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Good Habits #17 – Clean Food For People Who Don’t Like To Bathe

Ever go into a restaurant and see that the guy seated at the table next to you has more body hair than all the people at your table combined?  And that’s just on his face and under his arms?  The type of place where everyone seems to have a dog under the table, tattoos in uncomfortable places, body piercings in really uncomfortable places (Places so bizarre I assume they must have done it on a dare), and everything smells vaguely of cannabis?

These sorts of establishments are not uncommon in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I live.  There’s a particular part of town called the Edge district which can be, well, edgy.  And since my weekend attire is more normal Florida chic (I.E. Polo shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops), the edgy denizens of these establishments frequently sneer at my normie presence.  The ones who aren’t high on something, anyway.

And the oddballs in these places are frequently of all generations.  I’ll see Hippies (see: 1960s) who’ve retired to Florida, Grunge Rockers (see: 1990s) who appear to have not bathed since the 1990s (or at least not washed their plaid shirts since then) and Hipsters (see: whoever is behind the counter at Starbucks) having brunch while downing Pabst Blue Ribbons like they’re going out of style.

I frequently notice when I enter a restaurant occupied by these sorts of eccentric types that they frequently have a very particular menu. I mean, every place has a few things in common (even the Chinese buffets serve hot wings), but aside from those few commonplace items, there are foods that are a bit trendy. Or perhaps just sort of…esoteric. The kind of things most normal people would have never heard of. The kind of things the atypical inhabitants of these places like to eat to set them apart from the mainstream of society. And by mainstream I mean people who wear Polo shirts, flip-flops, and cargo shorts.

Fortunately, I’ve found that these strange foods can actually be quite good for you. So it turns out that it’s actually healthy to be surrounded by potheads. Well, maybe not for my lungs. And the wife gets a bit testy when I come home with clothes smelling like wacky tabacky. To the point where she might be thinking about stabbing me in my sleep, which is not an ideal health outcome. But the food in these places is pretty good for me.

One thing I see on these menus is farro. And I found out why the avant-garde types are into it: it’s really old. A version of wheat that dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. I mean, it looks more or less like brown rice to my eyes. But as far as these folks are concerned, eating it makes them better than the rest of us because they’re eating the food of the Pharoahs. Or stuff people used to eat in Sumeria in the celebration immediately after they sacrificed a virgin to the Sun God. Meanwhile, us ordinary folks are just eating stuff grown in Arkansas.

Anyway, a cup of farro has only 170 calories, which is a little lighter than rice. It also has a smattering of B vitamins, nearly all of my manganese RDA, two-thirds of the selenium I need, and a decent amount of copper, iron, and phosphorus. So it’s a good base for almost any meal (although other options exist for this) and not too heavy. Although there’s a problem with these more unusual foods. If you want some, you probably can only find it by paying through the nose at Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

Another thing I often see is taro.  Which rhymes with farro and has literally nothing else in common with it.  I would say it was like a potato, but I know that angry hipsters would hunt me down for daring to belittle it by comparing it to a mere potato.  Not that I’m scared of being hunted by hipsters.  What are they going to do, pelt me with their skullcaps and fedoras?  

Besides it is kind of like a potato. Taro is a root, originally from Southeast Asia.  Americans would know it as the thing Hawaiians make Poi out of. And for anyone who doesn’t know what poi is, it’s the part of Hawaiian meals that mainlanders don’t eat because they’re normies and/or racist.  Anyway, a cup of taro has 200-250 calories, which is actually a little heavier than a potato.  It also has 40% of my B6 requirements, 30% of the manganese and vitamin E (which is hard to come by without eating nuts), and a decent chunk of copper and potassium.

Another trendy thing I see in these places is dishes involving quinoa.  Quinoa is apparently the greatest thing ever to come from South American mountains, at least according to the bohemian types in these joints.  They’re wrong of course.  The greatest thing from South American mountains is the bean used to make the Blessed Brown Water of Life

Having said that, a cup of the second greatest thing from South America is still pretty great. It has 200-250 calories, various B vitamins, and large portions of copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and manganese.  It’s a lot healthier than something like rice.  Sadly, though, it has a weakness.  It’s bland.  I mean, really bland.  Ground up cardboard bland.  So you need to spice it up a bit if you want to eat it.  Fortunately, spicing up dishes is a good way to add nutrition without a lot of extra calories.

Another “ancient grain” (although it’s not really a grain) that these free-spirited types eat so that they can act like they’re better than us is flax seeds.  Ages ago flax was used to make linen, but it’s also useful as food because the seeds are quite nutritious. A quarter cup, a fairly normal helping for nuts, has 200-250 calories and lots of thiamine, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.  But its biggest advantage is that it’s super heavy on Omega-3 fatty acids.  A single helping will more than fulfill your daily requirements.  The only food I’ve found that has more is salmon.  So if you’re a vegan who wants to be heart healthy, flax seeds are the way to go.

Then there’s that Japanese import that became oh so trendy in the 1980s:0 Tofu. It’s soybean curd, which is why I usually avoid eating it. “Curd” pretty much by definition means you’re eating food after it went bad. Of course, you could say the same thing about cheese, I guess. Anyway, a cup’s worth of tofu has lots of vitamin B5, all of the calcium and manganese you need in a day, almost all of the copper and iron, and big chunks of magnesium and phosphorus. And the cost in calories is 300 calories, which isn’t bad. Sadly, though, the taste fairly bland. This is the equivalent of eating grits or rice cakes. If you don’t doctor it up, it’s unimpressive.

That’s not the only Asian soybean thing one finds in these avant-garde places.  Tempeh is also on the menu.  Tempeh is from Indonesia, and its fermented soybeans kind of crammed together into a bread-like substance.  Like tofu, it’s really healthy, containing all of the copper and manganese one needs in a day, and healthy portions of potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, as well as some B vitamins.  And also like tofu, it has little to no taste as well.

And for people more interested in west Asian cuisine, we frequently see Mediterranean-ish items on the menu. Such as, falafel, hummus, and flatbread.  Falafel and hummus are not much more than chickpeas, though, so see this to see how beans are good for you.  As for flatbread…it’s bread.  See this to find out how that’s good for you.

Lastly, there’s the trendiest thing we ever brought in from Japan: Sushi.  Typical sushi (or California roll, which I’m told is different, but I don’t see how) with some kind of raw fish in it has lots of B12 and vitamin A, and good portions of other B vitamins, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and selenium.  And if you get a fairly normal portion (8-12 pieces) it only has about 300-400 calories, which is not bad for the main course.

So this is what the nonconformist fringe of society who don’t bathe eat.  Stuff from around the world that the walking dead of normal society don’t know about. The irony here is that these guys often fancy themselves progressive, but are engaged in blatant cultural appropriation.  Still, if you can stand the smell of cannabis in a restaurant, and generally hirsute smelly people around, these things are pretty healthy.  So healthy that it’s probably worth it to have hippies, grunge rockers, and hipsters judge you for your Polo shirts, flip-flops, and cargo shorts.


Published by drilldowndiet

Formerly obese CPA/health humorist using Cronometer and FitBod to lose weight. Sharing assorted life hacks to squeeze nutrition and exercise into a busy schedule. Also on Twitter at @drilldowndiet and Facebook.

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