Going vegan-ish isn’t always good, but it’s not always bad | Food

Going vegan-ish isn’t always good, but it’s not always bad

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation…” So the story of Genesis goes. He created the land and saw that it was good, the oceans and seas and those were good, and so on.

But when it came to vegetation, I think God got a taste of collard greens and said, “This ain’t too good.”

That’s when he decided to create the creatures, pigs specifically, so when he put people on the land to have dominion over the critters, they would have something to cook with those collards.

And so there was bacon and soul food, and the folks said, “God, this is good.”

Collards in soul food are great, but raw collard greens are the absolute worst in my novitiate vegan-ish opinion.

Just two weeks into my quest to beat a rare form of rheumatism by, in part, adjusting my diet from hunter meat-eater to a hunter vegan-ish eater who has meat occasionally, I’ve experienced enough to know this diet change is not just a matter of menu but lifestyle change and a definite adjustment of the palate.

Collard greens are just fine cooked, but raw? Nope, I’m sorry. In a recipe that called for them finely ground, they came out of my food processor like wet grass from under my lawn mower and were just about as tasty.

I will allow that perhaps my distaste for collards is a matter of a palate that can be conditioned, maybe.

That said, I have discovered the recipes in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s first book on the “Super Immunity” offers plenty of good things to eat, in terms of recipes and a general philosophy of maximizing nutrition per calorie consumed. I’ve not felt deprived or hungry and managed already to drop more than a few pounds.

I have not followed his daily menu plans to the letter. That would have been too ambitious for a novice like me. I did well just to learn about the ingredients, figure out where to buy them and supplement with fruits, raw vegetables and bean dip, or a whole-wheat pita with raw almond butter or cashew butter (no salt) when I thought I might be a little short on caloric intake.

I’ve punched recipes into the Lose It app to make sure I’m not starving myself.

One of the first of many phone calls that came after the first blog ran in the newspaper (and thank you all for sharing your own stories, offering advice, and well-wishes — I was touched) was an old friend who cautioned that I not go overboard and limit myself to some hare-brained diet that had me starving myself and “eating a stick of broccoli for breakfast.”

Happily, this vegan-ish diet is not like that at all. I should note that Fuhrman’s publicist offered that he uses the term “nutritarian” to emphasize his nutrients-per-calorie philosophy.

It just happens that most of the recipes in his first book are vegan-based — with some nonvegan options offered. The publicist is mailing a Fuhrman cookbook to me.

People ask if I miss hamburgers, crave steak, subs, pizza, French fries, and the answers so far are “nope.” But I do miss salt.

The new diet is a low-salt diet. A little extra sprinkle of salt here and there is OK — emphasis on little. I look back now and realize I ate too much of it. Salting my food was a habit much as anything.

At a small-town café after an end-of-season duck hunt, the orders around the table included chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes, fried chicken with mashed potatoes, two cheeseburgers with fries, and one all-you-can-eat salad bar.

Guess which guy I was.

The idea of a salad with a splash of a flavored vinegar — balsamic, rice wine, red wine, etc. — and some citrus juice is growing on me. I don’t need ranch dressing and a load of salt.

I make salads of lettuce and/or spinach and mixed veggies. I section an orange or grapefruit over the top and let the juices run, add some chopped nuts, ground flax, hemp or chia seeds, a splash of vinegar, toss and you have lunch. Pretty simple.

Trust me, when I went to the store two weeks ago and saw goji berries, hemp and chia seeds on my list, I had absolutely no idea where to start looking.

Chia seeds?! What was I going to do with “cha-cha-cha chia seeds?” Soak ‘em overnight smear them in my wrinkles and grow a salad ‘round my middle like human Chia Pet?

Probably the healthiest addition and change to my lifestyle is rising to a good breakfast instead of a cup of coffee and a doughnut, fast-food breakfast sandwich, or just the coffee. Fruit smoothies, oatmeal, rice pudding, usually it’s something that includes a lot blue or red fruits—gotta have those antioxidants. Adding fresh fruits and nuts makes a better bowl of oatmeal than adding sugar and/or half-and-half, that’s a health food no-brainer.

It’s not all bad. It does take a little more time and planning, but I’m getting there. There’s always a banana, a whole-wheat pita and some almond butter handy.

I truly enjoyed a couple bowls of Fuhrman’s tomato bisque soup recipe this week and thought I’d share it as a favorite. Like most of the recipes, there is an ingredient or two that made me think, “Really?” Carrot juice and cashews raised the eyebrows on this one.

I think the smartest thing I did was to splurge for fresh carrot juice from the juice bar at Whole Foods instead of the bottled stuff. I don’t own a juicer, but the carrot juice was a main ingredient so I thought fresh would be best.

Kitchen equipment-wise, I did use a NutriBullet to process the nuts into the soup and a high-speed blender to puree the rest. If you don’t have something like a NutriBullet, I’d use raw cashew butter instead of raw nuts. I also couldn’t find a dried-tomato-based no-salt seasoning mix but used an all-purpose blend and it seemed to be fine.

It was warm and flavorful and a nice start for dinner on a cold day and, thank God, it didn’t involve collard greens.

TOMATO BISQUE

Serves 4

3 cups carrot juice

1 ½ pounds chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 (28-oz) can no-salt-added or low-sodium who tomatoes (San Marzano variety, if possible)

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 leek, split lengthwise and separated to wash well, chopped

1 large shallot, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrmans MatoZest or other no-salt seasoning mix with dried tomatoes, adjusted to taste.

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1 small bay leaf

½ cup raw cashews or ¼ cup raw cashew butter

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

5 ounces baby spinach

1. In a large saucepan, add all ingredients except the cashews, basil, and spinach. Simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Discard the bay leaf. Remove 2 cups of the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside. Puree the remaining soup with the cashews in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth.

3. Return the pureed soup along with the reserved vegetables to the pot. Stir in the basil and spinach and continue simmering for another few minutes, until the spinach is wilted.

Excerpted from SUPER IMMUNITY by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Copyright 2011

Tulsa World (OK)

3/9/2018 10:56:35 PM Central Standard Time

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