I can't believe it has only been one week since I went vegan! It has really been difficult because of my busy schedule, a root canal and finding food options out there in the “real world” but I'll start with yesterday.
My Godchild turned one this weekend and the birthday party was amazing. The menu was barbecue chicken & ribs and a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. When the food was served, I hadn't eaten since breakfast and the carnivore inside me thought of how delicious one of those barbecue ribs could be. How could I stop myself ???? My solution was simple. I gathered the kids around and pulled out my ipad and we watched Oprah's slaughterhouse video.
Who would want to eat meat after that? Just kidding – I didn't show the kids but I think if children were shown videos like those they would never eat an animal again which led me to think about my relationship to food and what my parents put on my plate during childhood. I seriously had never thought of it before and examining that relationship has made me a lot more conscious of what I eat and why I eat it.
Also, I thought my story was complicated until I heard this story….There was a woman at the birthday party who told me that her mother wouldn't cook anything for her and her siblings when she was angry or in a bad mood because the mother said the bad energy would go into the food. The kids would hope that the mom would be in a bad mood everyday just so they could go to McDonalds. It's a funny story but it certainly must play a role in her relationship with food today.
My relationship with food was also complicated. My mother had a bad habit of smoking a cigarette while she was cooking and there was always this long ash at the end of the cigarette in her mouth. I constantly worried about it falling into the food. That among other things created some kind of hypervigilance I have about food and the people who prepare it.
I have had two fainting incidents involving food situations. Once when I had to eat from a big buffet and saw all those people touching the food and another time when I was working at an ice cream store and the manager was showing me how to make a milkshake. The hair on his arm touched the side of the strawberry ice-cream tub and I hit the concrete floor. Of course they fired me.
Also, my father wouldn't allow me to leave the table without eating everything on my plate which has made me very freaked out about portion sizes. I can't go to places that serve too much food otherwise I can't eat it.
So I recommend that you examine what shapes your eating behaviors and what food means to you. It might help you understand why you eat the way you do and not beat yourself up about it. I would love to hear your stories.
My additional goal this week is to think about what I am eating and take a pause. No distractions while I am eating. No TV, Internet, work etc. I will try to eat with awareness, chew slowly and savor the food. This is a big challenge for me because I eat on the run and I also eat fast. I am hoping this new relationship with food will help me stick with this plant based diet.
Tonight I will be enjoying some stir-fried tofu inspired by a dish I used to make with chicken. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do and wish me luck with my new relationship.
Stir-Fry Tamarind Tofu and Mushroom
- 10 ounces tofu cut into ¾" pieces
- 2 tsp fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 tbsp tamari, low sodium
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1½ tbsp tamarinds, pulp
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- ½-3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 6 ounces mushrooms, shitake (6 fresh) sliced ¼"
- 2¾ ounces canned water chestnuts (approx ½ cup sliced )
- 2 tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 tbsp water
- ½ cup scallions (approx 3) ½ diagonal cut
- ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed in cool, running water and drained
- 1½ cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger root and tamari. Toss tofu pieces in marinade, then refrigerate and let marinate at least one hour
- In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine, simmer and reduce by half: Mirin, brown sugar, tamari and tamarind pulp. Strain and press through a fine sieve. Set aside until ready to stir-fry
- In medium sized saucepan, bring vegetable or water to boil with bay leaf. Add finessed, drained quinoa. Cover pan and slowly simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Uncover, discard bay leaf and fluff with kitchen fork. When serving. sprinkle with chopped cilantro
- In wok or large saute pan, heat canola oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and stir fry until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and stir fry briefly. Deglaze the pan with some of the veggie broth. Stir in tamarind mixture and water chestnuts. Mix in the arrowroot and stir until liquids thicken. Add more vegetable broth until liquid is only slightly thickened. Stir in scallions.
- Spoon quinoa with cilantro onto plate - portion tofu and vegetable in center of quinoa. I also like to add a side of something green - green beans, spinach, leafy greens or asparagus
- You can find tamarind in latino, asian & middle eastern grocery stores. Also, I believe most whole foods stores carry it