Now and then, whenever an issue “hits” him, he'll send me some of his thoughts for a post. This will work out great because as I've said before, I'm hardly what you would call “environmentally conscious”. I'm getting better (honest!), but mostly my interests in things like sustainable agriculture, non-GM, organic foods, and a healthier lifestyle, all stem from my concern to keep my family healthy and take care of the bodies God has blessed us with.
Meet “Bob in Green Suburbia”:
I'd have to say that the number one reason we emphasize healthy foods is the long-term well being of our two boys. I grew up during the 70s, which will probably not go down in history as one of the ‘healthier' decades. No offense to my parents, but as a kid I ate a lot of garbage: ‘Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bomb'-type cereal, chips, pop, Twinkies, you name it; I loved it all!
When we started our own family, it just started to dawn on us that if we established healthy-eating habits early on, perhaps the boys would carry them through their lives, and they would never have to “make the switch” to healthy foods…. they'll already be there! Seeing the boys so happy filling up on fresh fruit for their snack is very rewarding.
2. What started you on your path to better nutrition?
I think it probably started back in 1994 when my wife Sonia decided to stop eating meat. Becoming a vegetarian almost by definition means you have to look at the foods you eat very closely, in order to ensure you're getting the right balance of nutrients. This new world of vegetarianism led us to many books about nutrition and the importance of unprocessed, natural food, as well as the evils of factory farming, many of the topics Kelly discusses in her blog.
Full disclosure: while my wife and boys are vegetarian, I like to consider myself a “part-time vegetarian.” While I've got nothing against grilled tofu, I do love a nice thick (grass-fed) steak from time to time.
3. What is your biggest struggle in eating/feeding your family healthier meals?
In a more perfect world, eating healthy meals wouldn't be a struggle at all! But we live in a convenience-driven, cheap-food world. We are all bombarded with marketing messages every day urging us to buy processed, unhealthy, unsustainable foods. I'd have to say for us personally, there really isn't a “struggle” to eat healthily at home, we have just made a decision every time we buy food to do it. Eating healthy means taking the time to read ingredient listings, and also taking the time to prepare healthy meals at home versus popping open a box and microwaving it.
Now, to be truthful, we are most definitely not perfect! We do have our guilty pleasures, a bag of chips here, an ice cream cone there…. but we believe that if we deal with the unhealthy things in our diet with moderation and don't overdo it, in the long run we'll be ok.
For me personally, I do struggle during the day. My job has me on the road quite a bit, and that makes lunchtime difficult. I will admit, the temptation to swing through a fast food drive-thru is a strong one, and occasionally I do succumb to it. I know Kelly will kill me to say this, but one of the hardest things I would ever have to do would be to give up McDonald's french fries! Yes, I've done my homework, I've seen Super Size Me, I know they're awful, but I love 'em!
Again, for me it comes down to moderation. There is a trend in other parts of the country of healthier fast-food restaurants that serve nutritious, locally grown, and organic foods. Hopefully someday some forward-thinking West Michigan entrepreneur will see the light…. I think that day will come, and soon, and I can't wait!
4. What is your favorite healthy recipe?
That's a tough question. Sonia is a wonderful cook, and has over the years come up with some really awesome dishes! She makes some wonderful Asian dishes, and I love them all. I'm kind of a “meat and potatoes” eater; I like to keep things simple, and don't always go for fancy-pants gourmet meals with ingredients I can't pronounce. I'd say my all-time favorite recipe is my mom's chili recipe. Just basic old-fashioned chili. We've modified it a bit with veggie meat crumbles, organic ingredients, and healthier cooking oil. On a cool autumn day, or a cold winters' night, there's absolutely nothing better than a hot bowl of chili with some warm homemade bread.
5. How difficult has it been for you to get over the modern-day “fat phobia” and go back to drinking whole milk or eating butter, coconut oil, etc. with confidence that it's better for you and without feeling guilty?
Again, like a broken record that won't stop skipping, moderation is key! I've never fallen into the trap of not eating something because a study came out saying that it's “bad” for you. At the ripe old age of 38, I've seen enough of these studies be disproven over time to view them with a touch of skepticism.
Our bodies and brains are the most complex organisms on earth, and doctors and scientists are learning more about how they work every day. One thing I think they'd all agree on is that we need a certain amount of fat in our diets to support optimal body functions. The problem is we've gotten away from all-natural fats such as butter, coconut oil, etc. over the past few decades and are relying more and more on processed, hydrogenated oils and fats.
I feel that if a person eats a well-balanced diet of lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, AND healthy fats, he or she will live a healthy life.
6. What is your best kitchen/nutrition tip?
My first nutritional tip would be to get educated! Know what you're feeding yourself and your family. There is simply way too much stuff out there in the food supply that we just shouldn't be putting into our bodies, at least not in the amounts that lots of people are. I see so many grocery carts at the store overloaded with boxes and bags of crap food that people are taking home to feed their children, and it scares me!
Obviously anybody reading this blog is on the right path. Kelly's blog is full of horizon-broadening nutritional info, and a gateway to a larger world of food enlightenment. Take the time to read ingredient lists, study all of your food options, and make the best choice based on what you've learned. Spending money on locally grown or organic foods is worth the extra little bit you may have to pay for it; it's good for the body, and your money helps support a healthier, more environmentally sustainable food system. What could possibly be more important to spend money on and time researching than the food we feed ourselves and our family?
My second piece of advice would be to take baby steps with all of it. I don't beat myself up when I eat something that is processed or not-so-healthy for me. If your diet has a good foundation of healthy foods, I think you can occasionally fall off the wagon and not have to feel too guilty about it. Say it with me, “Moderation is key!”
7. What did you have for dinner last night?
We had dinner with friends at Grill One Eleven in Rockford. I had the lake perch, which was delicious, a couple of Bell's Oberons, and, um……. french fries. (sorry Kel!)
8. Do you have a tip for how to fit exercise into your life? How do you do it?
As much as I'd love to live life more spontaneously, with two kids it's almost impossible. To me, exercise is an essential part of a healthy life, as important as eating well. Like taking time to learn about what's in the food we eat, it's equally as important to find the time to take care of myself. I'm a runner (at least that's what I'm calling it) and try to run 3 or 4 times a week. With everything else going on in our busy lives, I try to schedule the days I want to run a week ahead of time, schedule it with Sonia's calendar, then find a time during those days to squeeze in a run. At the same time, I realize that the days I want to run don't always work out, so I also try to get exercise as I go about my day, things like parking at the back of a parking lot, taking stairs instead of elevators, just finding the exercise where I can.
Exercise is a high priority, so if the schedule's full, sometimes something less important has to go, like sitting in front of the TV!
9. What about Kelly annoys you the most? (Only one please.)
This one's easy. Three words: Cow. Heart. Hamburgers. Really, Kelly? Really??!??
Seriously, I couldn't answer this one. Kelly's one of the nicest, most caring people I've met. She's firm in her beliefs, but also open-minded about new things. Like cow heart hamburgers.
I'll defer all “Annoying Kelly” questions to Kent.
- My readers will want to know that I don't think Bob & Sonia eat tofu a lot, but here's a disclaimer that I don't recommend soy foods at all, read why here.
- Hey Bob, this one's for you: You CAN eat beef heart! (I'll call you next time we have it so you can pop over and give it a try!)
- For some reason, now I have this strange urge to remind you all of this post, I'm really not a food snob!!!
- Read Bob's other post on Fluorescent Lighting
- More guest interviews