I’m about to publish this on Indie Columbus, but here’s a draft for the record.
So how’s your sane eatin going? Did you get the book yet?
I’ve been following Mark Bittman’s Twitter feed and there are all sorts of similar, concurrent movements afoot. I call it sane eating, some call it “lessmeatarianism”, some folks are “vegan before 6.” It all has to do with setting some simple, practical rules that you can live by 90% of the time and helping yourself to eat properly and sanely while giving yourself the freedom to take pleasure in food all the time.
So, practically speaking, what have we been up to these past couple of weeks? Have we been successful? What have we been eating?
We’ve certainly been successful at make changes and eating more healthfully. I don’t weigh myself, but I’m sure I’ve lost some weight. You know how it is, I notice which jeans fit better. I certainly feel better.
As for the food – we’ve been making a pot of beans each week, and a pot or two of grains. The beans have been adzuki and great northerns. For grains we’ve been playing mainly with bulgar and cous-cous.
Actually, I’ve fallen very, very deeply in love with couscous. It takes literally five minutes to make. Do yourself a favor and get one of these. It’s an electric water kettle; we use ours almost every day now. There are a bunch of fantastic grains, like couscous, that just need to sit in boiling water (with a little salt, and other spices if you prefer) for a few minutes, then get well-fluffed for serving. Fantastic. couscous is a god-send, really.
We’ve been eating a lot of brown basmati rice, too, which smells amazing, like buttery popcorn, when you cook it. So, between the rice, beans, and grains, I’m able to throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, maybe grill some fresh veggies to go on top, or some soy nuggets from Whole Foods, and call it lunch. That’s what I do most days, alternating or augmenting with a bit of salad or hearty whole-grain bread with butter or all-natural peanut butter from our local Krema Nut Factory.
Now, I’m not that picky about what I eat during the day; I don’t mind a great deal of repetition, so this is enough for me. A slight bit of variation and I’m okay. I’m very practical about eating, I just wanna get my bellyful and check “eat lunch” of my to-do list. So its very helpful that the idea here is just to fill your house with foods that have low caloric density. That way you don’t have to waste time, energy, and emotion and figuring out what would be healthy to eat, you just whatever’s around until you’re sated. You won’t be able to overdo it on the calories or the fat or whatever you’re scared of, and as long as you have enough variety in your food choices, you’ll get plenty of the good stuff you need. Do your thinking when you’re at the store, or before you get there.
I know, I know, this isn’t exactly a philosophical revolution. But for a person in my lifestyle, who hasn’t devoted much thought to this stuff before, it’s a revelation. Seriously.
I’ve also been exploring sane eating at a small bunch of my favorite Columbus restaurants. I’ve tried my luck at wide range of establishments, from Banana Bean to Tip Top, from Planks to Nida’s. A couple of favorites have emerged.
Northstar may be the first place that pops in your Columbusite brain when someone asks you about healthy eating. (If not those GPS vitamin stores.) And despite their rising prices, I remain a fan. I’m particularly fond of the Buddha and Korma bowls, which feature long-grain organic brown rice and lots of veggies. I need to do a little research on what’s in those sauces, (Can anyone out there illuminate us on their contents?) but these are simple, straightforward meals that fill me up and leave me feeling bright and happy.
Benevolence Cafe is also been a frequent visit lately. I was already a big fan of their hummus sandwich, and it’s now found a regular place in my routine. They’ve got a slew of great vegetarian and vegan options, made fresh, with a menu that changes daily. No, they didn’t pay me to say that. I just really like the place. Again, it’s food that satisfies my cravings, and doesn’t make me regret it when I’m done.
Last but not least is On the Fly, the “street food” off-shoot of vegan mainstay Dragonfly. (Here’s a pdf of the OtF menu.) I’ve been chowing down on their empanadas occasionally, and am never disappointed. Selections change daily. And damn, dig those vegan chocolate-chip cookies! Again, I don’t know exactly what’s in the empanada dough, so a little research is called for, but I have a strong feeling that this stuff is healthier than another damn Hot Pocket.
I gotta say this has been pretty easy. I feel healthier, my skin has a rosy glow, and I get all those warm, fuzzy good vibes from doing good for the earth. Y’know what else I noticed? We’re producing a heck of a lot less trash this way. We’re buying so many vegetables and bulk foods that we barely have anything to recycle or throw-out. It’s great!
My dog’s even getting into the swing of things. Beckett’s a meat-eater, and our vet strongly advises against trying to change that. But she’s getting to love apples and bananas, and she’s also become a big fan of Krema’s peanut butter. It’s nice that the whole family can get in on in the fun.
And as my habits change, my tastes change, and my instincts change. It’s not as if we’re eating healthy 90% of the time and eating McDonald’s the rest of the time. All our choices are changing. It’s important to emphasize that once you start down this path, once you put the right foods in your kitchen, and once you educate yourself a little bit, it gets much easier to make good choices. I feel pretty proud of myself. A few people have found it astonishing – “YOU’RE on a diet?” And I just say, “Yeah, but it’s not a diet as in ‘I’m on a diet’, it’s a diet as in ‘I think about my diet’,” which is something we all need to be doing. It’s for our own good, and the good of our community.