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The Food Wagon

I fell off the good food wagon.

I can blame it on the traveling, the shit grocery runs, the thoughtless dinners, the exhaustion and the ease of ordering in or eating out. I can. But the truth is I just got lazy. And in a world that revolves around the big mac, the krispy creme, the taco bell, and the panda express, lazy is a dangerous game and a slippery slope.

This isn’t really a post about wanting to be a certain weight, weight gain, or body image. It’s about sanity and the way I feel on the inside. I think the biggest gift I’ve given myself in the last year and a half has been the ability to be a consistent weight. I yo-yo-ed for the majority of my 20s and late teens. Sometimes I would be up 20 lbs, sometimes down, back and forth the pendulum went. It’s really unhealthy to bounce around like that. It’s hard on your body, it often means you’re eating in strange ways (one time I gave up peanut butter for a few months, only to come home and binge on an entire box of cereal plus waffles, or eat so much of something that’s technically “good” for me that I would have stomach issues for days), and it’s hard on your self esteem. I carry a lot of guilt surrounding my body around with me everywhere I go. I talked about part of that guilt on Monday’s post.

Being a consistent weight means that I have a consistently active lifestyle, consistent eating habits, and am pretty confident that every morning I’ll be able to fit into my clothes. Being someone who woke up on several occasions suddenly unable to fit into that shirt or that skirt or that pair of pants… it’s a big deal to not have to be concerned about that anymore. The possibility still makes me anxious.

Remember when I started to add more veggies and fruits into my life? It was a pretty new experience for me. I had always grown up with salad at dinner and roasted squash in the fall, and green beans and asparagus as side dishes. But as a grown up, cooking on my own, I really had no clue what I was doing. But! We actually got really good at putting veggies as the focus in our meals. Kale Pizza, roasted beets for lunch, spaghetti squash with roasted green beans and broccoli, sweet potatoes and eggs, a myriad of roasted veggies and polenta, broccoli plus cheesy rice, Quinoa and caramelized onions, acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, tupperwares and tupperwares of chopped up honeydew and cantaloupe, apples, bananas (not for me, for kamel), blackberries, strawberries, and watermelon. But then I fell off the wagon. Because as much as I love the feeling of eating so well and feeling energized and NOT bloated and NOT craving sugar like a wacko and NOT having to say no to an extra helping… I will always prefer the taste of a bagel + full fat creamcheese and smothered with strawberry jam over any pile of roasted anything ever. And god I love donuts. And doesn’t an elephant ear sound so good right now? I could probably eat like 10 of them. Corndogs. Don’t even get me started.

Back on track – back on the good food. We started for realies to be thoughtful and fill our fridge with happy, healthy things last weekend and wow the difference is astonishing. I’m less exhausted, I feel so much less preoccupied with food (you know that nagging feeling in the back of your mind when you really want a muffin? And it just won’t shut up? Or when there’s free goodies in the office and you’re wrestling with yourself, “should I? shouldn’t I? Maybe just one?” etc etc on and on? (No? Just me?)). Well, when I’m eating well, with less salt and less bulk, I don’t have that nag anymore.

So anyways, I wanted to come clean and tell you that I’m not always the awesome food rockstar that I wish I was. That sometimes it’s so much easier not to be. And sometimes so satisfying not to be… while we’re being honest. But ultimately, it feels ridiculously good to be back on the healthy habits choo choo. I could really get on board with living forever… or there abouts.

*** In other news, I’m looking for some new slow cooker suggestions and some new fooding with flo suggestions. Now that I’m not flinging myself around the world so rapidly, I would really like some new cooking inspiration. What are you trying? What’s been successful? What are your easy trick that even a noob like me could succeed at? Help a sister out.

31 Comments

  1. Do you like broccoli? I’ve recently discovered roasted broccoli and it’s amazing. Also, I’ve always disliked carrots… but glazed carrots? I crave them like crazy.

    My favorite salad is mixed greens, grilled or sauteed chicken (I’ll marinate it in my Italian dressing overnight), toasted walnuts (just swish around a hot skillet a few minutes), jarred pears, homemade honey mustard vinagrette (super easy! – equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar and dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper to taste) and a small amount of blue cheese (it’s so strong that a little goes a long way).

    As far as exercise, I’m totally off the wagon. I keep thinking running sounds great, until I get home from work and realize that all I want to do is put on jammies and hide from the awful, dirty, stupid world.

    • Roasted broccoli is just about the best thing ever.

