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Filtering by Category: Nutrition

The Joy of Eating and BEING Whole

Roni Delmonico

Last Friday I took my two youngest sons in for their annual physicals.  Now that they are in their teens, I wait out in the waiting room for them so they can have some privacy and speak candidly with their doctor without mom putting in her two cents.  (It's hard... I usually have about 25 cents.;-))  On this particular visit, their doctor actually came out to the waiting room and said, "Mrs. Delmonico, may I have a word with you in back please?"  Uh oh...

He led me into an exam room and I wish you could have seen the look on his face (and probably on mine as well).  He said, "Your son Eric tells me that you have been eating more healthy in your household and I just need to verify that's actually true?"  I burst out laughing.  I couldn't help it... it was such a relief. I walked in there thinking something was really wrong and realized quickly that we were about to have an interesting conversation about my latest views on the psychology of eating.  

After assuring him that indeed, Eric was being truthful, I explained to him how at the beginning of summer, I had made the decision that I would no longer bring processed foods full of additives and chemicals I cannot pronounce into our home.  I told him that I was focusing on feeding them primarily whole foods, with little or no ingredients lists, and that I made a deal with my children that I would make sure they had three square meals a day and some good quality snacks and that if they wanted junk after that, I wouldn't harp on them about it but they would have to buy it with their own money and convince their older brother to drive them wherever they needed to go to get it.  

In the beginning, it wasn't easy.  For the first three weeks, they experienced a lot of the same withdrawal symptoms I had when I was in my "Kill all the things" phase.  They were going to the store up the street every other day for ice cream and potato chips.  I tried to keep my frustration in check and just kept putting healthy meals in front of them, giving them choices, hoping for change and did my best to model good behaviors myself.  I had a learning curve too and what finally worked in the end was this.  I started focusing on taste. How we have forgotten this beautiful gift we've been given.  Taste is such an amazing, wonderful, joyful, exceptional gift!  We are designed to linger over and savor our food.  And I am working hard on finding and creating meals that actually make the people I love best in all the world, really want to do that.  Taste.  Linger.  Savor.

So what was the very unexpected result of all this effort?  My youngest son lost 6 pounds of body fat in just under 4 months and is leaner and more muscular going into this football season, than he has ever been.  My middle son, maintained his weight for the entire year and has clearer skin than he did last year at this time. Both are in perfect health.  Their doctor said, "I need you to understand... I called you back here because this never happens.  Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!"  Teenage boys losing weight is often a sign for alarm. But teenage boys losing body fat and gaining muscle due to a healthy diet void of processed, empty calories is not something he sees every day.  That was a huge eye opener for both of us and is incredibly motivating for me to keep at it with my boys.  I left there on Friday wanting to dance.  It's working!

Every night, we sit down together as a family and share a meal.  We've always done that because it is something that has been important to both my husband and myself for their whole lives.  We connect so well as a family during this time.  We laugh, tell stories, talk about our day and the latest news, and share concerns... feeding our spirits and nurturing our connection to each other, while nourishing our bodies.  Without a doubt it is my favorite time of the day.  It's even better these days.  Whole food tastes so good

A few fun things about our table:  (*No affiliate links here, just sharing some favorite things). First, the recipe for the meatballs and sauce. This one is paleo friendly and came from Cindy's Table. It's been a summer favorite in our house.  SO so so delicious!  The beef came from Abbott Farms, right here in Baldwinsville; the pork, from WW Longhorn Ranch. The zucchini was fresh picked from my son's garden an hour before dinner and we used a spiralizer to make noodles out of them. Really fun, and a tasty way to use excess zucchini in the garden.  It doesn't replace good quality pasta in our house - I serve it in addition to.  I am married to an Italian after all.;-) More often than not, the boys will choose both pasta and zucchini!  There are two different kinds of bread, fresh from our local Farmer's Market: a Manakish za'atar and a round European Peasant loaf that each have ingredients easily pronounced and recognizable. I made the salad dressing in less than a minute using a stick blender (This is one tool I avoided for the longest time thinking I had no need of one - silly me!)  Start with a cup of olive oil, throw in some thyme, a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard, a dash of salt and pepper and some strawberry or raspberry vinegar to taste and whiz with a stick blender.  Super simple, super yummy. (One note, use a light tasting olive oil.  If you make your salad dressing with full bodied olive oil, your kids will likely turn up their noses. Don't ask me how I know.:))The salad base is a really wonderful mild red Boston Bibb I've fallen in love with this summer, tossed with grapes, apples, bits of raw cheddar cheese and some absolutely wonderful spiced almonds I just discovered from the folks at Our Daily Eats, based right here in upstate New York! And as always... we use a freshly grated parmesan.  (My mother in law taught me that and I've never looked back!)  

Food photography is challenging in my house because food gets eaten faster than I can photograph it. It is consistently disappearing before I can adequately work with it, but you know, I think I'm ok with that.:)  Bon appetit, my beautiful family.  I am so happy to feed you well!

Chocolate Cake For Breakfast!

