November 3, 2009

“Normal” Food?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the definition of the word “normal.” Or lack thereof, rather. For what is “normal” but a relative term? Sure, we have cultural and social norms, but if there’s anything to the saying “we are what we repeatedly do,” then that what is necessarily our own normal, is it not? And if that is the case, I am a very healthy (and normal!) eater.

If we’re really honest where food is concerned, however, there is indeed such a thing as “normal food” in North America, and it even has a name: the Standard American Diet (or SAD). Last time I checked, though, the SAD wasn’t doing us many favors health-wise, so I am quite comfortable existing on the “alternative” side of standard American eats, as I know for a fact I’m better off that way.

That said, I also know for a fact that I have inadvertently made more than one person uncomfortable by performing my “admirable” health habits in their presence. Furthermore, I’m sure that more than one person crossing my path must have assumed that I’m trying to lose weight, obsessed with dieting, or whatever else might just be reflecting their own health insecurities.

But the truth is that I love to eat (and eat plenty) and I love what I eat. I wouldn’t have a food blog and spend all these hours playing with recipes otherwise. I could drive myself crazy trying not to give people the wrong impression, trying to seem normal, whatever that is, yet I know both intuitively and scientifically that I do nothing but good for my body by treating it the way I do. Conclusion? There’s nothing for it but to own it.

In fact, I can even show you what normal looks like (fancy that!). How about a salad?


A massaged kale salad topped with spiralized and baked sweet potato sounds just about right to me.

Even simpler? A PB & J sandwich.


Mine just happens to consist of tahini and fig spread.

And then there’s the great American classic: a burger and fries.


The fries may be made of carrots, and the bun may be made of lettuce, but you can see for yourself that my raw vegan veggie burger makes no apologies for not being made of beef.


…So much for not eating things with a face, eh? ;)

Oh, and let our memories not be so short as to forget the spaghetti and “meat”balls from just last night!


Then there’s ice cream. We all scream for it. Neither sleet nor snow nor bovine dairy can keep me from enjoying this treat of treats.


I just like to make my own these days, that’s all! Especially since I won this from Shannon’s giveaway:

001 (2)

Pretty much changed my life! If you’ve been following along here for a few months, you know I’ve been toying with homemade ice cream a bit, and with some moderate success. I gotta say, though, the ice cream maker really made the difference. For my first batch, I used the same recipe as for the Stoopid Easy Vegan Coconut Ice Cream, but with the addition of half a package of Newman-O’s to create a cookies ‘n’ creme version. The first ice cream picture above is the result of freezing it overnight to fully set, but FYI, this is what it looks like straight out of 30 minutes in the machine:


More like a Blizzard from Dairy Queen (I used to LOVE those!), and pretty much every bit as good, for that matter! Plus you’ve got the rockin’ coconut nutritionals workin’ for ya, which are not at all cancelled out by the crushed cookies. ;)

Anyway, here are the ingredients for simple coconut milk ice cream more time, for what it’s worth:

  • 1 can regular coconut milk
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 package Newman-O’s (or Oreos, or other sandwich cookie), crushed

Blend first 4 ingredients together and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions. Add cookie pieces in the last 5 minutes of processing.

You could also do this sans ice cream maker (just blend, dump and freeze), but I will warn you from experience that it will come out fairly icy. Even the ice cream maker version was a little less than creamy. A vast improvement, nonetheless. Gotta give it up for Cuisinart!

But I digress. The point of that tongue-in-cheek series of food photos was to show that while I obviously know what’s considered “normal” food by Americans, those are foods that are in fact normal to me, meaning I would gladly eat them every day because I find them enjoyable, nourishing and satisfying. And that’s not to say I think others would necessarily do well to imitate me, as we’ve already established that “normal” is indeed a relative term and could mean something very different to my neighbor.

Scorpions? In America, not so much “normal,” and not so much nourishing and satisfying. To me. But then again, I’ve tried those too.

Do your healthy/vegan/raw/other/”different” eating habits catch the attention of “normal” people?


Olga @ Healthing It said...

Oh man...if I had a dime for every time someone looked at my lunch and asked "What is THAT?!"

And my 82 year old meat/cabbage/potatoes grandma? I tried explaining what tofu is like 7 times... :)

HangryPants said...

My weird foods get me teased sometimes, but now they are more and more accepted and people want to know about them too. What's even more annoying is when I do eat something "normal" like Halloween candy and people like to harp on it.

Food Makes Fun Fuel said...

Yes, and I find it hysterical when they do! I only eat all natural, meaning no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. People don't understand why I'd eat a sugar cookie if it's natural but not one with red dye number 40 and vanillin. I'll be the first to admit I don't think I'd dye from ingesting those artificial ingredients. But "health" isn't the purpose of why I eat how I eat. I do because it's what feels right to me! I'll be the first to eat the biggest, tastiest, most unhealthy dessert there is if it's all natural and I'm not ashamed to live life that way

VeggieGirl said...

Normal, schnormal - just eat and enjoy :)

Ohhh, Dairy Queen Blizzards - I used to love those too, haha.

Gena said...

Haha. Oh, I think you know my answer to that question, love.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Blizzards, used to love them. Ahhh we crave our allergens and I am dairy intolerant. Nuff said.

Thx for the 411 on cuisinart ice cream maker. Better but not perf. Good to know.

Weird looks/comments...ah high raw all vegan and soy free and gluten free? I am the talk of the town no doubt. As if I care though :) I do get hurt if people make rude comments about my choices, and I have had a few nasty words uttered but as long as it's just curiousity, that's cool :)

Gina said...

