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Raised on Junk Food: Finding Delicious and Healthy Meals in Syracuse

Although I moved away for good at 22 years old, I’m proud to tell everyone I’m from Syracuse. It’s safe to say that comfort foods are the norm in my hometown and healthy fare can be a little harder to find.

The staples of my youth included typical Italian American foods including Italian bread, butter, salami, cheese, pepperoni, buttery crackers, meatballs made with the fattiest ground beef, white flour pasta, fish fry, pastries, cakes, cookies and the lone vegetable was iceberg lettuce with a few anemic tomatoes drenched in Italian dressing. Yes, there are some Italians who eat a true, healthy Mediterranean diet with broiled fish, beans, whole grains and lots of vegetables. We were not that family, and honestly, I didn’t know anyone who was.

Trucks rattled through my neighborhood delivering Charles Chips and we regularly piled in the station wagon to get ice cream cones. We weren’t obese since we ran around all day and portions were still pretty normal back then.

As a kid I was plagued by an upset stomach and often felt lethargic. Although I was a cheerleader and ran track, I didn’t have the energy to push myself in practice. I didn’t realize the connection between what I was eating and how I felt.

When I was 15, I picked up my Seventeen Magazine and found an article on careers. As I read about being a dietitian I was mesmerized to learn that eating healthfully could prevent certain diseases. I had not considered prevention of health issues, what an awesome concept! I wondered if making healthy food choices could help me feel better?

I ended up studying at Syracuse University to become a dietitian, and I’ve been writing about nutrition and health ever since. And by eating healthier I was able to resolve my stomach issues and have plenty of energy.

I love everything about Syracuse, the sports teams, the New York State Fair, and I’ll admit that I enjoy some fried dough at the fair once a year. Recently, fried dough became a more-than-once-a-year option for Syracusans. That’s right, it’s available in a pop-up establishment.

When I come home, I need to mentally plan out how I’m going to get my vegetables, fruit and whole grains. It’s not impossible, but it does take a little bit of planning. Not to mention the restraint needed to fend off eating all my hometown favorites including pizza, pasta, ice cream….and now fried dough. Sigh.

I needed ready-to-eat, healthy meals for my 84-year-old father who doesn’t cook, and curiously enough, lives around the corner from that tempting fried dough stand in Syracuse. In a google search I could not believe my luck when I found Knifehand Nutrition. I immediately placed an order, and the meals arrived quickly.

They are healthy and incredibly flavorful and filling. They heat up in just four minutes, and taste as fresh as the moment they were made. The ingredients include whole grains, vegetables, healthy fats and plenty of plant-based protein.

I was so excited about the meals that I offered to write this blog about how crazy good they are. I have stocked my father’s freezer with these meals so my family can have a healthy meal when they are visiting him in Syracuse.

Whatever your motivation is for eating healthier, having healthy meals delivered can make sticking to a healthy diet a snap. And in Syracuse, we need all the help we can get.

Tracy Gensler

For more than 20 years Tracy has been writing about nutrition and health for books, magazines and the web. She teaches nutrition at American University and works as a medical writer. She's married and lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland where she supports the Washington football team whether or not they are winning.

2 comments

  • Great article. Keep up the good work. It’s so important to have these resources accessible to seniors.

    Marcia Seidler
  • Great article very informative and quite entertaining

    Janet Gensler

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