The Marshmallow Kid

 

girleying a marshmallowfromthe marshmallow kid testPOSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

The vegan spouse recently paid me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received.  She told me she wants to eat more like me. Not what I eat, necessarily, but how I eat.

In our household, I am known for making food last a long time.  Food, in this case, often means sweets like candy, cookies, or similar treats.  It is because of me that I am eating Christmas cookies in March or Easter candy in June.  I think I make things last because I like them so much that I don’t want to be without them.

I have, unwittingly, applied this style of eating to daily meals as well.  A few years ago, I started bringing my lunch to work so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat in our cafeteria.  I would bring a type of fruit, wasa crackers (celebrating 100 years in 2019!), and a yogurt. This was a good combination, but it didn’t carry me through the afternoon.

I gradually added more than one kind of fruit in order to fill me up, but also to allow them to play off of each other.  Sometimes one fruit is really good, but the other one is only so-so. By having two, the good one makes up for the average one.  This week I had a combination of cantaloupe, banana, strawberries, and blueberries. The flavors all blended together seamlessly.

While I’m eating lunch, I’m usually reading a book, playing a game on my phone, or doing a crossword puzzle.  If you were to watch me eat (which I find pretty weird), you’d see me eat a few bites of fruit, read a couple paragraphs, and then have a bite of a cracker.  And repeat. The yogurt is the dessert.

We eat supper while watching television.  Depending on the news of the day, that alone can slow down our eating.  What also slows me down is the heat of the food, which can mean temperature, spiciness, or both.  I can’t help but eat foods that are really hot in a deliberate manner.

I think we eat at about the same pace, but the vegan spouse feels she eats too fast.  Where’s the fire? What’s the hurry? Sometimes food tastes too good to eat slowly. Think pizza or Chinese food.  Still, I do like to experience all the flavors and textures of food.

In addition to wanting to eat like me, the vegan spouse has also given me a new nickname.  “You know,” she said, “you really are the marshmallow kid.”

To get that reference, you have to go back fifty years to a study conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University.  Mischel gave four and five-year-old children a marshmallow, and told them, if they didn’t eat it within fifteen minutes, they would get a second one.  It was a test to see if children at this age understood the concept of delayed gratification.

The study has been repeated numerous times over the years with researchers relating the decision to eat the marshmallow (or not) to everything from SAT scores to success later in life.  Some have touched on the guilt you get from eating the marshmallow, while others have focused on the goal setting ability of those who don’t.

But let’s get back to me.

In our house, being “The Marshmallow Kid” is really nothing more than having the willpower to make something delicious last a really long time.  I wear the name with pride, but I don’t really know if that’s one of my skills or not. Mischel’s study tells us that many of the children who were able to resist the marshmallow did so by distracting themselves with a song or a dance.  That sounds more like me.

Are you a marshmallow kid?   Please leave a message…

 

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(Don’t) Eat Like You’re in College

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

Thirty-five years ago this month I graduated from college.  I’m proud of it, but, man, it seems like a long time ago.

We played frisbee on the quad.  If you had a decent stereo, it took up one-third of your dorm room.  Ronald Reagan was in the white house. Michael Jackson was at the height of his power.  It was the early days of AIDS and the final days of M*A*S*H.

I would like to say that I started honing my solid eating skills at that tender age, but, sadly that’s not the case.  I once won a six pack of beer off a neighbor for eating something on a dare.

My private, liberal arts college spoiled us in many ways.  While we had one central dining hall on the weekend, several dorms had cafeterias where you could eat three meals a day, Monday through Friday.  How great was it to roll out of bed and walk downstairs for breakfast on a rainy or cold morning? Pretty great.

To the best of my recollection (thirty-five years, don’t forget), here are some of the highlights of four years of college eating.  Be forewarned that not everything was on the meal plan.

ECLAIRS.  Is this really how I want to start this list?  Yes, it is. College ruined whatever affinity I had for eclairs.  I used to love these delicate pastries with the Bavarian cream filling and a stripe of chocolate on top when I was younger. They must have been something we had for special occasions. In college, I don’t remember us having many desserts. Besides eclairs, I’m picturing a cheesecake that was much too smooth, creamy, and tasteless to be cheesecake.  But I remember eclairs often being the default dessert. I ate so many eclairs, today I can’t even look at one.

PIZZA.  Thankfully, pizza in college did not ruin me for pizza after college.  We ate pizza at the student center. We knew every place in town where you could get pizza.  Some were legendary and some were not. It didn’t matter; we ate them all. If anything, I think I could have eaten more pizza in college and been just fine.

