We’re trying to eat healthy.
Do you have any idea how many versions of “healthy” there are? Paleo, vegan, low carb, whole foods, real foods, cultured foods, low calorie, low glycemic, traditional foods, and Starbucks. Okay, that last one is where I turn when I can’t figure out who’s right and I just give up.
It all started with a book I read about how eating coconut oil is good for you. I couldn’t figure out how ingesting a suntan oil ingredient would do anything but land you in the hospital, but holy guacamole, Batman, coconut oil is edible. And it can heal everything you ever thought was wrong with you, from tooth decay to moles. Well, I have some moles, so . . .
Just like that, I became a believer.
The next thing I knew, I’d thrown out all the Crisco in my pantry, six bottles of two-year-old salad dressings from the back of the fridge, and four bags of stale tortilla chips from a Memorial Day cookout in 2012.
And the sugar. It’s always about the sugar. Sigh. Only Starbucks still believes in sugar.
Years ago, I had a neighbor who went on pantry purges twice a year, loaded up all the poisonous groceries she’d spent a hundred bucks on at Safeway, and donated them to my family. She knew we had no scruples. And, since I had a side job as a pie baker, I was grateful for every ten pound bag of sugar she threw into the mix.
“Yeah, you can have that, too,” she’d say. “We call it ‘white death’, but I knew you’d want it.”
Well, I didn’t much want it after that.
So this spring I read a few radical books about coconut oil and raw milk and Kumbucha, took myself to a grocery store and then tried to re-stock that lonely cupboard with ‘healthy’ food. I wandered every aisle between produce and the dairy case, reading labels and going blind and, when I was finished, there were only two things crossed off my list. Still, my shopping cart was full—of paper towels and toilet paper.
But no sugar.
As much as I dislike the smell of health food stores, they are the only ones who carry all the weird things I’m feeding my husband now. Oh, sure, Fry’s has four aisles of “Natural Choices,” but that’s only enough variety for amateurs. I’m serious about this healthy/organic/alien way we’re trying to eat. And I want options! I’m not happy with two flavors of Mama Chia, I want at least five before I commit. And are those dried garbanzo beans organic? How about the honey—is it raw? And why do we have to use words like ‘raw’ anyway? I always thought raw things gave you worms.
These are the questions that keep me driving my cart in circles for hours while I wear a clothespin on my nose at Sprouts.
Still, after about six months of re-educating myself, it’s getting easier to choose between real food and the imitation stuff. But, for the most part, I’ve had to give up coupons. They don’t really cater to Kumbucha junkies like me.
One afternoon, I flipped through some coupons that came in the mail. I’d never seen a collection like these before. NASCAR had teamed up with our local grocery store and offered some “race day” meal ideas along with matching coupons. You could save fifty cents on a jar of Ragu and serve your family a Mexitalian delight—“Spaghetti Tacos.”
I kid you not.
I almost spit out my Kumbucha.
Spaghetti Tacos? Crunchy corn tortillas filled with Ragu drenched spaghetti noodles. A “HEARTY MEAL for race fans.” Ta da. If I was a NASCAR enthusiast, I’d have been offended.
So yesterday, in between spine crunching and neck cracking, I described this repulsive dinner idea to my chiropractor. A man who has dedicated his life to helping people like me become healthy. A man who knows that Vitamin B-12 is a better choice than a grande six shot espresso.
But still, a man.
“Sounds pretty good to me,” he said, as he pushed on my vertebrae and showed my backbone who’s boss.
“You’d eat a taco shell filled with saucy spaghetti strands?” I asked incredulously, straightening my shoulders and rotating my neck.
“Sure,” he answered, “it combines my two favorite foods—Mexican and Italian.”
“But there’s no meat anywhere!” I exclaimed.
“No, but if you pour a little maple syrup on top, it’d taste pretty good,” he responded.
I couldn’t believe he wasn't as repulsed as I was. I mean, he's a doctor.
“Don’t you think it’d be the same thing as eating a . . . Sandwich sandwich?” I pushed. “You know, like a slice of Rye between two pieces of Wonderbread?” I waited for him to come to his senses and realize it was disgusting.
“Well, that does sound a little dry,” he admitted, “but again, cover it with a little maple syrup and I could get it down.” And he grinned.
Either he was kidding or he loves NASCAR.
See, that’s the reason I never know who to believe in the debate between grain and no grain, dairy or no dairy, taste and no taste. I think that, in the end, all our food choices in life will come down to these two things: is it loaded with ‘white death’ or does it need a little maple syrup to choke it down?
I see another pantry purge coming on. I think I’m going back to my Starbucks diet.
They never confuse me like this.