Nutrition and holistic health have always been a passion of mine. I wasn’t however always living a lifestyle in alignment with my values and interests. Like many of teenagers, I had adopted the habit of drinking soda and eating sweets, despite my actually preferring vegetables and tea over desserts and soda. It took me years to become countercultural to my peers and focus on eating what my body craved over what was popular.
It wasn’t until my husband abruptly developed adult onset asthma that I knew our family had to fully embrace holistic living. The doctors had no idea what triggered his breathing issues and told us his asthma was so bad they wanted him to participate in a study. Instead, he kept an inhaler for emergencies and went on a journey to discover what caused him to get attacks in the first place. He discovered it was gluten.
No gluten, no attack. And no more of the horrendous stomach pain he had had for years. He still has his inhaler for emergencies (gluten is present in so many dressings and salads that he occasionally ingests it by accident) but his attacks subsided drastically. We continued investigating holistic medicine and nutrition and the impact it plays on a person’s mental and physical health. I flew to India and studied Ayurveda at a clinic. My husband became a Wellness Coach. We read book after book on everything from essential oils to Chinese medicine and herbalism. Everything I learned made me reflect on certain cultures I had visited or lived in that valued eating good quality food.
A large portion of my childhood was spent in Antibes, France. Everyday my Father and I went to the local market to buy the day’s produce, cheese, and olives. We would eat artichokes dipped in melted French butter for lunch, along with a salad and cheese. Life was good, as the food was good. It was expensive, as any European will tell you, but it was budgeted for. Instead of spending money shopping often for clothes and other items (which are even more expensive), people would shop when they really needed something. When we lived in Italy we saw the same mentality, no matter if it was a waiter or an antique store owner. They know that deliciously cooked food made from real, whole foods based ingredients costs more than fast food. But since food is so important to their culture (and economy) they budget for it.
Our goal is to raise our daughter as naturally and holistically as possible, and we made the decision to feed her ( and ourselves) a whole foods based diet our priority. No soda or fast food, and with an emphasis on consuming loads of veggies. We’re not talking about no treats or goodies here, but when we give her something sweet it’s healthier than the options served at fast food chains.
Talking about what we eat and why as well as our lifestyle in general is an important part of our daughter’s education. She’s taken such an interest in food that as of right now, she wants to be a chef! One of her favorite TV programs is River Cottage, which follows the life of a city based chef that moved his family to the countryside to start their own small farm. I’m proud of her interest in growing and cooking food and I know it’s because of the conversations we have with her.
How much change could we have in our world if schools (and more parents) would discuss the importance of good food and the environment with our kids? The benefits are manifold, and the conversation is waiting to be had.
One thing that works for us is having one night a week where we spend time together as a family, talking about the week, our goals, our struggles. We watch a movie together and cook a good meal that we savor, and talk about the ingredients used and their health benefits.
Open Conversations About Health Issues
Just talking about my husband’s asthma and what triggered it helps our daughter understand not only our dietary choices but also why we are so very passionate about this topic. Whenever our little one gets sick ( which is rare) we talk about what we can do to boost her immune system, which leads into a conversation about herbs, wellness, and rest.
Whole Foods Based Recipes
One of my favorite go-to whole foods recipes is my variation of a friend’s brown rice bowl. I change it up by making it similar to a California roll by adding creamy avocado on top, but it’s totally optional. Nothing is more comforting than this dish!
California Roll In A Bowl
- short or long grain brown rice
- organic firm tofu
- organic broccoli or edamame
- 1 avocado ( optional)
- ½ tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- brown rice vinegar
- wasabi powder
Cook rice according to instructions on package. Steam broccoli or edamame by adding them to a frying pan or pot with ½ cup water. Steam until they are tender, but not overcooked. Drain and set aside. Mix ½ tablespoon of toasted sesame oil with a pinch of wasabi powder and a dash of brown rice vinegar to taste. Combine the rice, steamed veg, and sesame dressing.
Top with slices of avocado and if desired a bit of paprika.
Even if your kids claim they don’t love kale, this recipe may still be a crowd pleaser. It’s the perfect side to serve with almost any main dish. Or if you’re like us, you may end up eating it all by itself!
- 1 bunch of organic kale of choice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
Begin by de-stemming and washing kale. Heat a skillet and add coconut oil and 2 smashed cloves of garlic (optional: keep the skin on). Add the torn pieces of kale and cook until they are tender. Toss with sea salt and serve.
What is your approach to family wellness? Tell us in the comments below.
ELIZABETH KELSEY BRADLEY is an award-winning writer, photographer, and consultant based in Thailand. She blogs regularly about holistic family life, travel, and life as a creativepreneur over at Savouring Simplicity and is the founder of Thriving Healer. Follow her journeys on Instagram.