Recently I’ve been thinking of this world of online information overload and sharing of social media ‘perfect’ lives. Personally, I marvel at many of the seriously popular bloggers I follow who seem to manage to regularly brew kombucha and kefir water, ferment vegetables, sprout, bake daily loaves of gluten-free sourdough, make their own yoghurt, butter and ghee (because it’s TOO easy not to), always soak their grains and only eat activated nuts and seeds. They start the day with hot lemon water, oil-pull on rising, eat three tablespoons of coconut oil a day, make their own skin care, always find the time for exercise and mindfulness (and also manage to brush their glowing locks daily). It’s enough to make this regular mum (with often unkempt hair) feel rather inadequate.
It seems that the intricacies of the way we eat seem to have become the big picture and a source of stress for so many. I believe getting hung-up on all of those little things you “should” be doing can be counterproductive. If you can manage, great, but if you’re simply able to enjoy a delicious home cooked meal made from fresh, seasonal and local produce (and largely avoid processed foods) I think you’re in a pretty good place.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by a whole-foods way of life and wondering where best to direct your time and energy, my advice is…
- Prioritise your week to shop for the best quality local and seasonal (organic if available to you) whole ingredients. Having a well-stocked pantry gives you a good head start to prepare nourishing meals each day. My once a week trip to my local farmers market is not negotiable for me, because it fills my cupboards with the best quality produce, saves me money and also time.
- Focus on putting together simple dishes such as grilled/BBQ’d/ baked/ roasted/ steamed meat, fish or vegetarian protein served with salad or vegetables and a nice home made dressing. This type of simple meal meets all of your nutritional needs (protein, carbohydrate, fats are all covered plus a good variety of micro-nutrients). Unless your basic diet is nourishing, it won’t make a blind bit of difference that you are consuming a cup of sauerkraut and three tablespoons of coconut oil a day.
- If you have the time and the forethought to soak, activate, sprout, ferment, and make your own bread, yoghurt, butter or ghee – fabulous. But if buying yoghurt or bread that week saves you a little sanity, then it is not the end of the world. If you forget to soak your quinoa in the morning, give it a real good rinse and enjoy it anyway.
- Direct your time and energy into the things that you eat most. Personally, we don’t eat a whole lot of bread and usually only buy one loaf a week. So I shell out for a quality loaf of sourdough and we all really enjoy it. However I have lived semi-remotely in the past where a decent loaf was hard to come by, so at that time, I did my best to make it myself.
- Also focus on what serves you best. So for example, if you have a gut issue you might like to prioritise fermenting and soaking to support your gut. But if doing so is super stressful, then you won’t benefit anyway.
My take home message is to focus on the big picture, and aim for ‘real’, not perfect.
Recipe // Middle Eastern Beef Brisket
Beef brisket is such a delicious, simple and economical way to feed a family. It is really quick to prepare, but does require a lot of time to cook, so plan ahead for this meal. This basic recipe will leave you with a ‘pulled’ style of meat, which you can serve with salad, in a burger, wrap or tortilla, or on a bed of creamy mashed potato. The tahini sauce adds a lovely citrus hit to balance the richness of the meat. I hope you enjoy this versatile, very satisfying meal.
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
Good pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Approx. 1kg beef brisket
1½ cups of beef or chicken stock (or water)
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons hulled tahini
Juice of one small lemon
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
Good pinch of sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 150℃.
- In a small bowl mix together the spices, salt and pepper.
- Rub the beef with about 1½ tablespoons of the spice blend to coat it and place in a small casserole dish or roasting pan. Place the remaining spice mix in a small jar for your next brisket.
- Add the garlic, onion and pour over the stock (it should cover or almost cover the meat).
- Cover with a lid or foil wrapped tightly to seal.
- Cook for about 2 hours, turn the meat and cook for another 2-3 hours (total 4-5 hours cook time). It is cooked when the meat easily falls apart when pulled at.
- Remove the lid or foil and turn the oven up to 200℃. Pull the meat apart and cook for approximately 30 minutes to caramelise and thicken the sauce.
- To make your tahini sauce, combine all of the tahini sauce ingredients together. Add the water tablespoon by tablespoon until you have a slightly runny sauce that can be drizzled over the meat.
For more free, family friendly recipes and healthy inspiration, visit www.wellnourished.com.au.