Jesurgislac’s Journal

April 9, 2009

Vegan Lunch Box Turns To The Dark Side

It is a truth not sufficiently acknowledged: being thin, and being healthy, aren’t the same thing. (I wrote about this a bit in October last year: Diet Merchants Lie.)

I believe in eating healthy, delicious food.

I love (or rather I loved) the deliciously simple Vegan Lunch Box blog, which for a year or so was the one thing I could always turn to with a smile: a blogger who, every school day, posted a photograph of the beautiful and tasty vegan lunch she had made for her small son to take to school. (Such as: this Easter lunch, a beautiful layered bean dip lunch, a yummy French Toast lunch, an injera and pea stew lunch that makes my mouth water just looking at it, and some really lovely musubi. Just a short list – I could go on and on…) Lovely, healthy, delicious lunches, not intended to be slimming or diet or anything ugly promoting thinness over health… so I thought.

The small son is now homeschooled, so he doesn’t get daily lunch boxes (and is in any case past the age where he could accept without embarrassment his mom blogging about his lunches every day). I don’t check Vegan Lunch Box every weekday: two or three times a month, usually – about as often as it gets updated.

A couple of weeks ago, Vegan Lunch Box got all exercised over the blog that posts awful pics of deeply unhealthy food in large portions: thisiswhyyourefat.

She wrote:

So I started thinking, what if, instead of looking at images of junk food every day, we served ourselves up a daily helping of healthy images instead? Can healthy images trigger the same reaction but in reverse? Can they inspire us to better health, make us crave a colorful salad, or help us get to the gym?

Good plan. So, what did she come up for as a counterblog?

thisiswhyyourehealthy?

Nope. Vegan Lunch Box isn’t interested in promoting healthy eating of good food. She wants to promote being thin. Her new blog is thisiswhyyourethin.

It is completely bloody wrong to equate “Being healthy” with “being thin”. It is objectionable in the extreme to try to advocate that people eat healthy, tasty, delicious foods to get thin.

If you are healthy, you probably aren’t thin. If you are thin by modern standards – BMI less than 18.5 – you are unhealthy, no bones about it, you skinny bag of bones. Even if you are carrying more weight than BMI standards say you should, if you eat a healthy diet and don’t go on yo-yo diets and exercise regularly, you are more than likely more healthy than someone with a lower BMI: certainly you are more likely to survive a debilitating illness or a serious operation.

Oh, this is the post on Vegan Lunch Box where she proudly touts her new skinny baby: My Brand New Baby Blog. Huh.

To quote my favourite American doctor: “She has gone from the 25th weight percentile to the 3rd in one month. Now I’m not a baby expert, but I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to shrink.”

Update: why Vegan Lunch Box is going off my blogroll
(more…)

January 27, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: flying food

Via, via, the open letter on Virgin Airlines food, inspired me to this week’s Tuesday Recipe:

I used to fly from Heathrow to Scotland on the BMI earlybird flight more often than I like to remember. In theory, you could get a breakfast on the flight: in practice, getting a vegetarian breakfast required booking it at least 48 hours in advance. (The flight was one of those you can book 12 hours in advance – I don’t know if they still exist, but on at least one occasion I decided to go to Edinburgh if I could get a seat, rang up BMI in the afternoon, booked myself on the next day’s flight… and found I was 36 hours too late to get a vegetarian breakfast.)

The one time I managed to book in advance and navigate their special meal booking system to get a vegetarian breakfast on the plane, another vegetarian was sitting several rows ahead of me, so when he asked could he have a vegie breakfast, he got mine: and no, the flight attendant did not apologise for the mistake.

Food on short flights exists mainly to give the passengers something to do. (Actually, I suppose the practice of serving meals probably initially began because flight attendants, whose primary duty is to save the passengers lives in the event of disaster, were always mostly female, and what do you have women do when they’re not saving lives? Serve food.)

On long flights, though, you do need to eat something – even if you’re not doing anything: and of course the crew need to be fed: they’re working. The only problem is, and particularly if you’re vegetarian: the food is usually vile, where it isn’t inedible.

My solution is baked cheese on bread. (more…)

December 31, 2008

About me

I got this idea from Renaissance Guy. Herewith a list of random items. Comment to let me know what you can identify with.

I purposely kept all my political opinions off this list, or almost all, because that’s something I’m fairly sure we already know about each other if you read here regularly.

1. Learned to read at the age of three and have seldom stopped since.

2. My favourite kind of novels are the sort that include large amounts of expository information in the narrative – Victor Hugo, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Graves, Octavia E. Butler, K. J. Parker, C. J. Cherryh.

3. Milk chocolate should be at least 40% cocoa. Dark chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa. White chocolate is not actually chocolate at all.

4. I hardly ever get around to watching a movie when it first comes out. I’m much more likely to watch it 2 years later when it’s on TV or someone loans me a DVD.

