Nearly two years ago, my wife Glenda and I decided to change our relationship with food.
Until that day, it was pretty easy to sway us to go out to eat.
As we have let the food that we eat transform our lives, it has become harder and harder to find places outside the home where we enjoy eating.
Today we eat almost no processed meat and a very small amount of beef considering we spent over ten years of our life running a cattle farm in Canada. We aren't perfect, once in a while we get seduced by Roanoke's Burger in the Square or Eastern North Carolina's Smithfield's, but it is the exception rather than the rule.
We started our change by going back to some basics and breaking some addictions. A bag of potato chips in our home used to torture me until I finished it off. While we rarely eat potato chips or any processed snack foods, there is a bag of chips that have been in our cupboard for almost a month.
We opened the bag the other day and had a few chips with our lunch and put it back in the cupboard. It is still there opened, and I have yet to snack on the chips. For me that is a huge victory. An opened bag of potato chips used to be something that I could not resist. I was like an alcoholic with a bottle of liquor in the house.
There were other things that I believed that had to be part of my meal. I grew up in a household where you had meat for breakfast. My dad who died at the age of 99 did not have many breakfasts without bacon. It was a staple of his diet.
When I started changing what I ate, my first step was to go to turkey sausage for breakfast and then eventually to low salt turkey sausage that I made myself.
About a year ago in the spring of 2011 I went even further, I quit having meat with my breakfast and starting adding hemp seeds. My breakfast now looks like a vegetable cornucopia, and I almost never have meat.
Our preferred lunch isn't much different. Today we enjoyed our first local hot house tomato of the season. My sandwich was accompanied by a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. It was the last of a huge pot that Glenda made earlier in the week. We have been even more creative at times when coming up with substitutes to canned soup.
We keep making more and more incremental changes to our diet. We have stopped buying diet soda for the home. Once in a while we will have one when we are dining out, but mostly we drink coffee, tea or water.
Our beef consumption continues to drop. Now even the amount of chicken that we eat is headed down. I'm not sure we will ever become classic vegetarians, but we certainly have drastically cut our meat consumption.
What meat we eat also goes a long way. I will admit to looking forward to our meals this weekend. Glenda is going to make a pot of Senate Navy Bean Soup. We bought a big bag of fresh local kale to add to the soup. It will be delicious.
A recent test of our transformation came earlier the last week in April 2012. We had driven over to Garner Famers near Morehead City for some fresh strawberries and to check out their hot house tomatoes.
After we did our produce shopping, we headed back towards Morehead City and in the direction of every chain restaurant that you can imagine right at lunch time. We talked about it for a moment and could not think of any place that we would rather eat than home. I made a right turn and took a shortcut which sent us back towards home.
We passed up having lunch out. Looking back on it, I think it is a great sign that we are making progress.
That we skipped the opportunity to eat out is a measure of how far we have come. Most of the weight we lost two years ago is still gone, and we are well positioned to lose some more this summer.
The meal at the top of the top of the post is a dish that we enjoy occasionally. It is Glenda's adaptation of the Quicker than the Takeout Orange Chicken recipe from the Eat What You Love Cookbook. It is one of our favorite cookbooks. She adds lots more vegetables and some pineapple.
We find that the more vegetables that you eat, the more you like them.
We will continue to change what we eat. So far this year, we've eaten more fish, nuts, and seeds. I'm looking forward to the results of our new way of eating as the bounty of local produce makes cooking at home even easier during the coming summer months. It won't hurt that walking the beaches will become even easier as the weather warms here on the Crystal Coast.
Based on how well I feel, I know that eating at home is well worth the effort.