Halloween. The very word can strike fear into anyone trying not to overindulgence on sweets! Everyone has strategies. Don’t buy candy you like. The later it gets the more you give away to the trick or treaters. Donate any left over candy to coworkers, food cupboards, or anyone who will take it away. If you live in a constant state of thinking about diet it can lead to an obsession about what you should be eating and guilt when you do not stick to the “healthy” stuff.
Food is a very personal thing. Everyone has to eat and no one wants to be judged about what they are eating. And yet we are our own worst critics. How many times have you eaten a dessert or had french fries and beat yourself up over the choice? I can honestly say I do not engage in self-hate when I have a cookie or potato chips. I own the decision, I enjoy the food and I move on. When my pants are getting too tight or I feel uncomfortable after eating, I know it is time to be more mindful about what I am putting in my body.
What it comes down to, is that I am responsible for my own food choices. It does not make any difference what anyone else is eating, their choices do not have an effect on my body. That is why I find it funny when I tell someone I am vegetarian and the first response is how my choice cannot be their choice. My favorite is when someone says they would die if they could not eat meat. I try not to laugh and point out that I am living proof they would not die without meat. Often they feel they need to justify their meat-eating to me. It is a mystery because I do not feel a need to justify my avoidance of meat to them. Somehow vegetarianism has this aura of goodness that causes others to assume I am judging them and they feel they are not living up to my standards. Nothing could be further from the truth! To me, it truly does not matter what anyone else is eating. If you would like some vegetarian recipes or ideas on meat-free meals, ask. Otherwise, I will not force my food views on you nor do I expect anyone else to make fun of my choices. (Yes, people feel a need to say things in jest, like, “Want some bacon?” or “How about a nice steak?”).
Halloween is just one day. If you are taking care of yourself the majority of the time, some candy will not wreck your health. Eat it and move on. Tomorrow is another day (thank you Scarlett O’Hara). Remember, deprivation is never a good strategy. And my choices are exactly that, mine.
This week’s recipe is a good answer to the people who feel they cannot live without meat. Now that it is getting colder, one of my favorite comfort foods is baked pasta. Typically it is made with ground beef, lots of cheese and no vegetables. My version is vegan and I am willing to bet you will never miss the meat!
Baked Pasta Bolognese (Vegan)
1 lb short pasta, cooked al dente
1 large zucchini, seeded and chopped into 1” pieces
1 Tbsp oil
1 package soy crumbles (I use Wegmans Don't Have A Cow)
1 jar vegetarian red sauce
1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (I use Trader Joe’s)
This makes great leftovers, which is what is pictured at right.