Mar 112013

images (7)It seems that every time our family sit down to eat a meal (particularly our extended family), we all come to the table with a different agenda ~ some don’t eat meat, some love meat, some are trying to eliminate sugar, some want to cut out dairy, others cannot digest wheat ~ it can get challenging for meal planning!

I found it very interesting that the theme for National Nutrition Month March 2013 is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” encouraging personalized healthy eating styles, recognizing that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.

I think the important message here is that each person is on his or her own path to not only enjoying the meal but feeling good about (and when) eating it.  With the wide variety of frozen dinners, dairy-free ice creams, soy meats, etc., it seems that our modern technology has literally taken a lot of us out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, this often means taking away fiber, adding fats, sugar, sodium, fake flavorings ~ the list can go on and on. With our modern emphasis on nutritionally empty, highly processed, and additive-rich foods, it is no wonder that we have epidemics of heart disease, cancer, and degenerative disorders.

No matter what the preference is in one’s eating style, choosing simple real foods such as whole grains, beans, fresh veggies, grass-fed beef, wild salmon and free-range chicken, are definitely better choices for a healthier diet.

I have just recently acquired a wonderful book, The Chopra Center Cookbook, Nourishing Body and Soul by Deepak Chopra, M.D. (“poet-prophet of alternative medicine”), David Simon, M.D. (Medical Director and cofounder of the Chopra Center), and Leanne Backer (Executive Chef of the Chopra Center).

Considered a nutritional guide to renewal, this book features recipes that are served at the world-famous Chopra Center for Well Being, a healing place where people come from all over the world to learn how to nurture and transform their bodies, minds, and souls through nutrition, meditation, and mind-body practice.

It features the world’s most ancient health system, Ayurveda, which recommends that we all partake of the six tastes of life ~ sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent ~ and the recipes in this book are balanced to appeal to all six tastes for the optimal digestion and enjoyment. Although the recipes are vegetarian, quite low-fat yet rich with marvelous spices and herbs to add amazing flavor, the option of adding fresh fish and chicken is available.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and has recently become popular in Western cultures. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies.

I am excited to try these easy-to-make recipes for entrees, soups, stews, quick meals, breakfast dishes, snacks and desserts and learn how to eat in healthy ways so the need for nutrition and the need for enjoyment are both satisfied. I love Ayurveda’s emphasis on helping people live longer, healthier lives. And, yes, I will continue to satisfy all of those special needs that are brought to the table! (minus, of course, fast food, chemicals, food additives, etc.)

March Nutrition Month is a great time to reflect on all of this and perhaps introduce some new dishes to the family!

What about you? Do you eat differently than the rest of your family?

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