Bourdain vs. Deen

Frank  the tank Bruni wrote a fantastic article in this week’s Times about culinary elitism and the recent jabs between Anthony Bourdain and Paula Deen.



Bruni brings up a few very important points here.  First, Anthony Bourdain is a huge douche (but isn’t that why everyone watches his show?).  Second, a rise in culinary elitism has meant that top chefs can put down people like Deen who promote the Standard American Diet (SAD) of butter, fried meat, fried everything, and very few whole, healthy foods; while serving $35 plates of pork belly and fried chicken at their critically acclaimed restaurants.  Sure, they may have a deeper level of culinary knowledge, and they may wear nicer clothing, but they’re still serving people food that makes them sick and fat.

So how do we promote healthy eating to those who think they can only afford to make cream-laden Deen casseroles every night?  As Bruni points out, making healthy food less expensive is an imperative step.  But it’s also necessary to show people that budget-friendly food can still be healthy and – gasp! – meat free (rice and beans is a lot cheaper than chicken, and it’s not full of hormones and other weird crap).  That’s one of the reasons I admire Mama Pea so much – through her blog and cookbook, she has taken a “show, don’t tell” approach to introducing, healthy, meat-free, affordable, and achievable meals to the American public.  Healthy living blogs are so successful in showing people how to attain a realistic healthy lifestyle.  This is the way to create change – not to criticize the Paula Deens of the world, but rather to show her audience that healthy food can be tasty and cheap, too.  Is there a vegetarian-friendly adaptation of the “teach a man to fish” adage?

goals vs. obligation

At the beginning of the month, I set out a few goals for myself.  I wanted to do this for a few reasons:

1. To take my meditation practice more seriously

2. To experiment with monthly goals

3. To give myself a 30-day yoga challenge and keep up my practice during a 10-day vacation

I’m almost to the end of the month, and I feel good about how I’ve done.  I’ve only missed a few days of meditation and yoga, and these were days with hectic or strange schedules.

I thought that having a reason to practice yoga every day would deepen my practice.  I sort of thought it would bring me to a whole different level of enlightenment, drastically improve my yoga practice, and make me the most badass yogi ever.  But….none of that really happened. 

In reality, yoga began to feel like more of a chore than a gift.  Since I already practiced between 5 and 7 times per week, I realize now that I didn’t need this “challenge”.  While there were many times that I feel like I definitely would have skipped my practice had it not been for my monthly goal, and it was a helpful tool to keep my practice up during vacation, it simply turned yoga into one more obligation.

This past tuesday, I had a really difficult Ashtanga practice.  The kind of practice where your mind and your body want to quit the whole. damn. time.  I couldn’t figure out why something I loved so much had become so difficult.  And then, at some point during the day, I read the following quote:

“Let your heart move you to participation”

I realized then that yoga should be something I do because I want to do it.  I would rather skip a few classes each month than feel like yoga is an obligation.

This morning, I went back to Ashtanga.  I had overslept my alarm, so I only had about an hour and ten minutes to practice.  But I went in there with no expectations, and kept repeating to myself, “Life is good.”  I realized that I wanted to be there.  I was grateful for my practice.  And I was there on my own accord.

I think that goal setting is a fantastic tool.  Meditating daily has been difficult, but I am so happy that I set it as a goal.  And it’s nice to have ways to track your progress and reward yourself for accomplishments on a monthly basis.  For now, however, the number of times per week that I practice is going to stay off that list.


I have been thinking a lot in the past few days about what makes people truly make changes in their lives, specifically concerning diet and health.  We have all been in situations where we want to make a change, we might even have the intention to make a change, but we just….don’t.  I’ve spoken at length with two friends in the past month about changes that they want to make to their diets – one is trying to lose weight, frustrated that nothing has worked for her; the other is trying to eliminate a common allergen (dairy) from her diet.  I’ve talked to both of these women about the why and the how – my opinions on how to lose weight (focus on whole foods, fruits and vegetables) and how you can successfully and feasibly cut out dairy.  And I see both women struggle with the ability to make these changes.  They’re strong, smart, beautiful people, but the change just isn’t coming.

This situation frustrates me for a few reasons.  First, I want to help my friends.  I want them to be happier and healthier.  I believe that health brings us so much happiness and makes room for so much goodness in our lives.  Second, I just want them to be able to do it.  And I don’t know how to help them stick to these changes.  I know that I was able to make changes, transform the way I ate, and willingly eliminate animal products from my diet through slow change and educating myself. But I’m not sure how to leverage that experience to help others.

And then….I feel bad that I’m frustrated.  Because it means that I assume I know what’s best for these people.  A certain diet worked for me, so I assume it will work for everyone.  I think that eliminating dairy is good for your health, so I assume that everyone should share my belief.  I want to be able to help others without simply expecting them to adhere to all of my beliefs.  I feel guilty that I think I’m so right about these things.

But I still want to know what makes us change.  What makes us wake up one day, make a commitment to changing our lives, and actually stick with it?  I think that so many people see setbacks as reasons to give up – we “cheat” on our diet, so we just give up.  We eat a piece of cheese one day, so we assume we’ll never be able to eat dairy free.  We aren’t forgiving – we aren’t seeking slow, staying change.