      • What temp do you roast your broccoli at? I’ve tried it several times and it’s always just meh. What is your secret??

        • Ok, not about roasting. But with broccoli, what I find best is to first steam it for about 2 or 3 minutes so that it is cooked but still crunchy. I just put the cut broccoli in a strainer over a bath of boiling water (only the bottom of the pan) and put a lid on it. Then you can add melted cheese, or grill it, or mix it with chicken / rice .

        • I roast it at 425 for at least 25 minutes. Parts of it are actually a bit blackened, but I think those pieces taste best. I wash it, but then either let it dry a bit or wipe it off with a kitchen towel or paper towels, so it will get crunchy enough in the oven. I’ll then toss it with olive oil, some quartered garlic (maybe 2 cloves worth for one head of broccoli) and salt and pepper. That’s really it. Of course, cheese is phenomenal, but I like it so much without it I leave it off for calorie savings.

          • Oh, I do turn it over once of twice while cooking too.

          • I do mine a little different. I tend to roast at about 350 – 375 F (depending on what else we’re cooking) for about 30-40 minutes.

            Always with olive oil and salt …. everything else depends on my tastes of the day.

        • I don’t know about temp because our oven is wonky, but toss it in some olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic and then roast till there are some blackened bits as below, it is soooo good.

          • red pepper flakes sound great too!

  2. I follow a blog that is exclusively for Crock Pot-cooking, and the woman who writes it is funny and awesome: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
    I love my Crock Pot and use it constantly, and it helps to get in extra veggie servings because it cooks them down so well! (As long as you don’t mind mushy vegetables. I grew up with canned, so I lurve them.)

    Also, my parents had an “everything in moderation” policy when we were growing up. ie. Have a donut — but only one; make sure you eat your broccoli/greens with every dinner. I haven’t always followed the greens-with-every-dinner thing since moving out, but I do appreciate the everything in moderation idea — I’ve never once been on a diet and don’t really struggle with major weight fluctuations. It’s easier than depriving yourself when all you really want is an ice cream cone!

    • I also grew up in the moderation household. But I don’t know what happened… It’s much easier for me not to have any than for me to have one and then sit there and crave more and more and more. One cookie is never enough. One scoop of ice cream, one scone, even two of these things… I could eat a whole pint, I could eat a whole tray of cupcakes. It takes too much internal wrestling to fight back the urge.

      Nomnomnomnomnom

  3. I just recently discovered sugar snaps. Just grill them a bit and add salt-pepper-herbs and they are delicious as a side dish, or together with chicken.

    I find myself craving potatoes recently, the other day I made mashed potatoes from scratch in the Kitchenaid and it was supper fluffy and soft.

    And, I am not sure if I told you about this (simple) recipe before… we make it all the time: grilled /sauteed bell pepper + zuchini+ tomato, until it is a bit soft, then you add salt, pepper, herbs, a bit of cheese cream, then soy sauce and you put it over pasta.

    With Flo…. my recent obsession has been sponge cake (still got to master them)… you know anything involving egg whites turning into clouds. And I also want to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

    • We saw the pics of your green sponge cake on fbook! And Kamel goes “Snooorrrrrkelllsss!!!!! I totally have a crush on her. Why don’t you make more green spongey baked goods?!”

  4. I sort of feel like I constantly have one foot on and one foot off the wagon allll the time. Part of the problem is that we both LOVE TO BAKE. All the time. And we try to give a lot of it away, but a bunch of it still ends up in our stomachs. Mmm…

    A few ‘good’ things we’ve eaten lately, though, that you might like:
    -Quinoa (cooked with chicken broth, not water, for better flavor) with skillet-cooked veggies (mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, brussels sprouts, garlic), turmeric and curry powder.
    -Leftover quinoa (cold) with sliced grape tomatoes, feta cheese, chopped baby spinach, and a splash of lemon juice.
    -Salmon baked in the oven with brown sugar glaze with a side of wild rice and broccoli
    -Thai curry: basmati or jasmine rice topped with curry made of coconut milk, green curry paste, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, and shredded chicken.
    -Pan-fried red potatoes and onions with broccoli (also cooked in the skillet) and topped with fried eggs
    -Southwest salad: chopped lettuce and spinach topped with black beans, corn, chicken and homemade southwest dressing

    Veggies are delicious and wonderful, but so are the things with all the fat and sugar and salt. Le sigh. I suppose we all just have to find a balance. Good luck!

