Have you guys heard of Mark Bittman?
If not, get over here! (After you read my post first. Harrumph.)
Recently, Bittman published a column that was a bit of an ode to the salad. He gives 101 ideas for different salads. There’s not much overlap, either. These are all really different, dynamic, and delicious salads. Bittman is a big proponent of a plant-based diet, but he is also big on indulgence, too. I like his attitude. It’s kind of like, “Do your best to eat ethically and healthfully, but save room for the naughty bits too”, which is really just a sexier way of saying, “Everything in moderation”.
Bittman’s recipes are usually simple, and often vegetarian. Don’t go to his site for any crazy gluten-free, yeast-free, sugar-free breads, but if you like to cook with an emphasis on highlighting just a few, fresh ingredients, he’s a good place to start.
More than his recipes, I go to Mark for his musings. He’s just so reasonable.
He is pro-organic, but reminds us not to be afraid of regular produce too (especially if the choice is between organic Cheetos and a non-organic tomato).
He is pro-vegetarianism, but also points out that if you are a vegetarian who fills all your meat-based empty spaces with dairy products and eggs, it is still animal consumption, and from an environmental perspective, almost as bad. But then he’ll make a gorgeous frittata and feel great about eating it.
He’s not a hypocrite. He’s a realist.
I think what he’s getting at is that for most people, staying within the confines of a strict vegetarian or vegan diet is unlikely or at least unappealing. I think that some people abandon the idea of plant-based diet too soon because they think it means absolute, agonizing abstinence for the rest of their lives. Plant-BASED means just that: The foundation of your diet comes from plant sources (fruit, vegetables, grain, beans, nuts, and seeds), and then the rest (from a sprinkling to a dollop) comes from animal sources.
In my own diet, I try to aim for 50% vegetables at both lunch and dinner, about 25-50% grains or legumes, and fill in the rest with nuts or animal proteins. For breakfast, you know I’m lovin’ my smoothie :)
Lisa Simpson, intelligent and sensitive cartoon warrior that she is, was once taunted by her family when she decided to turn to vegetarianism.
“You don’t win friends with salad! You don’t win friends with salad! You don’t win friends with salad!”
I don’t like to make a habit of quoting popular culture television shows (it’s a bit dorky, don’t you think?), but this one is relevant.
I, with my crush friend* Mark Bittman, heartily disagree with that statement.
Salad is my bosom soulmate.
Plant foods are as as unpredictable as a square-shaped bouncy ball, and as versatile as one of those long scarf-shaped-stretchy-material things that you buy on a late night infomercial that can somehow be worn as a tube top, a halter dress, a shawl, underwear, a tensor bandage, or a turban.
In my dreams, Mark and I meet in a Parisian fruit and vegetable market, where we handle and sniff different produce and select the finest specimens. We then head to a fabulous, bright and airy kitchen with antique wood countertops (impractical, I know, but WHO CARES WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE??) and make a lovely meal. Oh, and, er, of course my wonderful boyfriend is also there [loosens collar], and uh, has a great time.
* Mark and I aren’t actually friends. I only wish we were. Sigh.