SALAD.  You could easily live off of salad in college.  Every meal had a huge salad bar. The weekend dining hall had an even bigger selection of greens and toppings. If you didn’t like what was being served, you could fall back on salad without a problem. Still, I remember thinking at the time, “Who would put chick peas on a salad?”

IHOP.  While there was a popular diner for late night, off campus eating, my crowd was big fans of the International House of Pancakes.  Though I shudder to think how we got there and back, I can still taste their huge cheese omelettes which came with a side order of pancakes.

GRILLED CHEESE.  During my Junior year, one of the Freshmen had a roommate who dropped out.  His double room became a regular hangout. No one had microwaves then but some people had toaster ovens.  Once we savored the deliciousness of a late night grilled cheese sandwich, we all began bringing bread and cheese back from dinner to stock his fridge.

BRUNCH, PART ONE.  If you could drag yourself out of bed on Saturday or Sunday before it ended, brunch was something to look forward to.  You didn’t have to wonder what would be served. You could count on scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, and many cups of coffee.  Halfway through, it became less about the food and more of a social event.

BEER.  If you’re lucky enough to go to college, you will drink a lot of beer.  In my Sophomore year, we had t-shirts printed with our dorm name scrolled over the Moosehead beer logo.  I think I still have mine somewhere. But, leaving breweries and craft beer houses aside, can we admit that keg beer is not very good?  After you pumped it to death (because that’s what you do), you had to pour about a hundred glasses before getting anything other than foam.

BRUNCH, PART TWO.  If you knew someone with a car and had a few dollars in your pocket (maybe some students had credit cards but I didn’t), you would go off campus to a restaurant in town that did an amazing brunch.  You would bring your parents there if they came to visit. Omelettes made to order, steamship round, desserts, french toast, and the list goes on. It put our school brunch to shame.

We have been on some college campuses in the last few years and things have changed.  Kids today have a lot more choices. If you are the parent of a college student, you needn’t worry.  The quality of the beer, er, salad is a lot better too.

What was/is your favorite college food?   Please leave a comment…

The Banana Essay

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Note:  I wrote, last time, that this site would be down for an overhaul. Alas, it appears as though I have lied.  Haha…
This post comes from the vegan husband and while I have been working on both a new look for this site and a community project, he has been busy keeping his commitment to writing an article once a month.  Enjoy!

POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

I’m looking at a banana on my desk and thinking: Is there a less forgiving fruit than bananas?

I’ll grant you that bananas are not as tricky as oranges or peaches, which can look and feel great from the outside, but can be dry or off tasting on the inside. Watermelon is pretty consistent, but I once bought a whole one where the insides disintegrated when I cut into it. It turned to red juice and a pile of seeds. How does that happen?

No, with a banana, you know what you’re getting.  Occasionally there is an unexpected bruise upon peeling, but this is one book that you can judge by its cover.  If a banana were a book, it better be a novella, because the shelf life is maddeningly short.

Back in the pre-vegan days, we purchased six bananas on our weekly shopping trip so that we could each eat one a day for three days.  And then we would go four banana-free days. We didn’t do that because we got sick of bananas after three days, or because we only had a budget for six bananas.  We did it because, after three days, we couldn’t stand to look at the bananas let alone eat them.

For the occasional banana that snuck past the three-day limit, I invented the “banana surprise” to eat for breakfast.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to say this consisted of a banana smothered in peanut butter and topped off with m&m’s, whipped cream, and a drizzle of maple syrup.  You could smell an old banana from one or two rooms away, and say, “That’s going to have to be a banana surprise.”

Growing up, I never ran into these kind of problems.  My parents bought bananas for the sole purpose of putting on cereal.  You would slice up half a banana for a bowl of cereal, and then stick the other half into a glass for the next day.  I thought that’s how everyone ate bananas. Only monkeys peeled and ate the entire thing all at once.

Now that we are veganish, we can’t handle a four-day banana drought.   Our bodies would rebel or simply shut down. So, on the second day, or maybe the third, we purchase bananas again.  Depending on ripeness, we may buy another six or maybe only four. We may even make a third trip to the store. No matter how you slice it (sorry), we’re eating bananas every day.

And this can be a struggle.

Where three bananas a week was too few, maybe seven is too many. Although I do occasionally slice up a banana for my cereal, I usually bring mine to work. I can eat it as soon as I get to work (to recover from my morning workout) or at my mid-morning coffee break.  I can even eat it as part of my lunch with some other fruits.

If I was going to eat some kind of fruit every day, I don’t know that it would be a banana.  I’d like something with a little more staying power. Blueberries can last two weeks or more and require even less preparation than bananas.  If it’s fall in New England, you could have apples last for a month. And, where a banana is a banana is a banana, you could have a different kind of apple every day for a week.  But apples lose some of their luster in the off-season.

