all beautifully prepare to delight our senses. But this is just one facet of the whole lifecycle of the food, from the seed that takes form to the decomposition back into the Earth.

I’ve written about lifecycle at length at LIFELY: The Lifecycle of a Product so there is no need to repeat that here. Please go read it there. It even contains a comparison of the lifecycle of an industrial salad kit versus a fresh homemade salad. You’ll really see the difference once you know about product lifecycle.
 

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Festive Fruit Instead of Birthday Cake


 
Over the weekend, one of Larry’s sisters came over to bring Larry a gift.

She said, “I would have brough chocolate cake, but I thought you would prefer fruit!” And she handed him a tray of an assortment of fruits, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Well, in fact, as much as we love chocolate cake, we really appreciated that she brought us fruit that would support our dietary choices instead of hinder our goals.

This reminded me of Edible Arrangements, which I have known about for years but never pursued. I had an idea that I might want an edible arrangement for my birthday, so I looked them up. It’s too commercial for me. Not organic. And instead of being just fruit there are all types of goodies mixed it.
 

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So-Called Natural Sweeteners That Are Not-So-Natural


 
I was just about to send out my newsletter with the post Maple Syrup and Sugar: The Sweetener of Spring when I received an email promoting an article about sugar alternatives that “won’t poison you.”

I had to click through, of course and find out what these “sugar alternatives” were.

They turned out to be
1. xylitol
2. stevia
3. raw honey
4. molasses

These were presented in the article as “natural solutions.”

But are these sweeteners actually as they occur in nature? Are they whole foods?
 

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Eating Whole While Moving to a New Home


 
Last week I didn’t do much cooking because Larry and I were moving to our new home! You can read all about the move at LIFELY: Our New Home. Basically we moved out of our bedroom where we had been living in Larry’s Mom’s house into our tiny-house-under-construction and a storage room, about 100 feet away. So no moving truck, but a lot of walking and carrying.

Larry and I moved everything ourselves so it actually took five days. It took a lot of time and walking back and forth between the main house and the storage room in another building.

Fortunately, my office and kitchen were not being moved so we could still eat. But I just didn’t have the time or energy or attention to prepare all three meals as I usually do.

But we did do pretty well with our wholefood eating.
 

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Some Problems With Organic Food + The Best Way to Eat Organic

I was all ready to write the second part of this post when I got an email about something else regarding organic food that I had to share with you.

When Organic Foods Are Tainted With Toxic Chemicals

Last week The New York Times published the article [Annie’s Pledges to Purge a Class of Chemicals From Its Mac and Cheese]=https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/19/business/annies-mac-cheese-plastic-phthalates.html with the lead “The move comes nearly four years after a study showed that chemicals believed to cause health problems in children and reproductive issues in adults were found in mass-market macaroni and cheese packets.”

This begs the question: Why is it taking Annie’s four years to remove chemicals that cause health problems in children from their kid-oriented products?

And why were these chemicals in these organic products to begin with?

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A Tale of Two Christmas Dinners: Industrial v Homemade

Larry and I live in rather unusual circumstances.

We live with his mom, who is now almost 90 years old and two of his siblings who take care of her. Before we came to live with them three years ago, these three had a ongoing household that also included Larry’s father. When he died in 2017, many things changed, but their household continued on as before in the way the lived and the food they ate. Remarkably Larry’s mom at age 89 is quite healthy—while she has memory problems she has none of the modern industrial diseases of the body. She walks up and back a long driveway every morning to get the paper and every afternoon to get the mail.

They have their ways of doing things and Larry and I have our ways and they aren’t the same. But we all allow each other to “whatever works” as Mom says.

This year what happened for Christmas dinner was that two other siblings who don’t live here decided to send those of us who do live here a preprepared Christmas Dinner from Whole Foods. Because of covid restrictions, we didn’t have a family Christmas as we have had in years past. I was told this dinner was arriving on Wednesday. But generally, I make a Christmas dinner and I still wanted to make it.

Larry and I decided what we wanted for Christmas Dinner and purchased the ingredients.

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Winter Solstice—Celebrating the Return of the Sun, the Source of Our Food Supply

Today is Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Tomorrow morning when the sun rises it will be the first day that the days become longer. Tomorrow is only a few seconds longer here where I live, but as the days become longer and longer, eventually, six months from now on the Summer Solstice, the days will be hours longer.

The importance of this is that all food on the planet required the sun to exist.

We don’t think of this much in our today’s world where we have a constant supply of food from the supermarket, but in times past when there were no supermarkets and no farming, humans obtained their food from their local ecosystems. So they were eating seasonal plants and animals.
 

