I’ve been playing around with my diet lately. After spending well over the past year on a weight-loss diet, I finally decided it is no way to live. However, I did lose a significant amount of weight, and I refuse to regain it. So, I now have to find a new way to eat. That’s were Mark Bittman’s latest book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good, comes in. It’s a no-nonsense approach to eating healthy as a way of life; not just as a diet for a short amount of time.
No more counting calories, no more figuring out points. From the time I wake up in the morning until dinnertime, I keep a strict vegan diet. Not only vegan, but during the day, I also stay away from all processed foods (which Bittman admittedly oversimplifies as any food with more than five ingredients), all added sugar, and all white flour. That means no honey in my morning smoothie, no store bought bread and no pasta. I do allow myself soy or almond milk in my morning smoothie (and I’m still weaning myself off sugar in my morning coffee).
Breakfasts have changed from half a bagel with light cream cheese or grits and egg whites to smoothies of frozen fruit with vegan milk or grits and greens. Lunches have changed the most, and that’s something that has me very excited. I’ve never been a fan of luncheon meat, but now I have an excuse to make myself fancy salads and tasty soups for lunch. Not only are lunches now more satisfying, but they are also much better for me. Then, just when I think I’ll die if I don’t get something more – well – meaty, dinner comes around and I can enjoy a normal meal complete with a reasonable amount of animal protein. I know from experience that diets only work if you don’t feel like your depriving yourself of anything, and I think that’s why this seems to work so far. I think for anyone that has chosen to make food and cooking a career, finding a balance between work and health is a priority. Mark Bittman’s “Flexitarian” diet seems to be a reasonable way to navigate the difficult choices that most of us face when trying to balance our love of food with a healthy, earth-friendly lifestyle.
I’d love to say my diet has changed completely and that my cravings for sugar, baked goods and cheese have disappeared; not so much. It is still early, and this is all still new to me. However, I am happy knowing that I’m eating better for me as well as eating in a more environmentally responsible way.
This salad was one of my first real lunch successes. It combines one of my favorite flavor combos of black-eyed peas and hot sauce, with healthy cooked barley and soft and silky “massaged” kale. If massaging your kale is new to you, then you’re in for a treat. Rubbing tough kale between your hands for a few minutes with a small amount of oil transforms the texture of tough kale into something supple and tender. Once the kale is soft and tender, the rest of the salad is as simple as throwing everything in the bowl and tossing it together. It’s vegan, it’s easy and it has all the flavor of a bowl of peas and greens. The great thing about this salad is that massaged kale holds up very well over time, making it perfect for packed lunches or make ahead meals. It is also very filling; easily getting me through a full afternoon of chasing toddlers. Enjoy!