Clean and Local: A Journey Towards Healthy Eating | By Sarah and Elias Bazakos

When we met 15 years ago, there was no olive oil in my kitchen; there was butter and canola. Growing up in a typical midwestern household, Sarah hadn’t heard of staples like lentils, feta cheese or Kalamata olives, and didn’t know that people actually consumed lamb, octopus, and fish eggs. When Sarah met her Greek American love, who grew up on a mostly Mediterranean diet, our journey began, and things slowly changed. One of our first dates was a food and wine tasting, and like everything in our relationship, we fell hard and fast, deeply in love with learning together on our culinary journey.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

We spent years exploring our palates while traveling, overeating, cooking, and tasting wine. The first milestone in our journey was when yoga found Sarah after she endured a miscarriage. Those early experiences in yoga led us to dive head first into a vegan cleanse. Such a change, even briefly, was a stretch for us, but we embraced the challenge whole heartedly. It opened the door to the possibility that there exists greater knowledge regarding how we choose what to eat. Certainly we had figured at that point that a fast food burger at 3 a.m. near the end of a 30-hour work shift yielded poor results, but little did we know the surprises we would discover just by paying a little more attention to things.

The next “a-ha moment” was in early parenthood when we attempted to introduce dairy to our 12-month-old daughter, and she unapologetically turned her nose up at us. She was having none of it. As dutiful parents we tried following our pediatrician’s advice, but to no avail, and we finally realized her body was telling us to listen. So we read and researched and learned that not only are there other and possibly better food sources for the nutrients found in dairy, but also she was a blank slate – primed for introduction to a variety of foods, particularly vegetables many of which most young children do not get exposed to. Start them young and the omnivorous diet will be second nature.

Start them young and the omnivorous diet will be second nature.

Delving even deeper, we questioned the source of our food. We had a garden and we took satisfaction in knowing where some of the food on our plates came from, but as amateur gardeners, it wasn’t enough. So we joined a local organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm and it was life changing. We were introduced to vegetables we had never heard of, and we learned how to in corporate fresh plant-based ingredients into meals by making vegetable noodles, riced vegetables, and vegetable dips. We even sat down for coffee with our farmer and talked about his challenges.

Our passion blossomed and we became drop site coordinators to share this amazing resource and hopefully inspire others. It’s quite a different feeling to look at your plate and to know exactly where it all came from. Already conscious of labels like “grassfed,” “free range,” and “wild caught” we started to find local meat, eggs, and honey as well. We went after the Greek ingredients too, and this led us to young, vibrant farming families in southern Greece who have followed traditional organic farming techniques for generations long before it was en vogue. They offer produce of truly powerful quality, from rich soil, much of which is harvested in its wild state.

At this point, you may either feel our momentum or feel we are nuts. Friends, the proof is in the pudding. The process is truly a journey. Once you start examining your food, you solve one issue, and the next one becomes evident. Despite our medical training, it took us years of trial and error to work along the path of eating cleaner, sourcing locally when possible, and feeling confident enough to share this passion with others. Elias takes time in his practice to guide patients towards this path of discovering their own optimal diet.

Once you start examining your food, you solve one issue, and the next one becomes evident.

No matter the illness or affliction, the nervous system functions better with a healthy diet. Folks always wonder about the expense of eating healthy food, but the body of scientific evidence is growing regarding the real expense of eating poorly. Sarah shares her paleo inspired recipes with the community at our partner yoga events with a menu that accommodates every palate. We aren’t perfect, and we will be the first to admit it. So remember, like life itself, it isn’t the destination, but rather the journey that ignites your spirit.

Here are a few tips to get you going:

  1.  Find support, whether it is a spouse, family member, friend,  or coworker.

  2. Join a CSA, there are numerous in Minnesota!

  3.  Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

 

SARAH BAZAKOS and ELIAS BAZAKOS formed Power of Two in 2014 as a way to share their love of Partner Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, and Karma Yoga Benefits with the MN community. They have been partners since 2002 and practicing yoga since 2010. In addition to their passions of yoga and wellness, they have a daughter, enjoy traveling, eating primarily paleo, and enriching their palates with wine. 

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