by Rob Tiller
For the past few weeks, most mornings I’ve created a green smoothie for breakfast. A green smoothie consists of a couple of cups of a fresh raw green leafy vegetable, a couple of cups of fresh fruit, and a cup or so of fruit juice mixed for a minute or so in the blender. This morning I combined spinach, pineapple, blueberries, orange juice, cranberry juice, and soy milk. It was shockingly green, but delicious.
Making the smoothies has been an adventure. I’ve focused new attention on the leafy vegetables available at Whole Foods, and tried ones like kale, collards and dandelion greens that I previously knew almost nothing about. At the market I’ve sniffed and smelled various exotic fruits and learned how to deal with some of them, like pineapples, mangoes, and papayas. I intentionally make each one with different proportions of juices and other ingredients, so each one is a little surprising. My success ratio keeps improving. Even the ones that turn out less well (sometimes they taste a bit too much like grass) involve some amount of satisfaction in the exercise of creativity and the knowledge that they are incredibly nutritious.
My relationship to food continues to evolve. It has come a long way since my days as a beginner vegetarian about 15 years ago. Recently I cut milk and seafood out of my normal rotation. This is more consistent both with my personal ethics and with what I know of nutrition science. And so I’ve reached a state that I would have thought of in years gone by as a true health nut.
Is it worth it? Definitely, but not just for the obvious reason. I feel very healthy, but after having seen various loved ones, friends, and colleagues battling cancer, I realize that some disease could strike me as well with sudden and brutal force no matter what I’m eating. It is satisfying to be more consistent with my ethical principles of respect for animals, but I doubt I’ll ever achieve perfection beyond all question.
The most unexpected dividend of my plant based diet has been how much more sensually satisfying eating is. The tastes and textures of plant food are unendingly varied and complex. This approach to food leads to trying new foods and new restaurants. It inspires experimentation and discovery.
Last night, for instance, we ate at Zely and Ritz, one of the most interesting restaurants in Raleigh, which is about two blocks from our place. I ordered sweet potato gnocchi with rutabaga sauce. I’ve never cared for sweet potatoes or rutabagas, but it was the dish they offered that was most consistent with my rules. And it turned out to be very tasty. I had no room left for dessert.