Golden Rule...and honey roasted root vegetables

We're registered for a half on Sunday, and I'm feeling kind of crappy. Head's stuffed, my ears are ringing, throat feels slightly scratchy, and I'm overall just weary.  I'm trying to hasten a rebound into optimism and energy with orange juice, neti pot, and hot tea. But I know there's no quick fix.

Who doesn't get suckered in to the allure of a promising  "quick fix", sometimes? Even when we know there is really no such thing. In spite of accepting that the "cure all" is at best a panacea, and a zillion variations of a single "Get Rich Quick" scheme are no more than a money vacuum, at some point most of us will at least take a chance on a lottery ticket or twelve.

I've been thinking about this generally anything worthwhile takes a good deal of work, patience, and common sense to realize.  And somehow--perhaps because my desperate brain is clinging to the idea that it can trick the body into perfect health immediately--that line of thinking reminds me how occasionally we do stumble on things that are beautifully, simply, one-size-fits-all golden. If we could just abide by the example of these rare items, we'd be sure to carve a significant difference for the better into our lives.

First off, there's the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. So easy in theory, until the ego steps in, with its inflated sense of self-importance; or, when Stress and Pressure take over, far too often the norm, making the Golden Rule much more difficult in daily practice. When you think about it, all rules can be encompassed under its umbrella...unless you're a sadist, but who really wants to go there.

I know it's a stretch (and probably another sure sign I'm getting sick), but Golden Rule thinking got me wondering what a golden rule might be for positive changes in diet. What a mire that question can take you to! I've applauded Michael Pollan's "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" advice to the point it's probably nauseating, but to me, an enthusiast who is not an RD, that's about as zen as it gets.

Still, taking a different vantage point, there is one golden rule that has been standing out...for when you're in position to change just one thing. There's so much continuously changing research and propaganda out there, it can litter (not just clutter) your brain in a heartbeat, beating down the best of intentions with its imposing bulk. What's more, when we're so often told our efforts in fact back-fired (once, not too long ago margarine, one mere molecule from plastic,  was lauded as a healthy choice), it's easy to become deflated; and, it seems we've evolved to become wired with an abundance of Guilt, especially as related to food.

The whole point I'm trying to ramble my way to is, if there's a week when cutting out cans/BPA and going all organic and keeping within budget and avoiding sugars and refined flours and maybe even grains altogether depending on where you stand and to whom you've been listening...when that seems overwhelmingly too much, then it seems to me there is a Number One stick-to, first-step rule that will make an enormous personal difference, and it is: eliminate all high fructose corn syrup.

There is admittedly a certain compelling logic to the "sugar is sugar" tag line of the corn sugar campaign. It rings as rationally sound as calories in-calories out. Only it's not. It goes without saying, it behooves us always to watch our sugar intake, period. But in a sea of sugars to choose from, HFCS is the monster shark (apologies to the sharks). The research says HFCS is not absorbed by our bodies the same way as other sugars, including plain old granulated. HFCS is an industrial food product, and the chemical process that creates it alters the ratio of glucose and fructose in a way which is extremely taxing for our digestion.  According to Barry M. Popkin, Ph. D, Nutrition Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, HFCS is absorbed more rapidly than regular sugar, and it doesn't stimulate insulin or leptin production; therefore, your body will not signal fullness, and overconsumption is encouraged. There's an enormous wealth of great articles to read for the specifics, but if you're looking for a good place to start, read this one by Dr. Mark Hyman. It's clear, concise, informative...really great.

OK, one last very randomly related tangent for this post: if you haven't already cut out all HFCS from your cupboards, fridge and freezer, fall is a great time to start. One reason being, if you have a sweet tooth, fall flavors and favored cooking techniques lend naturally to a rich sweetness that satiates, too. Like, these honey roasted root vegetables, which I love, especially with a little tiny kick of chili powder. I think I first started roasting this combination thanks to Cooking Light, but I can't quite remember. Just know, this is no token recipe for the sake of it. It's golden, and I wanted to share.

Honey Roasted Root Vegetables

Choose any combination of your favorite root vegetables, about 7-8 cups, such as:

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yam, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
Mix in a large bowl with:
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 F. Spread vegetable mixture on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown. Turn halfway.