It's easy to ignore where your food comes from, what it's made of, how the people who grow or produce it are treated, and how it affects your health.
It's easier to ignore the list of infinite ingredients on a nutrition label than to look up what each one is. It's more convenient to stop by the grocery store on your way home from work to pick up a box of Kellogs, Post, or Kashi (they're all about the same, anyways) than to make your own granola. Too tired? Take out is a quick option.
During the five plus months that I've been back in the States, I've dove deep into learning about where our food comes from, how it's processed, and how it affects us. And I think it's our fundamental right and obligation to know these things.
October Unprocessed made me think even more about these things. In the first week, my mom and I decided to drop sugar and processed sweeteners pretty much altogether. We've mostly been using local honey and maple syrup ever since. We felt more rooted in our opinion that eating healthy isn't buying the "light" yogurt (that compensates its lack of fat with a sweeter flavor, mainly imparted by HFCS). We realized that it doesn't have to be complicated, or difficult. Not the decisions we are making, nor the food we are cooking at home.
There are a few simple underlying facts:
1. The more natural, the better. Eat wholesome, unprocessed foods. If it has a label, ingredients that you normally wouldn't find in your kitchen, and is wrapped in plastic, chances are it's processed.
2. This is pretty deep if you understand it: government subsidies (think corn & soy) = corn syrup = obesity (and other diseases heavily influenced by the Western diet) = pharmaceutical companies benefit. That's how simple it is. We have to do our own research on our food system, because the information provided to us by our government is limited due to political interests. It's true: Big Ag makes Wall Street look like nickels and dimes.
3. "You can pay the farmer or you can pay the doctor." Buy local, spend those extra few dollars for good quality, wholesome food. Cook at home with family and friends. It needn't be complicated. What it comes down to is this: local food tastes better and is more nutritious because it was harvested yesterday, not a few months ago and then stored in a warehouse months before being transported 1500 miles, negatively impacting flavor and healthfulness. When we buy local, we support our farmers and local economy, know how our food is grown, and are not harming the environment as much. While eating organic is important, who wants to eat a plastic -wrapped organic zucchini that is out of season, came from California (2000 miles away), and was grown much like conventional zucchini?
Although in October we had our "slips," the most important issue is that we took away so much. We have left sugar mostly behind, we are regularly making our own crackers, cereal, snacks, etc. on top of the meals we make at home. They're delicious and nutritious. Good for the environment, the farmers, and ourselves. We think that's pretty great.
Rosemary walnut crackers with sea salt [gluten-free]
Inspired by Adrienneats
Makes 20-40 crackers, depending on size
½ cup walnuts
1 cup almond flour (recipe below)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (I'm sure between ¼ and ½ tsp of dried rosemary would work fine)
½ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center.
Chop the walnuts very finely by hand or in the food processor. Add them to a mixing bowl along with the almond flour, rosemary, and salt. Whisk well to combine the ingredients. Add the buttermilk slowly and use a fork to incorporate. You want a dough that sticks together but isn't too wet. Form into a ball using slightly dampened hands.
Cut two pieces of parchment; lay one on the counter. Place the dough ball on top and flatten into a rectangle. Place the other sheet of parchment on top of the dough rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll pretty thin (think typical Wheat Thins), rotating the parchment/ dough as you go to roll evenly. When the dough is thinly rolled, remove top sheet of parchment and, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the crackers into desired size/ shape. Leave in place on the parchment paper.
Move the crackers on the parchment paper to a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until crispy. Let cool on the baking sheet to make them even crispier.
How to make almond flour
To make about 1 cup of flour, you will need…
Generous ¾ cup almonds (unsalted)
2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour (I used all-purpose gluten free flour)
Add the almonds and the flour to the bowl of your food processor. Press the "on" button and let whirl until the almonds are very fine. If it looks like they are turning into butter instead of flour (you don't want that to happen!), add a little more flour. The flour should be fine enough that you do not see any chunks of nuts, and kind of like sand.