In the 1970’s, when I arrived in New York City at the age of 17 from the Midwest, I embraced all the “cool” new trends that the big city offered. I was so eager to discover anything and everything that life had to offer that I wasn’t able to discern the fact that trends are simply just that – trends. Some are good, some are stupid, some are life changing and some are best forgotten.
The food trends at the time included crepes, brie cheese, Haagen dazs ice cream (specifically the honey, vanilla, carob and coffee flavours), salad bars and of course health foods. After all – this was the Age of Aquarius. We put Tiger’s Milk powder and flax seeds into everything and ate Tiger’s Milk bars by the dozens. Carob was in, chocolate was out, honey was good and sugar was bad. We drank a foul concoction of apple cider vinegar and honey. I personally forced about a quart of the stuff down my throat every single day. It was supposed to keep my digestion healthy. The irony of my new health food kick was that I was also starving myself in order to maintain the required low weight for ballet, trying to limit my calorie intake (though not always successful) to five hundred calories a day.
Just when I was beginning to wonder whether suffering through my meals was worth it, some of the big health food advocates died. Obviously the stringent diet hadn’t helped them at all. Eventually I drifted away from the health food circles and made a conscious choice to simply eat fresh, nutritious and tasty food. No dehydrated powders, nothing that smelled like old fish and nothing that didn’t make my taste buds sing. I also decided to chew and savour my food. Which brings me to the subject of juices, smoothies and flavoured water.
Juice machines and juice bars became a big thing in the 90’s. It’s not that I don’t like juices. I do but I’m also very conscious about how I take in my calories. While it may be convenient and fast to down a glass of carrot juice, I would rather take the needed time in order to chew my carrots. Not only will I probably consume fewer carrots (than what was needed to make that glass of juice), I am willing to bet that my stomach will feel full and satisfied, I will get some fibre into my system and my digestion system will get a workout. It’s a win-win situation.
Smoothies simply confound me. Do the people who drink smoothies not like the texture of fruit and vegetables? Or are they attached to the infancy phase of their life when their mothers cooked and mashed their foods into tasteless concoctions. Is there anything grosser than baby food? I was recently given a smoothie recipe by a well-meaning nutritionist and I really do like all the ingredients in the drink: kale, bananas, apples, mint and oats. However, I would prefer to eat those foods whole and not blended into a foul smelling drink that obliterates their individual taste and texture. As for adding protein powders, I prefer to get my protein in a recognizable and chewable form – in my daily diet – from food I buy locally.
I recognize that some people have problems drinking water. I’m not one of those people but again – I recognize that that some people have to add some form of flavouring to their water to make it palpable. I simply laugh to myself when I hear someone advocate the health benefits of water with added elements like cucumber. Your cucumber water is more beneficial than my plain water? I don’t think so. I ate my cucumber beforehand. I will admit that your cucumber water does look very pretty in the glass mason jar that you tote around. You will never see me carry a glass mason jar into a dance or yoga studio. Why? I sweat and I occasionally drop things. I would never want to risk the possibility of dropping a glass jar in a room full of bare footed people. Seriously – why risk something when you could easily take it out of the equation by carrying a metal bottle?
I know that smoothies, juices and vitamin enhanced water are probably in my future – when I’ve hit 100 years old, have lost all of my teeth and need extra vitamins to supplement my diet. But until then, I will continue to happily chew, chew, chew.