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Kitchen Sink

Eating Well

February 26th, 2008

strongdeb.jpg
I’m sorry. I’m using this photo again. It’s from about 4 years ago, so maybe you will mistake my youthful radiance for health.

 

In July of last year, I decided to eat better. And because I can’t do anything in moderation, my eating better looked like this: no white sugar, no white flour, no processed food, no dairy, no caffeine.

 

I did this for a variety of reasons, to alleviate my anxiety symptoms chief among them, but also to just feel better. Many days, I felt bloated and weighed down and puffy and tired and draggy. I also found myself absolutely needing my coffee in the morning. Then, needing more after that, and after that, until I felt like a zombie trolling a post-apocalyptic New York City for live flesh.

 

Something had to change.

 

So, I just quit stuff cold turkey. I stopped eating the “white” products (no potatoes, cookies, cakes, yummy pre-dinner basket of bread, potato chips, etc.) and went to whole grains and foods.

 

I’m here to say I feel renewed. Not in the “I can tackle the world!” sense, but in the “I have my fill of live flesh, thank you,” sense. My head feels clearer and less clogged. I don’t have near as many stomach issues (except for the farting, but that’s not the stomach, unless you are anatomically incorrect). And best of all: my eyes aren’t perpetually half-shut.

 

So, if there’s anyone who has ever thought of cleaning up their eating, I thought I’d share some of the things I eat for inspiration and ideas. (Two things I’m not usually full of, so when I am, I like to record them for prosperity.)

 

And please note: what appeals to me may not appeal to you. I grew up with a mom who put brown bananas and trail mix in my lunch box. So my taste buds are not like those of my peers. Some may say they’re dead.

 

So a typical day of eating “good” goes like this for me:

 

BREAKFAST: I usually have oatmeal with Stevia and cinnamon, or a Zen Bakery Blueberry Raspberry Oat Bran Muffin with Earth Balance or a South Beach oat pancake, also with Earth Balance. A couple times a week, I have an omelet. The omelet used to be egg whites and veggies only, but about six months into my new eating, I re-introduced some dairy back into my diet and so will have cheese too. That said, my favorite egg dish is a scramble where I saute red peppers and red onions in Earth Balance (until they’re almost brown) and add eggs and scramble the whole thing. I love this. It’s a taste sensation. (But remember my taste beds are dead.) If I have toast, it’s rye toast or 100% whole wheat (you gotta check the label…many “wheat” breads are made with enriched flour, so it needs to say 100% whole wheat flour as the first ingredient to be legit).

 

LUNCH: Most days of the week, I eat whole wheat pita pizzas. Oh my gosh, I’m still not sick of them, and just talking about it…

 

OK! Here I am again. I love that the computer cannot sense absences.

 

pita pizza!
I flockin’ love this stuff.

 

As I was saying, the whole wheat pita pizza is my favorite thing in the world. And this is how I make it: take a whole wheat pita (or in my case, take two), and spread tomato paste on it, then crushed garlic. Now, add a handful of spinach and a handful of fresh basil. Throw some tomatoes (I used the yellow cherry tomatoes, cuz I like a rainbow of colors on my food!) and sundried tomatoes on it. You can also put some pitted kalamatas on top of that. And a small handful of parm cheese. I love the Trader Joe’s variety. In fact, all the ingredients above I get at TJ’s. Variations on this pizza may include adding mushrooms, zucchini or a cake. Then, I toast the whole thing in the toaster oven and sit in front of the TV to watch Dr. Phil.
Just kidding. I usually eat the pizza in between trips to the laundry room, office, and mop closet.
Just kidding again! I just love how sharp my wit has become since I started eating healthy. I am sure you agree.

 

When I’m not eating this pizza for lunch, I’ll have veggie chili, bean soup, a tuna sandwich (skip the mayo, add Dijon mustard, onions and sunflower seeds! Yummo), or a delightful garbanzo bean mash made with some low-fat feta, olive oil, and balsamic viniagrette, sandwiched b/w my beloved whole wheat pita.

 

DINNER: This one’s a bit tough. My husband is already skinny. And I think I’m killing him slowly by not fixing meat and potatoes on a regular basis. (The thought of the life insurance payout keeps me going.) So, I’ve already said I don’t have a lot of variety in my dinner. And this is true, except for the part that is exaggerated.

 

What I do for dinner is usually a riff on whole wheat pasta (I love the Trader Joe’s variety, NOT the Henry’s variety, FYI. The Trader Joe’s brand is more meaty and nutty.) If I’m PMSing, I will saute garlic and broccoli in olive oil and pour over the whole wheat pasta. If I’m not, I’ll saute veggies and pour over pasta, then add balsamic viniagrette and olive oil and parm cheese (cheese must be the “real” kind). I also love Rachael Ray’s whole wheat pasta with cauliflower sauce.

