With just a few days to go until I move 😃, I had a day off work today and I spent a large part of it thinking about food. As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". I also spent more than an hour on the phone with my daughter talking about her diet. She has been a vegan for quite a while now and has enjoyed excellent health as a result.
As I contemplated what kinds of foods I would be buying, preparing and eating in the near future (and also which ones I would be avoiding altogether) I came up with this list, almost a manifesto (in no particular order): spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, lettuce (not iceberg), kale, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, zucchini, chard, kohlrabi, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cabbage (red, green and white), cucumber, fennel, okra, green beans, turnips, rutabaga (swede), carrots (particularly purple ones, not baby ones), snow peas, Brussels sprouts, jicama, radishes. Also, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, nuts and seeds, lots of garlic and mushrooms.
Keen nutritionists will notice that these foods are largely low carb, high in vitamins and minerals, and have a low glycemic index. The list specifically doesn't include potatoes, corn or peas and avoids most fruits. Not that I'm opposed to things like apples, grapefruits, strawberries, cherries, plums, dried apricots or pears. I would just eat them in very small quantities. I would use citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes as garnishes and freshly-squeezed for a little bit of juice, but will definitely NOT be drinking orange juice or other fruit juices by the glass.
There will also be plenty of red (chili) pepper, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.
My list of things to avoid includes: refined sugar in any form, wheat and corn in its many forms (therefore, very little bread and no breakfast cereal), processed foods, rice and pasta and (for ethical/moral reasons more than nutritional ones) any products made by Nestlé ** or Kraft Foods ***.
I'll be looking to substitute zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash for wheat-based pasta; making "bread" and "pizza crust" with cauliflower instead of wheat; using rutabaga and turnips instead of potatoes in potato salads and French fries. I'll be adding nutritional yeast to some dishes that normally require cheese, and checking out Lighlife's Fakin' Bacon and Smart Ground products as well as Field Roast's vegan sausages, deli slices and Chao slices.
I don't think I'm ready to go full-bore vegan just yet because I want to still have eggs and fish and real cheese and yogurt from time to time, just a lot less than in my past.
I've been thinking about adding a Recipes section to the main ERGOOB website (http://www.ergoob.org) where I can include step-by-step photo and video directions on how to make and adapt recipes so that they are "healthier". As I experiment, I'll post the results in this blog first, but I'd like to have a repository of tried and tested, tasty, healthy dishes that are easy to prepare and fun to share.
** Including brands such as Nescafe and Nesquick, Carnation, Haagen-Dazs, Buitoni, Maggi, CoffeeMate, and Cheerios.
*** Including brands such Grey Poupon, Gevalia, Planters, Jell-O, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, Kool-Aid, Philadelphia cream cheese and Claussen pickles.