However, simple isn't always easy and in changing our eating ways we are actually going full circle, finding inspiration in tradition and, ultimately, the seasons. In my reading I have discovered the wise elders of wholefood cooking and their fanatical followers as well as a group of young, stylish homemakers who are making their own mark on kitchens worldwide. There are recipes that take minutes and those that take much forethought, there are conflicting opinions and tried and tested methods for a multitude of stocks, broths and milks. The knowledge out there is plentiful, it's also highly subjective. And so, as I've dog-eared pages and bookmarked blogs I have maintained a strong and straightforward intention - feed my family well (it doesn't need to get complicated).
There are some facts and recipes that have, I suppose, become the foundation of our wholefood journey. Here's what has really resonated with me so far:
- fruit and vegetables are essential in a child's diet but just as important for growth and wellbeing are proteins and good fats. "Saturated fats help to develop the nervous system in the early years, the immune system in the school years and aid with hormonal and sexual development for teenagers," - Jude Blereau, Wholefood for Children (a doorstop of a book but it has sat on my table for months now and I reference it every day). Healthy fats can be found in a variety of food including nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, eggs, milk, coconuts and all animals...
- ...which leads me to stocks and broths. There's good reason behind the saying "chicken soup for the soul" - indeed, it's soul food, heartwarming and equally nourishing and nurturing. Chicken stock has become a staple in our diet and I always have some in the freezer for the 'emergency meal' (it's particularly good in autumn as we aim to strengthen our immune system for the coming winter). I buy a whole organic chicken, pop it in a deep pot with onion, celery, carrot, a few bay leaves, some fresh parsley, thyme and sage, black peppercorns, a good dash of apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover the lot. I bring it to just below boiling point and then simmer for about 7hours (sometimes I roast the chook first, place the carcass with veggies, herbs, vinegar etc in the slow cooker and leave it on for 24hours). Jude Blereau recently wrote a fabulous post about stock as a core ingredient - there's some wonderful info there. Just today, Sarah posted a great article about using the whole chook - the frugavorian way - and Beth looks into the benefits of eating organic chicken.
- for optimum health it's essential to have a healthy digestive system so nurture and support it with whole, unrefined foods, easy-to-digest grains, coconut (oil, milk, cream) and lacto-fermented foods (I adored Vanessa's recent post on the subject). Choose sourdough over yeast bread and indulge in some raw, unrefined honey.
- coconut oil, it's the oil du jour, but gosh it tastes good, can be safely heated and it's so good for you. I use it for everything.
- make fresh juice every day - it's a lovely ritual, a simple pleasure, and regardless of what you put in there, the kids drink it (especially if a fancy straw is involved).
- soups are a constant in the kitchen at the moment, especially a creamy pumpkin, chicken noodle and lemon, lentil & coriander (perfect for autumn or spring)
- for a sweet treat I am besotted with this apple, oat and maple slice (try it straight from the oven with a good dollop of cream)
- wholefood is never pretentious and it's always worthwhile
I think what has been most enlightening and perhaps a little daunting on this journey is the realisation that supermarkets don't sell much in the way of real food. There have been many times over the past few months where I have stood dumbfounded at the checkout; trying hard not to become disillusioned. I remind myself that this food journey is an ever changing and always evolving one; baby steps, baby steps.
Wholefood is not just about eating either - it's about preparing, cooking and storing food, which sparks a whole new set of questions and the exploration of new ideals. What has become apparent as I've come across new recipes is the need for a food processor - and I don't own one. Do I need one? What's your most used kitchen accessory? Where do you get your glass storage jars from (aside from your recycling bin!)? What's your favourite wholefood recipe? Let the conversation begin...
I'm currently reading Seasoned and eagerly anticipating the arrival of Petite Kitchen - it's lovely to find women who are self-publishing their culinary tales. Inspiring!