 

Other dinner items include whole wheat lavash spread with hummos and stuffed with tomatoes, cucumber, feta, onions, olives, and whatever else I think of. I also make a lot of soups and chilis. One other favorite is to layer roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and buffalo mozzarella on a whole grain baguette that I’ve sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper. And a note about salt: I use the “real” kind. Not the stripped-down, whitened version. There’s a difference.

 

Other dinner stuff: baked ground turkey, sauteed eggplant, onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes. An occasional steak when my husband really needs it. Baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with Real Salt. Lots of salads: spinach with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and almonds and dried cherries; cucumber, onion, tomato salad with rice vinegar on top; Spring Mix with pine nuts, whole wheat pasta, feta and olive oil. Also side dishes: my favorite is “fried” cabbage sauteed in sesame seed oil with toasted sesame seeds. Yum to the Y to the U to the M.

 

I think it goes without saying that my kids hate me.

 

Other things: Soy Tacos, and salmon baked in foil with salsa on top.

 

And in case you haven’t deserted me yet, a few other items that get me through: Trader Joe’s spelt and the South Beach eggplant recipe (cut eggplant into rounds, brush with olive oil, add crushed garlic. Sprinkle chili powder on top. Bake in oven. I would tell you at what temp and for how long, but I’m not a cook, dammit. When baked, sprinkle a lot of cilantro on the eggplant.)

 

DESSERT, SNACKS: As for dessert. Let me just say, I do not crave cookies and cakes anymore. But, I’m not all good. By a long shot. Nearly every night, I have a cup bowl of Rice Dream or Soy Dream ice cream with all-natural peanut butter on top. These items do have white sugar in them, but rather the natural kind of sugar. Whatever that is.

 

I will also have dark (with at least 70% cacao) chocolate. One row. Sometimes two. Last night, I ate the whole theatre.

 

I’ve also found myself enjoying canned pumpkin with Stevia and cinnamon. Some evenings, I eat handfuls of just cinnamon. Try it. It works.

 

Once, I even made an apple pie in a whole wheat crust.

 

In the snack department, I eat an apple with all-natural peanut butter, or walnuts, or almonds, or baked chick peas (just rinse and drain the chick peas, add a little olive oil and salt and bake until crispy). I’ve also been known to have an avocado sprinkled with lemon and salt smeared on Rye Krisps.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

–I do not make my kids eat this way for the most part. They get veggie hamburgers and hot dogs and real hamburgers, but not real hot dogs. (I read the ingredients once. That’s all.). They eat grilled cheese and chicken nuggets and Valentine’s Day candy and pretzels. Just not at every meal.

 

–I’m not 100% lame. I do have Chai lattes (complete with caffeine) and lots of soy/rice ice cream and the like.

 

–Too much soy made me sick. Does it do that to you, too? So, I cut down on it. Plus, soy can be genetically modified and screw with hormones and I just don’t have a lot of screw leeway with my hormones. They’re screwed enough.

 

–Be careful if you cut sugar out completely. If you have it again, just a little bit, you may end up on the pot for all of Christmas break. I do not speak from personal experience.

 

–Please avoid artificial sweeteners. They’re just not good for you.

 

–I’m not a vegetarian. I just don’t really like meat that much. Too chewy and stuff. Also, when my friend Carolyn told me her chicken salad smelled like “Buddy” (her dog), I just couldn’t dispel that imagery.

 

–If you don’t eat meat, remember to get your protein in other ways. A B-12 supplement, perhaps. A big bowl of brown rice and lentils. But consult with someone who really knows what their talking about. Because I’m just Going Geico™ here.

 

–I do believe in moderation. I think too austere of a diet is as bad for you as too rich a diet. My mom went macrobiotic when she was diagnosed with cancer and after about six months, she couldn’t even wear nail polish. Her body rejected it. Too toxic. I believe your body needs to eliminate toxins and get a work-out in this area to some degree, or it forgets how to do it, then becomes overwhelmed by the smallest micron of toxicity. And my mom died anyway.

 

So, that’s about it. Since I’ve eaten this way, it’s made a difference. I’m not bounding out of bed or anything. Or, gallavanting on the playground with my kids. But I’m more gallavantous than usual. And that’s good enough for me.

 

On February 26th, 2008, Melissa said:

I’m right at that point when I need to change my eating/exercising habits. Perhaps you already wrote a post about this, but what CAN you eat? I see there’s pasta on your list — good! We eat a lot of pasta, but not of the wheat variety. I’m curious because I’ve also been very “draggy” lately. Thanks! -M

On February 26th, 2008, admin said:

Hey Melissa:

Eating this way sounds really prohibitive, but it’s not so bad, once you start.

