Focus on Food

So getting back on the calorie counting wagon worked, for the most part. There was a very long, wine-filled steak dinner on Wednesday, but even that ended up not being as bad as it could have been. After all, an 8 oz. filet is a lot less calorie-rich than a 16 oz. “well-marbled” Wagyu ribeye, right?

And I noticed that once I started paying attention to — read: writing down every bit of — my food, my body responded. Less bloated, skin better, more energy, even in just a few days.  This is both good and bad. Good because, well, I feel better! Bad because it means I can always give myself the excuse to fall back into bad habits: Oh, I know it’s not great that I’m eating this cannoli, but tomorrow I’ll just go back to counting calories and feel great again in a few days.

It is, of course, not a bad thing to know that if I mess up I can always go back to basics. But every time I mess up, I take a step or three backwards and I have to work that much harder to make up for it. It would be nice not to have to work that hard! It would be nice to just be motivated to stay on track all the time!

But alas, I like the finer things too much: good wine, pasta, sauces made with butter, bacon. And I like those things not in moderation! Frankly, it’s hard to enjoy those things in moderation at all — they are so much better in big, delicious, totally satisfying quantities.

I’m going to work on it, though. It helps that I haven’t been to the grocery store in two weeks. 🙂 I’m just trying to eat my way through the stuff we have in the freezer and pantry — which is working, by the way. I discovered some long-frozen tenderloin in the freezer yesterday (well wrapped, of course!) and decided to make pho. The only think I lacked was ginger and it still turned out just fine.

I don’t know how long I can keep that up, but the refrigerator is starting to look much more bare as I make my way through various jars, more recent leftovers, and the goodies from the farmers’ market I’ve picked up the last few weeks.

So here’s to healthy eating.

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Substitutions

I’ve been a little bad about my food for the last few weeks, between Mr. D. leaving and my grandfather’s funeral (and the several birthday and going away parties I’ve attended that included beer, wine, and cocktails). So this week, I’m back to tracking calories. I’ve also decided I’m going to try and go as low carb as I can. That’s not to say I won’t eat any bread, pasta, or rice, but I want to limit how much of those things I eat.  If I do eat them, I want them to be whole grain if possible and I want to avoid eating them in the evenings at dinner.

To that end, tonight’s meal was zucchini pasta with my famous homemade red sauce and a gorgeous golden tomato from the farmers’ market. The zucchini was actually what I believe is a costato romanesco, an Italian zucchini with beautiful pale green and white striations. This one was HUGE — so big, in fact, that it didn’t have the characteristic ribs that costata romanesco usually has — and so good. I knew it was good because I’d eaten half of it on Sunday night roasted with some super sweet candy onions. (That’s also a good recipe — slice the squash very thin and layer it in a circular pattern, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite spices (in my case, curry, turmeric, and coriander).  On Sunday I added thin slices of sweet onion between the layers of zucchini.)

At any rate, the costato romanesco has a mild, almost nutty flavor and paired really well with my yummy red sauce. After I cooked the “pasta,” I cut my giant golden tomato into thin wedges and laid them in the hot pan to get good and caramelized.  Very filling, very low carb, and full of locavore goodness. (Though the red sauce wasn’t made from fresh tomatoes — frankly, red sauce is a waste of good summer tomatoes, so I just use a good quality canned crushed tomatoes. I did use local garlic and onions in the sauce, though.)

In the past, I’ve tried the most common pasta substitute,  spaghetti squash, but it never seemed to taste right with traditional pasta sauces. In contrast, the zucchini pasta really works with pasta sauce — at least, red sauce. It doesn’t have a lot of its own, overpowering flavor like spaghetti squash does, so its a good canvas for more complex sauces. I think zucchini pasta would also go well with a light lemon butter or even an alfredo sauce (though if I’m going to eat alfredo, I’m going to go all the way with it — the way I make it, it’s basically just butter and cheese, and once you’re eating that, subbing in squash for the fettucine seems sort of irrelevant)

So my low-carb experiment is going well! And I know that if I get hungry later, I can have some of the blueberries I picked up at the farmers’ market today for dessert.

Dinner

Also, tonight’s celebratory dinner:

Caprese: heirloom tomatoes, farmer’s market mozzarella, basil
Spears: asparagus, butter, olive oil, sea salt
Pasta: whole wheat penne, basil, sweet cream butter
Beef: petite sirloin, olive oil, salt, pepper
Sweet: shortbread, farmer’s market strawberries, balsamic, ice cream

Word

None of these things merit an individual post, but all of them are worthy of note.

