It's National Food Day (Oct. 24)! It's a celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainable foods. Take some time to think about where all your food comes from and how you can get better at cooking healthy, fresh and by using local ingredients. Food is very important to many aspects of life and you should really learn to appreciate it and not waste it.
I had a sandwich from Schlotzsky's for dinner last night and then a Schlotzsky's salad for lunch. I had coupons so dinner and lunch only cost me $4. As much as I enjoy the ease of picking up dinner quickly and paying so little, I hate times like this when I'm all out of ideas, I don't feel like cooking and I'm too busy and tired to sit at the dinner table. I don't like to see fast food bags in the trash can. I sort of feel like a lazy slob when this happens and it also makes me feel guilty about all the fat and salt I've eaten and taken into my body.
I put together the Fast Food Fast Facts in the monthly Healthy U magazine and it's surprising how many calories and salt fast food has. Most times, single entree items have 60 to 100 percent of your daily sodium allowance, which is around 2,000 milligrams. Schlotzsky's, by far, has the saltiest sandwiches I've ever seen. But when I do Fast Food Fast Facts I often times pair one of the most fattiest items that has the most calories with other items that are much healthier. After doing this for almost two years every month I've finally taken heed and started ordering smart when I do go to fast food restaurants.
(But then there are times when I just want a full Whopper and large fries with a tall Diet Coke. Don't hold it against me, but the Whopper is my favorite burger; not just favorite fast food burger, but my all-time favorite burger from any place, ever. I don't know why, I've had many great burgers from all over the place, but I still crave that Whopper every now and then. Like Tony Stark, if I were held prisoner in a desert and in foreign country for a couple of years, I would like to be greeted with a sack of Whoppers when I get off the plane.)
I'm in a rut; in a place where I have dishes piled to the ceiling, no tasty ideas and no time to make a good meal. I think not being in the mood for anything is the worst. A look in my fridge and cupboards yields no ideas. That's why I end up going to fast food joints. And I don't really hold a grudge against fast food restaurants. They're so convenient and they are everywhere. But I make sure not to get in the habit of regularly visiting them. They're so bad and I can see how burgers and fried chicken can become addicting. Fast food is full of much more sugar and salt that you would normally put in your own food.
I recently watched "600 Pound Dad" and this father was on his way down from 800 to 500 pounds. He had just gotten gastric bypass surgery and was ready to go home. The film crew went to his house and the family was sitting around a meal of cheeseburgers and fries from Wendy's. That was a regular meal for them and the father was going to return to that. It was disgusting and disappointing to see.
I come from the Navajo reservation and a place where the nearest fast food restaurant is one or two hours away. We cooked every meal we ate. If we went into town on the weekend, we would eat some fast food, but that was like a treat for us. And to see normal, American families regularly order fast food pizzas, burgers and fries is kind of mind blowing. They claim it's less expensive, but really, it's not. Growing up poor, McDonald's was a treat for us, not a way to save money. You save money and calories by cooking at home.
Growing up on the reservation, I learned to live without a lot of things. We always made our own because it was either too expensive at the local grocery store or it just wasn't available.
I'm a big advocate for cooking at home and making things from scratch. When I grew up, we didn't bake cookies or bread that came from the tube. Tube pastries were unfathomable. My mom is an excellent cook and she taught me everything I know. She cooked meals for the family every day and when she didn't' cook, my dad would get in the kitchen and turn out something equally delicious.
To me, premade foods were only for rich people who didn't' know how to cook. Fast foods were for rich people who didn't have the time to sit at table. I never developed a taste for premade foods either. They're so salty and rich and not personal at all.
Now that I'm on my own, and I live very close to many fast food restaurants, I make sure to maintain a balance (as in 10 times more home meals than quick, premade, fast food meals). Sometimes I fall off the horse and into these ruts where I have no time and desire to cook. But then I always think back to when I lived on the reservation and we were poor. Cooking with mom was the best and eating a home cooked meal at the table with the family was so warm. I prefer to control my own ingredients, make something personal, put a little love in it and share it with someone who is totally grateful for all your hard work. It's also a lot sexier to see a man in the kitchen, than to have him whip out his credit card to pay for something he didn't make ;)