5. Though going to the cinema or the theatre with people who want to sit down and talk about it afterwards is a treat.

6. I’m fascinated by ancient writing: by the invention of writing and the development of the concept.

7. I’m fascinated by writing – by the ability to convert thoughts in the head to symbols on the page and vice versa.

8. I eat peanut butter on bread with tomato ketchup.

9. I like Marmite.

10. I’m a lifelong vegetarian, and while I try to be polite about it at all times, i really don’t understand how people can enjoy eating meat.

11. I loathe having a meal with someone who feels they’re entitled to make negative comments about what I – or anyone else at the table – chose to eat.

12. I love making bread.

13. Once Willie Nelson has sung any song, it’s a wonder to me that anyone wants to listen to anyone else sing it.

14. Good dialogue is the single thing most likely to attract me to a new TV series.

15. I’ve only been to one live music event in my adult life (not counting church services with choirs) and I came away thinking that it worth having had the experience of hearing Willie Nelson sing live, but I couldn’t understand people who actually wanted to go to events like that on a regular basis, what with the amount of time spent hanging about, the people in the audience singing along so you can’t hear the person we all paid to hear very well, etc.

16. Wine is better than grapes. Beer is usually a waste of good grain.

17. Very dark rich real ales and beers are totally worth it, though.

18. Amy should have died after she fell through the ice. Beth should have lived to grow up and keep house for Jo, who should have continued to write thrilling stories and never married anyone.

19. People who think Fanny Price should have married Henry Crawford and Edmund Bertram should have married Mary Crawford have really not been paying attention.

20. Russet apples are the best apples there are.

21. But any apple is good except for those big mushy ones, red or yellow.

22. The perfect fruit is a mango.

23. I read XKCD three times a week and always click on random to view some past XKCD when I do.

24. I try to use cloth bags or my backpack instead of plastic bags whenever I go shopping.

25. The arrival of the post used to be an exciting moment. Since e-mail was invented, the paper mail has become less and less interesting, but I remember when the sound of the letters falling through the door was a thrill.

26. I think Shakespeare’s comedies tend to be at least as scary as his tragedies.

27. I prefer cats to dogs, both aesthetically and as pet/companions.

28. But think a well-trained well-behaved dog is a pleasure to see, particularly a working dog.

29. But feel a cat leaping up onto my lap, curling up and purring till it falls asleep, is better than any pack-loyal dog.

30. While ordinarily I manage to separate my feelings about a writer’s political views from my ability to enjoy their writing, Orson Scott Card managed to make himself one big exception over the past four years, speaking as someone who was an enthusiastic fan for over twenty years before 2004. It’s not just that I disagree with him: it’s also that Card seems to be unable to tolerate widespread disagreement with his politics without becoming a jerk.

31. Favourite poets; Marilyn Hacker, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rudyard Kipling. I find this combination as weird as you probably do, but those are genuinely the three I’m most likely to sit down with and read their poems purely for the pleasure of it.

32. Allergic to dust/dust mites. Hate housework.

33. Keep favourite t-shirts till they have noticeable holes in them.

34. Prefer growing herbs to flowers.

35. Love the moment on any flight when the air flowing under the wing of the plane pushes the plane upwards away from the ground.

36. Ever since I first understood how the depth of the atmosphere, the angle of light through the atmosphere, and the human eye’s ability to perceive light, is why we perceive sunsets, I’ve appreciated sunsets all the more. Knowing how it works increases my aesthetic appreciation, not only for sunsets but for almost anything.

37. I like scented candles, but not candles whimsically shaped into amusing statues of wax to be destroyed by burning.

38. When reading Little Women I always identified with Jo. When reading Mansfield Park, I always identified with Fanny Price. When reading Ballet Shoes, I always identified with Petrova.

39. I hate all fizzy soft drinks, cola or sodapop or ginger.

40. I prefer still wine to fizzy wine, too.

41. I am an atheist.

42. I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, and re-read most of the more interesting books multiple times in more than one translation.

43. I keep trying to do the same with the Qu’ran, and keep finding it less interesting, though I’m working on achieving a basic familiarity.

44. I don’t like celery.

45. I dislike mint: I still wish it wasn’t the default flavour for toothpastes.

46. Wikipedia annoys me greatly, even when I make use of it.

47. I love dunking a chewy cookie into a hot cup of tea.

48. About the only thing I think I would consider killing myself over is if the alternative were a protracted and painful death.

49. Goldfish are not pets, they are decor.

50. Blueberries are overrated.

October 28, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: A hill of beans

Filed under: Food,Tuesday Recipe Blogging — jesurgislac @ 11:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

As I noted yesterday in The Awful Self-Pity of a Self-Righteous Bigot, the only difference between the pile of reasons why same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry and a hill of beans is that the beans make a nutritious and tasty meal.

