Saturday, January 19, 2008

Eating like a hippie

When I embarked on this no-dairy experiment I did so with a great internal sigh. Picky eaters are so terrible. When I worked at a restaurant I was always irritated by the people who would order something like penne primavera; "but could you take out the zucchini, and use manicotti instead of penne?". Even worse are the people who go to some place like McDonalds and ask for "a hamburger happy meal, but make one of the hamburgers a cheeseburger,only three pickle slices, and give me extra fries with no salt and an extra toy". I'm not exaggerating, I've met these people, they are the ones who hold up the line in the grocery store telling the baggers how to bag their milk "in plastic and then in paper but not with the ice cream!". That is a little how I imagined a diet with a major restriction to turn out. Not eating dairy for a month (and still going) has reinforced the fact that Those People are just difficult and disagreeable and it has nothing to do with any kind of dietary restriction. It's pretty easy to just say "hold the cheese" and not make it into a theatrical production.
What is hard, but will probably get easier, is grocery shopping. Shopping is slowed significantly because of the necessity of reading through ingredients trying to spot "whey" "casiene" "vanilin" and other code words for "Milk". Today I finally just went to the Berkeley Bowl (a mega-hippie supermarket with the most amazing produce section ever). I bought soy milk, soy butter, soy creamer, a few products labeled "vegan" and a ton of veggies.

The new diet has forced me to think harder about my food choices. Just look at how many veggies I ate tonight;

I also bought a book called "The Joy of Vegan Baking" which I love. The recipes are fairly simple and explain how to "veganize" any baking recipe. I tried using these recipes with eggs instead of egg substitutes but they weren't as good. The most surprising egg substitute that I loved was in the muffins I made today. Instead of two eggs you whip together 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons of water, e voila!

For a dozen muffins I used a half cup of sugar and a third cup oil. Those were the only not-so-good-for-you ingredients, everything else was flour, flax, seasoning, fruit and nuts... actually they're really tasty. You'd never know that they're made with twigs and dirt.

So I'm accepting that I'm not becoming a terrible picky eater, I'm just being a more conscientious eater. Thank God I don't have to do this in Ohio.