I wish I could figure this out.  I want to help people make positive changes in their lives.  And I dont wan’t to do this for selfish reasons.  It frustrates me that I do not have the tools to help people make these changes.  Does this mean I should be a nutritionist?  Is that the right path for me?  Who knows.  But the fact that I keep mulling over these ideas for days – that makes me hopeful.  Because it means that there’s something igniting a fire inside me.  And I just need to listen to it, and nurture it, and I’ll figure out where it wants me to go.

we all need a friend.

Caveat: I hate email forwards.  But this is too beautiful not to share.  And who doesn’t love a picture of an orangutan in a lifejacket?

After losing his parents, this 3 year old orangutan  was so depressed he wouldn’t eat and didn’t respond to any medical treatments. The veterinarians thought he would surely die from sadness.

The zoo keepers found an old sick dog on the grounds in the park at the zoo where the orangutan lived and took the dog to the animal treatment center. The dog arrived at the same time the orangutan was there being treated.

The 2 lost souls met and have been inseparable ever since.

The orangutan found a new reason to live and each always tries his best to be a good companion to his new found friend.

They are together 24 hours a day in all their activities.

They live in Northern California where swimming is their favorite past time,
although Roscoe (the orangutan) is a little afraid of the water and needs his friend’s help to swim.

new life goal

When I decided to cut dairy out of my diet, I figured I just wouldn’t eat pizza anymore.  The “how do you live without pizza?!?!?!?!?” question is something that vegans hear a lot, it seems.  Don’t get me wrong – I totally understand the appeal of a big, cheesy pizza.  But I also know that I feel like death after eating it, so giving it up wasn’t too much of a sacrifice.

Looking at this cheese is giving me stomach cramps.

But then I went out for pizza a few times.  And I realized the following:  Pizza without cheese?  Still completely delicious. 

Today I went out to eat at a new Italian restaurant uptown with some coworkers.  Rather than ordering a salad and resigning to the fact that I’d be hungry within the hour, I got a veggie pizza with no cheese.  And you know what?  It was freaking amazing.  The veggies were fresh and the sauce was delicious, but the crust…I could have eaten five of those crusts.

So I’ve decided that my new life goal is to learn how to make delicious, homemade pizza dough.  Chewy and soft and a bit crispy on the edges.  Yeast dough scares me – but hopefully some trial and error will do the trick.

It seems like this recipe from Oh She Glows is a good starting place.  I’m sure my boyfriend Mark Bittman also has a great recipe.  I know 100% white flour recipes will be more like what I tasted today, but I’d like to try my hand at something that’s at least partially whole-wheat so that I can pass it off as healthy. I’ll post any new developments here!

awesome salad #234534

Whenever I throw together a salad with whatever is left in my fridge, I generally find myself sitting at my desk the next day at lunch thinking that this is the best salad I have EVER made.  As if I should have some sort of personal salad hall of fame. 

This happened today.  I’m trying to use up my produce and spend $0 on food this week, since I’ll be leaving for Maine on Thursday.  I had some marinated cucumbers, half a tiny green pepper, a tomato, some other vegetables, and a huge amount of freshly cooked chickpeas in the fridge.  The decision to add peanut butter to the dressing was key here, and added richness and an unexpected flavor.  This also reminded me how much I love fresh ginger!

Anyways, in the future, I’d like to be a little more organized about recipe posting – maybe even getting all fancy and uploading the pictures of my food that are just sitting on my crappy point-and-shoot.  But in order to remember this salad and its awesomeness, I want to record what I did.  Measurements are ROUGH estimates.

Amazing Salad:

Baby Spinach

1/2 Cucumber, chopped and marinated overnight (see marinade recipe below)

1/2 tomato, chopped

Generous serving of chickpeas (maybe 2/3 cup?)

1/4 C butternut squash, roasted in coconut oil and cubed

1/4 C diced green pepper

Sesame seeds (pretty sure these made no difference, except for making me feel like this salad was decidedly ASIAN!)

Peanut – Soy – Ginger Dressing (see below)

Cucumber Marinade:

2 T coconut vinegar

1 t EVOO

1 t minced fresh ginger

1 t minced fresh garlic

1 t maple syrup

1 t dijon mustard

Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 t Minced jalapeno

Peanut – Soy – Ginger Dressing

Leftover Marinade from cucumbers

1 T peanut butter

1 t soy sauce

After Cucumbers marinate overnight, drain them (reserving marinade) and add to spinach, along with other veggies.  mix the dressing and pour over salad right before serving.  yum!

promises, promises

In August, I will:

 – Practice yoga every day

 – Spend nine days in Maine with my parents and enjoy every. single. second.

 – Take time every day to meditate

 – Watch Beyonce’s “Run The World (Girls)” video at least five more times

 – Make homemade tomato sauce from the most beautiful local tomatoes (ever)

 – Attend four BodyPump classes

 – See one of my best friends get married (what???)

 – Be kind to myself

 – Post at least eight times on this here blog.

Goals, plans, whatever you call it.  I’ve never done this before.  Let’s see how it turns out.