Do you know what’s good for you? I certainly don’t. I barely know what’s good for me. Thankfully, the world is full of people who will declare what is good for all of us. Setting aside, for a moment, my basic skepticism about any orthodox belief system, I am still hampered in accepting any of their declarations by my orthodox belief that nothing is good, or bad, for everybody. Okay, the eight glasses of water thing is probably universally good. But aside from that, it’s all pretty subjective. Here are a few things I have been told recently:
Thanks to our American diets, our bodies are woefully understocked with acid
Thanks to our American diets, our systems are much too acidic, and must be made more alkaline
Eat a balanced diet that includes limited animal protein and emphasizes whole grains and plant proteins
Eat generous amounts of animal protein and fat and steer clear of fruit, grains and nuts
Adopt an 80% raw, vegan diet of nuts, fruit and vegetables and avoid animal proteins and fats entirely
Every one of these prophets makes such a powerful case for his plan! It’s all terribly compelling. Terribly! Terrible things will happen to you if you don’t do one of these things--whichever one is really the right one--immediately. Make it your gospel and your guiding star.
But which one?
In my case, I recently emerged from 30 years as a mostly vegetarian. I am really unlikely to put bone marrow on my vegetables or eat a kangaroo burger, no matter how good for me it might be. I’m not a great candidate for an all-raw program because I am allergic to many raw foods. I know people like to say they are allergic to things when the truth is that they don’t like them much, but I nearly went into anaphylactic shock from a pea (a pea!) and you could probably take me out with a well-aimed hazelnut. I mean allergic, not fussy. The dizzying array of other considerations I am weighing is probably best kept classified. Let’s just say they don’t make choosing a strategy any easier.
Feeding yourself is a pretty basic act of self-care, and a natural talent we are losing. It’s definitely a first-world problem, but it’s harder than it ought to be to identify both when we are hungry (and not just, for example, bored), and what we are hungry for. This is strangely not always the same as what we think we want. Don’t we all crave the quick rush of sugar (or caffeine) when we are feeling draggy, and oddly sometimes pickles when we are in fact thirsty? It’s good to listen to your body, not your mouth, but it isn't easy. ‘Appetite’ is first defined as desire for food, but next as an urge to satisfy a bodily need or craving, and thirdly as a fondness. It derives linguistically from both “natural desire” and “action.”
So, maybe you will read this recipe and hear your body say “perhaps,” whatever your head and any spectators may be saying at the same time. Maybe you will try it out, and hear your body say, “that’s what I’m talking about.” It certainly peps me up. This is a pretty basic incarnation of the stuff, almost guaranteed to please, but there is a world of variation possible. The essential ingredients are a good blender and the lime.
4 -6 leaves of romaine lettuce
handful of fresh mint leaves (unless you hate mint, in which case skip it)
1 c of frozen or fresh strawberries
3 dried dates, pitted, or a handful of raisins
1 ½ cups water
Put the pitted dates in the blender with half a cup of very hot water and let them soften while you fuss around with the rest of the ingredients.
Cut both ends off the lime, and stand it on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel and pith away and discard. Throw the nude lime into the blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend, baby, blend. That's it. Bottoms up!
When I started out drinking these, I went heavy on the berries and lighter on the greens. It was a “red green drink,” and that is how my daughter orders one up when she wants one. Now I err on the side of greens, and mix things up by changing parsley for the mint, spinach for the lettuce, and so forth.
Did you try it? Did you like it?