Beans are high in protein, a good source of unsaturated fat, and carbohydrates: also potassium, calcium, iron, and several B-vitamins. If you eat beans with bread (or any kind of grain food) or cheese (any kind of dairy food) to provide the amino acid methionine, you are eating a high quality, complete protein meal. Beans are also an excellent source of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber – good for your cholesterol levels and good for your colon. And if you soak them right, they won’t even make you fart. Not that I think you should care. (So long as you’re not in a lift with me.)

I call my basic vegetarian slow-cooker recipe Beany Thing.
(more…)

September 30, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: All About Chilli

Well, okay: not all about chilli.

I first made a pot of chilli about four years ago. Curries I was used to, but the theory and practice of chilli had passed me by. But, here, for what it’s worth, is all I know about making a big pot of hot, comforting, wonderful vegetarian chilli.

You need: beans, tomatoes, chillies. You will want, when the chilli is ready to eat, at least one of the following accompaniments: grated cheese, sour cream or thick plain yoghurt, guacamole, salsa, bread or tortillas or rice.

You can make very good use of: vegetable stock, garlic, paprika, tabasco sauce.

You may find goes well: smoked tofu, nuts, mushrooms, soy sauce, beer, wine.
(more…)

September 23, 2008

Tuesday Recipe blogging: mushroom roast

Apologies for taking so long to find this. It’s been years since I made mushroom roast: it works best (in my opinion) as the main dish in a festive dinner. It’s a considerable amount of work to make, unless you have a food processor, and even if you do – don’t try to process the mushrooms in it. Slice them properly. I’m not just being pickily low-tech: you can make the breadcrumbs any way that suits you (my parents used to use child labour), you can slice the onions perfectly well in a food processor: but mushrooms turn to mush too easily if they’re fed through a processor.

The basic ingredients are: mushrooms, breadcrumb, onions, and cheese. You may also want: garlic, herbs, vegetable stock, and an egg or two.

The basic process is: cook onions in butter to a savoury, soft mess (with herbs and garlic). Add mushrooms, and cook over a low heat until the mushrooms are cooked enough to suit you. You want a fairly soft and semi-liquid paste of onions and mushrooms. Stir in the breadcrumb. If it’s too dry, add some vegetable stock – you want a fairly moist mixture. Stir in grated cheese. When you are ready to bake the roast, add an egg or two (depending on the size of the roast) and put the whole mixture in a deep, greased casserole dish and bake until it’s crusty on top.

Proportions are important.

For every kilo of mushrooms, you want a kilo of breadcrumb, 500-750 grammes of onions, and 500-750 grammes of hard cheese. This size of roast will take about 90 minutes to bake in a medium hot oven. [Update: Yes, this is a LOT of mushrooms: it makes a big savoury for a festive meal. You can always halve or even quarter the amount for a smaller dish… just keep the proportions, by weight, the same.]

I like garlic… lots of garlic… and do the obvious: subtract the weight of the garlic from the weight of the onions. See the nut roast recipe for thoughts about herbs. (There is also the foodpairing website, though I find it more fun than useful.) Instead of regular vegetable stock, you can use Marmite, a couple of teaspoonfuls in about 150ml of boiling water – do not add the whole quantity, just mix it up and stir it in until the texture looks right: you’re after a glopping consistency, soft and moist, not liquid).

This is not a vegan recipe. The cheese in the mushroom roast isn’t just there to make it coherent: the combination of cheese and mushroom is what makes this a rich, glorious dish. Figure on about one egg to every half-kilo of breadcrumb – but add the eggs one at a time, to make sure the texture stays right. You don’t want to over-egg the pudding.

August 19, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: nut roast

This is the quintessential dish of Sixties vegetarianism. (Which is when my parents became vegetarians. Yes, I have been a nutcase from birth.)

Nevertheless, nut roast is quite tasty. It is also an excellent dish to serve as the “vegetarian alternative” for a main meal where most of the diners will be tucking into the meat dish, because first of all, nut roast can be happily served with any side dish you would serve with meat, and second, you can make the basic mixture the day before, refrigerate it, and stir in an egg (if you’re using an egg, see discussion below) at the last minute before you pop it in the oven to bake it, so that it inconveniences you-the-host less than many a vegetarian alternative.

As someone who has been the sole vegetarian guest at many meals, I appreciate all the hosts who went to some trouble to ensure that I could eat my fill.


(more…)

August 5, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: cauliflower cheese

If you like rich, creamy, cheese dishes, this is for you. It’s an innocent vegetable excuse for dressing up cheese with cream. It is not made with flour or milk or anything else: it has three ingredients. Cauliflower, cheese, and cream.
(more…)

July 15, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Banana-Tofu Curry

I found the basic recipe for this curry in Recipe Cottage. If you’re not vegetarian and/or don’t like tofu, you can omit the tofu, or substitute it with some non-vegetarian tofu substitute, what’s the word …meat! Oh yes. That stuff.

You should read the real recipe, but basically, this is how I do it:
(more…)

Blog at WordPress.com.