This weekend Soon-to-be-J.D. and I were in NYC stuffing our faces with amazing vegan food. Some of the food was quick cook rice approved: raw enchiladas, coffee shops where you don’t have to ask for the non-dairy milk, and the once-a-year NYC bagel covered in tofu cream “cheese.” Some of the food definitely falls solidly under the manfood category: pancakes, tofu scramble, and nachos. Neither category is better, though one is certainly a bit healthier.
The thing is: I’m starting to believe that truly healthy eating is when we eat without regard for labels (except the vegan one for me). If you can tolerate certain ingredients and aren’t allergic, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t indulge in some vegan “junk” food once in a while.
A complete NYC recap is coming in the next few days, but while I was there I couldn’t help but worry that my pictures were going to reveal my unhealthy eating habits even if I rarely “indulge.” So many of the food blogs I love to read are also solidly in the healthy eating/living world too, and I suppose that’s fitting because foodies tend to understand that what we put into our bodies has a major impact on our health. That realization was one of the keys to my recent life transformation. Yet I fear that there’s so much emphasis on healthy eating that we forget to enjoy eating, whether it’s a salad or a stack of vegan pancakes (um, yum!). If something makes you sick or makes you feel like crap, that’s a completely different story, and you probably shouldn’t be eating it. But one of the nice things about my eating habits is that I never feel guilt about what I eat. C’mon. You know what I’m talking about: the-OMG-I-ate-an-entire-package-of-Pull-n-Peel-Twizzlers guilt. In the olden days, I was quite familiar with that particular form of guilt. Nowadays I realize that food is integral to my life and imperative to my health, but is not a reason to get down on myself.
My vegan lifestyle isn’t an automatic health pass. If I lived in NYC with insane access to vegan restaurants, I could easily be an unhealthy vegan if I wanted to. This isn’t news. Yet my vegan lifestyle has given me one thing my previous health-obsessed life didn’t: perspective.
I now have the perspective to realize that one dinner ending with a decadent, vegan dessert isn’t going to kill me or cause my belly to grow. In moderation, all things vegan are good. OK. OK. There are exceptions of course. There are a ton of supremely unhealthy vegan packaged goods out there. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the delicious pancakes I devoured this weekend (hello, flour!) and Soon-to-be-J.D.’s pasta salad I’m about to post here (hello, flour!). Why does flour get such a bad rap? I know some of us lovely humans are allergic to gluten, and I understand that it’s not the easiest thing for our bodies to digest. I know that white flour is majorly processed and devoid of its best nutrients, and I’m also a believer that the Atkins mentality still manages to permeate our consciousness if we didn’t/don’t buy into it. If gluten doesn’t hate us, we don’t need to hate on it all the time. Don’t consume it every day (ahem, Soon-to-be-J.D.). Be a pasta lightweight!
I won’t lie and say that I ate a lot of this pasta salad. I didn’t. Even though it was quite tasty. But if I had, I wouldn’t have to worry. In the larger scheme of things, a giant bowl of totally vegan pasta is pretty darn harmless — to us and to our animal friends. And what could be healthier than that?
Lightweight Pasta Salad
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup arugula
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 balsamic vinegar
- 1 pkg of pasta (your choice)
- 1/4 cup of Daiya mozzarella cheese, optional
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Place garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in food processor. Pulse until thoroughly combined.
3. Drain pasta and coat with olive oil and a “sprinkle” of balsamic vinegar.
4. Combine arugula, tomatoes, sauce from food processor with pasta. Mix well. Serve.
Enjoy whether it’s a healthy meal, an indulgence, or a regular ‘ole Meatless Monday.