Staple Living: Back to the Basics for Health

Secrets and mysteries – intriguing aren’t they? They are lifted high as the brass rings that have all the answers, if only we could reach high enough to grab them.

Everywhere you look now you’ll see articles offering the secret to losing weight or the secret to eating healthy.

Well, news flash to all of us: our nutritional health is no mystery. There are no secrets that we have to pay top dollar for. The old ways of  cooking natural not processed meals are the real secret and all we need to do is go back to the basics – staple living.

Potatoes are one of the most used staple foods.

Potatoes are one of the most used staple foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are staples? 

Depending upon culture, your staple may look different than mine. As a vegan the foods that are regulars include: soy flour, grains, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, seeds and beans of all kinds – all the basic foods I would need to prepare a meal. They are foods in their natural state – not pre-packaged, pickled or deep-fried with extra salt, sugar and fat. Most of them are the foods that our ancestors planted, harvested and ate.

Food preparation was more time-consuming back then. They churned butter manually; peeled, chopped, and mashed by hand not machine.  But they ate healthier and enjoyed the taste of their foods because the foods were natural, with no preservatives and unburdened of a laundry list of ingredients that required a dictionary interpretation. We aren’t faring as well in our lives today.

We’re Letting Technology Kill Our Health

With each decade of advancement toward easier living, the nation’s collective health has failed to advance with the times. We’re living in a techno/convenience world – every task made easy just by pushing a button. We barely have to raise our heart rate or even breathe hard. And still, even though we’re getting everything done faster, we still claim we’re too busy to exercise or fix a healthy meal. Taking care of our health is still a background to our lives, only getting the attention it deserves when things go horribly wrong. But it doesn’t have to stay there.

Optimal health is essential more today because we are more sedentary. From our couch we can change the channel or play Angry Birds, we’ve got escalators for climbing and riding mowers to cut the grass.  We have fallen hard for easy living so that we work smart not hard. Yet technology’s advances have set our health status back. We have accepted taking blood pressure pills as the norm; accepted that we’re supposed to allow our weight to sideline us as we get older. We have lost our edge to take health matters into our own hands, preferring instead to leave it up to “my doctor” and keep him in the business of tertiary rather than preventive health. For some reason, we can’t see that putting too much fat, sugar and salt in our diets that we don’t burn off will eventually lead us gently by the hand to the nearest emergency department, or morgue.

Baby-steps Toward Better Health

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s not necessary to be a culinary genius nor is it necessary to label yourself a vegetarian or vegan. But it is necessary to baby-step our way back to healthy eating.  Just starting off with at least two days a week preparing meals from scratch – no processed additions – will lower cholesterol and blood sugar and raise metabolism, which will encourage activities that will burn calories.

Check out this list of staples for your grocery shopping list and feel free to add your own. And for most if not all of the staples on your list, you’ll find them in the produce section.

  • potatoes – regular and sweet
  • tomatoes/celery/carrots/beets/lettuce
  • rice (brown is better)
  • squash
  • onions
  • peppers
  • flour (soy for me or wheat if you’re not gluten free)
  • cornmeal
  • beans
  • brown sugar
  • oatmeal
  • quinoa
  • tofu
  • leafy greens – collards, kale, spinach
  • seasonings – cumin/garlic powder/pepper/Italian seasoning/ any others that have flavor but no salt.

Here’s to your wallet and your health! Have fun mixing and matching your flavors!


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