The New Normal


One of my biggest inspirations for focusing on food has been my son. He is like a dream child when it comes to eating. Ask him what he want’s for dinner and his response is likely to be fruit and raw vegetables. He has, however for some time, complained of stomach aches. So recently, after a visit to the doctor, he has decided to try and go gluten free. We had tried this once before, but with little success because his dad was not on board with the idea. He gave it a whole two weeks before deciding that he needed to “eat like a normal boy”.

This is a difficulty with almost any diet that you embark on – how to eat like a ‘normal’ person. But normal really depends on your perspective. The normal American diet is a very wheat-heavy one. If  we were, for instance, in Asia, he would have little problems eating like a ‘normal’ person. I’ve heard many critics tell me that ‘gluten free’ is just a fad. However, I would disagree, we have been essentially gluten-free for most of our evolutionary history. In fact, never before has any diet been so laden with wheat and wheat products as the standard American diet. Perhaps we should drop the label Gluten-Free and  simply call it Wheat Overload Intolerance.

Often dietary ‘preferences’ aren’t just about what you really dislike, they are about what you have been trained to like. The mistake many people make is trying to change the way they make ‘normal’ meals in order to accommodate their diet, however many times it ends up being less healthy and less sustainable than changing your dietary preferences.

When I tried to look up gluten-free recipes for kids, I found tons of articles about how to revise the standard American cuisine, but very little else. There are all sorts of blogs and websites tell you how to “hide” vegetables in your children’s food. If you subscribe to this “healthy eating” method then shame on you. You are not teaching your kids how to eat properly and they will take this lesson with them into adulthood. I also found lots of crap about why going gluten-free might be bad for you. Every single one of the articles I looked at  discussed replacing regular bread with  gluten-free alternatives and not much else. They also tended to lump in a lot of grains that aren’t really found in the American diet and ignored many that are readily available and easy to make.

Finally, there was little discussion about the difference between Gluten Intolerance and Ceilac Disease. The difference is most easily conceptualized if you think of them as similar in function and outcome to Type I (Ceilac Disease) and Type II (gluten intolerance) diabetes. People with full-blown Ceilac Disease have an actually allergy to the gluten protein and need to avoid it in all of it’s forms, including in toothpaste and hair products. People who are gluten intolerant simply don’t have the proper enzymes to digest so much gluten well.

To my mind, it doesn’t take a doctor or a genius to figure out why there is a rise in gluten intolerance. It is for the same reason there is a rise in Type II Diabetes – because eating crap has become the new normal.

Roasted Vegetables: Butternut Squash, Carrot, Beets, Cranberries

My son loves cooking and one of the easiest things to let him make mostly on his own is roasted veggies. I bought him a kid-friendly knife and some cooking mitts and turned him loose in the kitchen. If an 8 year old can make this, so can you.

butternut-sunset-280x220

1 large butternut squash (2 1/2 – 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (you can often get it pre-cut and peeled)
3 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced (1/4 inch slice)
2 small beets, peeled and diced (1/2 inch dice or less)
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup orange or tangerine juice
1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup Shiro Miso
1 tsp orange or tangerine zest
1 green onion, diagonally sliced, OR 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F.
Put the squash carrots, beets, cranberries, olive oil and salt in a large bowl and toss well to coat the vegetables
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 inch rimmed baking dish
Bake for 15 minutes
Meanwhile combine the orange juice, maple syrup, miso and orange zest in a small bowl and whisk until smooth
Remove the vegetables from the oven and pour the orange juice mixture over them
Bake another 15 – 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender
Spoon the vegetables into a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the green onion slices or parsley if desired

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