“If it had a mother or a face”

Brain Food on a Gray January Day

If you follow my Goodreads lists, you might have noticed I’ve just finished a flurry of books with a similar theme: “If it had a mother or a face, don’t eat it.” And if you browse through the Longleaf Bar and Grill category archives, you’ll see many examples of slow-cooked Italian pot roast with red wine and garlic, roast chickens, grilled pork tenderloin, baked stuffed red snapper, and on and on.

I’m not declaring (at least not yet) a transition to full-throated veganism, however our ages, my family cardiac history, and plain old good sense (not to mention an undeniable, increasing unease about where our foods really come from, how they’re raised, and what’s added to them), have led Buck and me to move strongly toward a substantially plant-based diet. I’m sure we’ll continue to eat a little fish, at least I think I’m sure, and probably the occasional home-smoked (on a small indoor smoker) turkey breast. It’s a work in progress, and I’m not sure where we’ll eventually come down.

It feels like a natural evolution, though, probably since we haven’t eaten any kind of fast food or fried food for more than 25 years, rarely eat in restaurants, and already eat a diet high in fruits, veggies and whole grains. We’re both trim, and exercise — mainly walking, stretching, and weights — is a regular part of our daily routine. Neither of us takes any medication. So what’s the (excuse the expression) beef? My dad died of a heart attack at 51, several of my siblings (you guys know who you are) have had surgeries and stents, and my cholesterol numbers are not awful, but not good. I want to continue to avoid taking drugs to lower the LDL, and Buck wants to generally tweak his cardiovascular health to stay agile and mobile, so we’re making some changes. We’ll go to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville in July for a wellness physical, as we have for the past 17 years. The labs will tell us if this shift in our diet shows up there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? I’d love to know how you feel about what you eat, whether you think it matters, and any other thoughts you have on the subject, whether its physiology, philosophy or politics!

Tortilla press

Meanwhile, I’m having fun with it. I ordered a cast iron tortilla press and some stone-ground masa harina and made my very first corn tortillas today. They’re not perfectly round or pretty, and I had to throw several away at the beginning because I had trouble getting the hang of peeling them from the plastic wrap, but dang, I was proud. And they’re good!

Lunch today was a soul-warming bowl of pinto beans augmented by a few vinegary jalapeno slices and a couple of freshly made corn tortillas.

My First Homemade Corn Tortillas

4 thoughts on ““If it had a mother or a face”

  1. I started my get healthy quest last year. I was pushing 300 lbs and knew heart problems were just around the corner. So in January I gave up pop, hard since that was all I drank, I now have 2 cups of coffee or tea and water the rest of the day, I aim for at least 100oz. In October I started a regular exercise routine, replaced breakfast with a Vitamin dense “shake” and eat 4 small meals a day. Gave up all sweetners, real or fake, and like you, enjoy fruits and veggies. Good luck in you quest, a tortilla press may be in my future.


    1. Your self-intervention is great, Walk. I’ve been following your progress on FB. Our late friend, Gracie, said once (from a hospital bed), “If I’d known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” She laughed her big whisky and cigarettes laugh, but there’s a lot of wisdom in her words. We can’t control everything that happens to us healthwise with diet and exercise, of course, but it can make a huge difference in fighting genetics and in preparing us to fight if a disease process tries to bite us. So good to hear from you, Walk.


  2. Makes me ravenous. Since my recent conversion am plant based. Am calling myself a flexitarian, however, since I am basically vegan but sometimes eat fish and won’t entirely rule out meat. But I haven’t eaten land meat yet. I do think we evolved to be omnivores and to eat meat, but look at the lean, wild meat we ate vs. most of what we get now, and how much. I have vastly cut my oil consumption, too, because of calories and artery clogging.


    1. Yes, that’s us (flexitarian). Last night we ate a Greek salad and a homemade veggie-only, cheeseless pizza, but tonight we had chicken breast with whole baked sweet potatoes and fresh mustard greens with caramelized onions tossed with a little sesame oil (OMG incredibly good and I thought I didn’t like mustard greens.) It’s a process.


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