Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes

So, I’ll admit that I’ve done more battering and frying this summer than is a good idea.  But, it’s so tasty!   Fried eggplant and fried green tomatoes were the biggest hits, so I’m going to post recipes for both in the next while.  First, the tomatoes!

Image from thekitchn.com

Ingredients

3-4 green tomatoes (medium to large), sliced thinly
1 sleeve of saltines, blended to a fine powder (don’t have saltines? pretzels or corn chips will work)
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
2 cups soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1/4 cup white vinegar
olive oil (NOT EVO – it smokes too fast)

Process

Place soymilk in a shallow bowl and add vinegar.  Whisk until the milk thickens.

Place dry ingredients in larger shallow bowl and mix well.

Individually, dip slices of tomato in the milk mix (both sides) and then press into the dry mix (both sides)

Cooking can be done in a pan on the stove (coat with olive oil, fry on a medium-high temp) or in the oven (oil a bar pan or cookie sheet, bake at 425*).  Flip tomatoes when bottom is browned and cook on second side.

Pat dry if needed with paper towels before serving.

YUM!

Eating Like a Yogi

On a recent trip to Indiana, I ate some yummy things, but they probably weren’t the best things for me.   The trip, and the aftermath (stomach problems, a few extra pounds) has me thinking about food – and trying to think about thinking about it (meta-thinking?) in a more healthy way.

As many people who know me well know, I do not have a history of a healthy relationship with food.  At 44 now, I would say that I have been “eating disordered” for three decades plus.  The extent, type, and severity of the issue has changed over time.  There have been times when the label of anorexia fit; there have been times when it was probably more bulimia.  And, there have been times when it’s been more like your garden variety I-am-a-woman-and-have-to-be-size-X obsession.  There have been times when I’ve been overweight and times when I’ve been underweight.  I’m not proud of this history, but I’m not ashamed of it either (good thing, since I’m blogging about it).  It is what it is.  There isn’t any point in feeling bad about the past or in worrying about the causes, or fretting over how it will impact me in the future.  The task is to figure out a better relationship with food in each and every day.

I’ve also been a practicing vegetarian for going on 15 years, and a vegan for several (5? 6?).  While being vegan or vegetarian often correlates with a healthier way of eating, it’s not the dietary label or restrictions that produce the healthy eating.  In fact, a person can be a vegan and eat nothing but potato chips and popsicles.  Rather, I suspect that often people who elect to become vegetarian or vegan are also people who cultivate a more healthy relationship toward food.

In thinking about that healthy relationship to food, I have been considering the relationship of yoga, and the yogic way of life, to eating.  What does this mean?  Well, to me, the practice of yoga is much about doing what serves the body and mind (and through that, the larger universal).  Yoga teachers can often be heard to tell yoga students to focus their energy or their selection of poses on “that which serves you.”  So, I am trying to think about what serves me in my eating and relationship to food.

In an example of how this unfolds in my life, today I wanted a handful of potato chips.  I really did.  But, I reminded myself to think about how eating that food does (or does not) serve me.  Would it serve me in the joy of the taste for that moment?  Possibly, yes.  But, probably not for a whole handful.  Would it serve me in the calories needed to provide fuel for the body and mind to function?  Yes.  Would it serve me in nutrients that keep the body healthy and mind sound?  No.  Would it serve me in healthy fats that are needed for the functioning of the brain, and regulation of hormones?  No.  Would it serve me in the fiber that the body requires to maintain a healthy digestive system?  Would it serve me in avoiding artery clogging cholesterol?  No.  Really, there are few ways that potato chips would serve me.  And sometimes, the fact that they bring joy in the the moment is enough.  Today, however, it wasn’t.  After considering what the taste was that I wanted/needed, I concluded that it was probably salt.  So, I had 1 chip and then with dinner, I had an ear of corn with sea salt.  It was delicious and serves my body in more ways.

I don’t always manage this type of reflective and mindful eating.  In fact, I probably manage it only a little more frequently than I don’t.  But, in each day it is my goal for eating right now.  And summer is an excellent time to work on this way of relating to food, because of the abundance of colorful (eye serving), tasty (mouth serving), and nutritious (health serving) fruits and vegetables that are readily available.