It’s just a substitution game (replace “white” stuff with whole grain and whole foods).

I pretty much eat what I want and as much as I want — sandwiches, pizzas, cereals, pastas, etc., I just make sure it’s whole grain (oats, wheat, etc.) Once you start thinking whole grain, you can find whole wheat pizza crusts, tortillas, etc. in pretty much any store.

I also eat potatoes, I just substitute sweet potatoes for the white ones. I make french fries and potato chips with yams too.

I eat pretty much any soup, as long as it’s not cream-based or potatoey.

I was at a b-day party this past weekend and ate meatballs, veggies, fruit, etc. That night, I had about 10 bowls of veggie chili (can the PMS be over yet?).

Last night, I had steak, about 25 cloves of roasted garlic (my husband slept on the couch!) and asparagus.

The key for me has been flavoring my food well, so it tastes good and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

And again: I eat as much as I want! Just of better for you foods!

Deb

On February 27th, 2008, Mark said:

All of this sounds good (tasting), but my issue has always been one of effort. It isn’t that I don’t like baked chick peas with sea salt, but i don’t like going to the store to buy chick peas. Or baking them. Living in NYC makes it easier, as there are health stores on every block (albeit ten times the price of regular stores). And all the lunch places around here are organic. But still .. effort and money are the biggest prohibiting factors, not taste or discipline.

BTW – Exercise is important too for clearing the head and getting energy. I never feel as clear-headed or energetic as after running a few miles at the gym .. It changes everything.

On February 28th, 2008, Amanda said:

I read your post yesterday and was thinking about it when I was grocery shopping.

I went vegetarian for a month and followed the ‘Eat for Your Type’ book and I never felt better than when I did that. And when I was pregnant I had Gestational Diabetes and was very diet controlled. I didn’t have anything white or sugary and I felt great. The last trimester was my best, because I was eating well and exercising (and not throwing up every two hours.)

I recently met my goal weight, but quickly regained those pesky five pounds when I slacked off on my diet. Your post has inspired me! Thanks for the ideas. :) I am going to try your “pizza.”

On May 21st, 2008, sandiegomomma.com » Blog Archive » I Have a Dream. (201st Post!) said:

[…] Frying hamburgers takes longer. And I’d have a limited, but delicious menu (based on my personal experience), and work out an assembly line process to serve my customers […]

On May 22nd, 2008, sandiegomomma.com » Blog Archive » Fall of The Vegan Empire, And More said:

[…] you remember how I went on and on about this, and then […]

On December 28th, 2008, Sy said:

Hey Debbie, it’s Sy. I was reading your blog after hearing Lee and Anderson talking about you the other day. Our taste in food is somewhat similar and your suggestions sound good to me. I like the idea of eating wholesome, natural foods and try to think of each meal as an opportunity to fight oxidation, fight aging, boost my immune system, increase my good cholesterol, etc, as opposed to just placating my hunger. Every crappy meal is a missed opportunity. See, this is my ideal but everyone knows I get lazy and I love my cake, cheese and fried foods. Anyway, what I wanted to say is we should swap food discoveries. Just random stuff like….honey – did you know that there’s a special honey called Manuka that tastes like normal honey but is a hundred times more beneficial? it has healing properties! why use runny honey when you can reap the benefits of manuka! it cures! Stuff like that…..:)

On January 6th, 2009, sandiegomomma.com » Blog Archive » The Wagon said:

[…] July 5, 2007, I decided to quit a lot of crazy things cold turkey. These things included caffeine, sugar, white […]

On January 25th, 2010, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » I Probably STILL Have Candy Corn in my Colon said:

[…] I try try try to eat healthy. In fact, as I blogged a year or so ago, I even gave up white sugar, white flour, dairy, etc. for a good period of time. THAT went by the […]

On January 10th, 2011, Ellie said:

I love these ideas! Thank you for posting them, and WTG on your healthy eating. I’m always amazed at how much more energy I have when I stick to the healthy stuff.

I just lost a lot of weight, and my healthy eating resulted in that, er, gassiness. My husband called it “the smell of skinny”. :)

-Ellie

On January 10th, 2011, Tweets that mention San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Eating Well -- Topsy.com said:

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by San Diego Momma, Perfect Foods . Perfect Foods said: Good tips, AND it'll make you laugh your socks off. :) RT @SanDiegoMomma: Wish me luck. I'm doing it again. http://bit.ly/dHvvSe […]

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