Friday, January 1, 2010

An Inspiration, Not an Exact Definition

Since it is actually January 1st – how the hell did that happen? – we have been forced to solidify our guidelines for 2010. There is much debate over terms such as “processed,” “natural,” “organic,” “wholesome,” etc. In this post, we are not attempting to universally define these words. What we sought were working parameters for our diet in the year 2010 and hopefully beyond. Our resources are not unlimited, and neither is our time – and we understand that our readers are limited by similar constraints. The goals of this project are to have fun, be healthy, and open both your minds and ours to a new way of thinking about nourishing our bodies. So, while you may define processing of food as shipping, washing, handling etc, we have not taken our ideas to such an extreme. We know that you might argue that items such as milled flour should not be a part of our “unprocessed” diet, but our intent is to keep the project accessible to everyone. If our guidelines and recipes are so far detached from mainstream American life, and our readers are therefore not inspired to replicate them at home, we have lost sight of the main goal.

We will, of course, be eating a form of processed foods. If I brine a batch of pickles, I have indeed processed the cucumbers. However, I have taken control of where my food came from and what went into it. I control the process. I know what I am eating.

In addition, we have only partially –not completely – lost our minds. We do reside in one of the best “food cities” in America. To suggest that we will not eat in a restaurant for the duration of 2010, is insane. So, we have built in an exception to the rules. Each week, we will permit ourselves one meal consumed in a restaurant. When we dine out, we will, however, choose items that we believe fit best within our parameters.

-Have fun!
-Challenge ourselves to think outside the proverbial box
-Teach friends and family how to make simple changes that benefit their health
-Lose weight
-Be properly nourished
-Maintain healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels
-Prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Not Allowed:
-commercially canned food
-boxed food
-commercially frozen food (although exceptions may be made for peas, lima beans, and soy beans)
-commercially produced condiments such as: ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, mayo, etc
-anything containing HFCS or just plain old corn syrup
-hydrogenated or trans fats
-anything with preservatives or additives (especially those that cannot be pronounced by a lay person)
-anything prepared outside of the home including (but not limited to): bread, cookies, chips, pasta, soup, candy, crackers, juice, pickles
-fast food
-soda and other bottled non-alcoholic beverages
-industrial cheeses such as cream cheese, kraft etc
-commercially ground meat
-commercially smoked or cured fish and meat -- including deli meats
-anything containing nitrates
-commercially cultured non-cheese dairy products such as: yogurt, sour cream etc
-pre-portioned and shrink wrapped meat (we will purchase larger cuts and trim/portion them ourselves)
-spice mixes such as chili powder, curry powder, etc
-artificial sweeteners

To Be Used With Discretion:
-processed and refined sugars (other than honey and maple syrup which we have deemed “in” for now)
-white flour, corn flour and/or starch, rice flour

Seemingly Questionable But Still Allowed (At Least For Now):
-beer (is homebrew in our future?)
-vinegar (until we can find a mother and cultivate it)
-plain olive oil and canola oil
-unflavored sparkling water (although we plan to purchase the machine which carbonates tap water)
-coffee & tea

What We Will Try To Eat More of:
-whole grain and whole grain meals
-fresh fruits and veggies
-whole fish or large sides
-sustainable shellfish (in the shell, whole)
-home-fermented foods high in pro-biotics such as pickles and yogurts
-whole birds
-buffalo or grass-fed meat (as opposed to corn fed beef or pork)
-foraged, local foods

Finally, we knew the January 1st deadline was coming. Yet, we didn’t anticipate just how quickly it would sneak up on us. What we have listed here is a beginning. As the year evolves, our guidelines will too. We hope that we have piqued your interest, and we look forward to hearing your opinions and thoughts on our project, our recipes, and how to make this blog a better resource for your health.

Until next time, Bon Appetit.

Pictured above is our lunch of Dungeness crabs (rated Best Choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium) hosted by Ben's boss on a houseboat in Saulsalito -- one heck of a way to welcome the new year!


  1. good luck, sounds like you have some really interesting ideas and i will be trying to incorporate as many of them as i can in my own cooking this year! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  2. If you haven't already done so, I recommend you read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". She went on a similar quest, and her book gives a lot of tips and insights on making this feasible. And to keep yourself motivated, try "Food, Inc."

    Also, I notice that your restrictions on meat are only based on what the meat has been feed (grass-fed vs. corn-fed). Are you also focusing on how the animals were kept (cage free, pasture-raised, humanely treated, organic)?

  3. Thanks, mom! You should probably send me those Barbara Kingsolver books now...better find time to read them in the new year! Annika's right!

    Annika - just watched Food, Inc. Great flick to reinforce the idea that we are on the right track.

    As for meat, the answer is yes. We will seek out "natural", "organic", "cage-free" etc. The criteria you suggest has long been a part of our diets. I am very sketched out by factory-farmed or commodities meat. I will elaborate more on what we end up choosing as it comes up in recipes.

    Thanks for all of your great ideas!

  4. i look forward to a post on how to make yogurt. i've always wanted to try, and i only like it "greek style" (i.e., thick and not slimy).

  5. we should be making yogurt this week! since i agree with you 100% on style, we will be straining ours in cheese cloth after it ferments. no slimy yogurt here!

  6. Hey what's your take on stevia and agave nectar as substitutes for sugar in recipes or just part of the diet?

    Tyson and I are avoiding (as much as possible) HFCS as well. He read Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food and it's changed his outlook enough. Have yet to see Food Inc. Looks very Revelations-ish foodwise.

  7. i have yet to form an opinion on stevia -- although, i just read an article in Self magazine claiming that stevia is one of the year's top hot foods.

    i just started baking with agave nectar. i made a cake for my father-in-law's birthday with agave (see pics on facebook)...i am pro agave since it is lower on the glycemic index and therefore better for diabetics. both are recommended by Terry Walters in Clean Food as minimally processed sweeteners.

    so happy that you and tyson are avoiding's to healthier Ong Tunes in 2010!