What We Eat

What We Eat

So far in our Healthy & Whole series, we’ve talked about reasons not to pursue home cooking and healthy eating — time, fear, and lack of inspiration. But we haven’t yet tackled what to eat. There are lots of opinions out there. Here, we share what works for us.

Our diet? We call it flexitarian. It’s mostly vegetarian; but with the freedom to enjoy all food. We make as many things as we can from scratch. In general, we avoid purchasing “processed” foods — frozen meals, fast food, unhealthy snacks, items with mystery ingredients or added sugars. But overall, we like to focus on what we do eat instead of what we don’t.

We eat simple whole foods. We aren’t amazing gourmet chefs — just home cooks who love food. We eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and special finds from the farmer’s markets. We eat this way because we find it joyful.

Our food journey didn’t start with healthy eating — or much intention at all. Starting about 5 years ago, we began to have experiences of enjoying truly great food — on travels, in restaurants, and in the dining rooms of some good friends. We fell in love. Our past ways of Hot Pockets, Taco Bell, and Mountain Dew fell by the wayside as we devoured the cookbook section of the library, mimicked Julia Child from her DVDs, and frantically scoured the Internet for new food blogs (no Pinterest back then!).

A world of wonderful flavors and dishes opened up to us. We realized that our old biases and food dislikes were starting to be flipped upside down. Mushrooms, olives, and fish could all be delicious! This season of food discovery was special for us, and the more we learned and tasted, the more we fell in love. Along the way, our curiosities expanded into the health and environmental impact surrounding food.

We wanted to know what foods were healthy, and we have always liked the idea of taking care of the planet. At the start, we didn’t realize how complicated our food system is. Food in America is big business, set out to provide cheap food for a culture that demands efficiency. At the surface, this seems great: tasty food, whenever you want it, at a low price. But we’ve learned over time that there is a cost. A cost to our long-term health, a cost to the environment, and a cost to many of the flavors and essential joys of cooking.

So, unintentionally, we’ve developed a personal food philosophy over the past few years. A diet that we could stick with, that doesn’t abuse our bodies or the world.

So what do we eat?

  • We try to eat the foods that have the most benefits to us and to our community.
  • We find the approach of a “Mediterranean” style diet to make good sense: lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, but without trying too hard to fit within a certain marketable mold.
  • There are a lot of diets out there. As a common core, we see homemade whole foods as the key that ties any healthy diet together.
  • We eat mostly vegetarian because of the relatively lower resources (environmental and financial) required to put veggies on our table, but we also support the meat-raising farmers in our community on occasion.
  • We buy organically-grown items when we can handle the price, to support the farmers who put in the extra effort of taking care of our farmland.
  • We’ve found that an all-in-moderation approach works well for us. When we make pizza, we use white flour, because we like it that way. While we generally cook meatless, I recently enjoyed a big juicy steak to initiate the grilling season in Indianapolis. And from a look around our blog, you’ll see that we choose to enjoy healthy and colorful salads, nourishing soups, and fresh veggies as our daily meals.

This diet works for us. It is freeing, and we find a lot of joy in it. How about you? What are the reasons for the way you decide to eat? Have you spent much time thinking about the big picture of where your food comes from, and the effect it has on you and the community around you?

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    April 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks for this post and for your blog. My husband and I are currently undergoing this same sort of change in our habits and our goals and philosophy really match yours. It’s a lot more fun to eat healthy when we’re thinking about exploring new foods and all of the exciting possibilities rather than what we’re leaving out. Love your blog. Please keep up with the great posts!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 12:59 am

    You have been, and continue to be, a big inspiration to me. Thank you for showing that it can be done. And, as always, beautiful photography!

    • Reply
      April 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Thank you so much, Tiffany! That means a lot!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Love this!! :)

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I love hearing about how people eat and how they approach food. You guys are so inspirational!

    • Reply
      April 5, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Thank you so much, Kathryn!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Fritz
    April 5, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Great post. My husband and I are just starting on this path and enjoying the journey. Um…what is the recipe for the top left picture? I think I need to eat that.

  • Reply
    Joyce Long
    April 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Sonja and Alex, you say and show it so well. Al and I just returned from visiting our son in the DC area and realized again how healthy food is so important to life. He took us to many places featuring Mediterranean cuisine. I quoted you often–especially explaining the “flexitarian” philosophy, which makes so much sense. Thanks for providing this background into your food journey.

    • Reply
      April 5, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you, Joyce! This is so encouraging! So glad you were able to enjoy healthy and tasty foods with your son.

  • Reply
    April 5, 2013 at 11:43 am

    All fantastic food principles and ones which I subscribe too (although I do love to eat a lot of seafood too and throw a fair amount of butter and chocolate into the occasional baked treat!)

    • Reply
      April 5, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Nothing wrong with occasional seafood, butter, and chocolate! All things in moderation, right? :)

  • Reply
    Rachel Brown
    April 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    What a beautiful and simple way of describing your approach! You cut right to the heart of your philosophy. Lovely – thank you for sharing and inspiring.

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    April 6, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Simple, whole, food is such a great motto to have – and a great way to live!

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    April 7, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Love, love, love this! Jesse and I have been focusing more and more on natural, unprocessed foods. We’ve both been vegetarian for a long time, but continued to eat processed foods when we were rushed or feeling lazy. We put a stop to that last year by trying to plan ahead a lot more. Planning seems to be key for us to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. It’s funny how you can go from craving chips and candy to craving a beet salad and whole grains! :)

  • Reply
    Lindsey @ Pas de Deux
    April 10, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I love the way you describe the process–from the initial desire to “cook more” to the philosophy of eating that evolves from time spent selecting ingredients, reading recipes, and making things in the kitchen. I have been going through a similar process over the past few years. It’s so nice to see others with similar approaches to food! Thank you for sharing and for your inspiring recipes.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

    My husband and I are a little over a year into the process of changing how/what we eat. It started out as a budget thing when he was laid off. I was making more and more from scratch to save money, and it was better tasting (except when things flopped) and surprisingly empowering. This year we’re growing some of our own vegetables and herbs. About a month ago I finally listened to that nagging voice in my head and reduced our meat intake in a big way. I love going to the farmers markets and knowing where my food comes from. So far the changes have been better for our bodies, our bank account, the environment, and my conscience. It’s also fun to watch my coworkers’ reaction to being told that I made the bread, pesto, etc that I brought for lunch!

  • Reply
    Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    April 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    We are also on the same road you are. I would like to make some changes here and there (eat out less, source food locally in the winter as much as in summer, etc) but I am happy with where we are: lots of vegetables, small amounts of dairy, less meat, and all natural, locally-sourced foods!

  • Reply
    Mary @ Fit and Fed
    July 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Homemade whole foods, that’s most of the battle right there. My mom raised our family on whole foods, we had whole wheat bread back in the ’60’s and ’70’s when it was unusual. I became a vegetarian as a teen and stayed that way for decades. For the last ten-plus years we’ve added wild salmon and occasional other seafood back into our diet, but animal welfare and ecological concerns are still very important to me. I discovered your blog today (via Oh My Veggies) and like what I see!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks so much, Mary! Thanks for stopping by and nice to “meet” you!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Alex and Sonja- I love your blog. I am trying to adopt your style of eating and I was just curious if you have/had certain cookbooks you love and/or use that inspire you. Thanks!

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