After a (very successful, if I may say) healthy food workshop, which I had carried out in Bosnia, I found myself back in Berlin, sitting at my desk, trying to finish all those essays, articles, stories that I had started to write before I went to Bosnia. But the flashbacks of the last days in my hometown wouldn’t leave me alone. I spoke with many people about food, about what „healthy“ food means, how the perfect meal should look like etc. and I realized why there are so many difficulties to understand what „good food/ eating good“ is.
Even if you are totally informed and educated about healthy nutrition, vitamin content of vegetables, importance of plant-based diet and regular exercises, you will never ever eat good and healthy, if you don’t enjoy your food. Your intention of making serious changes in your eating habits will go to pot, if you only do it in a spirit of coercion. There is a huge difference in „I want to like vegetables“ and „I do like vegetables“. We spend too much energy on counting the calories and fibers, instead of start paying attention on our food behavior: how do I act when I feel hungry, what food makes me sleepy, how much food does really satisfy me, why do I eat over my limits, etc. Changing eating habits is not a matter of nutrition, but of psychology. That means, that the real clue and challenge lies not in changing what you eat, but how you eat it.
Eating is a social act. In order to survive, we depend on other living beings, therefore we are never alone in this act. The modern food industry, food fashion and other food porn has made food mysterious and sinister to us. We start to be either very picky or too gready. And we forget how real food tastes. So, we must learn again how to eat. I say ‘again’ because we are not born knowing how and what to eat. Eating is something we can learn and this is a great opportunity if we want to change our eating habits. As a part of this world we live in, as a part of the eating cycle, we are obligated to develop a balanced communication with it.
This is a difficult process, indeed.
All those artificial flavors the food industry serves us in huge amounts make us and our children almost impotent to take individual decisions about what and how much we consume. We grow up liking coke with ice, pizza with extra cheese and cake with ice cream. The health organizations appeals against it, we start to feel threatened and we continue to eat more of the forbidden fruit. And even if we decide to make some changes, we fail after only one week, because we force us to like something we don’t.
So how start liking something we never did or never tried?
If we begin to think of food as of something that should nourish us at the first place. When we start to see in our food a daily source of health and delight, and not something we must struggle with. Listen to your body. Inform yourself about what you eat. Ask yourself if a huge cupcake can really give you more than just a few minutes of joy. Cooking your own meal by yourself is a great change, but only if you can cook something different than a pancake. Change your daily practice. Ingredients will change then all by themselves.
I often see people identifying themselves with the food they eat. I get very upset about it. Liking hot food – to show how adventurous they are. Sweet persons being totally into candies. People who can eat everything – because they are so flexible. Eating is a teaching skill. You are not what you eat.
Even if your whole family eats tons of fat meat and sweet cakes doesn’t mean you can’t change it for yourself. It is like playing an instrument. Of course you’ll have SOME genetic predispositions if you are coming from a musicians family, but if not this doesn’t mean that you don’t have a talent for playing piano. Especially, if you really want to learn how to play. If you only follow rational arguments, change will never happen.
And this change won’t happen over night. It takes time. Meal by meal. Once you will start avoiding sugar in your coffee. Then, you’ll start skipping the condense milk. Thereafter you’ll switch to fruit tee and stop feel caffeine addiction. This is just an example. Once you’ve established a healthy relationship with your food, it will feel so natural and instinctive that you can’t imagine acting differently again.
I am still on this path. And with every single change I understand more and more what it means being a part of this natural cycle.
Potato Schnitzel with Celeriac Creme
Start with Celeriac Creme:
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 medium sized (300 g) celeriac knob, pealed and chopped into 2 cm wide and 5 cm long sticks
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tsp tahini
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp honey
1/2 ground cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice
3 bay leaves
400 ml wather
sea salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika for garnish
knob of ghee or coconut fat (or only if must butter)
1. In a medium sized pot heat the ghee. Add onion and bay leaves,stir and fry until onion is softened (about 3 min.). Add garlic and celeriac and fry for another 5 min, or until celeriac is golden from all sides. Add salt, pour water over celeriac and cook over medium heat cook until celeriac is softened.
2. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove the bay leaves from the pot with celeriac. Using a hand blender or regular blenden, blend the celeriac until you get a smooth creme. Add tahini, cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, pepper and honey and stir everything to combine. Garnish with some smoked paprika. Set aside.
Ingredients (serves 2):
3 medium sized potatoes
1 onion, finely sliced
50 g corn meal (you can use also rice, buckwheat, spelt or chickpea meal. I took corn meal, because I got some organic an high quality corn meal from Bosnia.)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tsp of ghee, coconut fat or (only if must) butter
greens for garnish and/or parsley leaves
1. Wash and peal potatoes. Slice potatoes and onion julienne style. If you don’t have time for this you can grate the potatoes.
2. In a bigger bowl combine potatoes, onion, nutmeg, salt, peper and meal. If the mass is too dry add some water (not more than 2 Tsp).
3. Using your hands form small oval schnitzel ( ca. 5cm wide and 1,5 cm thick). In a frying pan heat ghee until melted. Place potato schnitzel in the pan and fry until crisp and golden on each side (fry each side minimal 2 min.)
4. On the serving plate spread some celeriac creme and cover it with potato schnitzel. Garnish with some neutral greens and/or parsley leaves.