Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mediterranean Wisdom

When I was a working girl in the early days of my marriage, I had a boss who shared my passion for food. She traveled quite a bit and would come back with tales of delectibles from foreign lands. If I was lucky, I would get a cookbook or a dish of some sorts. I drank it all in. One particular place she raved about has always stuck with me. The Mediterranean. It has been on my mind a great bit lately along with two other topics of interest: the liver and the Word of Wisdom (read it here). Of course, this is all about food, about what food we eat and what food we should be eating. It is about the fact that people have cancer all around me and it isn't just the old folks anymore; it is the younger folk now. It is family and friends that simply should be enjoying their prime, not fighting to keep it. I have been deep in thought. I have been evaluating why in America we insist on killing ourselves early. I remember the Mediterranean. Here is your lesson.

Researchers have been looking at the Mediterranean countries for over 50 years and have noted that the people living there are uncommonly healthy. The common issues we face here such as heart disease, diabetes, gallstones and high cholesterol, just to name a few, are rare in the Mediterranean. It is not because they have better health care or better drugs, it is because they eat the way we should be all eating; the way the Word of Wisdom tells us to and the way our liver wants us to eat. They eat fresh fruits and veggies in abundance. They eat lots of grains and beans, not just wheat and refried beans; the other ones - the healthier ones. They eat meat sparingly, only once to twice a week and they eat fresh fish. Hmmmm, does this sound familiar? As I have been studying this, as I have been reading that the liver is the engine to our body and that red meat in particular is very hard on it, that cancer thrives on a body fed meat, that the meat we get is full of pesticides and hormones, that it is hard to digest, that the Lord tells us to not eat it but only in times of winter and famine; I think to myself - why do we need to really think about it at all? It is pretty clear. America makes us thinks otherwise.

We are brainwashed by the Dairy Council and Cattleman's association that we NEED it. That if we don't get it we will surely die. Did you know that breast milk contains 6% protein and cow's milk contains 22% percent protein? Do you think God would make food for a human child that did not meet his needs? Do you know that we can get all the protein we need from grains, veggies and beans? You can learn more about that here. After reading and pondering, the issue was clear to me; go Mediterranean. I was already using meat only every other day but now I decided that was too much. I read another great compelling article on the Word of Wisdom (read it here) and decided that I was ready to take the next step. My husband followed suit and we are meat free.

Now, to not be misunderstood; I am not against meat. In moderation I believe it is totally fine. I believe that if we only ate it up to a couple times a week it would do us no harm. I may eat some but I just don't want to right now. I feel good. I like the way I am eating right now and don't really want to go back to meat. My husband feels the same way. People think that going meatless limits you. On the contrary, it opens so many other doors. You have to get more creative, you have to look at all the grains, beans and produce out there. I have made some of the tastiest creations this last week and my kids, who were sure they were going to hate this, have not even noticed. I still feed them meat a few times a week and they can have it whenever they want when they are out. It is their decision to make. But, they like the food. There is no real sacrifice here, Only blessings.

I don't think it is wrong for anyone to eat meat, I just think it is wise to not eat so much. Try it out, see how you feel. I will have lots of new recipes for you to try out "meatless" and if you want, you can throw meat in them. Baby steps. I really must stop researching topics, too much info and I absolutely will not look into any research that talks negatively about chocolate. I have limits.

First recipe:

Greek Orzo

1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 C. diced zucchini
1 T. olive oil
1 can 15 (oz) plum tomatoes, drained and mashed
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried sage
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 cup orzo
1/3 C. crumbled feta

Saute onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and zucchini break them up into small pieces. Stir in spices. Simmer , stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated.

While simmering, cook orzo in boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and add to pan with tomatoes and spices. Stir in feta and cook for a minute until it just begins to melt. Serve warm. Any veggies would be great added.


♚Jessica♚ said...

Yay! Shari, I have gone almost completely meatless myself and I am so glad to see that you are going that way too because that means you will find delicious recipes for me to try out and I can skip the researching part that I am not as passionate about as you! Thank you Shari for all the time and energy that you spend finding and sharing wonderful info with us all! We love you!

Cindy said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been telling people this since I read the word of wisdom when I was a teenager. I am so excited about the recipes you will be posting. We had the broccoli, rice cassarole tonight and it was delicious.

Rachel said...

shari, i am so excited for your "meatless" decision because now i can try all your recipes!

Kate said...

I am becoming one of your biggest fans because I (and my family) have been enjoying recipe after recipe in your cookbook and they have all been awesome.
I have been thinking alot about this same topic alot lately too. I'm going to try this recipe tomorrow for dinner. Thanks so much!

RPH said...

I cant wait to try this out! Thanks for sharing.(not just the recipe, everything in this post!)

thelaytonfamily said...

I too am so excited to get your recipes! Love your post!

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to make this gluten free would it be good with brown rice instead of the pasta? What would you suggest? I am also loving your cookbook! It's got us eating a lot more vegetables!

Shari Goodman said...

for gluten free, I would use a pasta, like a brown rice spaghetti and break it up so it is in smaller pieces. Brown rice wouldn't be quite the same.

Sherri said...

Congratulations on going meatless! My husband & I became vegetarian 20 years ago after feeling the need & reading the book, Diet for a New America by John Robbins. It talks about how inhumanely animals are treated in factories & slaughterhouses. After researching it more over the years, we realized we were glad we did it for other reasons as well. We have 5 kids, are LDS & the 4 I gave birth to have been vegetarian even while I was pregnant with them. It will be their choice when they get older whether to stay veggie or not. I need to do better about educating them so they can make an informed choice when the time comes. Thanks for the inspiration on doing that! Best of luck! Sherri

Anonymous said...

Who would want to live that long if you could not enjoy a steak once in a while.

Laurene Ross said...

Way to go! I have been working toward this for the past few years. My husband is allergic to so many veggies that it has been difficult, but still I trudge on. I feel that as the Mother and nurturer of the family this falls under my stewardship. What a vast responsibility we have. Good luck:)

I love your info on coconut oil. Love that stuff!