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Making a Mise En Place

Mise en place is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it. But there are just some recipes—such as Turkey Tikka Masala that just require mise en place because of the speed or complexity of preparation.

Mise en place (or “mise” for short) is a French culinary term that means “to put in place” or “everything in it’s place.’

It is a procedure generally used in professional kitchens that preps and organizes the ingredients a cook will require to make the menu items that are expected to be prepared during that shift.

A professional cook works very quickly. He or she cannot stop and chop the onions, for example. So mise lays out all the prepped ingredients in an organized way (prepped and measured and in order) to the actual assembly and cooking of the dish is as efficient as possible.

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Protected Designation of Origin

Sometimes I just run into interesting things while I am looking for other things, and this is one of them.

This is actually a European Union product certification that we don’t have here in the USA, but I think we should have it in the future

In Europe there is a tradition—that we don’t yet have here—of identifying foods by the name of the region from which they come…

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Whole Fish: My Extraordinary Experience Eating Directly From the Ecosystem

 

Since the latest fire had been filling our air with unhealthy levels of air pollution (ashes were falling like snow) on 28 September Larry and I went to stay with a friend of a friend (who is now our friend, too) way up in Northern California right on the Pacific Ocean. We were so close to the water that we could hear the fluctuation of waves as they varied from gentle to strong throughout the day and night.

Joseph, our host, is a fisherman, so when he offered me fish for dinner and I politely declined, he said, “Do you not like fish because it tastes fishy?”

When I said yes, he said, “The reason it tastes fishy is because if you eat commercial fish, by the time it gets to the supermarket it’s about a week old. Fresh-caught fish doesn’t taste fishy.

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Food as a Continuum of Life + Saying Grace


 
This is one of a few posts where I need to explain how the system of Life works because it is very different from how the industrial food system works. As different from what you are accustomed to as this may sound, it is what is happening in Life. Because most people are not aware of this and haven’t been throughout much of history, various viewpoints and practices have come about that are not aligned.

A continuum is is a coherent, continuous whole where there is a progression of parts that are each necessary for the whole to exist.

Each food that we eat is part of the continuum of food on the Earth.

You may have seen or been taught the food chain shown as on the left below, with plants on the bottom, then animals, then man at the top. But this is incorrect. It’s more like the diagram on the right, where all the plants and animals and man are in a circle going around and around.
 

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Eating Apples Off the Tree


 
I arrived in Sonoma County, California, on 27 September 2017.

I had just driven across the country from Florida in a rented moving truck, a week after Hurricane Irma blew right over my house.

Ten days later the massive Sonoma county fires broke out only 10 miles away.

It was a time of change for me if there ever was one.

I didn’t choose to come to Sonoma County. Larry brought me. I needed to be with Larry and Larry needed to be here for various reasons, so I sold my house in Florida and moved back home to California after 15 years away. I now live with Larry and his mom and two of his siblings—a brother and a sister—in their house instead of my own (and we are all still here three years later).

During that week of ravaging fires, when we were watching television all day and keeping the sprinklers going on the house (because nobody knew where the fire would go next), one morning I came to the breakfast table and there were apples.
 

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What Happened When I Stopped Preparing My Own Food While Recovering From a Broken Kneecap


 
Since 19 July, I have been in bed with a broken kneecap, my left leg in a brace like the one pictured above. I tripped and fell, actually in a restaurant, of all places.

I have only just been out of bed for about ten days now. My bone is healed so now it’s time for physical therapy to strengthen my leg muscles so I can walk again. I can stand and walk a bit, though my legs are wobbly, like a newborn calf. But I can, finally, stand long enough to prepare simple foods. I can chop potatoes, and shell beans, and make a salad. Nothing complicated, but I can again begin to prepare my own food.

Over the past two months, Larry has been preparing all the food for us, and I’ve learned a few things…
 

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My New Wolf Professional Chef Kitchen Range

Since starting Wholefood Cuisine, I’ve really been feeling like I need more than one induction burner and a toaster oven that cannot be used at the same time.

Larry and I agreed it was time to get a stove that would eventually end up in our tiny house, but that I could use now.

What we needed was what is called an “apartment stove” which is 24” or less. At the same time, it needed to be big enough for my half-sheet baking pan, which I used to use a lot when I had an actual oven.

We went and looked at new stoves that were the right size, but I didn’t like any of them.

Then all of a sudden I remembered seeing a small Wolf stove many years ago.
 

