Sunday, August 29, 2010

Food and the Heart.

I am writing this post from a hotel room in Kentucky. Early this morning my husband and I packed up our children and along with my in-laws hit the road bound for a Smokey Mountain adventure. Tomorrow, after another day of travel we will drive up to into a little Tennessee cottage that hopefully has a view and a rocking chair with my name on it.

My mother-in-law and I worked together on creating a meal plan a few weeks back. I am incredibly blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law who dotes upon my children and with whom I am able to get along with very well. Don't get me wrong~ we are as different as night and day, but we like one another. I am incredibly thankful for her.

And, this is exactly why I am going to ask this question.

How do you talk about food?

My mother-in-law is a cook, a baker, a spend all day in the kitchen hands deep in flour, fill up the table with an abundance of food kind of lady. And, she does all of it as a love language to her family. If my mother-in-law gives you a cookie make no mistake she is loving you. I get this. And, I respect this to my very core.

However~ ever since making the gradual yet life changing move to eating whole foods that are ethically raised and organically grown I have found it ever so difficult to dine with my mother-in-law. We do not share the same food philosophy.  Not even close.

She is a believer that healthy equals sugar free, margarine, low fat substitution for real food. Case in point: As a gift to my children who adore yogurt she went to the store and purchased low fat, sugar free yogurt that was sweetened with aspartame and flavored with vanilla flavoring. This was a gift. From her heart. 

Is there a way to tell her that I appreciate her thoughtfulness and cherish the way she cares for my family while at the same time letting her know that I do not want my kids to eat that yogurt? 

None of this is coming from a place of superiority. I have simply over the past year learned information at the right time that has profoundly altered the way I think about food.  We are moving in a direction that is taking us towards simple whole foods that are minimally processed, home made, nourishing for the body and farmed/raised in a manner that reduces our families footprint on the earth.

My mother-in-law has shopped, prepared, and cooked food the same way for sixty years. There is not going to be a change in her eating and my goal is not to uproot her food system or challenge her kitchen ethics. My goal is to receive her gift, let her bless my children, honor her and still provide my children with the food that I believe is nourishing to their bodies.

During a normal week we see my mother-in-law only once for two meals. Thus far, on those days I ease up a bit. I do not bring my own food to her house and we eat exactly what she prepares with gratitude. But, here with seven days together sharing a kitchen in the mountains of Tennessee the food issue has become more difficult for me to ease up on.  If for no other reason than our bodies, used to whole foods, will react negatively to highly refined and processsed foods.

I brought much of my own food.
I helped with the meal planning, volunteering to help with all meals, even though she is perfectly at home in the kitchen and prefers to do all the cooking.
I am letting my kids munch on her home made goodies while also providing and encouraging them to eat foods from our home.
We will get by. Happily. Thankfully.

But, it does raise an interesting question. How does one talk about food in a manner that does not bring hurt to some one else? How do we express the going on's of our kitchen counter while not implying wrong-doing in the kitchen of some one who does thing very differently, such as a much loved mother-in-law?

Just throwing it out there. Its a question we have been addressing often here at MPM's since all three of us are changing the way we eat for a variety of reasons ranging from health benefits to stewardship of the earth.

 We would love to hear from you with any thoughts and insights. Not so much regarding my mother-in-law. For the most part I simply let her give her gift of food her way. But what about one another? How do we enter dialog about food, sharing valuable information, without coming across as superior or heavy on the guilt? It may seem harmless, but food is deeply rooted in tradition making it a very sensitive subject.

Anyway, enough serious stuff.

That delicious looking dough at the top of this post are chocolate chip cookies made with ground kamut and soaked in kefir. They were tasty. I want one now.

Here is the recipe for you.

One cup pastured butter
One cup unrefined coconut oil
2  cups unrefined sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
1 2/3 cup Kamut flour
2 cups Oat Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Cups fair trade chocolate chips 
1/4 cup acid medium (kefir)

Grind the oat flour and kamut together. Add the coconut oil, butter, and kefir. Soak overnight.
The next day~ Mix all the dry ingredients together, add egg and vanilla. Beat it all together.
Bake at 350 degrees until soft and brown. (about 12 minutes).



3 Little Chicks said...

When you find the answer, let us know! I had to just flat out tell my mother-in-law that we prefer (real) butter - not margerine, and will only eat foods with real sugar (not aspartame, splenda, etc.) in it. I don't think it hurt her feelings. I think she just thinks I'm picky, but respects me because she knows I'm doing what I think is best for my kids' health.

MommaHughes said...

Katie, HOT TOPIC!! You wrote that post beautifully. I am so interested in hearing responses. I really hope people feel free to post their insights and opinions on this matter. I mean, because really, does ANYONE marry into a family that eats like they ate growing up? And, even if they do, then we learn things about food and our eating changes, so then what? ;) Ya know? I can't wait to see what people have to say.

Susie said...

Katie, I have been pondering this topic a great deal since I first read your thought-provoking entry. Tonight I have posted a response on my blog here: Perhaps someone will find it useful. <3