The idea of eating better always seems to be in the news, generating fad diets and new products that claim to help us lose weight and improve our health. Buzzwords fly around like mosquitoes on a summer evening, irritating people who don't know where to start to make real changes in their lives.
A Healthier Time
There has been a recent flood of movies and books about the benefits of eating plant-based diets. Research seems to agree that limiting animal products in the diet will improve your health in a variety of ways. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the healthiest time in modern history was during the rationing imposed by the government during World War One in the United States and Great Britain.
During wartime rationing, the majority of rationed foods were animal products. Both the British and Americans had unlimited access to fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, but limited access to butter, lard, meat, and cheese. Families grew "victory gardens" to supplement their rations and maintain a frugal budget. It's not feasible to bring back wartime rationing, and many people don't have time to garden today, but there are several things that the modern health-conscious person can do to utilize the wisdom of rationing while cruising the aisles of Whole Foods.
Modern Twists on Traditional Food
There are many convenient options for integrating more plant-based foods into your diet that are reminiscent of wartime rationing but are new to consumers. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are incredibly easy to store, can be eaten dried or rehydrated, and are a favorite snack for children and adults. Snacking on crunchy dried edamame for a protein boost can be just as satisfying as eating jerky or fried potato chips. If you are a coffee lover who can't stomach a black brew, using coconut milk powder is an excellent substitute for dairy milk. The powder can be stored for much longer than a carton of milk and avoids the unhealthy aspects of dairy for those seeking a vegan or vegetarian diet.
In addition to numerous new products that extend the shelf life and portability of plant foods, organic foods are so plentiful in supermarkets that it can be overwhelming. Home cooks during World War One relied on government pamphlets, family traditions, and a couple of trusted cookbooks to help feed their families, Today there is a rich stream of information, tips, and tricks for how to improve the taste and health of your meals from bloggers, vloggers, and television. Many home cooks have excellent ideas for adding healthy twists to your cooking that would have been right at home during wartime rationing!
Juggling Modern Responsibilities and Traditional Food Values
Most of us have to work outside of the home. In today's world, women and men work, share household duties, and help raise children that are involved in many more activities than in generations past. It's the rare and fortunate person who can cook all day, so it's important to work smarter, not harder when it comes to feeding ourselves and our families.
Batch cooking methods require some planning but can make it possible to eat plant based and minimally processed foods without spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Cooking up staples and combining them in different ways all week long will keep your meals interesting, healthy, and quick to prepare. You can even throw the scraps into a stock pot to boil and use the liquid to vastly improve the taste of next week's rice, grains, or beans.
With so many responsibilities on our plates, it's important to use history's lessons combined with today’s modern conveniences to simplify our hectic lives, reduce stress and eat real food.