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Under-the-Radar Tips for How to Reduce Food Waste at Home


 
Occasionally I find articles so good and to the point, I just want to share them with you as they are.

This article interviews a hotel chef in South Africa who is dedicated to understanding and using ALL parts of plant and animal ingredients.

I love this the above photo that shows all the edible parts of cauliflower that can be used.

In their kitchen they keep all trimmings on the working surface instead of throwing them away so they can see them and make use of them in creative ways.
 

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The Whole Ripeness of Fruit

I have a memory from very early childhood of my grandfather taking me out into his backyard and lifting me up into the peach tree—right next to a perfectly ripe peach—so I could pick a peach myself. We brought the peach into the house, where my grandmother peeled it and sliced it into a bowl and covered it with white sugar and evaporated milk from a can. Though I have eaten many peaches since, and even many more peaches from that tree, I will never forget that peach, warm and ripe, right off the tree.
I have another memory of a time as an adult when I decided I wanted to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less industrial food. I went to the supermarket and chose various items from the produce department and brought them home. They tasted so terrible I went back to eating processed food.

Over time, I’ve learned where to buy the best organic produce that tastes wonderful, and to grow fruits and vegetables myself in my garden, but recently I learned something about the ripeness of fruit that I want to share with you.

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The Deep Joy of Cooking


It’s 5:32 am.

I am up and here in my tiny kitchen that is just a few steps from my office. It’s just before sunrise when the light is just starting to make everything visible. I hear the birds singing and the rooster crowing, the whir of the induction burner, and the steam escaping every few seconds as the beans cook—the heirloom beans from a local organic farm. I remember going to the farm and buying the beans there and talking with the farmer. I smile.

Since I started my Wholefood Cuisine blog, I’ve made a commitment to living with food on a deeper level. In fact, I started the blog for just that purpose—as a structure that would support me in making changes in my life around food that I hadn’t yet made. I figured that if I worked out my intention around food, announced it, and had a place to write about how I was exploring the subject and living it in my daily life that I would be more organized about doing it.

I was right.

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What Larry and I Ate to Celebrate My 65th Birthday, and How We Recovered From This Over Indulgence

Last Thursday was my 65th birthday.

After three months of sheltering-in-place we suddenly found that restaurants and hotels and shops were open and kind of went crazy. We looked online for a nearby hotel and found one in Yountville, a small town in the famous Napa Valley where some of the best wines in the world are produced, and which also has some of the best food in the world.

Even though we are both committed to eating wholefoods and in the midst of [a month-long challenge to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Rice Diet , we made a conscious decision to let that go for two days and enjoy the culinary experience of the place.

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The Food We Were Born To Eat


 
Wholefood Cuisine is about eating wholefoods , which applies to both plants and animals.

But within that larger picture, there is a subset of how we eat those wholefoods composed in a diet.

After years of eating paleo at my doctors’ insistence, my left eye went blind and I switched to a starch-based diet.

In the video above and the more lengthy transcript below, Dr. John McDougall tells why a starch-based diet is the diet humans were born to eat and how he came to discover this.

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Going Beyond Trying To Make Industrial Foods Out of So-Called “Good” Ingredients

I just received a recipe in my email that I had to tell you about because it’s such a beautiful example of what I’m NOT doing on this blog.

I’m on a lot of mailing lists for food blogs just to see what’s going on in the world of food—particularly if they claim to be healthy—and also to get ideas for flavor combinations I can use in my wholefood cuisine.

This recipe is from Meghan Telpner. I’m not trying to pick on Meghan. She’s a blogger who has made more than a million dollars selling her concept of natural, nutritious foods. I’m just using this as an example because it’s the recipe that prompted me to write this post. But many other so-called “healthy” bloggers are doing the same thing. And so is the natural food industry.

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Why We Need to Eat Whole Food That is Really Whole


 
I just received a recipe in my email that I had to tell you about because it’s such a beautiful example of what I’m NOT doing on this blog.

I’m on a lot of mailing lists for food blogs just to see what’s going on in the world of food—particularly if they claim to be healthy—and also to get ideas for flavor combinations I can use in my wholefood cuisine.

This recipe is from Meghan Telpner. I’m not trying to pick on Meghan. She’s a blogger who has made more than a million dollars selling her concept of natural, nutritious foods. I’m just using this as an example because it’s the recipe that prompted me to write this post. But many other so-called “healthy” bloggers are doing the same thing. And so is the natural food industry.

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Eating At the Table

I’ve been taking an online masterclass with Alice Waters at Masterclass.com, and the last lesson was “Coming Back to the Table.”

