I’ve been reading a lot lately on other blogs as to what constitutes “healthy” eating.
While some follow paradigms around “low” fat, “non”-fat, and calorie counting, others define “healthy” by omitting certain things from their diet such as dairy, meat, or even yeast, carbohydrates, or wheat. Still others consider anything healthy as long as it’s natural, real, and “whole” – I tend to subscribe to the latter.
I’m the first person to whack another piece of bacon on my breakfast sandwiches every morning or smear a tablespoon of butter over my cornbread. I’m also the first to volunteer to host a locally made cheese tasting party. Wine is my friend. And I will throw a good hunk of duck fat on my potatoes any day. Mmmm… Duck fat. Heck yes!
I love fat. And fat loves me (particularly my hip and stomach region). We are designed to need fat. Without it we’ll die. Simple as that. And there are even studies that prove a little extra “weight” on your body has serious health benefits – some of which include less risk for osteoporosis, joint protection, and happier hearts. That being said, fat has, in the past few years, become public enemy number 1…. And the “war on fat” began.
In 1910 we consumed an average of 18 pounds per capita; today it’s less than 4. Yet obesity and the chronic health failures that go along with it such as heart disease and stroke are increasing every day. I honestly believe that it’s the “healthicization” of the food industry in combination with a proliferation of processed and refined “foods” in recent history that are to blame for our current dietary problems (in combination with sedentary lifestyles, of course).
Moreover, take a look at the Food Guide Pyramid. Did you know that the people who sit on the board of the pyramid, fund “health” research, and promote “healthy eating” guidelines are often members of big ag industry in fields such as Meat and Dairy? Not only that, but the guide is inherently racist. There are plenty of groups of people who have traditionally not eaten certain things like dairy – therefore their biological systems can’t process the stuff. How racist is it to presume a “white” culture of consumption that mandates everyone must eat X amount of a certain type of food to be “healthy”?
If we want to be “healthier”eat less processed food. And while you’re at it, simply eat less. When you do eat, stick to whole non-GMO, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and conscious protein choices such as legumes, nuts, seeds, or grains, and in moderation – ethical meat. Move your body more than you watch television. Go outside. Play. And while you’re at it, slap a tablespoon of butter in your frying pan. Or heck! Live a little and dig out that duck fat. It’s not rocket science. Of course, I’m not a nutritionist.
I’m just sayin’.
I’ve done a pretty good job of eliminating processed foods from my diet for the most part. My one weakness is when it comes to baking. I don’t do a lot of it but when I do, unfortunately I still rely on processed white flours and sugars.
I’m working on it.
Except of course, when it comes to Grandma’s chocolate cake.
That’s right. I’m following the above tirade with a recipe for sugar-central chocolate cake. Why would I do that? Three reasons:
- To make sure we don’t romanticize the early days. Just because it was the 1940’s doesn’t mean there wasn’t processed food around. There was – Grandma made cake.
- To expose the contradictions and complexities in our eating and living habits.
- To illuminate the fact that even those of us that espouse local, small scale, seasonal, organic, pastured, whole eating still struggle with contemporary lifestyles and the associated convenience “foods” that have made those very same lifestyles possible. In essence, nobody’s perfect.
We do what we can, when we can, where we can, how we can. That’s all anyone can ask.
In the meantime though, let us eat cake. We’ll get back to munchin’ kale tomorrow.
Grandma's Chocolate Cake: Black Forest Style
Yield 1 cake
Ingredients for Black Forest Cake:
- 1 1/4 C Ice Water.
- 2 1/4 C White All-Purpose Flour.
- 1 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda.
- 1 3/4 C Sugar.
- 2/3 C Butter, unsalted & at room temperature.
- 2 Free-Range Organic Eggs, room temperature.
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 5 Tbsp Cocoa.
- 2 Tbsp Butter, melted.
Ingredients for Topping:
- 1 C Whipping Cream
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.
- 2 Tbsp Confectioner's Sugar.
- Either 2 500ml Cans of Cherry Filling or 3 to 4 C Roasted Grapes.
- Flaked Chocolate (get the good dark stuff if you can)!
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F & grease & line 2 8X8 spring-based baking pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the 2/3 C butter and sugar with medium-high powered beaters.
- Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add the cocoa and melted butter. Combine well.
- Now add the floour mixture alternately with the ice water to the creamed mixture by thirds, starting and ending with the flour. Make sure everything is combined before going to the next step.
- Pour the mixture evenly between the two pans. Place pans on baking sheets to catch any drips that might occur. Put in the oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake slightly pulls away from the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then release the pans. Carefully move each side and then, placing a cooling rack on top of the cake, tip upside down to remove the parchment/bottom. Do this for both cakes. Allow to cool completely.
- Topping: Beat the whipping cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and confectioner's sugar. Continue whipping for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Position the first cake layer on a serving platter. Spread over the first layer of the cake, followed by your fruit topping. Place the second layer on top and repeat. Top with shaved chocolate.