Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Minimalist Diet - Maximum Benefit From Minimal Ingredients

The majority of those who embrace the minimalist concept of living focus on their material assets, and relegate other aspects of their lives to secondary and tertiary status in the adopted lifestyle. Others focus on the frugality of one’s lifestyle, adorning economical living with minimal living. Some, again, opt to equate minimalism and environmentalism, with only modest justification.
Minimalism is a composite lifestyle, adopting numerous attributes from other approaches to interacting with one’s world, living life on a budget, and yet incorporating a love of luxury with a desire for simplicity. This is the way of fine art: remove the clutter around a feature piece, in order to focus more fully on the pleasure that that specific item exudes.
We, as minimalists, choose to de-clutter our surroundings and our mind, in order to appreciate the simplicity of living without that bric-a-brac. It is a relatively easy process. However, while we feed our soul, we ignore physical nourishment as it is impacted by our minimal lifestyle.
One of the tenets of simple living relative to simple eating is to focus, as in fine art, on one or two feature items.
For example, my wife and I love spicy, ethnic foods. Our favourites include Asian foods, from Indian to Chinese. However, on occasion, we crave a simple, more bland palate, such as simple fish and rice or chicken and noodles or potatoes. Since we also concern ourselves with healthy foods, we work with those key items (salmon & sea fish, green vegetables, fresh fruits, and an abundance of healthy nuts and grains). Simple recipes often require raw, fresh items.
Most people react predictably. Yuckk! Nuts & berries. Raw vegetables. Bland starches. That attitude is misplaced and misdirected. Working with the simplest of ingredients, a marvellous colour of flavour can be created.
We take our minimal approach further, by harvesting wild herbs and culinary plants from the wild, throughout the year. This cuts costs, while improving the diversity of diet.
But even with a minimum of spices and base ingredients, a host of meals can be prepared from very simple food options.
Let us look at a simple five pound ham, bone in. We trim out the bone, remove much of the fat, and set this aside, to be used last. On Day 1, we slice a thick ham steak, poached in water with tomato, oregano, mustard, ginger and garlic. It is our meal’s centrepiece. On Day 2, we slice a smaller slice, dice it, mix it with curry paste and ginger, toss in chopped peppers and onions and sautee it. On Day 3, we take another slice, dice it and mix it with onion, pepper, lots of garlic, and chopped potato and yam. Cooked in olive oil. On Day 4, the second-to last slice is cut thinly, wrapped around goldenrod leaves and sliced apple and peaches, then baked. Day 5, we use the remnants and leftovers to make a stew, adding the odds and ends left over from the earlier meals. Five meals cost us less than $12.
Of course, five consecutive days of the same meat, albeit with radically different tastes and textures, can become overwhelming. To alleviate the potential taste doldrums, we will do the same with a few pounds of fish, or chicken, achieving a wide array of taste experiences, while using a minimum amount of ingredients. In this manner, we are able to take advantage of seasonal sales on meat, as well as seasonal availability of wild herbs and domestic garden produce.
Simple living does not require relinquishing variety. In fact, living simply can afford us the opportunity to explore unique ways to get the most mileage out of every item, every day, while wringing the last drop of living out of each moment. Can we do anything less?

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