With one-day notice, I stopped by my parents’ house for a meal on last Columbus day. I walked into 9 freshly cooked dishes sitting on the kitchen counter. I was pleasantly surprised, because in order for me to create this, I’ll need at least one week notice to emotionally prepare for this much cooking. I think Sri Lankans by nature are foodies, we love food and it was no different in the household I grew up in with 3 other siblings. We love eating and food is still a big deal when we all get together. As an adult, I find myself sharing the same passion with most of my friends.
I use to eat a lot of meat in my college years and made fun of vegetarians (sorry!). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more mindful of where my food comes from, how food is treated and how my body reacts to it. I’ve started to understand the value of wholesome, natural food.
Yes that’s my plate of food below. Ok, so I may have served myself a little more after that plate as well (Don’t judge..haha…). I was hungry and yes I eat a lot too. I don’t feel bad eating any of this yummy goodness. Everything here is full of different flavors, nutrients in each item help my body in someway. All of this food just so happens to be vegan and some of it was grown in my parents’ yard. Here’s what’s on my plate starting with cherry tomatoes (clockwise), mushroom, yardlong beans, cabbage, coconut salad, chayote squash, lentils, carrot/potato, kale & brown rice in the middle.
As I celebrate being a vegetarian for the last 10 years, I can happily sit at the dining table with my 3 siblings that have chosen 3 completely different eating habits than me and enjoy a meal. Our personalities couldn’t be more different and our eating habits are a representation of that. One sibling is a carnivore, another is a pescetarian and the youngest is a hard-core vegan. Our parents always encouraged us to celebrate our differences instead of insulting. If my parents can cook meals for all four of us to share, then I think anything is possible in any household.
I grew up seeing my parents celebrating healthy food. They would always cut down on the amount of oil they cook with, using homegrown vegetables, baking instead of frying and using all natural spices for flavoring were a few things I noticed. All these little things makes a huge difference. Implementing these recipe adjustments on my own was time consuming at first, but slowly it became second nature. It’s easy to be unhealthy even as a vegetarian. Especially when my tongue does not say no to fries, chocolate chip cookies & ice cream. Hey! They are vegetarian.
I don’t believe in temporary diets. I don’t feel bad when I let go every once in a while and indulge with my friends. I believe in eating mostly healthy and working off the rest. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed learning how to replace my bad eating habits with some healthy lasting habits. I learned there isn’t one diet that works for everyone, we have to find our own.
I find myself following the 80/20 rule. 80% healthy wholesome food and 20% questionable food, so if I find myself having fried, lightly processed food or indulging on desert here and there, I won’t beat myself up over it.
I may not be able to cook like my parents, but I’m learning to a put few things together. Above are 2 photos of brunch & dinner items I prepared. I don’t know what kind of eating habits I’ll pick up the next 10 years. I prefer not planning that out, so I can see how I feel each day. Life is more fun that way to me. All I can talk about is the last 10 years of eating a mixture of real food that just so happen to be delicious & vegetarian. I noticed my skin has cleared up, my immune system has gotten stronger, I rarely got sick and most of all, I’ve had so much energy (without caffeine) and it feels good. I’ll be lucky if I can continue another 10 years with this health. *knock on wood*