Chick Wit: A word to the wise about exotic health foods


They say one healthy choice leads to another. So it seemed fitting that I discovered a health-food store on the way home from my new gym.

The store is Health & Harmony, and to pass through its doors is to enter the rabbit hole of rabbit food.

I don't mean Kashi cereal or that Greek yogurt John Stamos sells. Uncle Jesse is for amateurs. This was some next-level, kind of stuff.

The dairy aisle isn't hemmed in by the confines of a cow. There's almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, Tofutti cream cheese, anything but milk from a mammal.

Think outside the teat.

Gluten is enemy No. 1. Every pretzel, cracker, and cookie boasts GLUTEN FREE across the front.

I'm not craving gluten, but I'm afraid of what they're substituting for it. Remember when we all hopped on the nonfat bandwagon before realizing that meant replacing fat with enough sugar to induce glycemic shock?

Better the devil you know.

Speaking of, I was intrigued by a bag of white noodles floating in water called Shirataki noodles, which are mysteriously calorie-free.

My foggy memory of chemistry class says that a calorie is a unit of heat energy, so if this food has no calories, does that mean you can't kill it with fire?

It is the devil's noodle.

But carb-free pasta? Mephistopheles, where do I sign?

The other trend I noticed is live active cultures. Apparently, bacteria in your food is a good thing.

I knew the five-second rule was real.

Take for example the entire section of sauerkrauts. I plucked the Spicy Wakame Ginger Kimchi off the shelf. The bag asked:

"Do you know that raw, fermented foods are alive?"

No, I thought I was eating vegetarian.

"Fresh kraut is full of living microorganisms that need room to grow."

Do I need to save for their college?

"The nifty valve at the top of this pouch allows the kraut to breathe."


But I bought the wacky ginger kimchi anyway, and those living, breathing organisms go great with mayonnaise.

Well, Vegenaise (dairy-free, egg-free, GLUTEN-free), but it tastes the same, almost.

When I cracked down on my diet, I eliminated snacks. My snacking was rarely for nutrition and mostly to solve problems like: "I'm bored," "I have to work to earn money," "This isn't that good an episode," and "Why isn't he texting me back?"

But here were guilt-free snacks, like the cassava-root chips. They look like potato chips, but they're made of a tough, fibrous root.

And if I don't already have you at "tough, fibrous root," they have 40 percent less fat. I read on:

"The cassava tree grows all over Asia, South America, and Africa. Cassava root is the primary energy source for 800 million people all over the planet!"

I paused to consider that 800 million people are forced to have a diet primarily fueled by a tree root. And I don't think they do it to watch their figures.

But, if you don't mind the side of privilege-awareness, this is a great snack.

My favorite food discovery is Peace Cereal in the baobab-coconut flavor.

I'd only previously encountered the word baobab when studying The Little Prince in French class, and the baobab trees were (a) "bad seeds" that destroy planets with their roots, and (b) possibly an allegory for the Nazis.

And they taste amazing with coconut!

I thought cereals had too much sugar, but this is a feel-good purchase:

"A contribution will be made to nonprofit causes for every Peace product sold."

Which helps me justify eating fistfuls of it in front of a Say Yes to the Dress marathon.

Peace Cereal supports national parks, breast and ovarian cancer research, and a New Hampshire animal rescue devoted to disabled animals.

Do you want to tell Misty, the one-eyed, arthritic Labrador that you can't help her find her food bowl because you're cutting carbs?

I didn't either.

So every time I came home from the gym, I'd stop at Health & Harmony and pick up new, unusual foods to try, feeling like a pirate sailing home with exotic treasure.

But you know what happened? All that booty went right to my ass.

My health food store is making me fat.

That's what happens if you sell your soul for a diet.


Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's latest humor collection, "Have a Nice Guilt Trip." Also, look for Lisa's new novel, "Betrayed," in stores now.