The Valley of Temptation

So we are still persisting in our attempts to avoid over processed foods and especially junk products, and making as much as we can at home. Personal highlight this week was a breakfast of freshly made whole meal sour dour bread (no bread machine involved for those wanting to keep it simple) and home made cream cheese (greek yoghurt strained through a muslin). Felt very much like living the good life! If only we had room to keep chickens... and a bee hive...
It has taken a bit of planning, but on the whole has been fun, and has certainly led to us eating more fruit and veg. There have been days I've been out and about and it's been difficult to avoid other people's cooking (I will confess to a major fall at baby cinema where tea and cake is served to you in your seat an my salad was safe in the fridge a home), but I have generally tried to go for the least processed thing on the menu. The real challenges have been standing in the queue at shops. Our local mini-tesco has what I like to now call 'The Valley of Temptation'. It is a snaking walkway lined with chocolate and sweets. Most of them seem to be on special offer, and it wasn't until I had ruled them out of my menu, that I began to realise how frequently those bargains had been making their way into my basket as small pick me ups or 'treats' that were good value so would be stored to save money at the cinema etc.
Now being careful with one's money is often a sensible idea (though due to some recent unfortunate encounters I'm not going to make the joke about it being an important Jewish value) but the impact on our bodies and our health are what this series of blogs is looking at. In a world that followed Jewish values the valley leading up to the till should be lined with apples and cucumbers, carrots and maybe a hearty lentil soup: things that nourish and sustain us. That's not to say Judaism discourages enjoyment and good food (particularly on Shabbat and festivals such as we are in now; Chanukah), but they should be to enjoy now and then, not to perk us up day to day, causing me, at least, to feel I need such lifts, when in fact the sugars in them are probably causing me to need more of the same.
When I lived in Sweden I noticed something called 'Godis dag' - which in my head made sense as meaning 'goodies day' but I gather more literally is 'candy day'. In other words, there was one day a week Swedish children were allowed sweets. This day seems built into Judaism; Shabbat; a day set apart from all others, when time and behaviours shift, and which for my family already means a different way of eating; on the whole it is the only time of the week when we eat meat. Judaism asks us to care for our souls and our bodies - shemirat ha nefesh v'ha guf - so each time I manage to walk the valley of temptation and resist, I feel a small victory. And I look forward to baking something different to enjoy for Shabbat, rather than relying on someone else to decide what treat we should go for in the special offers, encouraging me to buy not just one chocolate bar but 3.
That isn't to say I won't enjoy a latke this Chanukah, but how much bette are the latkes straight out of the pan, than mass produced frozen things. Food is often as much about family and togetherness as it is about energy and vitamins. But let's get together over food worth shouting about that has our love and care put into it, and is therefore much more likely to nourish our bodies, as well as our relationships.


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