Ok, I’ve taken some time off. It all started with hosting 3 events on a beautiful July weekend, shattering a crystal bowl while washing dishes, and a nasty finger cut that required 6 stitches and a big white gauze wrap. The good news is that my neighbors swooped in, finished the dishes, and I made it back from Urgent Care to host the baby shower with 30 minutes to spare. The bad news – it’s pretty hard to type with a bandaged finger, so I fell out of my writing routine. I’ve kept cooking, but the writing has been on the back burner. (Terrible pun, I know)
It’s time for that to change.
With the new year comes a fresh start, fresh ideas, and fresh reminders of when you have fallen off the wagon. My reminder includes a jeans drawer full of perfect pairs that haven’t been so perfect for the past several months. It was time to take action.
The year I turned 30 I decided to take control of my life. I had found my career path, could finally afford my own apartment without roommates, and decided it was time to change my eating habits. I did the somewhat newly popular South Beach Diet and had great results – it helped me learn how to cook more varied proteins and vegetables beyond chopped salad. I loved planning a special Sunday dinner for myself while watching “Sex in the City” on HBO, in my own apartment. I was really successful and felt better than I had in years. What I’ve discovered since then is that it’s easy to apply discipline when you are focused and interested in one thing – yourself. As I started dating more seriously and eventually entered the married with kids era, my discipline changed to more of an “energy available” mindset. Do I have the energy to plan, shop, and implement a meal plan with 2 working parents, 2 kids under 5, and a half empty bottle of wine on the counter? Nope. Spaghetti and meatballs for everyone! Ok, it really isn’t that dreary, and I must say that I make GREAT spaghetti and meatballs. But that isn’t an excuse for the jeans drawer.
Which brings me to today. My two South Beach cookbooks have been staring at me from the bookshelf. Reminding me of a past success. My jeans and age – 13 years later – is reminding me that time slows for no one. And it’s not a question whether or not it’s achievable or not – I know its possible – but can my love of cookbooks help motivate a broader life change? I should also mention that H recently studied the food pyramid in her 1st grade class, so my plates are now evaluated with a more critical eye. Am I up to the challenge? I say – yes.
Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili (adapted from Epicurious)
Egg Cups (adapted from South Beach)
Asian Coleslaw (with slow cooker pork, no bbq sauce)
Flank Steak with cauliflower puree and chimichurri sauce
Varied chicken dishes from South Beach
The chili ended up suprisingly good. It was a last minute cabinet scrounge and it ended up in the yes column. Roasted vegetables are always great, even without potatoes and/or squash. With a little feta, even better. The asian coleslaw was a great reminder that cabbage is tasty with different seasonings – it’s often too easy to go for a mayo-based dressing. The cauliflower puree was better than I remembered, although I overwhipped them a bit. Kids have liked the proteins; C was into the chicken and H was into the beef. Jeff was into the pork.
I don’t know if it’s bad as much as it’s just “eh.” The egg cups are “eh,” even with the tweaks I made to improve flavors. I made several of the chicken recipes and they all just blended together with more “eh.” I forgot to take pictures of half the stuff we ate this week. Kids hated the roasted vegetables because they were heavy on the peppers. Apparently we need more zucchini – and as H astutely noted, “This is weird. The yellow stuff and green stuff look different but taste the same.” That’s what I get for buying clearly summer produce in the dead of winter. Summer squash and zucchini are the same.
H stabbing her flank steak with a fork and gnawing on it like a spear at the table. C and the pureed cauliflower: “that’s gross.” Dealing with the plastic containers now that I’m bringing my lunch to work every day. Wondering if microwaving said plastic containers will further poison my body. Mentally missing my nightly glass of wine while also realizing that I don’t miss it THAT much. The afternoon headaches that come with removing sugar from your diet cold turkey, but it’s not so bad after a few days.
The Verdict for South Beachish Behavior so far….
I can’t really count this as cookbook review as I didn’t officially follow the rules – 5 recipes that I make legitimately. I went off book too many times. The kids haven’t been miserable, and now that I’ve worked through the headaches, I’m feeling a lot better. Jeff and I have both lost some weight, so we’re going to keep at the clean eating for a while. The kids even had Mac and Cheese (from a box) with a sitter on Saturday night and I didn’t even pillage the leftovers. So that’s saying something.