At Chef JJ’s Back Yard, we really enjoy walking through a farmers market with local farmers and vendors. Being surrounded by fresh, colorful produce and natural foods just make us feel healthy and energized. Only if walking through a farmers market was enough to keep all of us healthy… But, it may not be so far off from the truth.
When we go to grocery stores we are tempted by bright signs promising a great 2 for 1 deal on BBQ flavored chips or 5 for $5 store special candy bars. Such items are strategically placed on aisle ends, near cash registers or in high traffic areas luring us to secretly throw a few goodies in our basket. They’re tempting, we know. That’s why if you have to shop at a grocery store, we suggest shopping along the perimeter as much as possible since that is where natural*, healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish are located.
Eating fresh foods in their natural state keeps us healthy because our bodies actually know how to break them down and process them, allowing for proper nutrition. Organic foods are also great options for healthy nutrients as they are close to being in their natural state and are free from chemicals and other additives.
On the contrary, processed food undergoes change at processing plants that strips away natural vitamins and minerals, which are then replaced by flavorings, color, chemicals and additives for added taste and a longer shelf life. As a result, processed foods usually contain high calorie counts, salt and sugar, and not enough nutrients needed by our bodies. So why do people eat processed foods? Because processed foods tend to be cheap, convenient to eat or cook, and sadly, we think they taste good as our taste buds have simply gotten used to eating salty, sugary, processed foods.
The best way to incorporate more healthy foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables is to simply experiment with them by adding a couple variations to your favorite dish. Here at Back Yard, instead of making straight mashed potatoes in the fall, we have a root vegetable mash that includes carrots, red potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and turnips. It has a wonderful flavor and incorporates great vegetables that are high in fiber, vitamins A and K, potassium, magnesium and so much more. Eating more healthy, nutritious foods will take a little more effort in the beginning but you’ll feel a lot better, have more energy and you’ll gradually need less of the harmful, high calorie seasonings for your foods, as natural foods often contain rich flavors that don’t need additives to make them taste good.
If you’re still in doubt or just need your fix of our fresh, local Big Green Egg cooking, come visit us at Back Yard or Big Green Bistro and we’ll show you how amazingly delicious natural foods can taste. We are big believers in using fresh, local ingredients in our cooking because not only is it healthy and tastes better, we are supporting our local economy and reducing our carbon footprint. There are just too many reasons not to eat natural foods!
*The word “natural” in this context means foods that are in, or very close to, their natural state. Not all foods that have “Natural’ written across their packaging, are actually good for you so always read the list of ingredients. The list should be minimal (5-7 at the most) and made up of words that you can pronounce and know exactly what they are – no chemicals or additives should be a part of the ingredients.