“Are you vegetarian? Gluten-free? Vegan? What the heck is paleo? Are you paleo?”
As a nutrition-obsessed foodie who loves to cook, I often hear questions like this one, and my answer is simple: none of the above. My philosophy to food and healthy eating is all about savouring every bite in a balanced, forgiving way. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, though it is slowly becoming the enemy, something we blame and fear. When fresh ingredients (and love!) are used to make anything from kale salads to triple chocolate cakes, they all belong in our diets.
If you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and have a bowl of a caramel ice cream, do it. And if you overdo it this time, forgive yourself and move on. Given the fact that humans spend five to six years of their lives eating, a single meal mishap is nothing to stress out about.
As for the said diet labels, there are days where I am completely vegan (most of the time, it is unintentional!), and other days where I’m the biggest carnivore. Sometimes I’ll enjoy dairy-free meals, and other times I’ll make yummy paleo or grain-free desserts. Every diet has great benefits and shortcomings.
Of course, there are days where my diet doesn’t fit into a box at all! For reasons explained in a couple pages, I am 90% vegetarian, with an emphasis on plant-based ingredients. While I strive to enjoy a variety of seasonal produce, unique grains, and other delicious things like salmon, nuts, eggs, and yogurt, I don’t like to label myself a vegetarian. When Mom spends hours salting, basting, and roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving, I will happily help myself to a piece… or five. During the summer that I lived in France with my sister, I devoured steak tartare (raw beef topped with uncooked egg yolk) and frequently found myself ordering crispy fried duck. If Grandma lovingly prepares a beef stew, I will certainly not refuse the juicy chunks of meat that she cooked with so much care.
Cooking and enjoying food need not be complicated, time-consuming, or restrictive.
A healthy diet = balance = cook at home as much as possible + variety of minimally-processed goodies + occasional indulgences