It was a classic chia eating, kombucha drinking new age cafe scene. The type that makes you feel like the cool pill was passed around right when you got up to take a piss so you missed out.
We sat around a wooden table made out of repurposed barn, and then painted with what I can only imagine was paint made from beetroot and used veggie oil. I never got confirmation on the paint, but I’d be willing to bet a couple ounces of raw cacao nibs that I nailed it.
Our table was outside on the patio, amongst hammocks, kokopelli memorabilia, a stack of hoola hoops for those wanting to partake in some hip action, and get this, a fucking wooden structure equipped with aerial silks.
The people who use aerial silks are the same cool fuckers who do fire dancing and just roam the earth with nothing but a water canteen, a dream catcher and six pack abs. Their world and my world don’t see much overlap. Apart from that one time in Hawaii, but that was a fluke.
Just beyond the A-frame structure that held the silks, there was a rustic wooden fence, which was probably constructed by Jesus or someone who looked like Jesus that encapsulated the magical, womb-like patio where I could feel a group Kumbaya coming on at any fucking moment.
If you looked just over the Jesus fence, you could see the famous red cliffs that line Sedona, AZ.
Are things starting to make sense?
Do I even have to tell you that Tibetan prayer flags were strewn about like the New Age Superstore down the street had a massive fire sale? (oh yes, such a business exists in Sedona, I saw it with my own two eyes).
As I was eating my Sunshine Radiant Alive Prana dish (which I came to the uncertain conclusion was a salad) and sipping my green smoothie with Hunza Mulberries (can someone explain?), I couldn’t help but pick up bits of conversations happening around me. Coconut oil was the topic of more than one conversation within earshot.
“If my coconut oil is organic, virgin and fair trade, does it absolutely have to be certified non-gmo?” The jury was still out on that one when I got distracted by another conundrum.
I couldn’t make out the problem exactly, given the live traveling flute music that was getting closer and closer to our table, but it was something about a $25.00 package of goji berries and some spoiled maca powder. It sounded pretty dramatic, so I nonchalantly tilted my head closer but the fucking flautists were at our table now, making it impossible for me to eavesdrop.
After the flautists moved on, I considered giving the goji maca table a hot tip about the plentiful supply of goji berries at any Asian market for under $2.00, but decided against it after seeing they were in head to toe Lululemon.
And not the thrift store Lululemon like I wear, buying it just because it’s Lululemon, and disregarding the fact that the pants are high waters and the jacket can’t zip up all the way because of my boobs. These ladies clearly chose their Lulu based on the color, size and style of their liking. The choice between $25.00 goji berries and slumming it at the Asian market was already made up for them in my head.
I stopped analyzing the goji maca Lulu clan to have one last spoonful of raw stone ground almond butter and ask for the check. I took a deep breath, let my surroundings soak in, and wondered if I would ever be cool enough to eat at a place like this without having a deep desire to make fun of it.
When my server brought my check, along with a chocolate Buddha, I had my answer. I also had a fire under my ass to get to my computer. This week’s fuckery was a-brewin’ and I knew just what I wanted to riff about.
Here’s the thing.
I appreciate 100% organic, non-gmo, vegan food just as much as the next person. And I will happily dine at any eatery offering up such conscious food.
What I can’t get with is people obsessing over certain single ingredients and giving them superhuman powers.
Look, I’m certain that there are health benefits of eating goji berries, cacao powder, acai, maca, moringa, and all the other products chillin’ in the superfood section at Whole Foods. These are all products that that come from plants, and all plants contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that heal and protect the body.
Let me stop right here and ask you a quick question. What is the difference between blueberries and goji berries? Or mustard greens and spirulina powder? How about kale and cacao nibs? Brussels sprouts and maca powder? Or mushrooms and moringa powder?
Well, apart from the obvious, one group can be found fresh in the produce section at any grocery store, and the rest typically come packaged.
Anything packaged can be branded and marketed.
And when you can brand and market something, there is gobs of money to be made.
It goes back to the traditional 4Ps of the marketing mix since commoditization began: Product (packaging), Price, Promotion & Place.
In contrast, fresh produce can’t be branded so it can’t be marketed. Even if there was a marketing push from a kale farm, how could they ensure that you would buy their kale? They can’t, which is why it doesn’t happen.
Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?
I’ll make it simple for you.
There are more profits to be made from packaged food than from fresh food. And more money means bigger advertising budgets. And with bigger advertising budgets comes more influence over our decisions as consumers. Which is exactly why people who buy $150 yoga pants with a specific logo are the same people who buy $25.00 goji berries that are packaged and beautifully branded. Ain’t a thing wrong with it, I’m just reminding you that there’s advertising strategy behind those buying decisions.
Here’s the other thing to keep in mind the next time you experience one particular food being put on a pedestal.
The brilliance of eating a plant rich diet is that any given plant food is packed with literally thousands of nutrients, and it’s the way in which all of the nutrients work together from a variety of plant foods that give us long term protection from chronic illness and disease.
Think of it as a restaurant. In order for a restaurant to run smoothly, the entire staff has to show up, know their role and shut their hole. From the servers to the chef, and the dishwashers to the prep cooks. The restaurant can’t run without all these jobs in place.
If all the prep cooks call in sick, the rest of the team might be able to pick up their slack for a short time, but in the long run, the restaurant would fail. Or let’s say all the servers went on strike. The restaurant wouldn’t even be able to open.
So yes, the chef is an important piece of the restaurant puzzle, but regardless of how talented, a chef alone cannot run a restaurant. It’s physically impossible.
Let’s reel it back in.
The nutrients in one particular food (or superfood, if you will) might be incredibly beneficial (like the chef at a restaurant), but only when those nutrients are working together with thousands of other nutrients (like the rest of the restaurant staff) do we experience the full kick-ass health benefits.
And where do these other nutrients come from?
Normal unpackaged, fresh foods like carrots, onions, mushrooms, kale, tomatoes, blueberries, oranges, and the rest of the food in the produce section. These are the foods that make up my weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans.
So let’s take some pressure off from superfoods and keep it old school with this simple, trusted formula from the days of yore. (the days of fucking yore? I don’t know where that came from, but I’m going with it).
Eat a wide variety of unprocessed whole plant foods daily, partake in regular exercise, aim for a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and laugh with your friends often.
No superfood will ever compare to that.
Here’s a recipe with plenty of oomph made with regular plant based ingredients.
No red rock Sedona blessed, artisanal, organic, small batch, extra virgin bullshit ingredients required.
Walnut Lentil Soft Tacos
Sprouted corn tortillas
Walnut Lentil Taco Mix
Tomato, onion and kale mixture
For the Walnut Lentil Taco Mix:
2 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils (400g)
1 cup walnuts, toasted (100g)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (40g)
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (4g)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (6g)
1/4 cup water (60ml)
For 2 1/2 cups of cooked lentils, you will need to cook 1 cup of dried lentils (195g). Here’s the perfect method for cooking lentils so they aren’t mushy or under done.
- Rinse and drain the dried lentils and place them in a small pot with 2 cups of water (475ml).
- Bring the lentils to a boil and then immediately turn the heat way down until they reach just a simmer.
- Leave them simmering without a lid for 30-37 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft, but not falling apart. It might take longer depending on your elevation.
Onto the Taco Mix:
- Add the cooked lentils, toasted walnuts, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, tarragon, sea salt and water to your food processor and pulse just until everything is combined.
- Don’t process the mixture so much that it turns into a mushy paste. If there are some lentils still intact, that’s totally fine. You want the mixture to have plenty of texture.
- You might have to stop the food processor and push the mixture down from time to time with a wooden spoon.
For the Tomato, onion and kale mixture:
Kale, thinly chopped
A few small shakes of Braggs or coconut aminos
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Red onion, minced
- Add the kale to a bowl, add the aminos and massage with your hands until the kale shrinks in size.
- Add the tomatoes and onions and stir.
For the Cheesy Sauce:
This is totally optional. These tacos are still bomb without it, but if you’re making them for meat and dairy eaters, add the cheesy sauce. If you’re going for the sauce, use the sauce from this cheesy sauce from this mac and cheese recipe.
Assemble the tacos:
BAM! Delicious tacos ready to go! Gather your friends, tell them taco cat spelled backwards is taco cat, and dig in.
I hope you have a happy week. May you find magic in the ordinary.