Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is That A Banana In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Last night at Back to School Night, l ran into easily a dozen people doing the challenge. Most shared with me that they were packing almonds and bananas for their journey out. I (perhaps weirdly) love that feeling of all of us being in one place and "in it" together. The Whole Life Challenge website has been a mess — the most distressing to me is the fact that we all can’t see and respond to each other’s reflections. That was the one thing that made it fun the first time I did it — because giving up cheese and chocolate was decidedly unfun.

First, I just want to say, I’m sorry that the website has been a bust. I am still optimistic that it will get sorted out soon, and I know it’s not “my fault,” but somehow I feel responsible for dragging y’all into this and making you deal with a less than perfect system. Mostly I feel bad about the reflections, because aside from it being the fun part, it also ended up being a really helpful part, for me anyway, getting people’s encouragement and tips on how to cope.

I’m very big on coping tips.

I feel like I’ve covered food here at length, but still I get a lot of questions about what I eat all day. (And I do…I eat ALL DAY.) In fact the other day, a friend stopped by on her way to the market and asked me exactly what she should buy. These are some of the things I have on hand all the time (I know this may be a repeat of earlier posts, but this is very specific, if you like that sort of thing):

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Portabello Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Onions, Asparagus  - these are veggies that I oil and roast ALL THE TIME. Olive oil, salt, garlic powder. I either roast daily or I roast big batches and keep them in the fridge and heat them up for snacks.

Chicken Sausage and Chicken Breasts - I cook up batches and keep them in the fridge to throw into other things, like soups or veggie stews.

Eggplant, Peppers, Carrots, Zucchini, White Mushrooms - I keep these on hand and make ratatouille in big batches, or some cooked vegetable melange that I throw on brown rice or quinoa.

Cucumber, Calamata Olives, Grape Tomatoes, Celery, Avacado, Red Onion — I make Mediterranean salads, with or without chickpeas — just oil and lemon and salt, and eat it with hard boiled egg, or tuna or mixed in a batch of quinoa or brown rice.

Eggs — hard boiled or scrambled with sautéed veggies

Romaine lettuce that I top with tomatoes, red onion, hard boiled eggs, pumpkin seeds and avacado — often I put fruit on it, either mango or pear, which is unbearably delicious, and then oil/balsamic/mustard as dressing.

Plain Greek yogurt, banana, walnuts, chia seeds (I eat this once a day).

Frozen blueberries, almond milk, banana, yogurt smoothie (I make smoothies with anything; this is really good if you need something sweet. If you need it sweeter, add a stevia packet.)

Oatmeal and fresh berries and a few raw almonds (this is my breakfast every morning) (I like eating the same thing every day.) (I also sometimes have it at night if I’m hungry and need a filling snack.)

Lentils (to make soup) and cans of beans (to throw in everything). Once, someone on FB asked her crowd for a good lentil soup recipe and I "captured" five of them which I make in nearly constant rotation.

As you can see, there are very few things that come in a package. No one is more surprised by this than me. A year ago, if you told me I wouldn’t be eating anything from a package by September 2014, I would have laughed in your face. In fact, I probably would have laughed while ripping open a bag of Tostitos.

On Sunday, I cooked for a few hours to have things in the house and ready to eat all week. Doing this makes me unspeakably happy because then I know I have food available for many days. I am a reluctant cook and have discovered that the process is much more pleasurable with a great iTunes playlist or the Classic Rock station on Serius XM blaring in the kitchen. This Sunday, while hitting “repeat” on Heart’s “Crazy on You,” I made:
  • Chana Masala (a chickpea and tomato stew)
  • 5 different roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauli, mushrooms, squash, Brussels sprouts)
  • Chicken Sausage
  • Baked Chicken
  • Baked Rice
  • Red Lentil Soup
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Also one of my friends dropped off a hot quinoa/vegetable thing that she’d made extra of. (I love you, Ann!)

For my birthday last month, my son's girlfriend got me a Vegetarian cookbook from Anthropologie. I cook out of it all the time, omitting the cheese. I like eating vegetarian, so, again, this is not hard for me.

If you are craving sweets, I really urge you to try nuts. As a “Weight Watcher,” I used to mete out almonds, eating them 6 at a time, no more than 24 in a day. This will not do if you’re trying to get on top of a craving. My friend, Laura, believes that when our body is craving “chocolate,” what it really wants is “fat.” So, I mainline the nuts to get through a craving. I pour myself a small bowl (in a restaurant it would be called a Monkey Dish) of roasted salted almonds and salted sunflower seeds, and I eat the whole bowl. And if the craving is not gone, I have another bowl. I have adopted an ABC approach to the craving — Anything But Chocolate — and I give myself permission to eat ANY compliant food, and as much of it as I need to, in order to feel sated. This has worked for me consistently over the last 8 months.

Would it be easier to just eat some chocolate? Probably. But I know me. I’m not a person who will stop at one Ghirardelli square. I will eat them all and then eat more of them tomorrow. That’s possibly the only good thing about being a middle aged woman. You know exactly where you stand with chocolate.

If I need something truly sweet, I might add raisins to the nuts. Or I’ll put some frozen bananas (yes, I keep bananas frozen for emergencies) in the Cuisinart with a little coconut milk or almond milk — it tastes like soft-serve ice cream. Or I’ll have the sweetest fruit in the house (often mango). Or I’ll make a smoothie. Or, my favorite, is a cup of Chai tea with stevia and almond milk, which is sweet and soothing and allows you to still feel really good about yourself the next day.

Side note: If you all go buy up all the Greek yogurt in town, as seemed to have happened on Sunday, I'm not posting anymore. :-)

If you're new to the party, this series of posts started here:  My Big Fat Whole Life Challenge Blog Post


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