Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Most Important Meal of the Day

How bad can your day be when you start off with Wham! and Irish Oatmeal with pumpkin and raisins?

One of my many transformative projects is getting my eating under control.  It's not so much about weight control -although saying adios to 10 pounds wouldn't kill me - as it is about sanity and health.  I binge at work because I fluctuate between despair, boredom and stress every fifteen minutes.  Thank goodness that I don't work for a posh corporation with well stocked mini-kitchens every ten feet.  I visited a friend at Google once, I gained ten pounds just walking through the building.  I can readily admit to having no self-control.  Me and unlimited fro-yo would be a bad combination.

A few weeks ago I felt this incredible need to shop, but no dinero.  Luckily we had a stack of gift cards that have been floating around for years.  I took the kid on a shopping spree at Gap Kids (thanks Grammy), hit Barns and Noble and Williams-Sonoma.

I have to admit to being overwhelmed at W-S.  I am a total gadget whore, but geez, there it was too much.  I ultimately decided to buy a cookbook.  The kid and I narrowed down the choices to French Cooking and Eating Well.  In her infinite 4 year-old wisdom she choose the cookbook Eat Well.

It's a basic cookbook.  Lots of olive oil, kosher salt and roasted things, but it has gorgeous photos and gave me lots of good ideas for meals - especially breakfast.  Is it weird that I am 35 years old and I don't really know how to feed myself?  I mean, know how to feed myself, but I don't feel like I'm in charge of what I eat.

I grew up in a household where every meal was the same...but just a little bit different.  Every meal had a piece of meat, frozen veggies, a starch and an iceberg lettuce salad with carrot and hard boiled egg (With the yolks removed, thank you very much!).   I thought that eating fresh veggies was something that required a lot of time and effort.  I thought that broccoli was supposed to be that sickly puke green color.  We didn't blanch, we boiled the shit out of everything.

I went to college and ate in the dining hall.  When I was 23 and living with roommates, I certainly  never thought about eating well, and then I lived with Wifey.  She is the cook in the family.  She takes the time to make herself a meal.  If I'm at home and I'm hungry I will go the the refrigerator ten separate times for individual slices of lunch meat rather than make myself a sandwich.   So I never feel truly full, I never feel that I've taken a break, and I end up over eating.

The thing is, I don't necessarily want to eat the way I did in my mid-western childhood, but I feel like I still need my own food identity.  Weird, right?  Seriously, though, how you feed yourself is intensely personal and totally subjective. (Just try and convince me that bleu cheese does not taste like dirty feet.) How can we ever feel satisfied if we don't take some time to figure that kind of stuff out.  What does my body like?  What makes me happy?  What will make me healthy?  I think that the answers to these questions are different for every person.  I think that part of my journey is taking more responsibility for myself.  The core stuff - my health and emotional well being.  I can't believe that I am about to quote an animated movie in connection to my mental health, but as Chef Gusteau says, "Anyone can cook."

Anyway, inspired by my new cookbook and with a rare opportunity to go grocery shopping in the early afternoon I decided to make three dishes - butternut squash soup, a gratin of winter root vegetables, a bean and pancetta dish and pumpkin oatmeal.

Have you ever tried to peel a butternut squash?  Did you know that one, not THREE, butternut squashes will yield nine cups?  A lesson learned without losing a finger.  I'll call that a success.

I'm also thankful that the kid's highly flammable Cinderella costume that she has taken to putting on everyday after school did not catch fire when she stirred the coconut milk and curry paste into the soup. 

My last project of the evening was the oatmeal.  I made myself an omelet on Monday morning and took the time to eat it, even though it made me late to leave the house, and I felt good all morning.  What? Eating real food, not sugar, gives you energy???  I made breakfast, portioned it in to-go containers and had it ready to go...ahead of time!  Oatmeal with pumpkin (canned), cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins is awesome ten ways until Sunday.  Seriously.  It was such an awesome breakfast.

I feel a little teary just thinking about it.

Looking forward to breakfast,

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