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Healthful Eating = More with Less | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Healthful Eating = More with Less

The cookbook More with Less by the Mennonite Doris Jansen Longacre can give steps for families to climb out of the obesity and nutrition crisis. It gives not only recipe ideas but a mindset on how to incorporate healthier choices into a family menu and how to cook the foods involved. The premise is that we can learn to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.

Grocery shopping is sometimes an obstacle course for me because I see families with children who pile their carts full of junk with minimal if any nutritious choices in the basket. Some say that fresh fruits or vegetables are too expensive.  They are more affordable if the chips, desserts, sodas, and fruit juices are left out of the cart. That  cuts across social-economic classes. On my last trip, I held my tongue when a girl told her affluent mother, “I will only eat chicken nuggets, hamburger helper, and cookies,” and the mother nodded yes. The mother gave her daughter permission to eat a diet that would result in a lifetime of health issues.

Longacre pulls no punches as she describes our overdependence on processed foods. Just because we use vegetables in a casserole doesn’t make it healthful if we pile empty calories with it. She writes:

Casserole recipes must be evaluated for what they involve. For example, some people reject old-fashioned gravy because it’s too caloric but use commercial source cream. Herb-seasoned stuffing mix is the latest fashionable casserole-topper, while in many homes stale heels mold in a corner of the breadbox…Contemporary casserole recipes all seem to call for a can of soup. Will future cooks be born, live, and die without knowing how to stir up a smooth white sauce? Will there finally be only three flavors identified at a carry-in dinner – cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and cream of celery? Buy a wire whisk and break the mushroom soup cycle. Save money and cans by returning to the basic 5-minute white sauce. Variations are as infinite as the herbs and seasonings on your cupboard shelf and the cheeses, broths, and vegetables in your refrigerator.

It is key for parents to help their kids develop a taste for nutritious choices. It takes at least 17 times for a food to be introduced before kids decide whether or not they like it. An unexpected consequence of my trying to fix foods for my kids without the mushroom soups/mayonnaise products is that they prefer the real taste of foods instead of the processed masking. Whenever we donate food to a food drive, my son’s first choice are cream soup cans because he doesn’t like how they taste.

I have cooked for my family since I was 9 years old. Longacre’s cookbook is one of the resources that helped me learn to really cook instead of lean on rice mixes, burger helpers, and canned sauces.

What I like is that she describes simple, nutritious recipes, and explains how to combine proteins and carbs.  The cookbook shows how to incorporate whole grains, beans, and fresh vegetables into a family meal plan. The cookbook introduces international recipes and varied ways to fix vegetables.

We can all improve our nutrition choices – start with our own dinner table. Then expand to our communities. If you are in a church or other civic group that sometimes offer meals, be the one who prepares the healthful menu choice. If you serve or sell foods for fundraiser find ways to add healthier choices – serve some bananas. Go to whole grains. Add vegetables. Add it as an option with the others and help us all see that nutritious food options can taste good.

Relying on a casserole loaded with soups, creams, mayonnaise, cheese, and potato chips plus a token vegetable isn’t going to keep that boneless skinless chicken breast a low fat menu option. Serving it with low fat varieties of all of the above is simply going to add to the cost and add other health issues. The low fat food often has more sugar or sodium to replace the fat flavor. Serving those options long term masks the taste of real food instead of teaching us to savor it. It’s time we set higher standards for ourselves.

If you would like to learn how to make the most nutritious meals possible on limited resources, I highly recommend More with Less.  (an affiliate link)


4 Responses to “Healthful Eating = More with Less”

  1. Anne Gubbins January 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I have had and used an earlier edition of this cookbook since I was in high school. It is practical and realistic in its approach to cooking and eating. There are a lot of family favorites in there!

    • Buck March 9, 2017 at 5:59 am #

      Wasn’t really creepy at all but definitely was a good read. To me, the first three paragraphs are gold. A perfect setup. However, the last three were a let down. I was expecting a huge jolt and then it turned out to be a fizzle. Grade A writing and pacing though. 4/5 I would like to see more.VA:F [1r.f21_1169](9.om 0 votes)

  2. Cheryl Mochau January 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Get hooked on a healthy lifestyle by using pure food and water, in reasonable amounts, and forget the stuff you can’t pronounce (look at the ingredients in those creamed soups). You are what you eat.

    • Crissy March 9, 2017 at 6:05 am #

      I’d veurtne that this article has saved me more time than any other.

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