Monday, August 6, 2012

What the HECK do you Eat?

Pictured: Carrot, left. Cucumber, right. Both have been shredded by me, not pictured.
I was inspired to write this post by the meal I'm preparing tonight: Vegan Tortilla Soup. It's the first warm dinner I'll have had in a bit over two weeks.  This is partially because I have more or less decided to follow a vegetarian-ish lifestyle with absolutely no dairy products or anything that's been refined at all... and because I live in a place sans kitchen.

I realize both reasons require an explanation. Let's start with the first one.

1. I REFUSE to use the term "vegan" to describe how I eat. This is, in part, because I told a friend once I was thinking of going Vegan (meaning: I was no longer going to eat meat, dairy, or anything that had once had a pulse) and in reply I heard a long lecture about how I couldn't possibly be Vegan because I hadn't researched whether or not my clothes, the carpet in the place I rented or the glue I used on crafty handmade Christmas cards were also void of animal products.

So, no, I guess I'm not a Vegan. I lack the self-discipline or the desire to research what I've already done, where I already live and what clothes I've already worn stained and made my own in that embarrassing way that you would not ever donate them to charity, even for the tax write-off. In terms of my dietary choices, I've already done too many boo-boos to claim any sort of moral self-righteousness about my diet, aside from saying that I have one (since, by default, I eat.)  Instead, I consume mostly vegetables and fruit simply because I choose to. Call it what you like.
Laziness, perhaps.

Which leads me to the second reason: I have no kitchen.

2. OK: that's a slight exaggeration. I have a mini-fridge, a mini-sink and a big coffee maker that goes off every morning at 5:00 am. To supplement these essentials, I have purchased (or have been given): a water boiler, a steamer, an electric skillet, a hot plate (but I have no pots or pans) and two crock pots-- one from our era and the other from 1975 with a charming burnt-sienna colored interior and a whimsical floral design on the outside. I think there should be a Reality cooking show based on my living conditions, requiring contestants to live AND COOK in 300 square feet of space with only the appliances listed above to assist them and a Maine Coon cat who periodically stretches his paw up to the counter to get your attention and distract you from the precarious balancing act it is to do anything in such a small space.

There are no extras: no counter space. No dishwasher. No [sigh] oven. No large Cuisinart (yet). No sink into which a plate can fit.

But with what I've got, I'm making Vegan Tortilla Soup tonight and it's going to be amazing. (How's that for shameless self promotion?)


So maybe you're wondering what I eat on long rides and runs? Back in my running days (though those are coming back: my foot feels great after my 50 minute effort yesterday... but I'm being patient in building back my base) I didn't eat much while running. Sport gels, mostly, since solid foods made me want to become the human pinata. That might sound fun at a party, but trust me, it's not when you're on a trail, alone, running over twenty miles.

While cycling, I have sport gels, too, but I've really been trying to take "healthy" foods along with me as well. Larabars, for instance, while sugary (with their "date" base) are only composed of fruit and nuts and a healthy alternative to others out there.

But my resolve tends to fade while the miles accumulate and at mile sixty or so, I think: hot damn, those Peanut-Crunch Cliff bars taste soooooo good. 

Even better? I discovered my I'VE DIED AND GONE TO A BETTER PLACE snack on the Mt. Tam Century: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. Yeah, I know, I'm weird. But I never buy bread (I don't eat it in my day-to-day routine) nor jelly, really with its high-fructose corn syrup that will kill you... but that half-sandwich was motivation enough for me to ride all those miles. Yes: just two slices of bad-for-you-brown-bread and the sort of peanut butter that comes from a large, plastic container and jelly the color of no extant fruit that has cancer written all over it.

I ate that.
And it was delish.


So, am I Vegan?
I'm beyond labels.
And with that, it's time to make some soup.

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