Food Thoughts

On Letting Go

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I used to take a lot of pride in the fact that I diligently plan and organize every area of my life. Household chores, work tasks, vacation itineraries, calories in and out, restaurants I want to visit–nothing went undocumented and nothing was left up to chance.

Planning is a handy skill to have if you’re using it to clear mental clutter and not let things slip between the cracks. But when you’re obsessed with the act of planning everything, it becomes a hindrance. It doesn’t allow you to be present in life, which was the original point of planning as to not forget things. When you’re trying so hard to control every minute detail, it really means that deep down inside, you feel helpless and have no sense of control over your life.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past week. I realized that I need to surrender. There’s no need to set up so many restrictions for oneself. When there are no rules, there is nothing to rebel against. What’s left is living life and enjoying being in it, whether the moment is pleasurable or not.

I’m letting go in all areas of life, including food. As much I thought I enjoyed the hunt and lists of recipe and food shopping, it became a quiet source of stress. Food is not supposed to be stressful. It’s pleasure and nourishment. From this day forward, you’ll see my new attitude reflected in the blog. I’ll cook what I feel will nourish me in the moment. I may or may not photograph it for the blog.  I will trust myself at the market without a list of items and quantities. I will bookmark the occasional recipe if it calls to my present cravings, but if I don’t get around to making it, I’ll let it go. And forget.

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Lunch and Dinner

Las Vegas and Canned Salmon

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I went to Las Vegas this past weekend for a Bachelorette Party Trip. I had never been before, and what better way to go than with a really great group of girls and to celebrate one of my best friend’s last days of being a single lady? Although our time in Vegas was waaaaaay tamer than most people’s, I had a blast.

I bought this dress in Vegas to blend in with all the glitter and rhinestones. I clearly didn’t get the gaudy memo. I look deceivingly happy in this photo–in reality we were at Tao and were all cranky about how much we were paying for such shitty food.

We got back to NYC Monday night after midnight, and with mild jet lag and only 5 hours of sleep, I dragged myself to work the next day. It was not pretty. I do not function well without a good night’s sleep. I hid from all my coworkers to avoid conversation and ate anything with sugar in sight to keep me from falling asleep.

crispy salmon bites

Cooking is the last thing I feel like doing when I’m exhausted and disorganized after vacation, even if some real food would do my body so much good. This is where Gina’s Crispy Salmon Bites come in. I rarely eat canned fish, and if I do, they’re sardines because I can’t get fresh sardines nearby. But in my current frazzled state of mind, these little babies are perfect. They are tasty, they’re quick to make, the ingredients are super easy to gather, and they taste worse for you than they actually are, which is great because I am NOT craving a salad right now. Check out the recipe for Crispy Salmon Bites at Running to the Kitchen, and bookmark it for a lazy day.

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Breakfast, Dessert

I Got My Ebelskivers On

Chocolate Æbleskivers Danish Pancakes

My dear friend Vicky got me an Ebelskiver pan for my birthday. I hadn’t heard of ebelskivers, but they kind of looked like the poffertjes I had in the Netherlands. (Yes, another crazy foreign word all up in this post.)  I have since learned that ebelskivers are small spherical pancakes pancakes, typically eaten with jam and a dusting of powdered sugar. At first I felt bad that it took me six whole months to get around to using my birthday present, but Wikipedia says they’re common before Christmas, so what do you know! Perfect timing.

Vicky had also gotten me pre-made chocolate ebelskiver mix. All I had to do was add a few fresh ingredients and cook them up in the pan. I used SQIRL’s Wild Blueberry and Tarragon Jam as a filling for some, and chocolate chips for the rest. This jam is the shit, by the way.

They turned out pretty good, and I liked that they weren’t too sweet. I think I’m going to make it completely from scratch next time, because I’m a control freak like that. Here’s some recipes I found, if you have a similar pan and want to get your ebelskiver on!

ebelskivers Danish pancakes chocolate

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Health and Nutrition

10 Guidelines for a Wonderful Life of Eating

I’ve developed my own little food philosophy over the last few years. Nothing new here, but as I love reading about other people’s eating habits and beliefs, I thought I would share my views. Disclaimer: I am by no means a nutritionist, dietitian, or scientist. These are just my personal opinions!

