I’m recommending a Slow Food Summer. C’mon… it’s summertime and the perfect time to experiment with whole, healthy foods and new recipes, gardening and fishing (even scalloping) too!
Some of us still have a few weeks left of summer, so why not go ahead and make the most of it. We tend to go for convenience during the school year when most of us are having to balance our work lives with school activities and other obligations, but in summer you can slow down the pace and give back more to yourself.
I kicked-off Memorial Weekend doing just this in the form of Summer Salads, and have been thoroughly enjoying the benefits. I love preparing my own meals over restaurants and find I feel better too. I can’t make sushi yet, but almost everything else I can some how figure out. 🙂
The long, warm days of summer often inspire barbecue dinners, family travel, or special family events, like reunions. These gatherings are a great opportunity to introduce a Slow Food Summer and celebrate food culture and traditions.
The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1989 and has since spread worldwide, with local chapters all over the country. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine to create a world where food is good for the people who eat it, the farmers who grow it, and the planet which produces it.
Slow food is about taking the time needed to cook good food properly and recognizing that reliance on fast food damages our health, social fabric and cultural food traditions. To know what we’re putting into our bodies is especially important for those of us who are gluten free ’cause we need to be. And being an Italian girl with celiac disease, I get this!
Slow food doesn’t have to be organic and you don’t have to be a vegetarian, but food does have to be good, clean and fair. It’s an understanding and appreciation of our food’s value.
Fresh, clean food is important to me and a way of saying no to the rise of fast food and a fast life. Slow Food means living an unhurried life and giving yourself space to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, starting at the table.
Have you noticed that many restaurants don’t cook bacon anymore? It’s pre-packaged. I make real bacon. It’s not hard. You start it before the coffee, then by the time the eggs are cracked and the pan is warm, the bacon is almost done. Then there’s that sizzle in the skillet and smell in the air…
I understand the reasons why fast food sounds appealing, but our appetite for fast, cheap food has exacted a high cost on our health, well-being, and our life experiences.
Many of us can recall delicious meal occasions prepared by family members, or even by ourselves before the need for speed overtook us. Ask family members if they have heirloom recipes passed down through the generations they can share. I grew up with my 100% Italian mom and grandma making Stuffed Shells or homemade Manicotti for Christmas. I made those for my family every Christmas until I went low carb and stopped eating gluten. To stick close to Italian family tradition, I now make a Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan that my Momma Annabelle taught me how to make.
Perhaps a new cookbook is all you need to get inspired. For me it was the Eat Delicious cookbook by Dennis The Prescott.
He believes that food is community, and meant to be celebrated. That good food isn’t processed—or precious—but fun to make, exciting to eat, and full of happiness. Yes, please!
Slow food is not food that takes forever to get to the table. I have my own version of “fast food” inspired by the slow food movement, and you can too! You have to be prepared to make a quick and easy meal at home. Being stocked is key. Veggies like carrots, potatoes, radishes, cabbage, onion, and garlic last a long time. Apples in the fridge do to. Dried herbs and spices, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, nuts, honey, tamari (gluten free soy sauce), mustard and ketchup are pantry staples.
Use recipes that call for fruits and vegetables that are in season and available from your neighborhood food co-op, farmer’s market, or even your garden. Whole Foods and Fresh Market also feature locally sourced products. The Organic Authority is a great resource to help you find your local food sources once summer is over, and frozen veggies are almost as good as a fresh—and certainly better than fast food.
Cook some corn on the cob and leave it in the fridge as a grab and go, especially for boating. Freeze some grilled chicken strips and pull them out the night before and thaw in the fridge to add extra flavor and lean protein to a salad. Skirt steak is the fastest cooking meal you can make. Add a side of sugar snap peas and it’s the best meal of the week!
If this isn’t your MO of eating, it will take some thought and effort in the beginning, although good and fun effort. Your slow food summer can be baby steps; learn simple cooking techniques, prepare meals and garden with your kiddos, or pack your own food on road trips and have a picnic!
Here are a few things I’ve been experimenting with this summer, inspired by the slow food movement and Dennis The Prescott’s cookbook:
Summer Smoked Baby Back Ribs
I was not only inspired by the recipes in this book, but also the photos. This is one of several I took of this dinner based on this beautiful Instagram pic!
Gluten Free Taco Burger
Hand-pressed burgers are fast and better than anything pre-stamped out. Plus, you can customize to your liking and make ’em gluten free if they need to be. I chose to go Southwest and wrap in a corn tortilla, but lettuce wrapped anything keeps me going full out.
Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes
French fries are best when fresh and hand sliced. My BOYZ love these! I sliced up some yellow squash for added nutrition and flavor. Super easy and delicious!
High Protein Pecan Loaded Pancakes
1 1/2 cups of crushed pecans
1/4 almond milk
2 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup gluten free pancake flour (I used Trader Joe’s and doubled up on eggs and pecans for more protein)
It took some time and trial and error before I was able to take control of my health after my diagnosis. Learning how to eat for health and wellness didn’t happen overnight. It took a series of small, stairsteps that have added up to a shift in the way I care for myself and my family.
And the more we do it, the easier it gets. We know what to expect. We have experience in our back pocket and a skill set to hit up. Every new thing we try teaches us a life lesson. We store it and go back to it, on an as-needed basis. These are steps you can take as well, and I’m incredibly grateful to share them with you.