Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks - but NOT for Pumpkin Pie

Hi all -
It's really been a while since I've felt this compelled to write, but wow, wow, wow, do I feel like I've got something to share and say today.  I'll try to keep it as brief as possible, but here's the story.
If you've been following my life closely (as I'm sure you all have), you'll realize that this will be my first holiday season since my "conversion" to healthier and more nutritious food back in February.  And the holiday season has always been big in my family, and big, big, big about FOOD (read the long story here).  Just a little backstory to make sure you all know where I'm coming from here. 

The Pumpkin Pie

Maybe two weeks ago, my mother asked us, my wife and I, if we wouldn't mind making the pumpkin pie for this year's Thanksgiving dinner (held at my parents' house for each one of my 42 years).  They were going to be travelling to see my aunt, and wouldn't be back at their house until sometime late on Wednesday.  My wife agreed - it certainly seemed like the least we could do.
Ironically, I had e-mailed a recipe to my wife maybe a week before that, for this incredible sounding raw and vegan pumpkin swirl cheesecake.  When I found it and sent to her, I suggested we try and make it to bring to the family Thanksgiving.  So, a day or two after we agreed to bring a pumpkin pie, I asked my wife if she thought I could make this pumpkin swirl cheesecake instead.  She thought it was a good idea, but that maybe I should ask my mom first.  I called her and just told her I had a recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake (not mentioning, of course, the raw or vegan aspects of it) and asked if she thought that would be a good substitute.  She thought it sounded good, but decided it would be best to go with the traditional pie.  Oh well.
As something of a side note - it's really my father who would likely have balked at the pumpkin cheesecake taking the place of his beloved pie - how INSANELY ironic, then, that my mother calls at 7:30 this morning to say that they are at the hospital, my father having been admitted to the ER because of some serious gastrointestinal distress.  100% due to his poor diet.  But a raw, vegan pumpkin cheesecake?  Never!
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake - Raw and Vegan - Looks amazing, right?

The Pie, Really.

So this is how I ended up, about an hour and a half ago, upstairs in the kitchen, getting started on the said traditional pumpkin pie.  I tell a long story, I apologize.
We'd bought the ingredients a few days ago and were just planning on following the directions on the back of the pumpkin pie mix can. 
I started with the pie crust.  It was Pillsbury's refrigerated Pie Crust, and as I unrolled it and read the ingredients I think I cackled.  Ready?  Enriched flour bleached, Partially hydrogenated lard.  You read that right.  Partially hydrogenated lard.  I certainly wasn't going to be surprised to have found partially hydrogenated soybean oil or cottonseed oil, but partially hydrogenated lard?  Wow.  Also a few preservatives, potassium sorbate and sodium propionate, along with Yellow #5 and Red #40.  Then I looked at the nutrition information.  1 serving (1/8 of one pie crust - a slice of pie crust, essentially) contains 12% of the USRDA for fat, 1/2 of which is saturated fat. 
I put the pie crust into the pie dish and fluted away.
We'd bought the 30 ounce can of Libby's "Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix," whose ingredients inlclude pumpkin, sugar syrup, water and salt.  One serving has 5% of the USRDA for sodium as well as 17 grams of sugar.
And finally I opened the can of Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk and that's when I actually got pretty grossed out.  I've helped slaughter cows and chickens and pigs, eaten bushels of steamed crabs and raw oysters, eaten and done many things people might consider "gross," but when this thick liquid came oozing out of the top of the can when I opened it, I wanted to throw it into the trash and stop making the whole damn pie.  It's only two ingredients are milk and sugar.  One serving (essentially what will be in one slice of pie) has 12% of the USRDA for fat, ALL of which is saturated fat, as well as containing 25 grams of sugar.
I was standing there, making this pie, just sort of flabbergasted at what a huge pile of toxic crap it was.  The "pumpkin" is pumpkin and sugar, the crust is lard and salt, the "milk" is fat and sugar.  One slice of this pumpkin pie will have just about 25% of a person's USRDA for fat, 75% of which will be saturated fat, as well as having over 40 grams of sugar.  AND THAT'S JUST ONE PIECE OF PIE.  That doesn't include the whipped cream, Cool Whip or ice cream that gets dolloped on top.  It doesn't include any of the other 10,000 calories of fat and sugar that get consumed on this "day of thanks."  And to think that I've been loving that pie and eating seconds and thirds of it (along with all the other garbage) for 42 years!  I was pretty floored at the whole thing.

Causes.  And Effects.

And we wonder why Americans are fat and dying.  Well, I guess we don't wonder, but now it's just so crystal clear.  And here I am, Juice Boy nee Sausage Boy bringing this pie to my family, none of whom need it, certainly not my parents, my children or nice and nephew - I should have just made the "cheesecake" and told everyone to thank me later.
Of course, it's not like every day is Thanksgiving, and it's not like everyone is walking around eating pie every day.  Well, some of them are, I guess.  That aside, you and I both know that those sorts of ingredients are in plenty of stuff that Americans do eat on a daily basis.  The saturated fat, sugar, processed and refined foods we see on American's Thanksgiving tables are just a distillation of the foods we eat all year long, perhaps just not always in the same meal and on the same day.  But, I'm sure you can just see gallon containers of that sweetened condensed milk being poured into vats to make doughnuts and various other pastries that are quite literally killing us.
I mean, come on people - wake the hell up!!!!!

Giving Thanks

I sort of knew as I was making the pie and the thought came write about it, that I was going to end up on the soapbox here, so let's take a turn toward the positive.
Me and my beautiful family (I'm still a bit chubby here - old picture!)
Listen, I have soooo much to be thankful for.  I have never been that much of a thankful person, but it's something I'm really coming into.  I'm thankful for my incredible family, even though my two kids really make me flip my lid sometimes (tough day today).  My wife is truly a divine guide for me.  But something I'm perhaps equally thankful for is this knowledge, this new understanding or appreciation of health and nutrition and the amazing and healthful role real food can play in my life.  It's something that has lately been inspiring and activating me in a way I haven't been inspired and activated for a long while.
And that knowledge, that understanding is why I'm NOT going to be having any of that pumpkin pie on Thursday. 
I hope you all, loyal readers (?!) have a truly wonderful and healthy holiday with your loved ones. 
Eat drink and be merry, just go easy on the pumpkin pie, ok?
Be well -
And one more thing, will someone do me a favor and make that pumpkin swirl cheesecake and tell me how it is? I'm dying to make it. 

1 comment:

  1. I finally caught up! (in reading the blog anyway). I'm no where near catching up to changing my diet. But I keep reading. I keep waiting for that switch to flip inside me that helps me to commit to a healthy, self-caring, lifestyle. I'm thankful for this blog though. I'll keep reading.