I was sweetly surprised by the positive reaction to my last post (Brahmacharya for the Modern Yogi). In particular there was resonance with my confession — that I often eat simple, maybe even frozen meals for dinner.
It’s a funny thing how yoga has become synonymous with kale, green smoothies (which I love, and occasionally make or purchase), being gluten-free and generally ultra-“healthy” eating.
I put quotes around healthy, because, let’s face it, “health food” or extreme eating — even if appearing healthy — can be a disguise for disordered eating or control issues. (Eat Breathe Thrive is a powerful resource for this topic, and I highly recommend reading this article). On this topic, you MUST read Greg Marzullo’s book, Bad Yogi: a Guidebook for the Rest of Us. I’ll quote:
“Put down the kale juice. Pick up a burger. Take a bite…look in the mirror and say the following: I am still a yogi. Because you are. If you think being a vegetarian — or even better, a sanctimonious vegan — forswearing alcohol and extinguishing your sexual desire is the fast track to yogic heaven, you’ve failed…You know what you are? A goddamned Puritan in black stretchy pants”
– Greg Marzullo
You’ll have to trust me on this: Greg’s story and storytelling is profound, but chances are, I won’t be taking this exact advice.
I’ve been vegetarian since age 11.
…lacto-ovo vegetarian to be specific (meaning I eat dairy, eggs, but no meat). (Yes, I was precocious.) During college, many of my peers shunned all animal products (i.e. they were vegan, many of them are no longer vegan, which is why I used the past tense). Hence from about age 18-26, I limited my dairy and egg intake significantly from a place of mild guilt, ambivalence around the mixed messages surrounding nutrition, and general confusion about how to apply ahimsa (Sanskrit for non-violence) to my daily life.
(Ahimsa, a tenant of yoga, is commonly cited as a reason yogis “should” be vegan. Though to my understanding, veganism is rarely practiced in the subcontinent where the concept of ahimsa originated.)
When I started eating eggs for breakfast most days (sometime around age 26), I lost weight, I gained muscle and energy, I felt sturdier emotionally. I also began to notice that eating large amounts of soy did spooky things to the clarity of my brain and my energy levels. (I may have figured this out with the assistance of pints of soy ice cream).
I realized that the most non-violent path for my body was to eat eggs regularly, a simple, whole no-nonsense protein.
And I replaced all soy ice cream with real, yummy, full on dairy ice cream. I started eating whole fat plain organic yogurt, and even went through a hard-core phase of making my own whole fat yogurt for a stubborn year. (I’ve also abstained from dairy for long periods and never experienced any irritation when adding it back in).
Since I’m coming out of the closet around my food habits and discoveries…
…more recently I’ve incorporated very modest amounts of fish occasionally into my diet (feel free to label me pescetarian instead of vegetarian).
The reason I won’t necessarily take Greg’s exact advice is this:
I have no desire for burgers. Meat (after nearly 3 decades without it, and in a world where poor farm animal conditions reign), just seems…complicated, unnecessary for me or the world. I am on the middle path, a path that seems increasingly less travelled, both in politics, and as many peers veer off in two directions toward meat-centric paleo or vegan paths.
I like this path. This path has fresh arugula, raspberries and radishes, picked from my garden. It has small batch roasted Ethiopian coffee and Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream.
A photo posted by Ariele Foster (@ariele_superstar) on
I feel good. I will keep experimenting (within reason) for my own optimal health, but I love that I have dear friends who thrive on vegan diets, and others who thrive on meat-heavy diets.
There is room for all possibility. We must find our own truths.
I believe there is a parallel to my story unfolding in the science world. Researchers are demonstrating more and more the role of genetics, epigenetics and the microbiome in our capacity to respond to the environment around us. The lesson, in a nutshell: the environments we find ourselves in may affect each of us uniquely. We may each respond differently to different foods, and I CANNOT WAIT to get my DNA results back (it takes a few months) and dive deeper into this subject.
