Yum and Yummer

Keller’s Kale Shake Recipe (Makes enough for 2, so keep someone else alive too!) Kale (4 leaves) Cucumber (1 small) Celery (two stalks) Pineapple (two fresh rings) Pear (one) Ginger Root (about two teaspoon equivalent) Ice water (1 Cup)

You are what you eat.

by Cherri Ellis

Of all the relationships in your life, your relationship with food will last the longest. If you live to the age of 100, I doubt you’ll be having sex, and your tennis game will be off, but you will still eat.  Our bodies are built to require fuel, while our minds continually shape our sensibilities surrounding food.

As a child, I enjoyed eating with the unfettered joy of one who didn’t read food labels. Sitting on the couch watching Bewitched with an endless bowl of Captain Crunch cereal was an outstanding use of time. But the teen years brought with them all the angst of finding out where you fit in and with whom, and weight became an issue of ridiculous importance. Those were the years of magazine diets, all with titles like “The Miracle Whip Diet” or “Lose Ten Pounds by Monday.”

If the word “ass” offends you (unless it’s in reference to Mary and Joseph riding one into Bethlehem) then quit reading, but if you can stand it I have some real wisdom for you from my friend Kate Martineau:  “At a certain stage in life, a woman has to choose between her face and her ass. You can have a pretty face and a big ass, or you can have a tight ass and a face like Skeletor.”

I have made my decision.

Having currently survived a bizarre form of breast cancer, I now look at food less for its fat and calories and more for its entertainment value and nutritional density. I am a Consumptive BiPolar…I will choose a food for it’s lycopene or phytochemicals or just because it’s freaking delicious. I do make myself eat foods that are known to boost my immune system, but I also obey my hormones when they scream for rare, salty red meat.

On the positive side, I have recently been turned on to kale shakes. I know — kale and shake should not be next to each other in a sentence — but the combination of ingredients make a bright green smoothie with so many nutrients that when it hits your bloodstream you feel like you can fly. I had to get past the color of it by putting a straw in the glass and blocking my view with my hand, but I was shocked at how delicious it tasted.   Kale is the current super model of the veggie world. I’m gonna live forever.

In today’s landscape of information overload, it is actually a wonder anyone knows how to eat. The USDA food pyramid is widely regarded to be out of balance. There have been professionals telling us to limit or eliminate any combination of the following: carbohydrates, protein, sodium, sugar, fat, gluten, red meat, any meat, or dairy.

I find that what works for me is to switch diet plans rapidly enough that I really just eat what I want. Steak night, I’m on Atkins, pasta night I’m carb loading… a spinach salad, and I am smug as a vegan.

And being vegan is pretty hip these days. It’s not just Alicia Silverstone anymore! Now Usher, Ozzy Osborne, Ellen DeGeneres, and even Bill Clinton have gone vegan, which means they have given up meat, dairy, eggs, and most oils. If you stood me in a kitchen and told me to make a meal without meat dairy, eggs, or any fat — I would stand motionless for a second then hand you an orange. Even lettuce requires some dressing up to look like dinner. There should be a study on death row inmates to see how many inmates ordered a vegan dinner as their last meal.  I am guessing not many prison guards hear the sentence “Yes, I did it. Now bring me my Tofutti.”

I am wary of any eating plan that eliminates all of anything. I wonder if people who voluntarily follow super constrictive diets are not able to control anything else in their lives. Perhaps Bill, Ellen, and Ozzy are really bossed around by Hillary, Portia and Sharon. Usher cannot stop Justin Bieber’s meteoric rise, and Alicia most likely still has people spouting Valley Girl at her. They do, however, get to decide how much protein to eat. And now so do you.

Wednesday, March 27, there is an open to the public opportunity to hear some real live published medical experts debate the issue of whether a high protein diet or low protein diet is better for you in terms of cancer prevention and overall health. It starts at 5 p.m. at UAB’s Alumni House.  Hashing it out will be Eric Westfall from Duke University representing the high protein camp, and Thomas Campbell from Cornell University promoting a plant based diet.  I will be serving as moderator.  It’s a great chance to ask real questions of real experts, and I anticipate them being peppered with hard questions from the audience and each other. I actually hope it’s a real battle with advocates from each side coming dressed out as strips of bacon and stalks of celery, but I dream big.

**For more information on the Public Forum on Low vs. High Protein Diets  access uab.edu/medicine/palliativecare


2 Responses to “Yum and Yummer”

  1. Cheryl Chapman says:

    I agree wholeheartedly about people following super-constrictive diets. I have a friend who worked out every day and had a great, lean, muscled torso even at 60. He read a restrictive diet book and has become obsessive about the “dangers of foods and protein” to the extent that he eats almost nothing but the heavy brown bread espoused in the book. I am seriously worried about him because he has lost tremendous muscle mass and is shrinking away before my eyes. He still does weight work, but doesn’t have the strength or stamina to engage in aerobic exercise. I hope I can get him to attend the symposium, although I suppose there is the possibility that it could just make him worse. I eat a healthy mostly fruit and plant-based diet and work out daily, but I saw a maple do-nut topped with bacon last week, and I would so work out an extra 20 minutes a day for a week to eat that sucker!

  2. Lacey says:

    You are what you eat – could not better describe how many vegans and vegetarians feel about their food choices.

    You say those vegans & vegetarians probably don’t have control of other parts of their lives – so wrong! We have decided that animals do not need to suffer and be killed for us to eat.

    There are so many options and yummy recipes to eat that do not involve animal products and are still full of protein.

    PETA provides a free Vegetarian 101 starter kit – http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/free-vegetarian-starter-kit.aspx,

    If I was ever on death row and had one last meal, it wouldn’t be a helpless animal that was killed.

    Veganism isn’t a hip fad. I wish you hadn’t written about it in such a condescending manner.

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