Dolphin-Safe Peanut Butter

In my perfect world, I'd be a raw foods vegan. However, in my real world, I'm a pescatarian who doesn't eat dairy. For a girl who grew up with baloney and cheese, chips and twinkies in her Donny Osmond lunchbox, it has been a journey.

When we first moved to Dallas, I went to work for early childhood consultants at the Caldwell Scott Corporation. They officed in a school they owned in Carrollton which created a perfect scenario for a mom with young children. My boss, Debbie Handler--someone I admire greatly--was vegetarian. When I first went to work with her, I couldn't understand how (or why for that matter) she could give up meat. Sometimes she would bring tofu for lunch, and I would be completely grossed out.

But in 1996 when my mom and dad were both diagnosed with diabetes, I started looking at my genetics and decided I was going to have to do something radical to increase my chances of staying healthy well into my 90's. Suddenly vegetarianism looked like a viable option.

I started by giving up pork and beef, then eventually chicken. However, I didn't really think it through beyond giving up meat. Within two years, I had completely messed up my cholesterol and triglycerides, causing my doctor to ask what the hell I was doing. (Okay, so my doctor didn't actually swear. He's way too polite for that.)

So, I started doing research. I discovered a book called Total Health Makeover by Marilu Henner. I bought the book based on the cover noticing that Marilu looked better in her 40's than she had in her twenties when she starred in Taxi. I picked up her second book which walks you through making the dietary changes in 30 days and did it. I dropped 30 lbs and learned why not eating meat but leaving in white breads and processed sugar causes problems.

I went through our kitchen and got rid of all foods with preservatives or ingredients that couldn't be easily pronounced. It's weird what you find out when you start reading labels. For example, mayonnaise has preservatives, but Miracle Whip does not. (It makes sense if you think about it. You have to do something to eggs to be able to have them sit on a shelf in the market for months at a time.) I also began stocking our fridge with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables--making that the staple of my diet.

I began my love affair with the Whole Foods Market and introduced my family to a more natural way of eating, causing Chase to dub Marilu as "the woman who ruined his life."

Though my husband and teenagers continue to bring in the occasional sour cream and onion flavored potato chip and have learned to grill steaks and prepare hamburgers on their own, for the most part we all live without a lot of conflict. Except on the issue of peanut butter.

From my perspective, once you switch to all-natural peanut butter you can't possibly go back. Jif and Skippy start to taste like sugar-flavored plastic, when you've gotten used to the rich flavor of the unsugared version. However, my family complains that the oil separates and that it "doesn't taste right."

Last week, we had a mouse in the garage, complete with the cute little hole in the drywall just like in cartoons. I bought humane "catch and release" traps and John loaded them with what he calls our "dolphin-safe" peanut butter. It's been over seven days, and the mouse hasn't taken the bait causing no small amount of teasing from my family that even the mouse won't touch the stuff.

As for me, I can't see how the dietary habits of mice are going to have any type of impact on what I enjoy eating. Besides, this post is making me hungry. All natural peanut butter, multigrain crackers and some apple slices sound like just the thing.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall