I’m training for a 12-mile mud run in mid-November in New Jersey, The Tough Mudder. Our team, Team Rickshaw, is raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The run includes mud pits (very cold), icy cold water and mild electrocution, but it’s all in the name of helping those who serve us best but come home severely injured.
As such, I have a new change of menu, but I’m not going to force that upon the children as of yet. For now, it’s just Mum and Dad cutting out certain things and eating a bit differently than before. And it has been a long road to get to this point.
As we all know, when we try to figure out what is ‘best’ for our bodies, there are myriad options as well as a veritable army of proponents for any given diet, nutrition plan, exercise program and new miracle cure. And for each and every army, there is a reactionary force of detractors; as you can imagine, it leads to great confusion.
However, no matter the research and no matter the virtual routes traveled in order to seek the truth of good nutrition, my work always takes me back to one white castle on the yellow brick road; the produce stand.
Vegetables, namely leafy green vegetables, always pop up as the elixir of all things, and while I preach about them in my classes (both at the high school and the adult level), I still tend to be a touch shy on them myself.
I have just never found them to be too exciting as a prominent part of my sustenance (definitely so as a supporting role, however), but then at my age perhaps excitement shouldn’t be the goal. While certainly not old, I am officially middle-aged and must start behaving as such. I sigh as I lament the fact that there won’t be a kegger at my house in July for my 43rd birthday.
Running across a large number of vegetarian books in the past two years in search of answers as to why we eat the way we do, I have come to the conclusion that we are simply raised with our eating habits. Then, external forces (marketing gurus) emphasize the importance of said eating habits, despite the fact that there’s obviously something wrong with our food supply.
My response has been to focus on what I like to call power foods, reminiscent of my career. In many restaurants where I have worked, a Powerhouse Sandwich was standard fare. Basically whole grain bread, a boat load of vegetables and greens, and some tasty sauce, it was not very original, but it ‘got the vegetarians off our backs’, to speak in kitchenese for a second.
For the last five years or so, though, I took vegetarian requests to heart, realizing that many people are making the jump to a different mode of eating. It was my job as a chef to comprehend this ever-growing demographic in the field.
And while I have not made the decision to go vegetarian, I have implemented a good number of vegetarian meals into my weekly schedule. I concentrate on greens, good fats (olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, etc.) and copious amounts of water. So far I have noticed a difference, but I would be lying if I told you that I’m not looking forward to my next steak. It just might be a while.
For today’s dish, I stayed insanely simple. There’s no reason to think too far out of the box. A refreshing tossed pasta dish with vine-ripened tomato, olive oil and avocado, topped with unrefined French grey sea salt. There’s a lot of fuel in that bowl. And don’t get too caught up in the pure nutritional content (calorie counting, carbs, fats, proteins, etc.) as I did for years. These are good fats; fats that our bodies need to function under stress. It is a powerful combination of food.
And don’t worry folks. Next week, I promise to have some sort of meat in the column. Mark my word.
For more information on Team Rickshaw, Tough Mudder, or to donate, email me at HYPERLINK "mailto:TeamRickshaw@verizon.net" TeamRickshaw@verizon.net and I’ll send you links that you can use to pass around. SOMF
The Power Lunch
½ ea. fresh avocado
1 Tbsp. EV Olive oil
1 ea. Vine ripe tomato
Grey or Unrefined Sea Salt to taste
Cracked pepper (optional)
Tofu or Soba noodles
Vegetable Puree (Recipe Follows)
Cook the noodles either when you’re ready to serve or cook a little ahead and reheat in the puree
Heat the puree and toss in the noodles
In all of its simplicity, just put everything on the plate, pouring the olive oil into the avocado half
As a finishing touch, sprinkle the sea salt onto the tomatoes and you’re ready to go
1 c. Vegetable stock (homemade is always better)
1 c. Fresh Kale, picked and cleaned
1 c. Broccoli florets
2 ea. Brussels sprouts
2 c. Fresh spinach
¼ ea. white onion
1 c. Unsweetened almond milk
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree
If you are lucky enough to have a Vitamix blender, it will actually cook the ingredients if you let it blend long enough.