What follows is definitely NOT advice. It’s simply sharing what has worked for me, since I’ve received curious inquiries since my last post.
What you might find me eating at home (meals + snacks that take 5 min or less prep time):
- Hummus, tahini sauce, crumbled feta (good protein) prepared polenta / risotto / soy-free veggie burgers, or basically anything over a bed of fresh greens
- Medium-Boiled eggs (see “recipe” below), possibly served over a bed of greens
- Ful (fava beans) prepped Ethiopian-style (berbere seasoning, yogurt, jalapeno, tomatoes, raw onion, topped with nit’r kibe – spiced ghee), eaten with bread or a spoon
- Frozen mango chunks plopped in whole fat plain organic yogurt
- Whole fat plain organic yogurt with whatever of the following I have on hand: hemp seeds, ground flax seeds (i do freshly grind these), chia seeds, walnuts, shredded coconut, fresh berries. Occasionally i add a spoonful of fig jam. Sweetener isn’t necessary.
- Breakfast is usually 2 scrambled, fried or boiled eggs. Often with some fresh veggies. Sometimes it’s a bowl of oatmeal with the fixin’s mentioned in the last bullet point
- Other random things I like/try to eat: Vegetarian fats (Spanish extra virgin olive oil, Coconut oil / manna, unrefined sesame oil, tahini), Avocados for days, Almond butter, Butter, Ghee, Relatively low sugar snacks and snack bars (I try anyway! Ice cream doesn’t count), relatively gluten-lite because Dr. Perlmutter convinced me about the long term effects gluten has on our gut lining.
- Please know this list is far from comprehensive. I eat well, I eat healthfully with delight and variance (though I avoid soy), I eat a lot (actually!), and I’m not terribly interested in documenting my exact meals (which fully depend on what is on hand), just interested in responding to the curiosity that arose from my last blog post.
A photo posted by Ariele Foster (@ariele_superstar) on
- Finally, I present you with this gift of a recipe (which has genuinely changed my life):
The Life-changing Magic of Medium Boiled Eggs
I am sharing this knowledge with you because shockingly, I didn’t know how to properly boil an egg until I was almost 30 years old. I thought boiled eggs were gag-inducing, pale greenish aberrations or gross runny things. In fact, medium-boiled (farm fresh) eggs are literal golden nuggets that could convert Goldilocks from her porridge. Though sometimes when I get really good farmers market eggs, I make them soft boiled on purpose these days.
This technique really is life-changing. It’s simple. It makes healthy, no-nonsense breakfasts or lunches (for non-vegans) nearly excuse-less (even when you have to leave your house super-early). I recommend making your boiled eggs the night before you plan to eat them, but if needed, I make them just before eating. These are my exact steps.
- – 2 eggs meeting at least one of these requirements local, organic, Omega-3 and cage-free
- – Timer
- – Pan
- – Water
- Boil 2 cups of water in a tiny pan (saves water and energy rather than a big pot since you’ll need to use enough water to cover the eggs). The eggs need to be covered or 90% covered with water. I’m always fiddling with something, so I set a timer even for the water boiling. Set the timer for 4 or 5 minutes to give the water time to boil.
- When the timer goes off, slowly lower in the eggs with a slotted spoon.
- Set the timer again for 6 minutes (large eggs) or 7 minutes (extra large eggs). Go away, do whatever you need to do. When the timer goes off, drain the water immediately (for extra bonus points, pour it down your bathtub or sink drain to improve draining speed and reduce the need for Draino!).
- I recommend also cracking the shells with the flat side of a spoon to release the heat inside and stop them from cooking internally.
- At this point, I leave the cracked eggs in the pan on the stovetop overnight. In the morning at room temperature, it is effortless to remove the shells and crumble the eggs over a bowl of arugula, or take them on the go.
Make minor adjustments to timing based on your preferences and the size of the eggs you buy.
There you have it: gorgeous, golden-yolked, vegetarian, uncomplicated, middle-path protein…Magic. An essential part of #howidoallthethingsido.