Division to Diversity

By Miwa Hiroe

I’m hardly qualified to comment on what used to be normal when it comes to food. I remember having friends over as a kid and begging my mother, “can we PLEASE have something normal tonight?” Her resourcefulness consolidated with an exceptional creative license that resulted in all sorts of unlikely culinary combinations. Back then, it was embarrassing. The truth is, she was just way ahead of the game in fusion cooking, wild crafting, sustainable and ethical harvesting, and downright esculent ingeniousness. Now, glossed over meals from my mother’s own table emerge in pop culture like late blooming edibles.

I’m not knocking a hearty plate of meat and potatoes. I’m also not inclined to jump on fad diet bandwagons (less because I disagree with them and more because I dislike restrictions) but I do think there are benefits to trying the alternative foods that these diets have promoted. Here are 3 quick and considerable benefits to experimenting with new ingredients:

  • Inclusion

Food trends are quickly evolving with cultural influences, increasingly common food sensitivities, diverging dietary preferences, and a demand for more ethical and sustainable farming. Foods that were once considered staples are falling out of social favour, and more and more people have specific dietary regimens. While it can be frustrating to eat with a group that consists of celiacs, vegans, and paleos, I promise that the effort will be appreciated. Eating together is a profoundly accessible platform for sodality. And having a variegated larder and some go-to alternative recipes is sure to take some pressure off your cooker.

  • Discovery

I know this sounds almost blasphemous, but my favourite ever cheesecake happens to be a vegan key lime pie that largely consists of avocados. Initially, it was a need that prompted the exploration, but it resulted in a preposterously delicious discovery. Food limitations are a catalyst for culinary innovation. Furthermore, limitations may lead to a renewed appreciation for your regular foods. Have you ever cut out sugar, only to discover how sweet carrots truly are? Or had a frothy latte after a few weeks of cutting out dairy? Modifying your diet could be the yin to your savoury yang.

  • Restoration

Almost anything in excess will have its toll, even foods that are generally beneficial. Changing your diet can give your body a chance to clean out and regenerate before going back to a comfortable way of eating. This might be done as a cleanse, but it could also just be temporarily cutting out meat, or sugar, or gluten etc. Notice how your body reacts to the changes. You may notice a boost in your immune system, renewed efficiency in your digestive system, skin recovery, or increased energy. It may also alert you to sensitivities that you previously weren’t aware of. Whether you prefer the dietary change or not, it doesn’t have to be permanent in order to benefit you.

Taking the plunge

If this long winded argument for alternative ingredients doesn’t arouse your inner chef, I don’t blame you in the least. Experimentation is a risky and potentially unappetizing business. So, I will leave off with the promise of culinary inspiration in the form of tried and true recipes. They will be popping up in-store at Infinity, often under specific categories (gluten free, paleo, vegan, etc) for your entertainment and/or enjoyment. Look for them hanging on the shelves under an ingredient that they require. A recipe for my favourite gluten-free pumpkin roll might already be hanging by the time that you get there …

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