Roni Delmonico

Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Frozen Torte.  Recipe by Susan Powers at  www.rawmazing.com . Photo ©Roni Delmonico and The Photographer's Palette.

Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Frozen Torte.  Recipe by Susan Powers at www.rawmazing.com. Photo ©Roni Delmonico and The Photographer's Palette.

I'm in a great mood this morning.  The creative juices are flowing, I've been writing a lot and I have some fun ideas for how I'm gonna finish out the year here. I'm excited about sharing it all with you.  Go grab a cup of coffee and sit with me for awhile. I'll cut you a piece of cake and believe it or not, it's actually good for you! Stay with me now... good for you doesn't have to equal yucky. I've got some interesting things to tell you! 

About a month and a half ago, I came across a book called It Starts With Food.  It was written by a couple named Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, who are big on tough love, small on tolerating excuses, especially when it comes to health and fitness.  I totally dig their style. Around the same time I began reading their book, my sister in law invited me to attend a six week Raw Food class with her on Wednesday nights.  I had had some limited exposure to the Raw Food lifestyle in the past and thought it might be a nice fit with my first Whole 30 Challenge.  I completed that challenge on July 30th and we just finished Week 5 of our Raw Food class.

I have been so inspired by both experiences, and there's way too much to tell you about that journey in one blog post so I've decided to spread out what I've learned in posts over the remainder of this year and to tie it all together by working my way through Nicole S. Young's book on Food Photography. I'll be sharing not just the photographic results with you, but also talk to you about the incredible things I have been learning about myself, about the psychology of eating, and about the ways we are falling short in providing the nutrition our bodies really need, sometimes, even hurting our bodies, without ever being aware of it. So much of what I've learned this year, I had never heard before and it was very eye opening.  I'm betting some of it will be new to you as well.

The fun stuff: I'm going to invite you into my kitchen regularly and talk to you with an open heart and mind about food and food photography: why I am eliminating some foods and adding others, why I choose certain equipment and angles when shooting food and the well informed reasoning behind all those choices. (Going forward and once I figure out how to do it, I will be including affiliate links to my favorite books, ingredients, kitchen supplies, and photography equipment sometimes, but only for products that I have used personally and find value in, and in the least invasive way possible.  My goal is to make it easier for you to find those things too, and to offset some of the costs of providing quality content, not to make you crazy with sales and flashy ads). I'm going to share the recipes for the healthy food photos I am creating and show you where to find the awesomely inspiring people who create them. I'm going to tell you about my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets, and teach you a few things about the lenses and camera equipment I use to get the job done.  I'm going to talk to you about the ingredients I'm using and why they are good for you. I'm going to indulge from time to time without substitution, because that's real life and I do have some decadent, not so healthy favorites that play an important role in my memory and in my family's history.  I'm going to share personal stories with you about my struggles with weight and my issues surrounding food over the past three decades. I'm going to tell you what I've learned about the incredible connection between mind and body and how that connection is important not just to the nourishment of my physical body, but to my creative and entrepreneurial spirit as well. I will introduce you to some of the truly forward thinking and compassionate professionals who have impacted my health recently in powerful, life changing ways. I'm even going to tell you stories about my immediate and extended families and the special foods that have brought us together through the years and why that matters to me so much.  I'm going to travel and share some local flavors with you when I do.  Through it all, I will be cooking and photographing food that will nourish our bodies with nutrients that have been sadly lacking in our modern age of fast and convenient.. making chronic pain, food addictions, illness, depression, neurological disorders and in far too many cases, premature death the norm, when it is in many cases, entirely preventable, simply by choosing carefully what we put into our mouths and our minds. And I'm going to do my best to photograph and write about all these things in ways that might encourage you to rethink what you're putting in your mouth, and help you begin to take back your own health and vitality so that you can truly thrive and feel happy. Imagine that.:)

Yesterday was a celebration for me and while I wanted to mark that with something special, I did not want to find myself on a sugar bender, undoing all the wonderful things I had accomplished by cleaning up my diet, eliminating alcohol, dairy, soy, processed food, sugar, grains, and legumes for an entire month.  I finished 30 days of beautifully clean eating, and discovered a host of things I want to share with you, while on that journey. It was good... it was very very good.:)  Dallas said that somewhere in the middle of it all, I might want to "kill all the things."  He was right, and it became a running joke in our house, that only made it all the more fun, as we navigated this crazy whole food terrain as a family.  Thankfully, I never did kill ALL the things. But I did slay some demons that had long been on my back... most of them existing comfortably on the cushy sofa I had installed for them in my foggy, junk food saturated mind.

We had chocolate cake for breakfast, and thanks to a totally Rawmazing, Susan Powers, it was not full of empty calories that make you feel bloated and uncomfortable and entirely guilty when you're done eating it and it required no baking whatsoever.  I hope you'll enjoy this new direction with me.  I look forward to it so much! Food photography hasn't had a strong place in my portfolio which is a direct reflection of my poor relationship with it in the past.  It is something I've wanted to improve upon for a long time and this seems like the perfect way to stay motivated, while engaging you, encouraging you, informing and maybe inspiring you to greater heights and healthier habits right along with me!