I got scared the other day. It didn’t have anything to do with losing my child in a clothes store, and half wondering if I’d have to contact the cashiers to put out an announcement over the intercom. It had to do with lunch. At my friend’s house in Los Angeles. Without any kids at all.
Generally, I consider myself a healthy eater. I tend to prefer vegetables over heavier meals, and I haven’t eaten red meat since I was 16. This meat-free diet doesn’t come without its fair share of angst. Once when I was traveling in Amsterdam, I ordered a vegetable soup, assuming it would be a safe option. Turns out it came with meatballs.
The latest trend in the healthy-eating world seems to be eating food as raw as possible. The rougher the better. What could be more rough-and-ready than kale. I admit, I’m not a huge fan of kale. How far removed is this from cabbage? I’d rather something leafier and softer. Kale is the kind of thing you have to chop into a million pieces to make edible or, if you’re my husband, you would boil it until it’s slimy.
I’ve been in Los Angeles for a couple of days already, and stuffing myself with whatever I feel like: coffee, cocktails and greasy Mexican food have been consumed, not necessarily in that order. I’ve even been nibbling at kettle chips and Thai food. On my last afternoon in the city before heading back to San Diego, I am looking for the healthiest thing I can find. I stumble across Trader Joe’s Kale and Edamame salad. I might as well say it now – I am a sucker for anything with a Japanese twist.
The salad has sweetened dried cranberries, grape tomatoes, slivered almonds, scallions and a lemon-herb dressing. I am being virtuous. My body is going to thank me for this. Yes, I will feel like I’ve just had colonic irrigation.
I’m probably into my third or fourth bite when my friend interrupts my health-food reverie by announcing in disbelief: ‘Oh my god, this salad has 38 grams of fat.’ I don’t believe her. I look at the label hidden beneath the plastic container. She is right. This little bit of green, from-the-earth roughage with salad dressing (550 calories) has more calories and fat than a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s (440 calories, 23 grams of fat).
So be warned: it might look healthy, but check the nutritional content before you buy. I’m not saying I’d rather have a cheeseburger, but I don’t want to feel like I’m somehow being duped into thinking I’m being healthy. I promptly went to the kitchen sink and washed off the dressing, which contained 200 calories and 23 grams of fat. I’d rather swallow bits of dry kale. I imagine it’s not unlike eating small bits of sandpaper, but more organic and earthy.
You know what, I’d rather just eat cake.