The Pleasure Principle

Tonight for dinner I ate a Winter Apple Salad.  It was delicious, vegan, and fattening. (I’ll post the recipe separately.)  Although I usually don’t want salad on a winter night, this one is an exception.  This salad and the glass of Riesling that accompanied it, gave me real pleasure, and pleasure is my highest goal.  Pleasure in my life, and I believe in the lives of many others, is in short supply.

 Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not depressed or whiny.  I don’t have a bad life and I know I have lots to be thankful for.  But, I’m like thousands of other women out there.  I have a husband, children, step-children, a house that’s too small, a checking account that’s too shallow, and a butt that’s too wide.  All of it requires my attention, whether I like it or not.  There’s just not that much time for fun.  So, I do what many others do—I eat.  I have a special treat after the kids go to bed.  I schedule a decadent dinner for date night.  I snack to ward off anger and to fill in the time left vacant by my procrastination.  I try to keep the kids happy with pizza and soft drinks.  I make special occasions more special with food.  In short, I smear a thick coating of frosting over all the events in my life to try to make them sweeter.  In the end, the events take a backseat to the food, I’m doing even more work to keep up with my own food demands, and I’m less happy toting around extra pounds.

 I have a theory about why I struggle with my weight—I have a hard time remembering what makes me happy.  I spend a lot of my day working, cleaning, cooking, and parenting—and to some degree I love many aspects of each of them.  But, I rarely experience shear happiness.  I’m constantly bordering on broke, my (real) job is unfulfilling, and my house is a money pit.  On a scale of one to ten, my happiness hovers around a four.  I resort to the short-term happiness of food and accept along with it the long-term unhappiness of feeling fat.

 That’s why I’m trying to be vegan to achieve fitness.  I believe that as a vegan I can find true pleasure in food without bargaining away my self-esteem.  I believe that as a vegan I can live in harmony with my body and my taste buds and my summer wardrobe.  I believe that I can eat food and live in a state of pleasure-seeking like none I’ve experienced in my past dieting life.

 Here’s the Pleasure Principle:  the more pleasure I find in my life, the less I’ll require from my food.

 With that in mind, I give myself permission to be a little less conscientious about the state of my house.  I can sit down to watch a sitcom if I want.  I can put on a little more lipstick and obscenely high heels before my husband comes home from work.  I can make the kids clean up the kitchen tonight and not worry if they stack the dishes in the dishwasher badly.  I can sit on my porch and watch my pansies grow.  I can lay in my bed under my heating blanket (EMF’s be damned!) and doze off.  I can drink 2 glasses of wine on a Tuesday night as I fix dinner and try very hard to get tipsy before the kids go to bed.

I can have sex and not worry about whether or not I look fat in the dimmed light.  I can do all these things just for the pleasure of them.  And when I work up an appetite, I’ll eat more Winter Apple Salad.

 Winter Apple Salad

**This salad takes less than 10 minutes to throw together!

 Lettuce mixture (straight out of a bag works for me)

1 bell pepper of any color, chopped (I like orange or yellow because they’re milder)

½ cup toasted pecans or walnuts (see below for toasting instructions)

½ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup raspberry walnut vinaigrette

2 small apples, chopped (use 1 if it’s large)

 Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl except for the apples and vinaigrette.  Put chopped apples in a small bowl and toss with half the vinaigrette.  Mix the apples lightly with a spoon.  You want to cover the apples in the dressing so that they don’t turn brown if you have leftover salad.  Pour apples and remaining dressing over salad and serve.

 To make this recipe attractive to carnivores:  you can add chopped grilled chicken breasts and a few tablespoons of crumbled feta for the rest of your animal-eating family if you need to make this for the whole family.  We don’t need that because we’re going to get our protein from the nuts!

Toasted Pecans or Walnuts

*Nuts are just the kind of pure pleasure that your vegan-eating body will love and your dieting friends will envy.

 Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss 1 cup of nuts in 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Place in oven for 5 minutes or until the nuts become fragrant.  Remove and season as desired with salt, spices, cinnamon and sugar, etc.

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