Day 16 – Eat Stuff You Can Identify

I was browsing around in a bookstore yesterday and noticed again the enormous variety of cookbooks to help you follow “healthy” diets, from Atkins to vegan by way of South Beach, and a whole lot more.  Small wonder that so many of us are confused about what we should be eating.

The surprising thing is that we really do know, deep down.  Most of us don’t obey that little voice 100% of the time, but we are actually aware that chocolate-chip cookies are not breakfast.  Fritos plus a hot dog do not add up to lunch.  A huge onion slashed into sections, with batter applied all over, deep fried and served with a tasty mayo-laced sauce, does not count as a vegetable.

One approach to eating better is to choose foods that don’t need an ingredients list.  For example, consider an apple.  There is no label on the apple that says “Ingredients:  Apple”.  You can tell exactly what it is by just looking.  Try doing that with Pop Tarts.  I bet you can’t even make up words that are as long as some of the ingredients – and I bet you can’t pronounce all of those ingredients either.  Google it and try reading that thing out loud.

What other foods do not need a list of ingredients?  How about chicken?  Chicken is good – if you can tell it’s just chicken.  Chicken nuggets are a very different story.  There is no telling what might be in there, as recent news stories about “pink slime” suggested.

Bread is one of very few exceptions to this suggestion.  Bread is Biblical, which is to say it has been around for thousands of years.  Notice how different that is from either chicken nuggets or Pop Tarts.

There are some great advantages to eating simple foods.  Here’s a big one:  Cooking will become very simple.  Chicken, for example, only needs a little olive oil to keep it from sticking, and some simple seasonings like fresh garlic and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice.  Most veggies are delicious with just a pat of butter on top.  Salmon?  Season it with dill and sauté with a little olive oil.  Wow.  Fresh ingredients, simply prepared, are a beautiful and delicious thing.

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