I’m not a psychologist, but I have a theory about why we are so quick to jump into the latest diet craze. I believe that it is based on a very primitive instinct. A need so strong that it surpasses willpower, common sense and good judgement. It is the need to belong. Once upon a time we were tribal people and belonging to a group was necessary for survival. There was safety in numbers. Being part of a tribe meant doing what the tribe did, going where it went, wearing what it wore and eating what it ate. Food and its associated traditions are attached to every race, religion and culture that exists.
In ancient times part of our earliest training would have been to seek out and prepare food to feed ourselves and others. Of course, in days gone by, the foods we ate would have been based on regional and seasonal availability. (A necessity back then, albeit a concept probably worth revisiting today, but that's a whole other subject...)
It wasn’t just the accessibility of the food however, that was programming our natures. It was also the culinary traditions of our tribe that drove the requisite to belong even deeper into our psyches. Ceremonial foods, tribal rituals and holiday meals all had a way of weaving their way in and around our emotions, making the need to eat with others a very real condition. How many times have we wanted something to eat but hate the idea of eating alone? We stand and gaze into the refrigerator or stare blankly into the cupboards. All the while, we are trying to figure out who we can call that might be available to go out with us and get a bite to eat. Think of all the anxiety we can feel over missing a holiday dinner with our family, how we wistfully remember Sunday dinner at Grandma's house or the peace we experience after receiving holy communion. Yep, our relationship with food goes very, very deep. Deep enough to invoke, for better or for worse, very real emotions.
I also believe there is another reason why we have a psychological need to eat with others. One of our very first interactions with other human beings is the act of sharing food . Within minutes of being born we are welcomed into the world by being wrapped up in a warm blanket and given something to eat. Food is an integral part of our first social experience. Is it any wonder we associate food with comfort and emotion? Yes, our need to belong and to share food with others is a very profound and multifaceted yearning that was imprinted upon us at birth and concealed deep within our very being. I believe it is perfectly natural to seek out people to break bread with, whether the bread in question is healthy for us or not. Our bodies, our very cells, have been programmed for eons to eat with the tribe. And, the nature of primitive life would have dictated that we ate whatever the tribe ate…
This need to be part of a group has followed us into our modern lives and we now find ourselves being ‘branded’ by marketers looking to make a fortune off of our most basic nature. Modern diets are not necessarily making us healthier, but they do usually make us feel guiltier if we aren’t complying with them. And perhaps on a subconscious level, we feel like we are deviating from our tribe.
So lets skip the latest fad diet that promises the moon and probably only gives you a twinkle or two. Release all of the anxiety that is associated with trying to eat healthy in an unhealthy world. Today I am offering you a couple of new recipes that I used when I was transitioning my family over to "health food". I hope that you enjoy them. Perhaps they will inspire you to recreate some of your existing family favorites into deliciously, healthier versions. Either way, join me in releasing the tension and guilt of modern marketing and let’s eat with our tribe!
1 lb. extra firm, organic tofu 1 – 2 T. wheat free tamari
1/3 cup green onions, chopped 1 ½ tsp. onion powder
½ c. grated carrots ½ tsp. curry powder
¼ c diced red peppers (optional) ½ tsp. cumin
2 – 3 T. nutritional yeast ¼ tsp. garlic powder
2 T. extra virgin olive oil ¼ tsp. turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slice tofu into ¼ inch slices and wrap in a clean, kitchen towel. Place a heavy weight on top and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes to squeeze out the excess water. This gives the tofu a texture closer to scrambled eggs.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and lightly sauté for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the spices and continue to sauté for another 1 – 2 minutes. Crumble the tofu into the skillet. Stir to mix the spice mixture thoroughly with the tofu. Add the tamari and nutritional yeast and mix well. Heat through. Season with pepper if desired.
1 banana, sliced 2 – 4 date rolls, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped 1 T. golden flax seeds (ground)
½ c. raisins, soaked ½ c. almond cream *
¼ c. unsweetened, shredded coconut cinnamon to sprinkle
Place the fruit, ground flax and coconut in a bowl. Top with cashew cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
½ c. cashews (soaked)* ¼ - ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ c. almonds (soaked) * 1 – 2 c. water
6 – 8 pitted dates ** 1 – 2 T. honey (optional)
Place the nuts in a blender and using a high speed process until finely ground. Add water and blend to the desired consistency. Less water makes it creamy, more water makes it more milk-like.
Alternately you can use all cashews or all almonds.
* To soak the nuts, place in a jar and cover with purified water. Place a sprouting screen or towel over the nuts and let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the nuts, then rinse with fresh
water and drain again.
** I particularly love Medjool dates for this recipe.