Diana, you're preaching to the choir!
Goodness, sometimes I can't stand it. Just because we're skinny, and we enjoy healthy foods that most people may not necessarily consider delicious, we are assumed to have an eating disorder or want to lose weight. It's really odd how that works. I think for me it probably has some to do with the fact that I HAD an eating disorder. But clearly I wouldn't be a practicing dietitian with an ED. Anyway, point is, I hope one day people find eating healthy to be fun and completely satisfying.

katherine said...

Your positive attitude really just amazes me. You go on with your super self!!

Diana said...

Gina - You're so right! I really am preaching to the choir, and that was the very thought that went through my head as I hit the publish button tonight. But for now I'll just be thankful for the support of like-minded readers/bloggers and for the fact that I have a choir to preach to at all, no matter how homogeneous. :)

Christine said...

I frankly don't understand how people can be that publicly intolerant of your food choices.

I hang around lots of moronic boys who eat bad things, but none of them would straight up be rude about my food in a non-teasing way.

I frakin can't stand this country sometimes. Where being ignorant, uneducated and self-destructive is considered "healthy" behavior and something to be proud of.

That said, I want to make carrot fries!

BroccoliHut said...

WHOA tahini + fig sounds like a phenom combo! Must try that!
I get major stares for my tofu concoctions sometimes. 'Tis all good though--I love my "weird" food, and I don't care who knows it.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I get teased sometimes about my "crazy health stuff", and my salads have been referred to as "instant trips to the bathroom". But I wouldn't change my habits for to avoid those comments!

Congrats on winning that ice cream maker! Super cool.

Mama Pea said...

Aren't carrot fries crazy good?! I'm obsessed.

I used to think that I had to switch up my eats a little more for blog purposes: one can only eat so many ginormous salads, but now I don't even care. I have to eat what keeps me healthy and happy, regardless of if it seems "weird" or not.

RunToTheFinish said...

your food looks amazing! Most folks are just used to what can be thrown together instantly. Heck I am not half as good as you about cooking great meals, but people still look at my choices as sort of strange and surpirsing

Shannon said...

yay--ice cream!!!!! :) that made my morning!

i was skeptical of people who would ask me about what i was eating at first, but after getting defensive i realized they just wanted to learn and actually had an open mind. at least some people, others don't usually say much and it's me who's self-conscious :/

Diana said...

Shannon - Great point! I'm often needlessly defensive about my eats and then realize it's because I'm self-conscious of being/eating "different." I definitely put too much energy into trying to come off normal amongst people I know have more mainstream habits than me.

fitforfree said...

Great post! I wish I didn't, but I go through phases where I try to appease other people with my eating -- i.e., if I'm out with a group of very unhealthy eaters, I will order differently than I would if I were out to dinner with, say, you and Sarah :-) I hate feeling like my dietary habits instantly single me out from others, and sometimes it is worth it to me to order something like a veggie burger on a bun (arguably more "normal" looking in certain settings than a plate of steamed veggies with tahini sauce, which is what I might have ordered otherwise!). I hope someday I won't feel like I need to compromise my normal habits to feel "normal" in the SAD sense, but for now, that's where I'm at ...

Kudos to you for OWNING your healthy habits!

Deirdre said...

Even though I am an omnivore, I tend to eat vegetarian fare like tofu and falafel and I am constantly surprised by how many people who says things like eww or you aren't going vegetarian are you. Like its some kind of disease I could have caught. I say do what makes you happy. I think most of the time when people attack people who eat healthy it is more about the guilt they feel about their own choices or they think you are judging them when you aren't.

Heather said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this! It's been really funny to watch as I have completely transformed my "diet" over the past few years what kind of comments people have for me. If I had a dime for every time someone told me that I ate like a rabbit, well...I'd finally be able to buy that VitaMix :) It's especially disheartening to see that people automatically assume you eat the way you do for PURELY vanity reasons and that you can't possibly A) care about health or nutrition and B) think that what you're putting in your mouth tastes good because it isn't "normal" (whatever normal REALLY means).

Missy said...

Great post! People at work like to comment on my food which used to annoy me but now I just enjoy it and don't care if they think it is weird or not normal. Especially when I hold weird colored juiced in the morning haha.

I used to be obsessed with cookies n cream blizzards. Actually my dad took me to get one every night after dinner as a child. I think I need an ice cream maker now.

Diana said...

Definitely. But since I don't usually eat at social gatherings I can pretty much get away with it without being analized and questioned. My family thinks I'm quirky but they find it interesting and know how good it is for me, so they support me. Hell, my brother helped me make black bean burgers today! :)

Marissa said...

Yeah, for the most part people don't invite me over for dinner parties anymore ;-) There are just some things that I won't eat because of ethics, and generally that is the reason. People think what I eat is "weird" and I think their food is "fake" so whatever ;-)Luckily I do have many friends who understand and want me to help them with their healthy eating, so I prefer to hang with them anyway.

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

I can definitely identify with this. People always think I'm eating healthy for a purpose such as losing weight, when in fact I just enjoy the taste of healthy food and the way it makes me feel. I probably eat twice as much as many of those around me, but since the majority of what I eat is healthy, I'm not putting on the pounds. Great post

JavaChick said...

It's funny - I think I eat normal food, but co-workers always seem to be fascinated by what I'm bringing for lunch. The fact that my lunches garner that much attention always surprises me. But I eat what and how I like to eat. To me that seems pretty normal.

Devan Geselle. N said...

oh yum. that massaged kale salad had be salivating..

i crave cottage cheese.. but i cant have dairy.

i definatly get teased about being "overly healthy" blah blah.. "rigid" :(