Kim Gundler and David Gorzynski live in a modest house on a small piece of land in Beaufort. On that land is a small garden. In that garden is enough food to keep them well-fed.
Kim is able to take what's produced in that garden and turn it into a meal most nights of the week.
The couple have reduced their dependence on processed foods to make their diet meet their lifestyle. Their question:
"How can food work for us?"
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Kim and Dave run Beaufort Kayak Tours, leading tourists and residents through the marshes and creeks of the Lowcountry. Those tours can take place daily or multiple times a day. They need a diet that can provide them with endurance and energy.
Their meals are usually carb-rich -- quite the opposite advice of diet crazes such as the Atkins diet -- but it provides the fuel they need. A typical meal usually starts with whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Then they add some veggies from the garden. Tofu, beans or chicken provide protein. Then, the fun really begins. The two work out of their house, giving Kim the time to play with meals, oftentimes adding a Latin, Thai or Southern flair.
She recently made a shepherd's pie and added a twist -- sweet potatoes, collard greens, carrots and a spicy venison. On the side was a salad with homemade vinaigrette and a zesty arugula fresh from the garden -- the store-bought kind is dull by comparison.
She gets some of her ideas from www.epicurious.com, an online collection of recipes where she can type in a few ingredients and get several recipe suggestions in return. They also meet monthly with a group of Beaufort foodies who share dishes made from local ingredients.
Some of their menu depends on what they can barter with friends. A recent exchange involved homemade marmalade swapped for fresh shrimp, which was in turn swapped for venison for the shepherd's pie.
Most of what they make depends on the season. Right now, they've got tubs of broccoli, cauliflower, kale and collards. In the summer they'll be flush with tomatoes, melons and peppers.
Dave is in charge of the garden, nurturing the sandy soil into something more usable with the help of organic manure. He once farmed on larger plots before the couple moved from Columbia to Beaufort 10 years ago.
Kim controls the kitchen, sometimes with a creative frenzy that drives Dave a bit crazy. Every night is something different. There are just so many different possible culinary concoctions. Even a good meal can become a thing of the past.
Both came into healthy cooking later in life, influenced by books such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. Just the difference between the taste of store-bought lettuce and fresh lettuce was enough to make them want to keep growing.
"It was eye-opening when I discovered how good fresh veggies can be," Dave said.
Kim's tips for an easy, anytime meal
2 cups whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, bulgher, whole wheat pasta, etc.), cooked and ready in the refrigerator
4 cups colorful veggies (kale, collards, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash -- whatever's in season)
1 cup protein (tofu, tempeh, beans or meat)
Then add flavor! Thai: curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, cilantro. Middle Eastern: olives, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, oregano. Latin: chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime, mole sauce. Indian: turmeric, cumin, garham masala, riata.
If you cook all of your grains on the weekend, you can cook the veggies easily in a few minutes, add your protein and flavorings, and -- voila! -- an easy, delicious and healthy meal for dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day. Your body runs on fuel: Give it the best you can for the best performance, whether it's a 10-mile kayak trip or a busy day at the office.