Eat Well and Prosper

Amanda Sweetman Close.jpgEating healthy, nutritious food can often seem like a chore, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s well worth the time – maintaining a healthy weight, improving mental health, preventing or managing a chronic health condition, setting an example for your friends and family. Conversely, there are just as many reasons why many of us choose unhealthy meals – convenience, affordability and or simply not knowing how to eat well.

The food industry has convinced us that cooking food is hard and expensive. Often, it’s difficult to know what is healthy. For example, what does 100% natural mean? Is gluten-free better for you? Michael Pollan’s Food Rules simplifies this difficult concept: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” To learn more, I recommend watching “In Defense of Food” which is currently streaming on PBS. The documentary investigates how the Western diet is harming us and what we can do to save ourselves.

As the project manager of The Farm at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, I am a huge believer in eating a balanced, mainly plant-based diet. In addition, I encourage you to eat “local” as well. Buying local food, from a farmers market or directly from a farmer through a community supported agriculture (CSA) share, does three things:

  1. Give you, the consumer, fresher products that last longer than processed foods. And, you know where it came from and how it was grown.
  2. Helps the environment because the food didn’t have to travel across oceans or continents to arrive on your table.
  3. Puts money back into your local economy which, in turn, is good for you.

So, this may be sounding complicated and expensive, but stay with me! Below I share how I eat a seasonal, healthy diet and resources to get you started.

How I Eat: I eat a lot of vegetables (hey, gotta make sure I’m selling a good product), but I’m busy and on the go. I build my meals from the bottom up: start with a bed of greens, add protein (typically an egg or some type of meat), cheese, maybe some nuts and then a really delicious dressing. I also cook at least one big batch of food at the beginning of the week that I can eat for dinner or lunch throughout the week. I frequently use a crock pot to cook chicken or roast, and a huge pan of vegetables that can be added to salads or used as a side dish. Here’s my take on Bi Bim Bap, one of my all-time favorite dishes.

Eating is one of my favorite activities, which means I want my food to taste good. That’s the most important piece of all of this advice: find what tastes good to you that makes sense with your life.

Resources: To get started on eating healthy, local food, check out the “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day” cookbook by Leanne Brown. You can purchase a copy which will mean that a copy is given to someone in need. You can also access it online and look at the free PDF. This is a great book! It talks about how to stock your pantry, tips for shopping and has great recipes that are straightforward and delicious. Other resources can be found on the In Defense of Food website resources tab. If you’re interested in hands-on learning, check out MSU extension’s Cooking Matters class. For young eaters, The Farm at St. Joe’s is offering two, week-long farm to table summer camps! Learn more at the Washtenaw Rec and Ed website.

To see more recipes and learn more about The Farm, visit our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to stop by our weekly farmers market every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Main Lobby of the hospital.

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