Integrating a faith approach into good nutrition isn't some mystical process or surreal eating experience. It is simply discovering how basic foods can be enjoyed more naturally. Learn to savor vegetables and spices that are full of flavor. Make your meals a masterpiece of God's provision - a celebration of His creative goodness.
For God so loved the world He gave us...broccoli?
Most of us easily savor the taste of a God-given juicy steak or roasted chicken. But for many, the thought of eating God’s plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds and whole grains) feels more like a chore than a delight.
Just as it is more satisfying to run for fun than obligation, falling in love with God’s staple foods leads to a lifetime of healthy, flavorful eating rather than a roller coaster ride of white knuckling diets and “falling off the wagon.” How can we ignite passion for “legal” foods?
Other cultures excel at creating mouth-watering dishes using mostly plant-based ingredients. Indian food, for example, relies on spices such as cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and garlic to convert brown rice and vegetables into gourmet dishes. My favorite ethnic cuisine is Mediterranean, which transforms nutrient-dense but bland chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into flavorful dishes like falafel, hummus and eggplant dip (baba ghanoush). Have fun and try some of these mouth watering Mediterranean recipes for dinner and on-the-go lunch “leftovers”.
Ironically, some folks fall into legalistic diet traps that lead to meal dissatisfaction. They extremely remove from their diet fat, salt and sugars. Instead, balance is better:
SAVORY SECRET 1: Integrate fat, don't avoid it - God designed our bodies to require fat for proper digestion, energy, and food satisfaction. Diets too low in fat are, by definition, not satisfying. Very low-fat diets lead to more cravings; diets with ample plant-based fats, such as olives and olive oil, nuts (like walnuts and pecans), and nut butters (like peanut, cashew and almond) are extremely satisfying and help head off binges. Similarly, full or low-fat milk is more satisfying than skim; full or low-fat yogurt is more satisfying than fat-free.
SAVORY SECRET 2: Integrate salt, don't avoid it - God lovingly put iodine, sodium, and over 60 other essential nutrients in real sea salt (such as Real Salt, Celtic, or Himalayan Pink). Flavoring home-cooked fare with it is both delicious and quite good for you. Unfortunately, most restaurants, packaged foods and table salt is a man-made, processed version that leads to poor health. Folks who steer clear of all salt, however, are missing the flavor and health benefits of God-given salt.
SAVORY SECRET 3: Integrate sugar, don't avoid it - God made honey, real maple syrup and date sugar--all ingredients that add depth and flavor to baked goods. Man made aspartame, Saccharine, and Sucralose (Splenda) are unhealthy and not as flavorful as God’s sweeteners. Yet many folks drink diet soda and eat sugar-free cookies and other artificially sweetened foods to pursue good health but end up craving true flavor.
MAKING NUTRITION A FAITH AND FITNESS EXPERIENCE
- The Bible, a window to the past - Food has always had a big role in the human experience. The more you read the Bible the more you'll discover just how much food is integrated into faith practices and spiritual expression. Nutritional logic is built into Biblical instruction.
- The science of 'natural' is the wonder of God - The more you study and understand how God has engineered the nutritional value of food and their natural flavors the more you'll appreciate how carefully and intimately God connects with humanity on such a daily physical level.
- A better cook is a good steward - When you integrate your faith perspective into your nutrition and wellness, you'll discover how making meals gets better. You'll use better ingredients, create a better taste, cook with a higher purpose and have a healthier outcome.
By incorporating more of the foods that God created for us to enjoy, you can boost your eating satisfaction AND your health. Here are some tips for transforming a “Standard American Diet” (SAD) into a flavorful, healthy experience:
SAVORY SECRET 4: Look for recipes and cookbooks of your favorite ethnic cuisine - These are often filled with savory ideas. If you don’t have a favorite then start sampling different ethnic meals to identify new recipes you can add to your personal collection.
SAVORY SECRET 5: Stock your pantry with staples used in your favorite recipes and snacks - Here are some of the taste-building ingredients I always have on hand: onions, garlic, lemons, real sea salt, fresh ground pepper, a stocked herb and spice drawer, peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, honey, pure maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter, organic whole milk yogurt, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, a jar of pesto, and artichoke hearts.
SAVORY SECRET 6: Experiment by making new dishes for you and your family - You may not get it right the first time, but keep trying and you’ll improve and refine your recipes. For example you might try to whip up Jerusalem salad. Use Google to find a recipe, or simply experiment. Start with diced vegetables (cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes). Try fresh herbs (parsley or cilantro) and dried spices (cumin). Add lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and maybe even a small dollop of tahini (sesame butter). Don’t think that experimenting to make new meals at home is just for women. Faith & Fitness Magazine offers men all kinds of practical ideas in the TIME TO EAT section of the free Courageous Men’s Fitness resource.
I selected four of my favorite savory recipes to help you kick start your adventure into the savory secrets of eating healthy. Print them now for free. For yet more information and recipes read my other Faith & Fitness Magazine article for transforming your taste buds in enjoy eating God’s way.
Hope Egan is the author of the What the Bible Says about Healthy Living Cookbook: Simple and Tasty Recipes Featuring God’s Ingredients (Heart of Wisdom, 2009). She lives in Virginia with her husband and their son. For more information about biblical eating, visit her website.