Refresh your menu

Healthy eating. For most people, there’s room for improvement on the food front. Educating ourselves, knowing our options and planning ahead, all take effort and often don’t fit seamlessly into our busy lives.

Megan Bartelt, acupuncturist and owner of Carrot & Kale, a new organic juice bar and café in Downtown Oshkosh, talked recently about the benefits of simple, seasonal, whole foods and how anyone can eat well.

Q. Do you think the whole foods, locally-sourced food movement is gaining ground in the Oshkosh area?

A. The success of the farmer’s market and the growth of things like the Oshkosh Food Co-op and Growing Oshkosh indicate an increasing interest in eating well and eating local. There has been a group of people here for some time who are interested in eating well and sourcing their food locally, who want to have options that are quick when they need to eat on the fly.

Q. Why do you think it’s beneficial for people to eat whole foods?

A. I have a passion for eating healthy, for simple food. I encourage people to take their vitamins from whole foods (food that is not refined or processed) rather than relying on supplements. Our bodies assimilate the beneficial nutrients better when it comes from food.

Q. Why is it important to eat what’s in season, and is it difficult to accomplish that in a cold climate like ours, where the growing season is so limited?

A. According to traditional Chinese medicine, our bodies do a better job of processing what is in season. That means cooling foods in the summer and warming foods in the winter. There are more healthy eating options than you would think during the cold winter months, including grains for fiber; cooked potatoes and squash to keep us warm and help with digestion; along with spices like ginger, turmeric and curries. There’s a belief that eating raw vegetables is so much better for our health, but it takes a lot of energy out of our bodies to assimilate their nutrients.

Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to start including more whole foods in their diet?

A. Serve vegetables with every meal. Start by incorporating some greens into your breakfast. Serve your eggs over greens; sneak veggies into baked goods and sauces; make smoothies and juices that include fiber and vegetables. Meal prepping for the week with healthy ingredients also helps. Avoid refined sugar as much as possible.

Eating healthy foods is important, but it still needs to taste good! So, we’ve found a middle ground at the cafe. We put maple syrup, seasonal fruit and dates in our smoothies to add sweetness. We have an avocado chocolate pudding. A home juicer or Vitamix blender are great tools to have at home if you want to start introducing more whole foods in your diet, in ways that you and your family will enjoy.

A lot of this is about taking a greater interest in what you eat. Listen to your body. Eat whole, unprocessed foods. Chinese medicine recognizes that no two people are the same, so no single diet is perfect for everyone. Eliminating food groups is not always good. We’re made to eat and experience food, so you’re going to feel like you’re missing something if you’re not chewing.

Need help being more purposeful about the way you eat? Refresh your diet with books on Hoopla or Overdrive. Or visit the library and peruse our huge collection of cookbooks and other resources for healthy eating.