I had a conversation with a friend the other day with regards to having time to cook, preparing meals, and ‘gluten free’ options. So decided to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to set some of my philosophy down.
I can get a meal on the table in 15 minutes and I don’t own a microwave. Yes, a lot of that is due to the fact that my cupboard is well stocked with essentials. I also don’t own a tv so rarely waste a night watching crap on the television. Sure, we’ll watch stuff on the computer, but it’s shows that we choose to watch, as opposed to just watching something ‘because it’s on’. Anyway. I digress. My point is, it doesn’t take long to serve up healthy, nutritious meals. It’s also not expensive.
Let me explain.
Time to Cook:
We usually do a supermarket shop on the weekend and then occasionally I will pop out during the week for fresh veg or meat. But I always make sure to have on hand basics for those (not as rare as they should be) occasions when I’ve forgotten to get something out of the freezer or whatever. This is usually in the form of canned or jar’d stuff: tuna, green beans, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, red cabbage, etc. These are my backups. And they are only used as backups. I spend a few minutes a day trawling the internet or my cookbooks coming up with a couple of dishes I want to prepare that week. One of my favourite things to do is type into google something like “recipe slow cooker pork chunks apples” or whatever and get some ideas for whatever is in the fridge at any given point.
Gluten free Options:
If someone suffers from celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) and they show up at your house, do you panic? Do you think ‘OH MY GOD. I DON’T HAVE ANY GLUTEN FREE PASTA!’ Stop it. Just because they sell ‘gluten free’ pasta in the supermarkets (at silly prices) and gluten free crackers and cookies in the health food store, do you have to buy it? No. You know what else is gluten free? Vegetables. Yes! Really! You need some gluten free crackers to serve with paté or dip? Chop up a red or yellow bell pepper. You want to serve spaghetti with meat sauce? Use a vegetable peeler and slice a courgette lengthways.
I mean, seriously. A recovered alcoholic comes to your house, do you panic because you don’t have any alcohol free beer to give then? No. You offer them a soft drink. Or water. Think about it. Stop trying to fill in the gaps of your diet with replicas.
Trick or Treat?
Which brings me to my next rant… treats. The internet is full of fantastic recipes that are gluten-free, low carb, paleo friendly treats. I’m guilty of this – I’ve created a few dessert recipes. I like to think that I’m not trying to copy some sugar-filled sweetie with a paleo version of the same. Just because you use maple syrup, does not make it any healthier. And treats should be treated as such, as occasional tasty delights that you have once in a while, or you bring to a party. In fact, I only make desserts or sweet tasty goodies when I have a time to share them. I know myself, I don’t need these staring at me every time I open the fridge. And neither do you. Have a dessert for a reason, not out of habit.
If you want to follow a paleo/primal lifestyle, fine. Low carb? Go for it. Gluten-free? No problem. But realize that the point of the whole Real Food movement is that, real food. Not a ‘Low carb twinkie’ or a ‘Paleo Red Velvet Cupcake’ because if you merely replace fake foods with slightly less objectionable versions of the same, you’re missing the point. You are also more likely to carry on craving the very frankenfoods that you are intending to avoid.
What’s the saying? A rose by any other name… well, palm sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, sweeteners, honey… it’s all still sweet. And the more you avoid it, the more that delicious strawberry or plate of cantaloupe will be considered a sweet treat.
Eat real food. It’s not rocket science.
And with that, I’ll get off my soapbox.