Maybe sometimes a popsicle will be what serves me (or a frozen fruit bar at least).  Perhaps other times, it will be a pretzel.  Now and then, it might even be a deep fried Oreo (ok, not really, those make me gag).  But, if I can mindfully approach food, and eat that which serves me, I hope that I can create for myself a healthier body/mind and a healthier relationship with eating.

Namaste,

L

Yes, I do have a Diet. No, I am not Dieting.

To steal an opening from 82% of my public speaking students: Webster’s Dictionary (or Wikipedia) defines diet as “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.”  So, this means that however you eat, whatever your patterns are, that is your diet.  If you mostly eat orange food from a box/bag/carton/jar (kraft mac n’ cheese, cheetos, oj, cheese whiz, queso dip, doritos) then you have an orange diet.  If you primarily eat fruits and vegetables in their natural form, then you have a raw food diet.  If you do not eat any animal products, you have a vegan diet, and so on.

But, that’s not how we tend to think about “diet,” as a quick check of Google indicates.  When we think about or talk about diet, we tend to be focusing on the issue of weight loss.   I don’t know how this became the default definition of the word diet, but it seems to be.  If I tell people that I am on a raw food diet, the first response I get is, “Why? You don’t need to lose any weight.”  Now, whether I do or do not need to lose any weight is neither here nor there.  Why is the assumption that my eating plan is designed to promote weight loss?  I’m sure, somehow, this has to do with our increasing girth in much of the western world, combined with an obsession with slimness.

Regardless of how the situation arose, I think it is problematic that all of our attention to “diet” tends to revolve around weight loss.  When we focus on diet/dieting as a weight loss tool, our awareness is automatically drawn to what we cannot have.  So, when someone undertakes a low carb diet to lose weight, the focus is on eliminating carbs (bread, fruit, pasta, etc.) from the diet, not on what is eaten (vegetables, proteins, dairy).  This isn’t a very efficient way to change behavior for the better.

Put a small child in a room with a desk or a dresser and make a big deal of telling him/her not to open the drawer and then stand quietly outside and see how long it takes for the drawer to be opened.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Chances are decent that the drawer will be opened.  Why?  Well, some psychologists/philosophers/sociologists/etc., like Gregory Bateson, would tell us that humans think in terms of what we are “not” doing, and that, in fact, the only way to think about not doing something is to imagine doing it.  So, when you tell that small child not to open the drawer, you leave him or her imagining what might happen if the drawer is opened and the desire to do so just increases.

It’s much the same with “dieting.”  As soon as you are told, or tell yourself, that you cannot have XYZ food, you spend a lot of time in your day thinking about not having that food, and thereby thinking about having it.  So, a low calorie diet becomes a day spent thinking, “I won’t eat a cookie.  I won’t eat a cookie.  I won’t eat a cookie… cookie… cookie… cookie,” and eventually, there you are with your hand in the cookie jar.  And then once you’ve already “messed up” your “diet” for the day by breaking the rule about what not to eat, you might as well go ahead and have 3 cookies, or 5, or 10.fruitveg

It’s much more useful to think about what we will/should eat.  Instead of thinking, “I can’t have a nacho plate for lunch,” you think “I’m going to make a huge salad with field greens, walnuts, cranberries, apples, and a raspberry vinaigrette for lunch.  Mmmmm.”  Now the focus shifts to what you are going to eat and how good and good for you it is going to be.  It’s a much healthier and happier way to approach food.  We are humans and we need to eat for survival (duh), but moreover, food tastes good to us (I don’t know if it works this way for cows, but I’m pretty sure it does for dogs).   It’s much nicer to think about all of the good (and good for us) things we can have instead of thinking about what we can’t have.

If we, as a culture, could adopt a view of diet that focused more on building a delicious and nutritious eating plan, and less on labeling some food as “bad” and some as “good” and then eliminating items based on their “badness,” we would be happier with ourselves and our meals.  And, who knows, we might just lose a few pounds  ; )