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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Path for the Pack

I should qualify that headline. Our dog, Sarah, continues on her old path, except for plaintive, questioning looks that say, “Where are the pork chops?” as she gazes up at our dinner table. The new path has been taken, the big change made, at David’s request (that’s the really astonishing part of the story), and it is—that he and I have recently embarked on a plant-based diet!

So far the change has not been at all painful. I haven’t photographed our exciting new meals, despite the fact that many of dishes have been very attractive visually, as well as tasty, but here’s the run-down so far:

Wednesday: collard soup, mixed wild rice, acorn squash with golden raisins and maple syrup, sauteed leeks

Thursday: sauteed mushroom caps, rice/collard/mushroom “pancakes,” baked yam, cold tofu salad with scallions, toasted sesame seeds and peanut dressing

Friday: red quinoa w/ golden raisins & green leek tops, chopped mango and red pepper with fresh ginger and Balsamic vinegar, steamed broccoli, cottage cheese

Saturday: pureed chestnut soup (no cream), veggie burgers (tofu, chopped walnuts, chopped parsley and scallions, egg white, bran flakes), mixed wild rice, tart cranberry-tangerine-mango relish

Sunday: leftovers from Saturday, along with leeks and red pepper sauteed in sauterne and Balsamic vinegar

Monday: French onion soup, steamed collards with garlic and sesame oil, baked acorn squash

My sister asked if the onions were cooked in butter. They were not. They were cooked, slowly, with many turnings, in olive oil, and the broth was made with Better Than Bouillon vegetable base (comes in jars in soup section of supermarket) and Worcestershire. The house smelled delicious. (The collards were like candy, too.) So you see we are not rabidly pure vegans, but we are tending toward that end of the vegetarian spectrum.

An odd coincidence is part of the story. A week ago Monday one of my customers e-mailed to ask me to order two books for her, Veganomicon: the ultimate vegan cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, and The Joy of Vegan Baking: the compassionate cooks' traditional treats and sinful sweets, by Colleen Patricdk-Goudreau. My customer and her husband had just read The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, and they had been converted by the book to veganism. “Never say never,” she remarked in her e-mail. I’d made a joke only the evening before, saying ostensibly to Sarah while she eyed our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, “You better hope your dad never decides to become a vegan.” “Fat chance!” was David’s response.

But then fast forward to Tuesday evening. David had brought home from the library a documentary called “Forks Over Knives,” not knowing anything about the film, which we watched it after dinner, and as the final credits rolled he announced, “I’m ready!” Campbell’s cancer research was presented in the film, along with clinical results achieved heart patients changing to plant-based diets under the supervision of Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn.

Research results are not “noncontroversial.” (What is?) You can read the evidence pro and con for yourself. For now, we’ve decided to give this path a chance. We’re finding our meals very satisfying and at the same time not overly filling (no “stuffed” feeling afterward), and I imagine this is the way I might be eating at a health spa, except that someone else would be doing the planning, shopping, preparing and cleanup--I’m not complaining about the work involved, though. It’s actually pretty interesting and challenging, being “whacked” out of our old, dull routines, paying more attention to colors and textures.

As for which cookbooks I’m using, I’ve been consulting many, both at home and here at the bookstore, and including but not limited to vegan and vegetarian books. That gives me an idea: I should write a post sometime on my personal cookbook library. I keep it under control by having one small bookcase dedicated to cookbooks (and French dictionaries—don’t ask why!), so if I want to add a new one, an old one has to go. Yes, that will make an interesting post sometime this winter.

Meanwhile, we will be having a visit this coming weekend from my son, who is a Paleolitic Man in terms of diet. Meat and fat. Avoids grains and sweets. Well, we are avoiding sugars, too, so that’s not a problem, but does my son eat vegetables and fruits these days? There may be a lot of accommodation for a few days in the old farmhouse kitchen.

4 comments:

Dawn said...

This is really interesting. A running partner of mine read the book former Pres. Clinton read about plant based diet, the one that converted him to that way of eating, and she converted too, along with her husband. She swears by it. My husband is a meat and dessert addict. Maybe I need to rent the movie!!

P. J. Grath said...

I suppose, Dawn, you should not only see the documentary but also, to be able to weigh the evidence better, read up on the paleo diet, too. One thing both agree on is the avoidance of sugars. Start reading labels and see how many products have fructose, corn syrup, etc. added to them. When you use the word 'addict' you're right on the mark, so whether you go vegetables/grains or meat/dairy or stay with a combination of the two, it's healthier to find food that been "processed" the least. Unprocessed foods give your digestive system the workout it needs to stay healthy. Did you know that when you eat a bowl of instant oatmeal your digestive system reacts about the same way it would if you ate a bowl of sugar? Rolled oats better, steel-cut oats best. Oops, sorry! I swore I would not lecture!

Gerry said...

I am omnivorous, but I am trying to beat my sugar addiction. And we won't even talk about the potato chips, which are a whole different level of non-food.

Last spring I bought a beef quarter from neighbors down the road. It's pastured beef, no hormones, no corn, no "stuff" - just browsed grass and hay. It feels . . . different. Better. Not stuffed.

Dunno if I'll ever convert, but I absolutely agree that the less processed things are the better they are. And all your dishes sound really, really good.

P. J. Grath said...

Potato chips. The American downfall! We had gotten back into a bad potato chip habit, too, after staying away from them for a long time. Yesterday I did buy some chips at the grocery store—black bean corn chips. Processed, to be sure, but thin, crunchy, light and delicious. Barely salted at all. I should look at the label to check for corn syrup. Sigh! Forgot to do that yesterday.

My friend who ordered the vegan books says nuts are on Esselstyn’s no-no list, too. No, not no nuts?! We are drawing our dietary line with nuts on the inside. A person does need a little crunch now and then, other than a cold carrot!