I have a confession: I always have been and I probably always will be a picky eater. And to make matters worse, I have a ton of food allergies. Between my eternal pickiness and my loathsome allergies, it’s difficult for me to have a well-balanced diet. I may have a novelty tee with the food pyramid on it, but it’s for decoration only.
Pretty much every meal I eat is an act of defiance against my allergies. It’s a game of Russian roulette. How many of these foods can I eat before I start to itch or cough? As an example: I like to eat Kung Pao chicken at some Asian restaurants. It generally contains snow peas, carrots, rice, peanuts, and chicken (with some yummy soy-chili type sauce). I’m allergic to peas, carrots, rice, and peanuts. That’s everything but the chicken. Except technically I’m allergic to feathers, so even the chicken is questionable. So, you say, perhaps I should order a beer with dinner? Fantastic! How about a nice unfiltered wheat beer? It’s made with wheat, oats, and yeast. Guess how many of those things I’m allergic to. If you said “every damn one of them,” you’re correct! And how about strawberry shortcake for dessert? Only if I want to turn into a giant strawberry-colored hive.
Allergies aside, when I say I’m picky I don’t just mean a little bit. Let's use green as an example. In almost all cases, green is bad. It tastes like heartburn. I will eat spinach raw or sautéed, occasionally in queso, but never creamed. Dark greens like arugula, watercress, or romaine lettuce are good, but never iceberg lettuce. I’d rather eat a sock. Avocados and limes are tasty (especially together with some garlic and cilantro — also allowed), but don’t really count because they’re fruits. Green beans are tolerable when sautéed with bacon and lots of garlic, but only then. Zucchini is good in two recipes, but unfortunately I don’t know either of them. Leeks are fine in the form of leek and potato soup. Cucumbers are okay only in the form of tzatziki sauce when eating authentic Greek food. Green tomatillos in the form of salsa verde are pretty tasty.
Those are the only green exceptions. Green bell peppers are never okay. Not even a tiny sliver on the opposite side of a huge pizza. For your information, NO, I can’t just take a slice without green peppers on it. One piece of pepper anywhere in the vicinity taints the entire pizza and renders it inedible.
I’m well aware that this is a lot to process and to deal with, especially at mealtime. (Did I mention I eat every three hours? I either have a hollow leg or a tapeworm.) But my fiancé and I have struck a deal. I will taste any food once, as long as I’m not allergic to it, and in return he will not be offended if I don’t like it, never eat it again, and complain loudly whenever it gets mentioned.
Recently he brought home Jack LaLanne’s JLSS Power Juicer Deluxe Stainless-Steel Electric Juicer and as I made my fresh orange-apple juice, convinced me to add a carrot. Just for fun.
Carrots aren’t on the no-fly list, so I agreed. Shockingly, it was good. I enjoyed the orange-apple-carrot juice so much that I made a second glass later that evening. In one evening I consumed four oranges, three apples, and two carrots. Normally I’d be lucky if I had that many fruits and veggies over the span of two or three weeks. It’s incredible. I’ve been on the juice so much this week, the citric acid has actually made the inside of my mouth a little sore.
I feel healthier, I have more energy, and it’s not even costing me $6 per 20 oz. corn-syrup-laden smoothie, either. I’m starting to think those dietary guidelines aren’t just a load of BS after all. Together with his buddy Jack LaLanne, my fiancé managed to do what my mother couldn’t in 24 years. For the first time in my life, I’m eating right. Screw you, allergies! I’m making juice.