Few days ago we received an e-mail from one of our visitors. Since the e-mail is very interesting it would be a shame not to share it with you. Of course, with the permission of the author:
Being raised in a family of mixed European and Cherokee ancestry, my life wasn’t much different than any other person’s, as far as my childhood is concerned. The only difference I noticed as I became older was the differences in foods I saw other kids eat because of my parents’ dietary regiment.
Even now, the meals we ate seem fairly normal to me. Lean meats including chicken, turkey, lamb, venison, and bison (or cow if bison was unavailable) was eaten quite often, but lots of fish, especially salmon, were common too. I even remember eating a soup made from turtle meat and rattle snake, but that was a one time thing. Eggs were eaten as breakfast items once in a great while, usually scrambled and served with acorn or sunflower flat bread and fruit.
As far as vegetables were concerned, I remember having at least a two pounds of deep-green leafy salads, mostly from watercress, stuffed down my throat each day throughout various meals. Suffice to say, regularity was not a problem in our house. We did eat lots of root vegetables contrary to your site suggests, although we did not eat a lot of potatoes. Sweet potatoes were commonly served, more often substituted by parsely roots, celery roots, onions, green onions, and carrots. Tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini were grown in the backyard every season along with various squashes that were served on the side as well. I often enjoyed pepitos, or pumkin seeds, although not year long since the squash season was short. Mushrooms were common, including wild mushrooms we would pick on trips up into the rocky mountains during the early summer. You haven’t tasted a real mushroom until you pick them yourself.
Fruits and berries were a daily staple, especially black berries, blue berries, and strawberries. Apples, peaches, and various citrus were common. Melons were a big favorite, although only eaten on occasion. Pretty much anything that was fruit was eaten in our home.
Beans such as black beans and Lima beans were eaten on occasion, but very rarely, and often mixed in a succotash with maize. Other grains were rarely served at home due due to several of us having wheat allergies. If we had a grain by itself, it was either wild rice or quinoa, but these were maybe served as a side dish once every few months. As far as breads were concerned, I remember acorns and sunflower seeds being ground up and made into various dishes like flat-breads and sun-nut butter. I later learned acorn bread wasn’t a Cherokee dish, but rather a staple of the peoples from the west coast. Although all the recipes my mom followed weren’t authentic, neither are carrots, being of European origin.
Dairy was never served in our home. I am not lactose intolerant and neither were my parents and brother, but milk never served a dietary or staple purpose on our home. Oddly enough, none of the women on my mom’s side of the family have osteoporosis, even though they rarely, if ever, consume dairy products.
The big difference I noticed when I got older was snack foods. While other kids ate candy bars, or drank soda, I was given home made energy bars made from ground nuts, dried fruit and honey, as well as raw juices. By the time I was twelve, I must have eaten a whole forest of unsalted raw nuts. If wanted a savory snack, jerky was commonly on hand. Dried, unsweetened cranberries often ended up in everything snack related in our home, even if I didn’t want them to.
There was a rule in our house that if nature didn’t make it, or you didn’t make it with your own hands, then you don’t eat it.
Tea, tea, and more tea was drank by the gallon in our house. The decaffeinated green or white was available, but my parents often sprang for the herbal varieties instead. If we wanted to sweeten our drink, raw honey was the only sweetener available. When I got older, I would save my money and buy what everyone else was eating, and I would have to sneak it into the house since my parents forbade junk food. Much to my surprise, it made me sick to my stomach.
After awhile I got used to my modified junk food diet, all the way through college — that was until a few years ago, when several minor pieces of bad news from my doctor changed my mind. I have been eating the foods my mother prepared at home for going on six years now, and I feel like I did when I was a kid. The big thing is to vary your diet, avoid processed foods and refined sugars, limit your grain intake, eat lots and lots of greens and fruits, and don’t be afraid of a little honey now and then.