You have probably heard about the trend that more people ate at home since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, research shows that people are continuing to eat at home and 20% of consumers expect that trend to continue or increase.
In the depth of winter (where we are now), what is more comforting than some home-baked bread?
But more than comfort, eating at home can bring control. For people concerned about what they eat, dining at home offers invaluable knowledge and control over what they consume. And research points to the importance of that concern because more and more findings show you ARE what you eat.
For example, a 2021 New York Times article reported on research that points to evidence that what people ate had more impact on the makeup of their microbiomes than their genes. The same research also found that a variety of plant and animal foods were linked to a more favorable microbiome.
But just what, you may ask, is your microbiome? It is the name applied to the thousands of microorganisms in your body. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the microbiome is “even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body.” The microbiota that make up your microbiome stimulate the immune system, break down potentially toxic food compounds and synthesize certain vitamins and amino acids.
The Mayo Clinic offers the perspective that a healthy microbiome supports your immune system and may play a role in weight management. This is their handy graphic on the microbiome associated with digestive health–also known as good bacteria for your gut:
The Road to Eating Well
There are many different avenues to follow on the road to eating well. Whether you cook for a large group or just yourself, whether you want a new approach or a tried-and-true one, read on to learn about some of the great offerings for the 2022 Back to Basics workshops on food.
Among the virtual workshops, there is “V8. Fermentation with Steven Dahlberg” which covers principles for making fermented alcoholic beverages, kombucha, buttermilk, ginger ale, and switchel. Dahlberg also offers fermented food information in his workshop “V9. Super Foods: Nutrient Dense Foods for Optimal Health.” Dahlberg covers sources for each of the super foods he identifies and how to use them. Dahlberg says: “Weston A. Price was on the right track when he determined that diets rich in vitamins and minerals were the key to good health. We also know that conventionally-grown and, especially, processed foods don’t provide this type of diet.”
Sometimes the key to healthy eating can be in the planning. In “V14. Simple Meal Planning for a Healthy Family with Beth Noordmans,” the basics of healthy meals and a simple systems for meal planning are covered. “No more wondering what to make for dinner!” Noordmans says. Also included are links to more than 20 tried-and-loved recipes!
Is pizza a favorite in your household? Mark Schultz offers “V21. BackWoodBasics in the Kitchen: Saturday Night Pizza” where he prepares a thin crust pizza using summer produce and other local ingredients. “We'll be using locally sourced pork for the sausage, tomato sauce from our garden, Heritage wheat from Sunrise Mill, and basil from our GardenStream tabletop garden.”
For taking pizza to a whole new level, consider “V25. Roll Out the Barrel: Build Your Own Wood-Fired Barrel Oven” with Barb Mann and Doug Weiss of Balsam Moon in Pine River. The workshop covers the steps they took to make a barrel oven–from sourcing materials and laying bricks to sealing it all with cob. They’ve found their outdoor oven can feed a crowd: “Take an old steel drum barrel and convert it into an outdoor wood-fired oven that can bake up to a dozen loaves of bread at once, or six pizzas, or casseroles, roasted veggies, and more!”
Does the idea of bread and amazing pizza crust bring ideas of sourdough to mind? It should!
Bread and pizza crust are two highlights in Beth Noordman’s virtual workshop “V15. Sourdough Made Simple.” “We'll start with "growing" your own starter, then I'll teach you to use this starter to make yummy and healthy quick breads like waffles and biscuits, and then move onto things like pizza crust and an actual loaf of bread!” says Noordmans.
In-Person Workshops for Back to Basics also have great information when it comes to feeding yourself (and your family) well: “P5. Home Canning with Geoff Davidge.” Using tested recipes from what Davidge calls the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book, his workshop covers Basic Home Water Bath canning skills: foods, tools, methods and Basic Home Pressure Canning skills: foods, tools, methods. “Everyone talks about how they should be doing this,” Davidge says. “Freezing is fine, but seeing canned products on the shelf is comforting!”
One new workshop topic in 2022 is Ayurveda, an alternative approach to overall wellness in which diet is key. For the workshop “P11. Introduction to Ayurveda with Aprile Lack,” Lack will familiarize attendees with this ancient holistic approach to restoring and maintaining the healthy balance between the mind, body and soul. Our interconnectedness with nature is emphasized as well as daily and seasonal routines. The workshop will cover a brief history of Ayurveda, introduce characteristics of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and outline basic diet and lifestyle guidelines of Ayurveda.
To learn more about all of these workshops, click here.
Because eating is a daily activity, each day offers new opportunities to make healthier choices. Small changes over time have a big impact! Whatever your goals, wherever you are, just the fact you are thinking more about what you eat means improvements can be made.