A Fatted-Calf a Day: Why I’m Eating Veggies

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Why would a woman who has gone for three years without beer or brezen or apfel strudel or any other form of gluteny goodness decide to also do away with dairy, meat, candy & any so-called food created in a laboratory?

My food journey begins with a guy named Daniel. He was from a war-torn city; and he & some of his buddies were taken away as captives. But instead of living in tents in the burbs with the other prisoners, these guys were brought into the largest, most powerful city in the world at that time.

These young men were special–chosen to learn the language and literature of the place which was to be their new home. As an added bonus, they were to live in the palace, which was pretty snazzy student housing.

My kids & husband & I stood next to these very same palace gates–still shiny cobalt blue and adorned with the popular gods of that time. I craned my neck back and tried to imagine the hot desert sun & bright blue sky above, rather than the pale autumn sun trickling in through the sky lights of the museum.

These ancient city walls were built in order to symbolize, for anyone who could see, the greatness and supremacy of the king.  I mean, who could argue with the king of the world?

As I maneuvered to get pictures of the kids without a thousand other photo-snapping tourists in the picture, I thought about Daniel & his friends, walking through these gates as humble captives.

After Daniel had settled into the palace, the king ordered that these chosen men were to be given the same food & drink that the king himself ate.

It was a really nice gesture, but in spite of the fact that a king who could build such an impressive foyer probably had some great-tasting grub flowing through his kitchen doors, Daniel wasn’t good with it.

The servant in charge of the buffet table was concerned that Daniel would starve & look terrible if he DID NOT eat the king’s food. So Daniel asked him for ten days to prove that the fruit & veggie tray really was better than anything from the all-you-can-eat menu.

As you’ve probably guessed, Daniel & those on his fad diet looked like movie stars compared to the guys sucking down milkshakes and bacon double-cheeseburgers.

But here’s the important point that many people emulating Daniel overlook: after the ten days, Daniel did not jump on the king’s gravy train. Rather, during his three years of studying in the palace, he continued to eat healthy food. And he ended up being the wisest man in the kingdom.

I’m not saying that eating veggies is going to make you gorgeous and brilliant–but seriously, it can’t hurt!

I am two weeks into plant-based eating, and though I had 2 cappuccinos (with real milk), the veggie plan seems to be working small wonders already. My skin is soft, my complexion is better, I have more un-caffeinated energy, I don’t need to consume as much food to actually feel full, I eat when I’m hungry, and I’ve lost 4 pounds. So, I’m going to stick with it for a while–especially since I have a marathon (possibly two) in my near future.

I anticipate that I will eat meat sometime this year. And that’s okay. Meat is there for us if we want it. If you are at all interested in the Bible, then you know about the feast days, which sometimes include things like lamb (which means I can justify the occasional doner kebap). On other days, people did actually eat fish, though it probably wasn’t battered and deep-fried.

In ancient times, only rich people (like kings) could kill the fatted calf every day. For the average working slave, it was only a couple times a year–if that. And I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure the normal ancient person didn’t die from heart disease or type 2 diabetes–not when there were so many natural things that could kill you.

My nutritional journey began with Daniel, but the more scary food documentaries I watch, the more I want to stick with plant-based eating.

I’m not the only one doing this. For thousands of years, entire people groups were eating this way. And while words like “vegan,” “organic,” and “whole foods” conjure images of people who tie-dye t-shirts in the bathtub, I believe that the more plant-based food I eat, the healthier I will be.

And if I want to be the great-grandma who wins her age division in the ultra-marathon mountain race, I’ll need all the eating wisdom I can get.

 

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach Baba Ganoush

Inspired by a whimsical purchase of Portobello mushrooms (because I’d never bought them before), and a whimsical batch of baba ganoush (because I liked saying the name–and I had eggplants getting a little too soft). I added spinach for good luck, and voila! a new favorite was born.

The Raw Materials
6 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed
2-4 medium eggplants (depending on family size)
olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup thawed, drained frozen spinach or finely chopped fresh (more if you like it, less if you don’t)

The Method
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke the eggplants with a fork. Lightly oil them and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until they look withered and the flesh is soft (30-45 minutes). Remove eggplants from the oven and let them cool.

When the eggplants are cool, remove the pulp from the skins. Squeeze pulp gently to remove excess water. This process will remind you of gently squeezing a squid, but bear with it. Chop the pulp very fine. Combine with the remaining ingredients. Taste the mixture and adjust ingredients to your liking.

Brush mushrooms lightly with olive oil. Fill mushrooms with eggplant mixture and bake until you can smell it–8-12 minutes.

These are most excellent served on a bed of rice (long grain or wild).

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