Food, Health, and Happiness

As the New Year is upon us, I find myself evaluating the last. Prioritizing my plan for the next twelve months in effort to decide what is most important. For me, it comes down to three things: food, health, and happiness. One leads to the other in my world and I bet in many others’ as well.

I believe as in many things we stray from the basics and find ourselves somewhat confused at times. When I look at what has gone astray or what needs to be fixed, I find it best to simply go back to the basics; no matter what it is really.

Since this column is about food, I’ll focus on that. Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be good, healthy and delicious. I have traveled the world on culinary learning journeys in a quest for flavor. What I have truly discovered every where is that the best flavors come from fresh, local ingredients. No matter how they’re prepared or what they entail, the best results come when it’s fresh and unprocessed.

When shopping, stay to the outside aisles of the store: don’t be sucked into the center!I call it “ the processed pit!” No matter what grocery store you shop, the basic food groups are around the outside—produce, meat, dairy, and bread. Everything you need! I understand you may need to go into“ the pit”--for flour, sugar, rice, wheat, and legumes -- but for the most part, all basic healthy ingredients can be found on the perimeter.

By filling your cart first from the outside before going into the center, you will avoid packaged, processed products. Keep it simple and keep it fresh! You’ll see a huge decrease in your final bill and I’d bet a change in your waistline! Save the calories and money for the special times you eat out or a Pizza! Basic foods simply prepared are truly a healthier option.

Since we are talking about health, now my suggestion is to “ Go outside and play!” Sound familiar? No matter what your age, your schedule, or your situation, fresh air and exercise will improve what ails you. Play it, don’t just watch it! The television, computer and couch can be our worse enemy! Walk, ride and breathe fresh air everyday.

Happiness: in many ways that brings me back to food and all that goes with it. The taste, look, smell and the end result of a meal are all so satisfying. The time spent shopping, preparing and sharing food is a big part for all of us. Take your time, enjoy the process and the conversation over the meal and let the dishes wait. I most cherished dinnertime growing up as a child. Make time to eat together. If you are alone; instead of standing at the sink or eating in your car, sit down, take your time and enjoy that meal.

Getting back to the basics in many things can help create a new outlook on life: a starting point to move forward in your quest for food, health and happiness.