Thursday, December 08, 2005

After 30 years, the perfect diet

Thirty years ago I sat through a semester of Nutrition 101 while attending American River Community College—I still have and use the text book, Better Homes And Gardens: The Family Guide To Better Food and Better Health by Ronald M. Deutsch. Thus began a life long pursuit of finding the perfect diet.

Although Nutrition 101 was an elective class, I did have a particular interest in things organic and healthy and I already was a "Captain Carrot," or known today as just Cary Nosler, radio show fan...

That class unexpectedly opened up to me a view of the "traditional American diet" that would never fade away.

I started my adult life in the late 60s and early 70s when many of my generations neo-cultural, mind-expanding "boomers" were beginning the process of transforming their lives to accommodate jobs, "the draft" and family. Influenced and guided1 by a friend named Sue, my wife at that time made homemade whole grain bread every other day, prepared dishes of only unprocessed ingredients and left the fat out as much as possible. I grew a large organic garden and picked the fruits of our abundant apple trees and grape vines to provide for us and our burgeoning son.

As I moved on with my life, some things were left behind and others would stay with me forever. I gave up on the organic gardening; but the diet became an never-ending, vital part of each lifestyle along the way, revisited and revised with each new discovery. Now after 30 years of remodeling, over and over, that cornucopia of natural delights that I call a my shopping list, I think I've found the "perfect diet."

Obviously, the perfect diet is an individual pursuit, you have your own goals and requirements. For me, it's a teetering balance of the latest discoveries in healthy eating and nutrition, foods that are easily available and cost-effective, and cooking that is extremely easy, low-impact, with little clean-up.

So... here it is! This is the shopping list and some rudimentary recipe's that I have grown to love more than anything I've ever eaten in restaurants from Seattle, WA to Key West, FL. I eat when I want, but no more than three times a day, and usually no more than one serving of each item per day:

Vegetables:

Spinach (dressed with Balsamic vinegar and canola oil or steamed), tomatoes, carrots, cabbage or broccoli (1-2 purchases each week, rotated through the month to minimize spoilage of those large Costco bags), V8® juice

Fruits:

Apples, oranges, grapes, peaches and melons (1 purchase each week, wash well before storing)

Grains:

Popcorn (plain, whole kernel, no added oils, popped in a microwave bowl popper), brown rice, barleycorn, oat meal and flax seed, whole grain crackers (no trans fats), sourdough bread (once in a great while as a treat)

Legumes:

Mix of dry, red and pinto beans (or any other mix of dry beans), garbanzo beans, shelled mixed nuts, peanut butter, dry split peas

Meats:

Seldom and only organic, free-range, humanely managed beef, foul or fish (low-mercury-content types)

Prepared foods:

CedarLane® Organic Bean, Rice and Cheese-style (soy cheese) Burritos, Clif Bars®, Kashi® Chewy Granola Bars, Hershey® Simi-Sweet Chocolate (or any semi-sweet chocolate, but not milk chocolate) Chips

Recipes:

Vegetable and Bean Soup (proportional amount of mixed beans, brown rice and barleycorn, 2 regular sized cans of cut tomatoes, 1 small can of canned mushrooms, several large handfuls of broccoli florets, mini carrots, powdered garlic: health wise better than fresh, Italian seasoning, whole ground pepper, crushed red pepper, salt if you want it, no added fat or oils)

Broccoli and Tomatoes (stir-fried and then steamed, small amount of canola oil, broccoli florets, 1 regular sized can of cut tomatoes, 1 small can of canned mushrooms, dry diced onions, powdered garlic: health wise better than fresh, Italian seasoning, whole ground pepper, crushed red pepper, salt if you want it)

In proportion and at will, that is the key!

1 It should be noted that my Mom, Dad and grandparents—who were good, healthy cooks, but from previous generations—also had a positive influence on my developing and present "perfect diet."