By Jessica Sally
In a complicated world, some simple truths will stand the test of time. My Grandma taught me 6 basic lessons about food that I still follow today.
“The nicest thing you can do for someone is to provide them a meal.”
I heard my Grandma say that growing up, and I never truly understood just how nice of a gift this was until I moved out. A home cooked meal or treating someone to a meal from a restaurant that cooks from scratch is a gift that never goes out of style. Batch cooking or simply packing a healthy lunch is a gift that you can give yourself. You deserve it.
A stocked pantry
“Grandma, can I come for lunch today?” “I have nothing in the house but come on over.” I’d show up a half an hour later (I worked 10 minutes from Gram’s) to a well spread table. She’d pull items from her pantry, pickles, cheese, crackers, celery and carrot sticks from the fridge and homemade soup from her freezer. My family always said that she could make a feast from nothing. Having a stocked pantry and freezer was her secret.
“You eat with your eyes first.”
A meal wasn’t complete without everything being plated. This made even simple food taste better. Nothing was boring when you ate off of a nice plate. You WANTED to eat food that looked good and wasn’t just thrown on. Pro Tip: Swap out your oversized dinner plate to a salad plate. Large plates lead to bigger portions that might cause you to eat more than you need. You can always have seconds if you need it.
You need to cook with all the colours.”
Often when cooking with Grandma, she would look at a dish and say “It needs something green/orange/red.” A soup of carrots, tomatoes and potatoes would need some spinach or green beans. A green salad would need some tomatoes or oranges or a bell pepper. In cooking by colour, Grandma made sure we ate a variety of fruits and vegetables and this caused us to get a variety of vitamins and minerals.
“You have to layer the flavours.”
The family favourites all had a “secret” ingredient. Her pancakes had a hint of nutmeg, her homemade perogies had different kinds of cheese, her turnip casserole had toasted sliced almonds on top, and her homemade borscht had so many “secret” ingredients that I still can’t make it like she did even with the recipe. One way to make sure you enjoy the food you eat is to add flavour or texture to it. Don’t like eating veggies? Keep trying recipes until you find the way you like. There’s different ways to prepare and season vegetables. (You can always give away the recipes to friends and family as you experiment. See Tip #1)
“Make it with Love.”
A healthy life leaves room for joy. My dad would often tell this story. As a young boy, it was the trend to feed kids Red River Cereal or Cream of Wheat for breakfast. They HATED it. So my Grandma would often plop a big scoop of ice cream in the middle of it. While it may not be a great idea to eat ice cream from breakfast every morning, leaving room for foods we love eating is important. It’s only a problem when it becomes the rule, rather than the exception. The earlier we learn healthy habits, the easier it is to maintain deep health throughout our life.
It’s never too late to build healthy habits one step at a time. A Nutrition Coach can help. Book a Healthy Habits Intro here to find out how.
What are some things your family taught you about food or healthy eating?