***

Despite five days of vacation in the land of lard (that would be Texas, where I ate Whataburger twice in 28 hours and more homemade flour tortillas than I want to count), I have managed to maintain on the weight loss front. Granted, I haven’t been on a scale since returning, but my clothes are continuing to fit in that lovely, slightly-loose way, so I’m not going to worry about the numbers on the scale.

***

My grandfather, who is ill and who is the reason we spent five days in Texas, is doing far better than expected.  He’s still dying and likely won’t make it through the summer, but he was well enough to spend several hours chatting with us and playing take-your-nose with my cousin’s kids. I had been told he was doing very poorly before we left and so didn’t expect to be able to interact with him much while we were there. But he was not only alert and mostly compos mentis, but also was mobile — getting out of bed and up and down from his chair, moving around the house. Since I’m 99% sure this visit was the last time I’ll see him, I’m glad it was a visit where I could actually talk with him.

***

Couch-to-5K is going so well I solicited a commitment from a friend of mine to run with me in the Race Judicata later this summer.  It will be my first 5K and, bonus, it’s the big fundraiser for the legal agency where I did a summer fellowship after law school. If I’m going to give money to any organization, I’m glad to give it to them — and to run my first 5K for them, too.

***

While in Texas, I saw this fun bag at my hometown surf shop, but wasn’t wild about the colors so I didn’t buy it. But I love the style and thought it would be a good shape and size for work, so I looked around online for it. Lo and behold, it comes in many other colors, including a very nice dark brown/gray. And that lovely color was available on Amazon for $22.  Bonus: eligible for Prime! So I bought it.

***

That dreamy interview I got a while ago? I went on that interview, had a great time, felt like I was a perfect fit, and then didn’t hear anything for a while. So I got stressed and applied for another federal job (one I was actually interested in, of course).  Three hours after hitting “Apply,” I got the call — I got the job. The dream job. “Relief” is too understated a word. Not only am I extremely glad to have any employment, I am ecstatic to have employment at a place where I feel like I fit in so well, both personally and professionally.

***

So it’s been a good month.

I’m making these this morning

I do the bread-in-five-minutes-a-day thing, so I tend to have some dough hanging out in the fridge.  This morning, we’re heading out to meet some friends and family and go to the Aquarium, so we don’t have a lot of time to cook, but we’re both really hungry.  Enter Bacon and Eggs in Toast! Except I don’t have any bacon. So it’s just eggs (and cheese) in toast.

This is, admittedly, an experiment. It could be wretched, in fact. But I’m hoping for success because it was so easy—throw the dough on the counter with some flour, roll it out, cut it into squares, stuff the squares into my muffin pan, drop some cheese and crack some eggs into the dough-stuffed-tins, and bake.  Also, it promises to be a nice eat-and-go recipe—as long as the eggs aren’t too runny, you can just take it with you and eat it as you go.

Update:

These turned out OK! I didn’t roll the dough out thin enough, so the egg spilled over when I cracked the eggs in.  I also needed to add more cheese. And I let them cook too long so the eggs were really hard-cooked by the time I pulled them out. But a good start! I’ll do these again, definitely.

This is my new motivation

I really do hate counting calories and obsessing about what I eat.

But this morning I put on a sweater that I’ve owned for 9 years but haven’t worn in at least 2 because in those last 2 years it had become unflatteringly tight on my arms (we’re talking painted-on tight).

It looks fabulous.

That means I can once again wear clothes (at least on my top) that I wore not only 2 years ago when I was last at my current weight, but also that I wore 7 years ago when I was 10 lbs. lighter than I am now—and almost 17 lbs. lighter than I was two months ago.  I can once again wear clothes that I wore when I was in my 20s.

Yeah, that’s the motivation now.

In other news

I got a brand-new-to-me cast iron skillet today. It’s vintage and very light and has a smooth, glassy surface. I already love it, but I think it doesn’t heat totally evenly. Seemed to have a hot spot in the center.  But perhaps I didn’t let it heat long enough.  The oil got smoky really quickly.  Maybe next time I’ll heat it on low for a few minutes instead of doing what I usually do—I heat pretty much everything on high for three minutes, which is totally necessary with my 10-year-old Lodge cast iron and with my tri-ply stainless stuff.  It may not be the way to go with this thin, light cast iron.  I dunno. I guess I’m going to have to experiment.