RANT: Food Is EVERYWHERE

Food is good. And it is everywhere. And Its ALWAYS someone’s birthday at work.

I habitually walk by the ‘break room’ and cast a reflexive glance as I pass, to see what offering there in lies. And most days of the week, there are homemade cookies, synthetic neon-iced cakes, chips, cheese dips, donuts by the dozen–often brought in by the cheerful 94 pound co-worker, who “just can’t seem to gain weight” because “it just falls off” and these treats “will just go bad” at her house — stick with me, sister, and we could get you up to a size 14 in a flash!)

While I enjoy 2-6 desserts a day, most of these crusty break room ‘treats’ I would NEVER even consider—like last week’s cold dried up pizza.

But there is something about that chance discovery, like a baby who finds a deliciously shiny penny, that makes these less-than-delicious items find a way down my throat.

Every Monday I vow to start anew. After a ravenous wedding weekend, or a raucous bachelorette party (“Can you believe we ate that entire meat lovers pizza ‘late night’ that we found in that alley?”)  or a vacation with family and our banquet-sized breakfasts, “this Monday, I’ll get back in my routine and eat only plant products, or cut out chocolate, or all desserts; I’ll eliminate fried foods or  snacks, or I’ll drink 2 glasses of water before I eat anything, or I’ll write down everything I eat to keep track or I’ll try those diet pills Sarah mentioned worked for her, or I’ll drink Green tea, or I’ll ….”

Then damn it! if Monday isn’t the surprise office party for Jeff …”Congratulations on your Gastric By-pass!” Let’s all celebrate with chocolate cupcakes topped with gummy worms signifying Jeff’s resected bowels and cookies as big as a human face. (Thank you, Panera Bread, for making delicious cookies the size of steering-wheels!)

Then come home to find it’s the Monday night Block Party Barbeque and Rachel’s making her famous bacon, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and adipose dip.

Seriously?! It’s like I can’t escape. Bad-for-me-food is everywhere.  And it’s hard to be good.

RULE: Keep Healthy Foods in Stock (part 1)

This is a list provided by my foodie, naturally talented in the kitchen, chef extraodinaire cousin, Megan:

Always keep go-to meal staples on hand.

1.Frozen chicken: buy on sale, in bulk, from your local farm and freeze in the individual sizes you need for quick thaw and prep (ie enough for 1 serving, that would be me; enough for 2, for a family of 4 etc)

2. Frozen spinach: quick sautee of spinach, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper finished with lemon juice and fresh parm cheese. Quick, easy, healthy.

3. Quinoa: rich in protein, cooks in minutes flat and you can leave it to do its thing while you do whatever else you need to do. Toss with some olive oil and lemon or pesto sauce for quick flavor.

4. Fresh Lemons: adds great fresh flavor to anything and keep for weeks in the frig.

5. Fresh garlic: not the pre-minced stuff, has a bunch of preservatives in them, no bueno.

6. Spices, spices, spices: tons of flavor, none of the bad stuff. Nantucket Off Shore spices and rubs, 4.99-6.99 a tin, are the most amazing spices ever, I haven’t had one from them I don’t like. Google to find where to purchase. Their Italian blend, Renaissance Rub, is spicy and oh so good on anything and everything especially potatoes roasted in the oven with some olive oil and parm cheese

7. Parmesan cheese: the good stuff, in a block. Used in moderation on whatever.

8. Sweet potatoes: keep for weeks in the frig. Bake them, slice them, dice them, mash them. Whatever. They’re a super food but hold the cinnamon sugar butter, their much better with ground mustard, salt and pepper in my opinion. Roasted sweet potato chips? Yes, please.

Feel free to add to the list of must haves to avoid the ol’ excuse “we didn’t have anything in the house and I didn’t have time to go to the store so just went through the drive thru…”

RECIPE: Dessert Smoothie

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Delicious Nutritious Chocolate Dessert (or anytime) Smoothie

Help curb chocolate cravings with this tasty, quick, healthy chocolate fix.

