Sweet Tooth

I wouldn't say that I love sugar, as there are some things that are very sugary that I don't like, but I do have a sweet tooth, name...

I wouldn't say that I love sugar, as there are some things that are very sugary that I don't like, but I do have a sweet tooth, namely for chocolate.

I like to joke around that I like my men like I like my chocolate:  dark, bitter, and wrapped in foil.  However, I've found something at Whole Foods that is making me rethink at least the foil part: 

They're not too bad in terms of ingredients.  And while they have fat and sugars, I also find that I can't eat the recommended serving size in one go of it.  Just a few of the little clusters really does the trick to curb my sweet tooth.

I can see using these on top of some fresh Raspberry Sorbet from my favorite gelateria, Dolcezza.  (OMG, I tasted their avocado honey orange sorbet this morning at the FreshFarms Farmer's Market.... absolutely delicious... but I live and die for their raspberry sorbet as well as their thai coconut gelato ((with sliced mangos and toasted sesame seeds on top)).  I could even mix a few in with some greek yogurt for a little crunchy treat.  Or for the daring breakfast lover, maybe even make blueberry pancakes with a few of these mixed in.

It just reinforces my belief that dieting isn't about deprivation, it's about (1) food quality and (2) being creative with ingredients.  I see food quality as honoring the ingredient by not over-processing it or trying to disguise its true nature as well as how it was grown and cultivated.  Being creative with ingredients means learning new recipes and perhaps even stepping outside of your comfort zone.

The other big news from the Farmer's Market is that the SPRING CHICKENS ARE HERE!!! I was ecstatic to see them.  I am considering roasting the chicken and then making a strawberry thyme sauce (I should have gotten sage, but I panicked) with roasted red potatoes and zucchini on the side.

Again, this goes back to the post about the Farmer's Market (see hyperlink above): it seems insincere to talk about processed food with any sort of passion when the fresh, natural, farm-raised, good stuff inspires not just hunger but joy.  I am an emotional eater, and I'd be willing to say even an emotional chef.

I derive pleasure from not only the eating of food, but the creation of dishes.  When I cook something and someone else tells me it's delicious, it's almost better than great sex.  I love seeing ingredients and being able to create something in my head without knowing whether it will taste good or not.

I'd be wrong to say that nutrition is an easy thing.  If I were to say that, it'd undercut the scores of people out there with eating disorders, extra weight, or who are malnourished.  It's this beautifully complex symbiosis between us and the world.  It excites the explorer in me. 

Like I said, I'm an emotional eater, or at least I have the proclivity to be one.  I define it as using food to cover emotions, boredom, stress, depression, etc.  The emotions I feel when I have beautiful food around me cannot be included in the same group of negative reasons to eat.  I feel a joyful exuberance.  If that's not the right emotion to feel when eating (if not a neutral feeling) well then I don't want to be right.

A very important moment in my whole dieting experience was realizing how restaurants make money:  mediocre restaurants make money with volume and great restaurants make money with quality.  For example, the Olive Garden's menu has very few items that are so complicated that they require absolute precision in the kitchen.  They fill you with bread and salad and gigantic entrees.  A great restaurant will put together a dish that has layered flavors, creative uses for the ingredients, and shows off technique. 

Think about going to a great restaurant, such as my experience of going to Wolfgang Puck's The Source (in DC) with gourmand friends of mine to celebrate a dear friend's birthday.  Someone ordered the "Spicy Tuna Tartare, Sesame-Miso Cones, Shaved Bonito, Tobiko" (one of his signature dishes).  I had no idea what most of that meant other than high quality raw tuna served creatively.

But compare this to a pile of nachos, or cheese fries, or chicken wings.  There's something very graceful and beautiful about this food.  There should be joy when consuming it.  You are ingesting something worthy of time and care, not a deep fat fryer. We sat around sampling this appetizer (3 cones for 8 people!) as well as the entrees that each of us ordered and tried to figure out what was in them, how they were prepared, and were just overwhelmed with the feeling of "you have to try this" and passing our plate to another person.  We all left feeling full, not just on food, but on the experience we shared with each other.

At this point I'm rambling, but if I could just impart one thing, one tiny piece of wisdom that as a 28 y/o woman it has taken a lifetime to learn:

You are worthy of nutritious, beautiful, tasty food.   You are worthy of something that takes more than 30-minutes to prepare.  You are worthy of a great ingredient, even if it means that you can't have a lot of it (i.e. go for the good whole chicken that costs $16 but lived its life among grass, and bugs, and sunlight rather than the $10 extra value pack of factory processed chicken thighs -- it might mean your portions are smaller and the chicken doesn't go as far, but that is okay, you will survive and be better for it).  You are worthy of eating food from a plate that was cooked on a stove versus eating food from a plastic dish that was cooked in a microwave.  You are worthy of the time it takes to sit and savor something.  And most importantly, you are worthy of feeling hungry.  Feeling hungry does not mean you have failed at providing your body with what it needs, it means you are listening to your body and respecting its cues.

Read this paragraph over and over until it becomes your mantra.  You won't feel like you're depriving yourself of something you want, but you're making a choice to honor your body, the work you do to keep it healthy, and I'd even go a step further and say you're honoring the person you will be tomorrow by not making that person deal with the residuals from today.

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<3 Robby