The Good Life in 2 easy steps – 1. Eating well

I’ve read already too many posts that start with similar titles. And I must say, most are right, in their own way.

There’s a movement going on in the world. Look at the people around you – family, friends, colleagues at work. They’re looking for the best, but something is missing. And you’re probably wondering what, yourself. It’s called the quality. The good life. It’s what you lose on the race to “the better life”.

Well, if you really want to improve your life, I suggest you start with yourself.
Take a good look at 2 things:
1. What you put in yourself and 2. How you treat your body.

Seinfeld expresses no.1 pretty clearly, talking about how you get lost in the supermarket and have no clue what to buy:

“What do you eat? You look pretty healthy. Maybe I’ll eat some of what you’re having.”

I tried to be a vegetarian for about 2 months, and after being constantly hungry, I gave that up. However, I’m very proud of having quit smoking and about my recent cooking habits.

Cooking seems to be in trend nowadays.Cooking with Wine
Any idea why?
Because people are starting to realize they’ve been stuffing so much junk in themselves, that they’re getting interested in better food. And, voila! food-related movies and books are starting to become more marketable. Ratatouille is a major hit. So is Julie and Julia. Jamie Oliver just won the TED Prize 2010 and aims to teach children around the world about food.

Not a bad thing, if they’re changing our habits.

I’ve experimented with a very natural type of diet, after discovering that my cholesterol skyrocketed. After a short while, I developed a “natural sense” of food that was good for me and that was not.

Here’s Maria’s personal tips for good food:

1. Make your own food, whenever possible. Starting with a sandwich and ending with a family dinner, but prepare your own food. I’m planning to grow my own basil in my balcony plant bowl, as soon as spring allows.
2. Eat breakfast. Cereal and milk is fine, as long as you don’t overdo the sugar in cereals. Muesli is even better.
Takes 2 minutes to prepare and holds hunger for about 3-4 hours.
3. Quit smoking and don’t drink heavy alcohol. Minimize cocktails and stick to dry or medium sweet wine.
4. Minimize red meat, try to eat more chicken or fish. When in doubt, try Jamie Oliver’s recipe for salmon:
Take 1 piece of salmon, wrap it in foil with lime or lemon, put it in the oven with green beans and olives. In 15 minutes it’s done!
5. Experiment with spices. Personally, I love curry and ginger. I made once a soup with carrots, curry and ginger that was spicy and sweet, just perfect for winter. Plus, it’s ready in about 45 minutes.
Not to mention the 2 jars of plum jam that I prepared in about 30 minutes, this summer. Recipe: squished plums (about 1 kg), remains of some juice I extracted out of them, vanilla, cinnamon, some sugar, and…whatever I could find in the bowl of spices.
6. Don’t hold yourself back. I always believed than rather than making yourself unhappy and craving something, better allow yourself the luxury to savor it. As long as it doesn’t do you harm.

I used to love smoking. But when a habit or a type of food gets in the way of your health, eliminate it. You know what they say – the sum of vices in a human being will always be constant. If you must give up chocolate, find something else you love instead. I replaced it with pudding. Yum :)
7. Make a typical short shopping list to use each time you go grocery shopping, and stick to it. It should include about 1/2 fruits and vegetables, 1/4 carbs (bread, cereal, pasta, rice) and the rest (or as little as possible) dairy and meat. Add water. I assume you’re already drinking about 2 liters per day, right?
8. Get inspired by cooking books. But don’t attempt to do it exactly like it’s there. My father used to say about his famous white sauce “It will never come out the same. I can’t even remember what I put in it.”
9. Enjoy it, and give yourself the experience of tasting several types of foods. I love to try out some traditional food in each country I’m visiting.
10. Eat in company, whenever possible. Good food brings people together and creates harmony. I think that’s why we’re going back to the kitchen table instead of the fast-food tray.

And finally, if you haven’t watched Julie & Julia yet, you must! Amy Adams is authentic and lovable, and Meryl Streep is, as usual, exuberant:

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  • Andreea
    March 1, 2010

    This post was so tempting for me, so I couldn’t resist …

    Why is cooking a new trend? Few simple possible answers: 1) on this so very fast moving world we need to rely on something that makes sense for us, and eating is the major habit that we have 2) since humanity has discovered the fire, it is believed that food played an important role into evolution, so why not sticking to the basics? 3) bio/ natural/environmental role models and the list can go on.

    For me cooking is a way of re-designing my life. It’s a world of unknown pleasures. It’s a game…and a music (when I chop or boil something). All the places that I’ve visited are a mixture of gastronomy, smells and colors. Istambul is not so much about Hagia Sofia, but more about Ayran, Asure (you should definitely try it), pomegranate juice, tchai, etc.

    I always take good care of the way that food looks like: it has to be always colorful (a lot of vegetables), with spices and nicely arranged. Even the color of the plates, the way that the napkins are arranged it can change your mood. Eating is a ritual, so why not making it special? In the end we are talking about our body, don’t we?
    There is no other supreme happiness than to accompany yourself with friends, tasty meal, wine, cheese cake and…the mood for talking,etc.

    Some extra advices:
    1) Enjoy mistaking (it’s human) and adapt your strategy! Cooking is not about perfection (of a recipe) but more about the beauty of the imperfection that you’ll create
    2) Buy colorful food (red/yellow/green peppers, olives, mushrooms, salad, goat cheese, surimi sticks, shrimps, tomatoes, egg plants, spices and so on)
    3) Visit a flea market (I personally love Ramnicu Sarat, Dristor) – I can’t describe the smell of plums, grapes and pears in the autumn…
    4) If you eat bread, try something different: seeds bread, ciabatta, French bread, cheese bread, etc
    5) There is a myth around how expensive is to eat healthy – I’ve done an meticulous Excel sheet with all my spending’s, and it turns out that for 2 persons it only brings you to less than 300 E/month.
    5) A good meal always goes well with flowers & wine.
    6) Experiment, go wild (try at least Turkish, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese,etc). It will make you complete:)

  • Maria
    March 2, 2010

    Wow, Andreea, what a rich comment! Thank you! I will definitely try some of them. And yes, I also loved the pomegranate juice in Istanbul!

  • Andreea
    March 8, 2010

    Te / va invit la masa:) Really, mi-ar face mare placere. Ii poti cere referinte lui Cristi (Catalyst) care a venit in vizita.

  • ruba
    March 9, 2010

    Hi Mer, wow, didnt know youre interested in food, check out this blog for some simple and lovely recipes ;)
    .-= ruba´s last blog ..Joy of… full-fill-ing! =-.

  • Maria
    March 10, 2010

    @ Ruba: Thanks, checked it out, looks very tasty! :)
    @ Andreea: Multumesc, o sa tin minte invitatia si mi-ar face placere sa ne vedem, macar la cafea if not for food.

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