Monday, August 6, 2012

Cooking Creatively

I have finally accepted that I am becoming one of those crazy-diet people. Not in the crash-diets, only-eat-cabbage-and-protein-shakes, scarily-unhealthy diets way, but in the I-can't-believe-you-don't-eat-that, how-do-you-survive kind of way.

Crazy-diet people used to scare me. Vegetarian- you mean you don't eat meat? Ever??? Vegan- no cheese? Gluten-free- I would DIE without bread!

But this crazy-diet-ness just slipped into my life slowly and quietly.

I discovered in high school that I have a dairy allergy. Feeling really terrible after every meal is not normal-- surprise! Soy milk (now rice milk) became my best friend as I begin to cut much of the dairy out of my diet. (Didn't completely cut out the mac'n'cheese though-- that stuff is delicious.)

In college I decided to try a raw food fast one fall. And I felt so good that I didn't bother to put meat back in my diet. My skin cleared up. I had more energy. And so I became a loose vegetarian (I cheat with sushi, and out of courtesy I will eat anything served to me at someone's house. After all, I do it for health benefits and not for any moral conviction, so I can be flexible.)

Now, I'm marrying someone with Crohn's. And after doing some research and talking a bit, Nate and I have decided to go gluten-free. The health benefits for Crohn's seem to definitely outweigh any inconvenience. 

So at this point I like to embrace the title of "free-etarian" bestowed on me by a dear friend. I'm a soon-to-be gluten-free almost-vegetarian who eats occasional fish, goat's milk products, some hard cheeses, and eggs for the protein. But as flexible as I am, I'm pretty sure I fall solidly in the crazy-diet category. However, my body is much happier now, so I'm pretty sure it's all worth it.

And, because our bodies are amazing things, I've found that our tastes can change quite dramatically over time. My favorite foods are now mushrooms, avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, peaches, strawberries, bananas, chevre, and peanut butter. Probably in that order. My six-year-old self would be disgusted. But the healthier food I eat, the more healthy food I crave. As sugar has slowly been cut from my usual foods, I find myself wanting less and less of it. And it's gotten to the point that any meat besides a little fish makes me sick (it's something about not producing the proper enzymes to break down those sorts of proteins any more).

And I've also learned so much more about cooking. I would say I've always been a pretty good cook, but forcing myself out of the routine cuisine I grew up with has forced me to be much more daring and think outside the box. The result has been pretty fantastic so far. I mean, there are recipes I try where the general consensus is that such a thing should never ever be cooked again. But I've learned so much more about flavors and how to combine unexpected ingredients while cooking with fresh, in-season ingredients in a way that's not full of fats and sugars. My body is quite happy for all of this. It does take a bit more time and preparation, but I get more efficient as I go. And I can't wait to keep experimenting-- it's going to be good!

And since Nate and a few other friends have gotten on me to actually write down the recipes for what I make (I don't generally measure things when I cook), for the next few months I'm going to try to post at least one recipe a week. Some of them will be my renditions of recipes I've found around the Internet, and some of them will be my own creations. All of them will be gluten free, vegetarian, relatively healthy, and fairly easy to make (I'm lazy). So come back on Tuesdays for some healthy, easy food!

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