When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to grow up and eat whatever I wanted.

Eating healthy has not always been my favorite thing in the world. When I was growing up my mom made almost all the food we ate, from scratch. When I was a kid I really didn’t realize how good that was for me. I was a picky eater and I didn’t like very many vegetables. If I got to pick the vegetable I would always pick corn. I did like other vegetables like carrots and potatoes. My mom always made healthy meals and was aware of the nutrient needs we each needed, but that didn’t mean we always at what was on the table. It wasn’t until I became an adult and started studying about how to be healthier that I realized that none of my favorite veggies were the best kind of vegetable. Not that they’re bad, and they have good nutrients in them, and I still eat them, but they’re not the ones we should be getting the most of. I have, therefore, adjusted how I eat dramatically from how I ate as a teenager and young adult. Having inflammation problems in the last couple of years has also served to refine further my eating habits and focus more on what’s good for me. Today I thought I would share some of my favorite healthy foods.

I’ll start with my least favorite category, or at least it used to be, vegetables. Potatoes have lots of good vitamins and minerals in them, they are especially high in potassium. They also taste great, so we eat potatoes fairly regularly. How they are prepared makes a big difference in how healthy they remain though, like any vegetable. Quite often potatoes, as well as sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, sometimes squash, carrots, well a lot of the bulkier veggies I roast in the oven. It’s super easy and doesn’t take a really long time. I usually cut them up into bite size pieces, toss them with olive oil and some salt and pepper, and then roast them at 450 degrees until tender (depends on the veggie how long that takes). It’s simple and they always taste great. I have always liked lettuce, but not the good lettuce, iceberg lettuce. Again, not that it’s bad for you, but there are a ton of better options. I have learned how good these deep greens are for my body, and how anti inflammatory they are, consequently I eat several cups of them a day usually. For the leafy greens, it’s usually in salad form with some form of dressing. Keeping the dressing to a minimum however, as that adds a ton of calories and a lot of dressings really aren’t that good for you anyway. If we have Mexican food I will often finely shred the various dark leafy greens and use that as my topping for tacos, taco salad, nachos, or whatever.

Fruits have always been one of my favorite foods. When I was a kid though, I thought I could substitute fruits for veggies, or at least I hoped that was the case. Not so. Fruits are great for our bodies too, and we should get a good quantity, but not as essential as vegetables. I do enjoy combining my fruits and veggies when they are fresh though, adding pineapple, oranges, or a variety of berries to my salads is a great way to get both. My favorite fruit is probably apples, but berries come in a close second, with oranges and bananas falling somewhere in there with that whole mix. One of my favorite fruits that I can’t find up here very often is Kumquats. But once in a while I’ll find them at a local grocery store during the summer. Fruits have so many good vitamins and minerals in them along with a lot of fiber when eaten in their natural state, and the sugars in fruit, although they digest much faster than the sugars in a lot of the darker colored vegetables, it’s still slower than added sugar that you find in almost all processed food.

I like to eat meat. I also like most kinds of traditional meat, like beef, pork and chicken. Since living in Alaska I have learned to like moose and several kinds of fish as well. I think meat is a necessary part of a good diet as there are certain proteins that are essential to muscle development that cannot be found in anything but animal meat. You can take supplements for some of the protein, but there is no substitute, in my opinion, for a natural source, which meat is. I don’t like eating a ton of meat though. I don’t eat meat at every meal, although I do try to get some form of protein at every meal. Dairy is a great way to get protein and I will often add cottage cheese or some other cheese to my salads. I eat eggs for breakfast or lunch occasionally as well and I almost always have milk at some point throughout my day.

Grains are the other category that makes up the rest of the food I eat. I try to avoid sugar (sometimes not very well), snacks like potato chips, and I don’t drink soda at all, except to have 1 root beer float at some point during the summer every year. I make most of the bread my family eats, and it’s primarily sourdough bread because I have the starter and it needs to be used regularly. I like to use unbleached white flour as well as freshly ground whole wheat flour to make my breads. I also use those to make biscuits, english muffins, and whatever other breads I feel like making that week. I make granola once in a while for breakfasts. We don’t eat much oatmeal or granola however because oats are quite inflammatory. Grains are all inflammatory, oats being one of the more inflammatory ones, so I eat them sparing. My family on the other hand can eat a loaf of bread (or more) a day! Growing kids I guess.

We do eat way too many sweets, even though I try not to keep that stuff on hand, I do have a sweet tooth and I love cookies. But with teenage boys in the house, even if I buy or make that kind of stuff I don’t eat a lot of it as it gets inhaled, mostly by the boys. It’s nice though, because I can eat a little bit, to satisfy my sweet tooth, and know that the rest will be gone and I won’t be tempted later!

Eating healthy has been, and will continue to be a process of refining. I enjoy making most of what we eat as well, and I love summer here in Alaska as my garden provides most of the vegetables we eat and we do have berries around the yard and the property, when they’re in season. I have been planting fruit trees, at least the ones that will grow here, but they are years from being productive, so hopefully I can keep them alive long enough to eat the fruit! We will continue to refine, and as the kids leave I’m sure the way we eat will continue to change, hopefully continuing to get better year after year.

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