    • Oh that baking problem. We have decided to bake only 1 time per week, usually on the weekends and most of the time we end up giving the goodies away (at least in part) or bringing it to get togethers…

    • Ooooo your skillet ideas sound phenom.

    • I’m totally trying the skillet veggies and quinoa cooked with chicken broth.

    • Im trying them too! Thank you! I need them next week for my detox week! You rock.

      • Quinoa is my new favorite thing. Seriously. I want to eat it ALL THE TIME. It’s so good for you– it’s a ‘super grain’ and is high in protein. I would recommend buying it in bulk or from Amazon Grocery, though, because if you just buy it in a little box at the grocery store it is super pricey. (Our health food store has it in bulk for $3.60/ lb.) One cup uncooked makes three cups cooked, though, so at least it expands a lot. :)

  5. Weight fluctuations are the worst. There’s nothing that quites gets me the same way as waking up in the morning and having my pants not fit.

    For the most part, I give myself free reign to eat absolutely I make myself whether it’s roast carrots or cheesecake. Where I run into problems is outside junk food. Boxed cookies, bags of chips, chocolate bars: even one tends to throw me completely off track because all of a sudden I’m craving these things I don’t particularly want all that much.

    The funny thing is I don’t actually prefer those foods. I like how healthier stuff tastes just as well. But once I’ve had a little bit my brain goes haywire about them.

  6. Mmmmmmm….elephant ears…..

    I have some good crock pot recipes. I’ll gather and send :)

  7. I really should not have read this just as I’m entering the pre-lunch-time hunger stage.

  8. Girl, I feel you on this. I grew up in an all cream/butter/McDonald’s/pastry/salt-saturated household, and my adult journey has been to wean myself off the salt and TRY to enjoy green vegetables. I mean, I ate them growing up, but it was usually peas coated in butter or baby carrots roasted in butter, honey and dill. My mouth waters just thinking about them. I was also a distance swimmer, so I could pound 4,000 calories of whatever I wanted every day and see no weight gain at all.

    My husband is naturally a healthy eater – greens with every meal, always a side vegetable, mostly fish. Slowly but surely my eating habits have morphed to fit with his, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes feel very child-like resentment at having to give up the frozen pizzas and sugary cereals. Even though I know his way is better for me in the long haul (and will be better for our kids), I still crave my comfort foods.

  9. Ugh, why is that the easiest wagon to fall off of?! And i feel like its cheaper to eat unhealthy too! Not the going out to eat part, but in the grocery store, I could spend $10 on one of those Stauffers lasagnas and it’ll feed us dinner for a WEEK! Whereas, when I go on a healthy food kick, i end up spending soooo much money on two days worth of meals. Its not fair. And it doesnt make sense. And its discouraging. Eating healthy should be more affordable because its real food, not processed. And PS….I LOVE my Fix it And Forget it crock pot cookbook. Its the best. My favorite so far is a pot roast recipe that calls for orange juice, soy sauce and brown sugar. De-lish.

  10. Oh god. Corndogs.

    Totally feeling this right now–but for me, it’s not so much the desire for bad-for-me-food, it’s OMG I DON’T WANT TO COOK EVER. I used to HATE cooking, and then I slowly trained myself to…well, not LIKE it, but at least be ok with it. Because cooking means we eat healthier, and spend less money.

    But lately, UGH, I just can’t bring myself to do it. It feels like a chore, not something that’s fun and enjoyable.

    Slow cooker. Yes. This recipe is amazing, and the pork is cheap:
    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pulled-pork-tacos-00000000008021/index.html

  11. I’ve been on a restricted diet lately to try and determine some intolerances, and we have discovered I am sensitive to garlic, onion, lactose and gluten. Fun times when we are off to Europe in less than a month and for 6 weeks I will not be doing any cooking!

    I only have one slow cooker recipe on my blog so far, which is this one: http://abasketcase.blogspot.co.nz/2010/06/recipe-of-week.html Its really yummy and good for not-the-depths-of-winter. I usually only slow cook when its cold! The other night we did lamb shanks in a beer sauce, divine, must post that one too…

    I’m also trying to work with a “bake once a week” thing, and then only eat things I have made myself when I want sweet treats. it only takes 25 minutes to put together a batch of biscuits, or 30 to make muffins. I dont always succeed!

    And exercise. Gah! I know I should do more, but I keep getting distracted (the joys of depression), but its the only thing that will keep my body fat down (even if my weight goes up a little every time I re-start my exercise routine, from laying down new muscle again).

    Good luck!

