"No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is made entirely of fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for office." -George Bernard Shaw*60% fat, but the message of the statement holds true: diets are dumb. And, like politicians, they all seem promising at first, but inevitably by the end you're like, that guy was seriously the worst.
Diets are presented and pushed, pandered and peddled to us by the media as a fix-all. The spokesmen of diets smile their white toothy smiles and tell us, pretty darned convincingly, that if we just stop eating carbs, eating meat, eating dairy, eating insert-pretty-much-anything-here, that we'll be skinny and therefore happy.
Well, speaking from experience, those things made me the opposite of happy. I actually just today learned a new word to describe how they make me feel (thanks Amanda and Beth). Omitting any one type of food from my diet makes me hungry and angry: HANGRY.
Why? Because diets assume that we're all alike. Sure, we're all humans, Mitt Romney excluded, but each one of us is made up of a unique mix of DNA which means disparate gut bacteria, immune systems and colon length (yeah, you heard me: no two poop shoots are alike). As though that's not complicated enough, our varying lifestyles affect the type of nutrition we require.
The best advice I think I've given or received, ever, about anything, is to trust yourself. If you don't feel well after a meal, reflect on what you ate, how you ate it and the amount you consumed, then try to pinpoint what your body disliked. Only fear foods that are processed; don't be scared to consume natural ingredients like lard or raw cane sugar in moderation. Listen to your body; literally, turn off the TV, your cell phone and your computer while you eat and pay attention to what you're doing. Exercise and sleep regularly and your body will tell you the exactly what it needs. And yes, sometimes it needs a handful of french fries. I suppose that is one way that we are all alike.
Personally, I feel the best when I eat a lot of legumes and vegetables, some carbs and a little meat and dairy, with a modest dose of fermented foods (kombucha, yogurt, aged raw milk cheese, sauerkraut, etc.). Sugar is an occasional treat that I reserve for only the most delicious of homemade cakes, pies and Jeni's ice cream. Below is an a recipe with a lot of legumes and vegetables and a little meat, that can be mixed with carbs and dairy in different ways throughout the week.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen
"Human Ancestors were Nearly All Vegetarians" by Rob Dunn for The Scientific American
*Can anyone tell me which book, play or essay this quote is from?
Zublinka Among Women, written by my friend and professor Robert Wexelblatt. In the beginning of the book the main character says, "Many things in life come in different ways and yet they're still the same. Newspapers and green beans, for example. That's how it is with me, isn't it? Whether I come on Sunday morning or on Tuesday night, I'm still your same old Zublinka." This lentil mix is still the same old five ingredients, still delicious, whether you eat it as a side dish, on top of a salad or grains, in tacos, crowned with a poached egg, or fried into a burger, on a Sunday morning or a Tuesday night.
1 link sausage (1/3 lb), casing removed
1 bunch kale, chopped and stems removed*
2 1/2 cups (17.6 oz) green or black cooked lentils
1 cup stock
lemon pepper to taste
Brown sausage in a large cast iron skillet. Add kale and half of stock. When kale is wilted to your liking, add lentils and the rest of the stock. Season with lemon pepper to taste and leave in pan until lentils are heated through and most of the stock has been absorbed. I use spicy Italian sausage from Porter Road Butcher. The flavor of this dish is dependent on the quality of the sausage and stock, so choose accordingly.
Preheat about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a non-stick pan over medium. Pulse a heaping 1/2 cup of lentil mix and 1T rice flour until it is smooth enough to form into a patty, but not until it's complete mush. Make patties and cook for about four minutes per side. Serve immediately.
Pictured with smashed avocado, a squeeze of lime, a slice of tomato and grainy mustard. Also, if you don't like grainy mustard, I don't like you.
* Don't discard those stems! Boil them in salted water until they are no longer bitter, about eight minutes. Pulse them in a blender with 1/3 cup grated parmesan and 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, plus salt, pepper and olive oil to taste, to make pesto.