During my studies to be a nutritionist, college professors and dietitians constantly introduced students to different products on the market with health-promoting benefits – açai, goji berries, salmon, and kale. They did not do this just so that we would conform and eat only super foods; even though they would have recommended granola and Greek yogurt with fruit versus the bagel and shmear I picked up from the cart guy on campus and washed down with a venti-quad-Americano from Starbucks. Rather, their real intent was to broaden our cache of products that we could then in turn suggest to prospective clients who might eventually start paying us for our expertise. A constant subject for debate was “carbohydrates”. The discussion usually got interesting when some Jersey-shore wannabe girl, who typically paid attention only to her lip-gloss and Blackberry during class, had an epiphany on the day to discuss “the Atkins Diet”– then suddenly, she became the expert. “Nikki from Nassau County” would pipe right up with “My motha and aunt have been doin’ Atkins for like, years and they lowst like, a whole bunch of weight. You know, they like, stopped eating cannolis and semolina and pasta because that’s what makes ya fat. Dr. Atkins says so.” It is amazing my professors could keep a straight face, because I knew exactly what was going through my mind. But amazingly, they kept their cool and would politely address the student’s claim and direct her toward the facts – mainly the truth behind simple and complex carbohydrates. The discussion would then inevitably lead to “what kind of bread should we eat with our turkey?” – enter from stage left “Ezekiel Bread”.
Now the first time I heard about Ezekiel 4:9 Bread (commonly referred to simply as “Ezekiel bread”) was in a similar scenario as described above. While I would like to think I was more knowledgeable and had more class than “Nikki from Nassau County”, I was equally clueless when it came to this product. I had never heard of Ezekiel bread before and based on the response from my peers, I figured it resembled the pressed bran bread that my adopted-grandmother had always tried to convince me would taste better if I just put low-fat peanut butter on it. The freshman in the front row declared “It’s like eating cardboard”. The middle-aged mom returning for her second Bachelors exclaimed “’It’s an acquired taste’ – that’s an understatement!” The body-builder in the back row mumbled “I won’t be able to honestly suggest this to a client”. With rave reviews like that, one can understand why I didn’t ask the professor where I could pick up a loaf. However, in spite of the figurative tomato throwing, my instructor went on to explain all of its benefits – low glycemic index, all eighteen essential amino acids that create a complete protein, high fiber, variety of vitamins and minerals, and pretty soon …..She was ready to present the manufacturers of Ezekiel bread with an Oscar. Nonetheless, I was not convinced. If there is one thing that I hold to as a reinforcing rod in my food foundation, it is that eating healthy food has to taste good! Something could promise to cure all illness, but if it requires imagining that it is delicious when it is not, I’ll stock up on the Emergen-C, thank you very much. So for the last two years, I remained, and was happy to be, a devout “Ezekiel-bread-hater”.
At this point, you must be wondering what any of this has to do with sushi.
“I don’t like sushi”.
“Have you ever had it?”
“I don’t have to! I know a bunch of people who said they’ve eaten it and think it’s slimy and fishy and sure I wouldn’t like it.”
We have all shared a similar experience – that person who does not like something because they heard that someone else heard that they didn’t like it, so now they have convinced themselves that they in fact do not like it. For all they know, the so-called food critic has never tried sushi personally either, but has successfully perpetuated a dislike for this innocent “victim,” in this case sushi. Say hello to the “Sushi Fallacy” – those who say they do not like something but have never actually bothered to grab the figurative chopsticks and have at it. While I do not have a problem with sushi (in fact, I love it), I must say that I have given Ezekiel bread the cold shoulder since that mid-morning Nutrition 2 lecture several years ago. If anyone asked what I thought of it prior to last Wednesday evening, I would have quickly jumped to “oh man, it’s not worth the low-calories” or “I’d like to keep my teeth, thank you.” I had taken this negative stance for so long that I had deluded myself into believing that I had actually tried Ezekiel bread when the truth was that I had never even seen it in a store. I might as well have changed my driver’s license to “Nikki from Nassau County” because my opinion had no more credibility than hers.
After a conversation with my friend last Wednesday morning as we walked on Queens Boulevard, I decided to hold off on going to the DMV just yet. She told me of the recent changes her and her husband have made to their diet due to his diabetes. The main change involved switching to foods with low glycemic index, more specifically Ezekiel Bread. At this point, I impulsively started to go into my rant, but quickly stopped myself when I heard that she and her husband actually liked it. “Yes it’s an acquired taste but it goes quite nicely with sandwiches and actually, the cinnamon raisin is great with cream cheese in the morning.” ….”Hold the phone – they make a cinnamon raisin variety???” She might as well have told a pregnant woman that they now sell chocolate flavored prenatal vitamins! Realizing I had not had breakfast yet, I honestly began to drool. Fortunately for me, Wednesday afternoons is my scheduled time for food shopping. So I was determined to make my way through Trader Joes for a loaf of Ezekiel 4:9 Sesame Bread and a loaf of Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread to toss in my red basket and try out for myself. I figured at least the cinnamon raisin would be covered in cream cheese so what’s a little extra crunch, right? And if I disliked it, I assumed it would likely make decent croutons for my next salad.
Later that evening I was looking for a snack before going to bed and decided to take a stab at the cinnamon raisin variety. I popped two-80-calorie slices into my toaster and decided to putter around my apartment, but soon was forcefully pulled into the kitchen by the sensationally warm smell of spicy cinnamon and sweet raisins coming from my baby Cuisinart. Soon, I was staring at the little red coils, willing them with my eyeballs to pop up so that I could get the first taste of this perceived goodness. POP! SPREAD! BITE! YUM!!! I couldn’t believe it – not only was it the antithesis of dry and boring, but it filled my need for a “little snack” perfectly without feeling a sugar-overload or a compelling need to lose all self-control and eat four more slices just to feel satisfied as I often felt with “diet bread”. The next day my revolutionary satisfaction continued while at work when I toasted two slices of the sesame variety for my turkey sandwich. For 337 calories, I got 4.6g fat, 29.9g protein, 8.2 g fiber, and best of all, a delicious lunch that would have made any Hale and Hearty sandwich a “hater”.
So, next time when someone asks you if you like something, don’t give in to the “sushi fallacy”. Further, if they ask you to try it, don’t say “no” just because someone else once upon a time did not like it. If everyone did that, there would be no need for chefs, brew masters, sommeliers, cheese mongers, farmers and bread makers– I shudder at the thought of a world without these creative people producing quality unique foods for us to discover and share with family and friends!