1) Veggies are your no. 1 priority
If I had to name only one way to improve your diet, I’d say eat your vegetables. The recommended daily minimum is 2 and a half cups. So get them in whenever you can! Lunch and dinner is obvious but don’t forget that you can add veggies to certain breakfasts or make snacks out of them. They are low in calories and so high in nutrients. Eat them.

2) Cut out processed food
I know, I know. It’s so much easier to pick up a jar of pasta sauce, a box of cookies with an unnatural shelf life, or full meals from the frozen section. But there’s nothing convenient about the damage all the sodium and preservatives do to your body, even if the packaging is labelled “organic” or “healthy”. You need to eat real food, people. Processed stuff is not real food.

3) Prepare most of your meals
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. But it’s not only important to prepare most of your meals to avoid processed crap, but it’s also important to avoid eating out all the time. If you have the funds to eat at places with really high-quality, healthy food, that’s great. Go for it! But for the rest of us, we’re probably eating at places that do not use quality ingredients, and the meals are probably a lot higher in calories than we think. But the scariest part is that you just don’t know what exactly is in your food and how it was prepared. I have heard horror stories about what goes on in some restaurants’ kitchens!

4) Choose seasonal/local/non-GMO/organic foods when you can
I’m sure you’ve heard enough about what genetically modified foods and pesticides may do to our bodies, and how food that’s traveled a long distance loses most of its nutritional value, so no need for me to go into it. If you’re not already convinced to spend your money on quality food upfront and would rather spend it on medical bills later, at least lessen the damage. Make these two swaps: choose organic when you are purchasing the Dirty Dozen, and please choose organic/non-feedlot dairy and beef. It’s bad, bad news if you don’t.

5) Watch your portion sizes
I’d much rather be heavier but eating tons of healthy foods than skinny but subsisting on junk. Nutrition comes before weight, but if you’ve got the nutrition thing down, tackle your portion sizes. We need to leave behind the ideas of all-you-can-eat, stuffing yourself, and snacking non-stop. It’s not good for you and too much excess weight raises your risks for all sorts of health problems. You know this.

6) Forget the fad diets
I swear, fad diets are an addiction. People cannot get enough of them. Just stop, already. None work in the long-term. It’s too difficult to maintain restrictive and depriving diets. If you want to lose weight, eat balanced, healthy meals, which is how you want to eat for the rest of your life anyhow (instead of cabbage soup or no carbs, for example). Just count your calories and exercise. There will always be fad diets and they will never be the answer. Just accept it!

7) Eat a balanced diet and switch it up
So what is this balanced diet? Healthy fats, healthy carbs, healthy protein. You need ‘em all. There’s no reason to cut out any major food group. And because different foods are higher in different nutrients, you want to switch it up to get all the nutrients you need. Anyway, isn’t that a better way to eat and live? Variety is the spice of life!

8) Don’t judge others
It’s a wonderful thing to have a healthy diet. But there’s no need to judge the eating habits of others. I’m guilty of it occasionally–I giggled when I saw some dude at the supermarket buy nothing but 20 Chef Boyardee cans and 20 Gatorades. But when someone asked me why I “put that garbage” in my body, referring to my home-baked cookies, I understood how awful it is to be judgmental about people’s food beliefs. You can disagree with them, but it’s not your place to judge them. If people want to change their eating habits, they have to want to make a change. Your unsolicited advice will not help.

9) Don’t get neurotic about it and don’t be a snob
I’ve listed a lot of guidelines here but I want to point out that they are not rules. Eat right 80% of the time. There’s no need to be difficult, be inconvenienced, or upset others the other 20% of the time. As much as I love making food from scratch and shopping at the farmers market, I enjoy a good street taco or post-holiday discounted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

10) Enjoy your food
Last thought. Enjoy your food. Savor it. Eat what makes you happy. Try new things. Don’t forego taste for health all the time. I don’t believe in living to eat; there are more important things in life. But there’s no need to purely eat to live, either. Food and flavor is a wonderful gift and we should embrace it.

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