It’s all about eating around a table with family or friends—slowly—having time to savor the food and each other. Deep conversation. Getting to know each other.

I cried because I want this and don’t have much of it.

I was born in 1955 where the icon of “dinner was a family sitting around the television, each one with their own separate foldable “tv table” with a “tv dinner” on it (if you’ve never had one it’s a frozen dinner that comes in an aluminum tray with sections that have a meat, a vegetable, mashed potatoes, and sometimes a dessert or condiment like cranberry sauce).

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Love the Earth and All the Food

While I was having my teeth cleaned recently, I suddenly thought about loving my teeth.

I remembered a passage from the book The Road Less Traveled about love being “effortful” like a teenage boy with his first car spends all his time polishing it and taking care of it. At the time I first read this I thought of it in terms of relationships, but that day my thought was to love my teeth and care for them with that intensity. Brush my teeth wanting them to sparkle and shine and be healthy.

I had the thought to acknowledge my teeth and my body are THERE by loving them and giving them ATTENTION.

And to love every part of my body and my body as a whole.
 

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Crispy Mushroom Chips

While reorganizing the kitchen today, Larry and I came across a number of jars and glass containers filled with dehydrated mushrooms. We had made them months ago and then after eating a lot of them, we just went on to other foods and forgot about these.
Finding them anew reminded us how much we love “crispy mushroom chips”.

I first learned about these years ago from a blog about cooking real food.

I made them as soon as I could go buy mushrooms.

I couldn’t stop eating them. Really. Because they are wholefoods and very nutritious. You can eat your fill with no ill effects. And you can put any herbs and spices and flavorings that you want on them and they will taste like industrial chips, only better.
 

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Red Potato Salad With Scarlet Runner Beans & Chive Blossoms

This is an example of how I approach the creation of a dish.

It all started with some beautiful red potatoes on the discount cart at my local produce stand. They were so alive that each one gave me a burst of the aroma of potato when I cut into it and then filled the room with potato as they cooked.

These were small potatoes that I could easily hold in the palm of my hand, so I cut them in eight pieces so each piece would be bite-size.
 

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Cleaning Out Your Kitchen to Make More Space for New Food

Now that I am actually writing and publishing Wholefood Cuisine instead of thinking about it, I decided I needed to reorganize my kitchen to really make it efficient for preparing wholefood cuisine.

I’ve been preparing food in this space for about two-and-a-half-years and I found there were things in the space that didn’t need to be here. Like a manual spiralizer I had purchased just before we moved here and have never used. As fun as it is to eat zucchini noodles, part of my ethic now about food is to really keep it simple and have a prepared dish be an expression of the food I am preparing, rather than using the ingredient as raw material forced to look and/or taste like something else. So the spiralizer is in the box that is going to the Goodwill.
 

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Wholefood Half-Kitchen

I want to show you the kitchen I am preparing food in so you can see that a big kitchen is not required to prepare wholefood cuisine.

This is actually the tiniest kitchen I’ve ever had, but it has all the essentials I need.

I call it Wholefood Half-Kitchen just to be clever with words.

It’s a kitchenette Larry built in the corner of my office. We live with his 88-year-old mother and two siblings. While I do have access to the family kitchen, it’s pretty chaotic for a family of five adults, and I wanted my own space to prepare food, so Larry built this tiny kitchen for me.
 

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What I Eat and Why

What I’m eating while I’m working on this post.

Here’s what I’m, eating right this minute: incredibly amazing cold whole brown rice grown right here in California (I’ll tell you more about this soon), with whole spring onions, a bit of soy sauce, coco aminos and toasted sesame oil, and first organic heirloom cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers on the side. It’s so delicious! Took me about five minutes to assemble. I keep this rice cooked in the refrigerator at all times. There are always vegetables, both raw and cooked on hand, and various ingredients for a sprinkle or a sauce. So lunch takes practically no time at all. I build this meal right in a beautiful handmade bowl and eat it with a beautiful fork. Right here is the essence of how I eat. Simple, delicious, local, seasonal, organic, beautiful…
 

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How I Cook

First, you should know I love to cook and I have been cooking since I was six years old. In 2021 that will be sixty years. So I know a few things about cooking.

I used to cook a lot of different kinds of food, but now in the past three years, I have narrowed it down to only the foods I love to eat most and are best for my body.

I have a very tiny kitchen so I use only a few pots and pans and no longer have all the machines that used to fill my kitchen.

I want everything to be simple, simple, simple.
 

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