In a blender combine:

1 cup ice

1 1/2 cups almond milk

1 banana

1/4 cup all natural cocoa powder (or hot chocolate mix or chocolate protein powder)

2 tbsp all natural peanut butter (or almond butter is even healthier)

Grind it up and drink it down!

RANT: Cheese and Chocolate

CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE

Cheese

Maybe not together. But I want both, daily. I never want chocolate for breakfast. I always want it after lunch. And Dinner. And Dessert. But cheese I could have anytime, anywhere.

I once read how a talented, less-than-perfect-appearing actress lost weight by “breaking up with cheese”.  Poor thing.

For me, Chocolate is like a lover and Cheese is my friend.

To My Dear Friend, Cheese,

Could we ever part? I like you when you are cold, I love you when you are warm. I like you with wine, I like you atop a MacIntosh apple. I like you floating in a soup, I like you deep fried with sauce.  I like you melted over warm crispy bread.  You have many forms, and I have not found a version of you I don’t so enjoy.  Thank you for your comfort and nourishment.

Love Always,

Madeleine

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Hey Chocolate,

It’s me. Last night was hot and delicious!

I can’t quit thinking about you.

You free for lunch? dinner?

Hope 2 C U soon?!

I want you,

M

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We all have varying relationships with food.  Some are healthy, some are pathological. As with any relationship, knowledge, communication, balance and boundaries are key.

RANT: Happy Plates

Are we taught from an early age not to waste food? My husband was told clean his plate as a child because of the “starving Armenians”.  My mother actually used to tell us: “It’s just as wasted if you don’t want it”. Isn’t it? But I do want it. Don’t I?

I remember when my fantabulous step-mother came aboard, the dinner menu changed, and for the better. Instead of the Budget Gourmet frozen dinners or all-you-can-eat yeast rolls at Quincy’s steak house that my previously single and culinarily challenged Dad treated me to, we were getting Chicken Divan and Pesto Linguine. These were new unfamiliar creations for me and they were De-lish!

I didn’t need to learn the catchy term my new little brothers and sister used: “make a Happy Plate!”.  A “happy plate” was a clean, EMPTY plate. It was ‘happy” and I was happy to sop up every noodle and drop of that pesto!  I’m sure my ‘other mother’ was happy to not have to clean 6 plates, instead, slipping the mess-free discs neatly in to the dishwasher.

But does the happy plate or being a member of the “clean plate club” really teach us to eat healthfully?  We tell kids to finish that hot dog” [a meat tube made of pig parts] and that mac-n-cheese [synthetic fluorescent orange noodle dish] only then can you stuff a bowl of cold creamy sugar with candy bars smashed up in it in your mouth!

I now know the happiest plate is one filled with nutrient rich foods.  Foods that support health, normalize mood swings, and fight disease.  While I do like to discourage waste, perhaps we should also teach our kids to recognize when they are full and to save what they don’t want for later.  After eating their fruits and vegetables first, of course!

RECIPE: Walnut and Goat Cheese Pasta

This dish is easy to make and the ingredients all keep for weeks (except for spinach, but you could sub broccoli, zucchini or asparagus, whatever green veggie you have):

whole wheat organic Penne pasta ~1/3 box

Goat cheese about 1/2 of 1 small packet

Dried basil ~2 Tbsp

Olive oil ~3 Tbsp

Walnuts ~1/2 cup, toasted

Spinach (or green vegetable of your choice) ~ 1-2 cups

Salt and pepper to taste

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Toast 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (~5 min in oven at 350º spread out on a baking sheet)

[my sister-in-law says to “roast every nut that comes in your house”]

Bring 1/3 box of penne to a boil (~10 minutes)

once pasta is cooked and drained add all of above ingredients and stir thoroughly

*serve immediately to avoid spinach wilting or cheese clumping