Cantaloupe, especially cut up into cubes, can last a while, but they are often hit or miss with regard to quality.  The vegan spouse gets super excited by pineapples, but she said only about 10% are awesome.

So it appears I’m stuck with a daily banana.  It’s not the worst thing in the world. I just wish we didn’t have to buy them so green that they taste like styrofoam on the first day, perfection on the second, and ready for banana bread on day three. The one on my desk is turning browner by the minute.

Anyone for banana surprise?

What is your go to fruit?  Please leave a message…

Call Me Flexitarian

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

Note:   2010 called and it wants its website back.  I will be working on a new look, so this site will be down in the coming weeks.  I leave you with a great post from the hubby that I think may resonate with many. See you soon and thank you for following!

In the almost six years that I’ve been writing about the forks-over-knives lifestyle, I feel that I have been an above-average advocate for veganish eating.  I have chosen kale over kebabs, soy over sirloin. I have turned my nose up at a pulled pork sandwich.

But not always.

That’s because I am known in dieting parlance as a flexitarian.  I was labelled as such in this space earlier this month.  And I’m totally fine with it now that I know what a flexitarian is.

Several sources on the internet cited Dawn Jackson Blatner’s book, The Flexitarian Diet, for a definition.  Essentially, it’s a plant-based diet with occasional meat and fish.  Some sources mentioned the conscious addition of more fruits, grains, and vegetables, while others talked about limiting processed foods.  No matter what source you trust, it’s got me pegged.

And that’s bothersome.

I feel like I should be able to adopt the vegan way of eating 100%.  But I can’t. If I don’t bring my lunch to work, there may not be a vegan option in the cafeteria, or, if there is, I may not like it.  I don’t think of myself as a picky eater, yet there are definitely some foods that I just won’t eat. If I skip lunch, things will go off the rails in the afternoon.  And, by “off the rails” I mean “toward the vending machine.”

So, for fun, let’s assume there is always a vegan option available to me.  Would I then be able to make the leap to veganism? In theory, yes. In reality, maybe not. Below is a list of foods that, for now, keep me a flexitarian.

CHEESE

Although it doesn’t have quite the hold over me that it once did, cheese would be hard to walk away from.  Growing up, we only had American cheese, provolone, and Crackerbarrel cheddar in the house. The Crackerbarrel was for putting on crackers when company came over.  The American was for grilled cheese sandwiches. The provolone was for making a sandwich that had meat in it. I could give up American cheese today, but a cheese that has great flavor is like a completely different food.

When I think about not eating cheese, the first thing that comes to mind is pizza. Pizza is something that I couldn’t give up. We eat cheeseless pizza, but I would prefer a pie whose crust can barely support the cheese on top.

FISH

I could try listing all the types of fish that I like, but it would be easier to list the ones that I don’t like.  And, I’m just telling you, it’s a pretty short list.

In a restaurant, fish is usually my go-to.  Aside from the mercury worry, fish does not get much bad publicity.  You don’t hear about people getting obese or high cholesterol from eating too much fish.  If restaurants had five solid vegan meals (not including salad), I could probably avoid fish.  Until then, give me some salmon, scallops, or shrimp.

EGGS

I’m not someone to order a couple of fried or scrambled eggs at the diner, but eggs are in a lot of things that I like.  Pancakes and waffles are high on my list, but they could both be made with egg replacers. Let’s just say there are lot of dessert items that are made with eggs that would make my sweet tooth cry if it didn’t get any.

CHICKEN/TURKEY

I lump these birds together as they are another restaurant go-to.  Especially at lunchtime. We don’t buy chicken or turkey at home, but if we’re travelling, and it could be a long time until the next meal, a chicken or turkey sandwich is often my option.  Still, the chicken and turkey we end up eating don’t get treated well and that weighs on me.

ICE CREAM

There are some households that have ice cream in the freezer all the time. They might even have more than one kind. I might only have ice cream ten times a year. But to stand up and say, “That’s it, no more ice cream for me….” Whoa. I think a shiver just went up my spine.

MAYONNAISE

Think of all your classic salads: tuna, potato, egg, pasta, lobster, chicken. What’s the common denominator? Mayonnaise is not the best thing to put in your body, but they are starting to make healthier mayo options, so maybe there is hope.

BACON/SAUSAGE

I’m kind of a bacon snob.  At home, right off the frying pan, with the aroma to go with it, you’ve got me.  Under different circumstances, for me, bacon starts to lose its appeal pretty quickly.  Sausage is kind of the same thing. There are times when I prefer sausage to bacon, and other times when it just turns up in something, and I say, “Oh, what’s this doing here?”  Bacon and sausage could be the first ones to drop off this list.

Is a flexitarian diet right for you?    Please leave a message…