No Half Measures

As my husband says, nothing is ever halfway with me. After reading Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, I’ve wondered exactly how to follow his advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I recently purchased a small pile of books, several of which feel intuitively revolutionary to me. The titles:

Green For Life, by Victoria Boutenko: This book explains nutrition in a very accessible manner, providing scientific data and references to studies to support its claims. I am skeptical of a few claims (such as gray hair returning to its natural color after adding green smoothies to one’s diet), but the majority of information makes practical sense and is upheld by general standards of nutrition. The book is concise and printed on high-quality paper.

Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health, by Victoria Boutenko: This second book by Boutenko provides the core information on the benefit of green smoothies. The majority of the book contains recipes (i.e., inspiration for mixing) of smoothies. (It’s also concise and printed on high quality paper, meaning it will hold up over long-term use and doesn’t take up much kitchen shelf space.) In both books, I like the author’s voice. She writes in a way that is educated yet understated.

The Green Smoothie Diet: The Natural Program for Extraordinary Health: I returned this one to the bookstore. It’s a regurgitation of Boutenko’s general ideas (even the title) but without any references to scientific or medical studies. It read an awful lot like a sales pitch for Blendtec, and rather than a bibliography of resources at the end it contained pages and pages of testimonials. While they make for entertaining reading, they are anecdotal, and I’m not going to base my nutrition decisions on the hallelujahs of strangers. The paper was also cheap, the kind that will yellow and grow brittle in a couple of years.

Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson: while I browsed the shelves, struggling to decide whether to purchase Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (an enormous book and pricey), I came across this one. I use my slow cooker quite a bit. I was pleased to see a book chock full of delicious dishes to make. They can be adapted for vegans as well, although I’m unlikely to ever take that route.

Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Survival Guide, by Jon Robertson: While I just wrote that I won’t become vegan, what intrigued me about this book was its niche — a book specifically written with the question of how to survive if the power goes out for a long time. The book explains how to create a pantry full of goods for the recipes it provides. There are about 17 recipes requiring no cooking at all. Different methods of creating heat (wood, gas stove, sterno) are discussed. There’s also a five-day meal plan for vegans who might drive somewhere; they can bring their own food to the in-law’s (for camping this is good as well). (I once dated a vegan and we had the hardest time finding places he could and would eat.) Most of the recipes sound delicious and are ones I’d make anyhow.

The other day I roasted a whole chicken. I noticed something in my reaction while preparing and later eating it. As I took it out of the wrapper, for the first time it felt a little weird to be handling flesh. Not quite obscene, but a little foreign. Claire asked what it was, and I said it was a chicken. She pointed to the wings and inquired of them; after I answered she laughed and said, “Food with wings! That’s silly!” (Claire is almost vegetarian; the only meat she eats are kosher hot dogs from Trader Joe’s, Oscar Meyer baloney, my pulled pork, the rare fish stick, and an occasional strip of bacon. She refuses milk still but will once in awhile eat cheese or yogurt.)

Anyhow, once the chicken was roasted I was ravenous to eat it. What I wanted and enjoyed the most was the crispy seasoned skin. I ate the meat and it was tasty, but I was satisfied with one portion. The next day I used the meat to add to dinner salads, and while it tasted all right it seemed superfluous. I ate a chicken sandwich today, and again it was all right, but not the tasty concoction I used to salivate over. Now I’m cooking the carcass for soup, but it smells odd to me in the house. It smells like… flesh cooking. It smells slightly revolting. Hmmm.

I wonder what’s up?

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