I am probably the only female on the planet who did not know today was Valentine’s Day. I guess it just completely slipped by me. I found out this morning when I got to work and noticed a lot of sweet treats (but all very non-vegan of course) in the break room. I didn’t think too much of this as my co-workers bring in treats from time to time (as do I). Then one of my coworkers, Kathy, came in to tell me she made brownies with applesauce (they were dairy free, but had egg whites), so I asked what was up with all the baked goods. She gave me this odd look and said ‘Um, it’s Valentine’s Day!’ I’m sitting at my desk like, ‘is it really? Huh.’ Shows how much I pay attention to these things. I’m sure any of you reading my blog would probably suspect that I’m not super into corporate holidays. I read on another blog and wholeheartedly agreed that every day is a good day to show your partner (or friends, cats, whoever) that you love and appreciate them, not just one corporatized day of the year. I’m suspecting there were all sorts of ads on TV (probably to the effect of ‘go into debt and buy your wife a car and a giant diamond for Valentine’s Day or you’ll be sleeping on the couch’), but since I don’t watch TV, I (so sadly) missed out on the frenzied advertising campaign.
I was actually planning on blogging today about some food (of course), but also some thoughts I have had reading the book ‘War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning’ by Chris Hedges. It is a very fascinating book and most definitely makes you think about war in general, human nature, our predisposition for violence, etc. But seeing as how it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m sure no one wants to hear about war, so I’ll save that one for tomorrow or perhaps for Brett's blog as I'm not sure how interested the veg*n community is in my social and political rants.
One more thing before I get on to the food. I’m wondering how many of you out there has heard of the author Michael Pollan. I read his book ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’, and even though I wasn’t even an omnivore anymore when I read it, I highly enjoyed the book. He has a new book called ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’ that I’m interested in reading. Anyway, he was on Democracy Now! yesterday and as always the discussion was enlightening and fascinating. I really enjoyed his discussion on nutritionism (yes, like many other things this has now turned in to an –ism), finding it very interesting how he noted the American obsession with focusing on quick fix diets and specific nutrients. We do this to the point where we see food as merely a collection of nutrients, and even as we ‘learn more’ about nutrition we (Americans) keep getting fatter and more unhealthy. This has a lot to do with all the focus on particular nutrients, not our overall eating patterns, which allows for agribusiness and food science companies to sell their value-added ‘food-like substances’ (as Michael Pollan calls them), and make us think it’s good for us since it has antioxidants or less fat, even though it is more of a scientific concoction than actual food.
You see, the ambiguity of our nutritional advice (namely the USDA’s ‘Food Pyramid’) is not unintentional. Cattlemen’s associations, farmer’s associations, food manufacturing associations have a very large pull in the USDA, hence why they’ll never come out and tell you NOT to eat a certain product (as this could reduce business for the above stated organizations), but have no problem telling you to eat more of something than you really need (you can make money this way). It is easier just be vague and confuse everyone to the point where they think nutrition is too complicated for regular folks to understand, so they give up and go the McDonalds. Mission accomplished.
To be completely honest, there is no money to be made in telling people what they really need to hear: eat whole grains, fruits and veggies, avoid meat and dairy. It is that simple. Michael Pollan has a really nice one liner that pretty much says it all, ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ Hard to believe it’s really that simple, eh? Just remember that for thousands of years, people did just fine by simply listening to their bodies and eating FOOD (not food-like substances), and a wide variety of it. And if anyone is interested in reading more about corporate and political influence on nutritional advice, I recommend ‘Food Politics’ by Marion Nestle (and pretty much all her other books as well).
Onto the food. I feel bad for spending this much time talking about other things when my dinner last night was truly amazing. This was seriously the best recipe I have tried for a long time. I made Happy Herbivore’s Maple Glazed Tofu. I was going to serve it over quinoa, but sadly I got home to realize that I only had about a quarter of a cup of quinoa. So sad. So I served it over brown rice and it was still fantastic. It was really easy to make. The tofu got nice in golden in the coconut oil. I am getting more comfortable with stir-frying (I’ve been reluctant to cook over such high heat for fear of burning stuff), but was brave last night and the tofu got all golden and crispy. Since I live with The Proverbial Sweet Tooth, I decided to make her variation for a sweeter glaze. Damn agave takes things to a different level, doesn’t it?
Both Brett and I are fans of steamed carrots, but I literally could have eaten the carrots and the Maple Glaze alone as a dessert. I’m honestly not sure when was the last time that I wolfed down something like I did this. I loved the glaze so much, I think I might try it with plain veggies, or as Brett suggested, make the Maple Glazed Tofu again and add more veggies like bell peppers and snap peas.
I brought the leftovers to work today for lunch to have with an arugula salad, and my mouth and belly were quite happy.
Now I understand why the Happy Herbivore is so happy, it is easy to be happy when your body is fueled with healthful, protein, vitamin, and mineral packed food that tastes delicious to boot! I’m going to try some of her simple Indian recipes here in a couple of weeks. If those are as good as this recipe, she may be my go-to-blogger for good, quick, healthy meals. I’ve been going through some of her archived recipes, and you all should too. (Oh, and just to let you know Lindsay, if all your food is as good as this recipe, you should write a cookbook too!)
'Til next time!