I like the science of nutrition, but I am not a follower of diet trends. For two months, I was doing some intense aerial training while simultaneously trying to rid myself of a lingering virus that made my joints feel like they were filled with toxic marshmallows. As a result, I had to think about what I was feeding myself – more water, more iron, more potassium, less alcohol, fewer Twizzlers. But I shy away from saying I was “eating healthier” and i certainly wasn’t “on a diet”. I was eating to feel good, have enough energy to support my physical activity, and wake up without the toxic marshmallow feeling.
I think demonizing some category of food or other, unless it poses a significant health risk, is psychologically and nutritionally destructive. I grew up surrounded by no-sugar moms who fed their kids diet soda. I dated a chronic master cleanser obsessed with a number on a scale. Statistically irrelevant science tells us all our problems will be solved if we just stop eating gluten. There is nothing more insulting to me than when someone refuses to eat a homemade dessert because eating it would be “bad”.
No one food is “bad”. By categorizing, say sugar, as such, (or ourselves as such for consuming it), you feel guilt instead of joy at eating a cookie. But let’s face it, if everyone is sitting around eating cookies, you’re going to eat a cookie, and then you’re going to have to contend with all of the feels barfed up by ingesting the demon spawn of Satan.
Here’s what I think: food is the one relationship that should be drama-free.
Like most healthy relationships, it shouldn’t make you feel mad, sad or slutty for your life choices. It shouldn’t confine you to a role you’re not happy playing, or you can’t reasonably be expected to play. Even if it looks good on paper, if it doesn’t treat you right, or give you the nourishment you need, you should leave it for food that satisfies you. No meal should leave a bitter taste of regret. Sure, you can have personal, moral limitations to that relationship, (I see your veganism, but personally I’ll go vampiric if I stop eating red meat), but those are between you and your kitchen.
You can probably blame your parents for forcing benefit/reward constructs on you. “Eat your vegetables or no dessert!” is a baseless conspiracy formulated by Big Spinach, hoping we’ll fill up on propaganda before we realize that Popeye could have pumped almost the same amount of iron with a square of dark chocolate. And maybe if you hadn’t been cajoled into eating it, spinach wouldn’t taste like disgruntled parents, and dessert would be a comfortable part of life instead of that thing mom and dad don’t want you to have, like motorcycles and bb guns, recognizable by adult-you as potentially harmful.
Without manufactured restrictions based in societal norms, you’re free to explore what you like, dislike, what makes you feel good, and what makes you feel like a lardbutt. Some days a good kale salad can make you really happy. Other days, you need to eat dessert first. #youdoyou, boo.
Plus, those societal norms, they’re always changing in confusing and scary ways. The 50’s were all meat! meat! meat! But the damn hippies told us “Meat is the man! Go veg! ” but soybean subsidies are also the man? Then the dot commers were aggressively anti-carbs, which everyone was okay with until now when carbs are safe again, but only gluten-free carbs previously chewed by an allosaurus and high cholesterol suddenly has nothing to do with cheese.
Eating “healthy” has become thinly veiled food hate. Cut out all of your meals and drink this chemical pink shake. Vegan cookies? Let’s cut out the sugar while we’re deleting dairy and give animal-free eating a stale cardboard-tasting reputation. One vegan blog suggested that flax seeds were a good substitute for chocolate chips in a recipe. In no uncertain terms in any freakin’ universe of sense are flax seeds a substitute for anything but flax seeds. Eat the goddamn chocolate chips! If you want to treat food as a utility, become a soylent fanatic, just don’t try to convince me that extremism is healthy.
Instead basing nutrition on a polarizing spectrum, why not educated yourself on what food really is, what it’s made of, how it makes your individual body feel, build preferences based on your singular anatomy and chemistry so instead of fighting with your food, denying yourself at meals, and being miserable because this week you’re at home only eating rabbit pellets while your friends are out enjoying camaraderie and coffee?
Which isn’t to say bacon bowls of deep fried Oreos and cheesy goo is part of this complete breakfast, but if you happen to consume a cheesy goo covered bacon bowl of fried Oreos, it’s not the end of the world. Same goes for happily snacking on a non-organic celery stick. Everything in moderation, people; because even too much water will kill you.
My friend Brigid is seriously allergic to all of the foods, but everyone deserves birthday baked goods, so I constructed some gluten-free, vegan cookies baked long enough to kill whatever it is in bananas that wants to kill her. And then we ate them. For breakfast. With cocktails.
One-Bowl Breakfast Cookies
Yeah, there’s no sugar in these but medjool dates are really sweet. It’s not like I’m omitting sugar for the good of anyone. Makes 12.
- 9 medjool dates, pits removed
- 1 large banana
- 2 Tbs raw, unsalted almond butter
- 1 Tbs bourbon (optional)
- 1 teas vanilla extract
- 1/2 teas salt
- 3/4 cup almond meal/flour
- 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats (gluten free!)
- 3/4 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment. In a food processor, (the Cuisinart mini-prep fits everything), pulse dates until roughly chopped. Add banana. Pulse. Add almond butter. Pulse. Add bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Pulse. Add almond meal and oats. Pulse until fully combined. You may need to scrape down the sides since its kinda gooey.
Spoon into twelve lumps on the cookie sheet and top with chocolate chips. These cookies do not expand or change shape, so how you form them is how they will look. I try to round them into slightly flattened mounds.
Place cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
Remove from freezer and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes as they are super tender when warm. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.