Vail Family Matters: Don’t be a food victim |

Vail Family Matters: Don’t be a food victim

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –I have a friend who says that every time he feels a fight coming on with his wife, he takes a long look at her and remarks, “Are you losing weight?” This charming man is a chef who knows the way to a woman’s heart (and stomach).

If you find you’re going from hottie to cute to pudgy; or from fashion maven to oversized-shirt-and-yoga-pants-girl; or if folks are mentioning how cute the baby fat is on your baby, but your baby is 14; there might be an easy solution – learn to cook.

I believe one of the most important things you can do for the health of yourself and your family is to cook at home. You disagree? Jogging, sleeping and drinking water are more important than knife skills? I beg to differ.

Americans spend 49 percent of their food budgets on eating out. A study at Johns Hopkins University revealed 75 percent of Americans will be overweight by 2015. Much of this is attributed simply to poor food choices such as convenience foods and restaurant dining.

The sodium and fats in restaurant food is mind-boggling and the portions can be large enough to feed an entire basketball team, let alone one adult.

When eating out we might as well place our orders like this, “Bring me the fish with mashed potatoes and vegetables and please destroy my figure while you’re at it.” It’s very likely the fish is sauteed in tablespoons of fat, with so much added cream and butter in the potatoes that dairy farmers should be sending you a handwritten thank you note.

If any of my chef/friends are reading this, I don’t mean you. I’m not the least bit upset when you toss another spoonful of butter into my dish for good measure. I know you mean well.

The problem is, we become accustomed to this incredibly flavorful food. All of a sudden, we cannot return to a piece of grilled fish with steamed veggies, sans fat. It just tastes bland.

When women are calling 911 because McDonald’s is out of Chicken McNuggets (it must be true, I read it on the Internet), our society is really in need of Prozac to balance us out.-

Here’s what you don’t know about McNuggets (how could you?). A few years ago, my kids and I took a trip in our motor home. After hours on the road in the middle of nowhere (I think the place was named Nevada) we came to a town. That’s what they called it, but I use this word lightly — it was a gas station and a McDonald’s.

The kids were hungry so we grabbed some food and went on our way. When they were finished, one of them stuck his uneaten McNuggets in the sink, under the cutting board. When we arrived home, I cleaned the RV and put it into storage.-

Six months later, we began loading up the RV only to discover the box of McNuggets from our trip months before. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t made the entire vehicle smell like decay. I dreaded opening the package to reveal the science experiment going on inside. Horrifyingly, when I did, the McNuggets looked absolutely perfect. No kidding, these babies were ready for a professional photo shoot; they looked as if they had just been prepared. McDonald’s must be using the same preservatives developed by the Egyptians for mummification. At that point, can it even be considered food?

With the abundance of amazing spices, YouTube videos, Food Network shows, and array of food blogs online that can take you from amateur to competent before you know it, cooking healthfully at home (and teaching your kids) is easier than you think. If you shop and prepare wisely, it isn’t even very time consuming.

Going out often takes longer than cooking a meal at home would have. You’ll spend less, be healthier, and teach your kids to know food, where it comes from, and how to make healthy choices – priceless lifetime skills they’ll thank you for.

It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments

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