“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” — Harriet van Horne
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s daily posts on simple eating. Here are some notes, thanks to questions I received:
We each have different cultural and taste preferences, so I sadly can’t cover for all readers (hello Brazil! Armenia! Japan! Thank you for reading this blog). I enjoy food from all over, so my palate is a bit eccentric. And I’ve found that there is a vegan or even raw vegan alternative to most popular dishes. It’s best, though, to think of these as transitional dishes. It’s fine as a stepping stone, but it’s far healthier to eventually switch over to dishes that aren’t pretending to be something else. Especially when recreating it requires a lot of nuts/avocados/oil/etc.
There was a lot of yelping about omitting oil. Aside from my beloved THAC, many highly respected US doctors – Neal Barnard, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Dean Ornish – also recommend nixing oil completely. Their area of concern (diabetes, heart disease, obesity) may vary but the advice is the same.
And if you’re trying to lose weight, here’s a story for you: my mother has stayed the same weight for at least 20 years. Earlier this year, her cook became ill and was away for three weeks. In that time, the maid took over the cooking – she made the same dishes using the same ingredients and serving the same quantities, but cooked with more oil.
My mother complained daily, the maid ignored her protests and continued sloshing on the oil. Three weeks later, my mother went to see her doctor and her weight had gone up 3kg (6.6lbs). In three weeks. For the first time in 20 years. Nothing had changed except the amount of oil in her food. Her cook eventually returned, the quantity of oil went down, and she dropped the weight.
How I handle oils: I don’t use it at home, but don’t fuss about it when eating out.
I have mushrooms only occasionally, as they’re a type of fungus, not a vegetable or even a plant. (Though I do find them de-lish.)
I’m allergic to/respond badly to many beans, onions and soy. Legumes and onions may offer various health benefits, but I’m wary of how many transitioning vegetarians/vegans use soy and soy products like tofu for everything as a meat substitute. Soy is a highly sprayed and genetically modified crop. Even if you eat it (the less processed the better – edamame is best), it’s wise to avoid having it all the time.
I suspect one reason soy is overused is because many people are under the mistaken belief that we need to stuff our mouths with protein. We really don’t. Read any books or blogs by professional athletes (who may be more concerned about protein intake than the general public) to see how many of them imbibe very little of it. Thinking we need lots of protein to build muscle is an outdated notion. In my 20s and 30s, I used to live (at least twice a day) on meat and protein shakes; I didn’t have half the muscles I do now on a pure plant-based diet.
A protein deficiency happens only if the overall quantity of food is too low. In fact, protein deficiency is called kwashiorkor – and I’m betting that’s the first time you’ve heard that word. That is how uncommon a protein deficiency is.
If you’re still worried: legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), seeds and nuts (almonds, cashews, sunflower) and grains (rice, wheat, corn) all contain protein and are easily available.
Though not widely known or understood, all fruits and vegetables have amino acids, which is what gets converted to protein in our bodies, building not only muscles but also our cells and tissues. They also contain fatty acids. In fruits and vegetables, both of these are in a form usable by our bodies. If you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables, you will get all your dietary needs met – including protein.
I don’t like the idea of using fake foods – soy “chicken”, etc. It may help children eat, but they’re often intensely processed in their goal to recreate the taste of meat.
Substitutes are fine provided they’re wholesome and as unprocessed as possible (like my favourite zoodles).
Gluten-free types can trade wheat/barley/rye for other flours like millet.
Non-dairy milk is another one that works beautifully as a sub for animal milk. Almond milk is the most popular. Here is a lovely video by nutritionist and chef Sarah Britton from her blog My New Roots (whose new gorgeous book of the same name is out now too) on how to make nut milk at home with nuts or seeds:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — JRR Tolkien
The first (and only) time I watched this, my sister, brother-in-law and I weren’t able to eat our dinner afterwards. People were actually throwing up as they ran – mid-film – out of the theatre. This was perhaps to be expected from director Peter Greenaway. Watch the masterful (if literally stomach-churning – you have been warned) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
A fun idea and it works well here: a memoir combined with recipes. American Elizabeth Bard moves to Paris after being seduced by a French man who knows his way around the kitchen. Lunch in Paris is the charming and seductive story of their romance.