  12. damn that food (and exercise) wagon! I’m trying to lose a little bit of weight at the moment (it’s crept on gradually after last Christmas) and I find it so hard to say no to treats, I have the biggest sweet tooth ever!

    Funnily enough, giving up pasta (one of my other loves) has forced me to eat way more veggies. Now that I can’t fall back on an easy weeknight pasta meal, we tend to have meat and veggies instead.

    What I’ve been doing with veggies lately is blanching them for 2-3mins, so they’re cooked but firm, then warming them through in a frying pan with some olive oil, garlic and lemon zest and a little lemon juice. Broccolli is especially awesome like this, as it soaks up the garlic and lemon really well.

    Even my fiance likes veggies like this…well, “likes” might be too strong, but he will tolerate them done this way. And he has the eating mentality of a 10 year old sometimes, he eats the veggies first to get them out the way, then eats the meat, his favourite part, haha!

    I have a kitchenaid mixer too (love!) and I use it mostly for desserts, because I’m a bad influence on myself that way. One recipe that I’m still finding chellenging is french silk pie (I use the recipe from http://www.thepioneerwoman.com her desserts are awesome)…sometimes it works, sometimes not, and I have no idea why! It’s a tough one…

  13. If I know anything at all, it’s about falling off the healthy wagon. I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Whole. Life. In the past 2 1/2 years I have gotten more on track than I have ever been before. One day I looked at myself and decided that I wasn’t happy with my weight. I weighed 267, and I’m 5’8″. I over hauled my eating habits and got rid of the junk food in my house. I learned portion control and healthier options for meals. I got down to 187 by dieting and restricting my calories over 8ish months. I was able to maintain around the 200 mark for a long time. However in that time I would go up 10lbs, then back down 10lbs, feel great, feel fat. Ugh. It was exhausting!

    Since Christmas I have decided to rededicate myself to my healthy cause. I started at 207 the day after Christmas and am now down to 189. However! This time I did it the right way. I didn’t just restrict my calories and expect to lose weight. I started lifting weights at the gym, toning up and building muscle. I have lost 3 inches on my waist and hips since January and I feel incredible. I eat mostly a Paleo diet now and have completely cut out breads, pastas, rice and other starchy carbs. I can not tell you how amazing I feel over all. I was already eating mostly Paleo before I even knew what it was, so making the switch wasn’t that hard for me.

    I found the blog nerdfitness.com and it totally changed the way I was doing things. I used to hate going to the gym because the idea of being on the eliptical machine for an hour bored me. Now, I wake up at 4:00am so I can get to the gym for 5:00am and lift heavy weights. I know this isn’t something that would appeal to everyone, but I found something that I love to do and it has made a world of difference. For the first time in my life I feel like I am actually accomplishing something and I can not even begin to express how proud of myself I am.

    I think if you can find that one thing you love to do when it comes to working out, even if it’s playing some hard core fruit ninja, it makes all the difference!

  14. Meal planning has saved us. It’s been an evolving process but currently we plan and shop Saturday morning, after breakfast. Chris and I sit down together, look over our week (which nights are busy, which nights aren’t), and build a meal plan. It takes about 20 minutes. We usually cook 3-5 nights a week, eat freezer food 1-2 nights and eat out once a week. Then we build a shopping list off our meal plan, plus breakfast foods, lunch stuffs and snacks. We try to keep our grocery bill to $90-110/week. Which sounds crazy high but it’s literally everything (save one meal) that we will eat for seven days.

    Our list is grouped they way we find things in the grocery store and that’s super helpful. Grocery shopping and figuring out what to eat for dinner used to stress. me. out. I resented Chris because I constantly felt like *I* was the one standing in the grocery store at 6:15 yelling into the phone, “Just tell me what you want!!!!”. It wasn’t a good look. Now we work together and we both have a sense of control over what we’re eating and how much we’re spending.

    I’m a huge fan of Dinner: A Love Story, http://www.dinneralovestory.com/

  15. I LOVE my crockpot! My favorite things to make are from Rick Bayless’ cookbook, Everyday Mexican. Its authentic mexican recipes tweaked so that you can find 99.9% of the ingredients in your local grocery store, and tons of them are for slow cookers. His instructions are always crystal clear, includes pictures, and provides all kinds of little riffs on recipes to make it different ways.

    Favorite cookbook of all time!

    p.s. im making his pork tinga tacos in the crock pot tomorrow…
    p.p.s. working at a home office of a coffee shop is the worst! chocolate filled croissants, almond crossiants, etc.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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