I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Tag: Greek Yogurt

Comfort Food

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Jangled

I’m a little jangled right now. My son started his first day of 11th grade, which I dealt with by feeling overwhelmed with stress on the work front. My daughter leaves tomorrow for her second year of college, which leaves me feeling excited, proud, melancholy, and old. Less stressful than Year 1, but still emotional. I took a too-hard, too-crowded, too-much-rap-music (wtf?) yoga class, which made me angry and tearful: My hip is cranky; who are these people who CAN do this class? Clearly I am getting too old. Maybe I will just sing and knit and get fat. Yowza!

Jangled.

Thursday night, I dreamt that my pet parakeet had a new water dispenser and I realized that she could drown in it if I didn’t watch over her at all times. Do you think I am worried about my children? As our pediatrician counseled us at baby-proofing stage, only half-joking: “Never let them out of your sight.”

Friday night, I dreamt that my hair suddenly was much grayer. I wondered if I should begin to color it, debating between being my authentic self and not wanting to look too old. Do you think I am worried about aging? Who IS that woman in the mirror and what did she do with my 35-year-old self?

When doing some back-to-school errands with my daughter, someone made a strange turn at an intersection. I thought about my son beginning to drive and was overcome with the dangers of driving and the fear of losing them to an accident. Which would be devastating.  Which led me to musing at how wonderful both my children are. Precious, good, honest, empathetic, better than me, better than my husband. How is it possible that these two amazing human beings are my children? Which led me me to tears at a stop light. Praying that they survive the dangers of everyday living.  Overcome with love and gratitude.

Jangled.

Clearly, I am in need of some comfort food. The problem is that traditional comfort foods (Macaroni and Cheese, Oreos and Milk, Pot Roast with Gravy) are too rich. I don’t enjoy these foods. I feel too guilty.  And too full.  For me, comfort food is simple and easy, includes favorite childhood foods, can be eaten in large quantities, and is healthily guilt-free.

When I was a little girl, we had a neighbor with an extensive garden who would let me eat tomatoes warm off the vine. They were perhaps the most delicious food ever. I never tire of good tomatoes but am usually frustrated that they never live up to my memory of those garden tomatoes.  Every summer, my mother would make a simple salad of tomatoes and avocado.  She must be one of the first people who put together a simple composed salad without any lettuce. Who needs lettuce!

The local tomatoes have been pretty good this summer. And, ballerina-eating-trick: you can eat vast quantities of tomatoes without incurring a lot of calories. No need for lettuce, the tomatoes form a delicious base for salads and require minimal dressing. While I don’t eat very much meat any more, I do love chicken and indulge in it occasionally.  This is one of my favorite go-to salads and is what I had for lunch on this day of mixed and jangled emotions.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Yogurt Vinaigrette

  • 1 small grilled chicken breast
  • ½ cup leftover brown rice
  • ½ beefsteak tomato
  • ½ avocado
  • Corn, cut from 1 leftover cob (I always make extra corn on the cob for leftovers)

Dice everything into roughly equal sized small pieces. If you are OCD, like me, you can even make sure that you have the same number of pieces of each ingredient, insuring that each bite has a little bit of everything.

Yogurt Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tablespoons plain greek yogurt (ballerina-eating-trick: Replace some fats with plain greek yogurt. Adds tang and has fewer calories and fat. I use plain greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches.)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

Whisk together and spoon over salad.

1 large salad for lunch – good for jangled nerves, especially if you share the salad with your college-bound daughter.

Lunch in the New Year?

BrownBagLunchBrownBagLunchBrownBagLunch

Measuring Austerity

The Christmas tree is down.  I am sad.  My kids are sad.  It was a wonderful holiday this year, filled with love.  And now it is January.  Perhaps the best part of January is that my husband’s birthday is this month.  Not only do we have a family occasion to celebrate, but I can feel the days getting longer when his birthday arrives.

But the other truth is:  The Christmas tree is down – I am relieved.  SO relieved to be in the bracingly harsh disciplined January regimen!  No more free-wheeling nonschedule with access to an abundance of food and time on my hands to do nothing.  God forbid I should sit on the couch and watch tv and eat more than my austere allowable allotment of a 120-calorie treat of some kind (2 cookies or a yogurt).  January is the time for exercising more and eating less and feeling smugly virtuous with that twinge of hunger gnawing at me, telling me I am losing the holiday weight.  (Not that I allowed myself to gain any holiday weight.)

I am not proud to feel so proud and smug.

When Dr. Oz (Dr. Oz!  Am I a cliche?  50 year old woman blogs and cites Dr. Oz!) revealed (in the print edition of October 12 Prevention magazine – yes the print edition.  The full article is not online.  It has been bastardized into a slide show to generate more page views for ad selling metrics.  Long live print.) that one of his tactics for reducing stress and keeping slim was to eat the same breakfast every day, I smiled with recognition.  He’s one of us!  A neurotic disciplined ocd control freak.  Well, it does simplify life to have a specific repertoire of meals with a specific balance of calories, taste, and nutrition at your finger-tips.  I rotate between about 4 breakfasts and 4 lunches.  I truly feel unmoored when meals are too unscheduled.  While my methods may not be glamorous, they do work.

When I first conceived of writing about eating, I imagined myself writing an instructive self-help diet book.  As I reflected on my future as the next (wildly celebrated!) diet book guru, I couldn’t help but wonder at the irony.  Self help about dieting from someone with an eating disorder is absurd!  But hey, if you want to lose weight in., advice from a former ballerina should do the trick.

Brown-bagging lunch works better when you have more than one “course” so you feel like your getting a fully satisfying eating experience.  I always have a main course, followed by a measured allotment of dark bitterdark chocolate, and a large quantity of fresh fruit.  The chocolate is decadent and you don’t need much to feel like you’re having a treat (and it’s healthy).  The quantity of fruit is sweet, refreshing, takes time to eat, fills you up, and feels like dessert.  To drink, I eliminated soda (diet) several years ago and switched to homemade unsweetened ice tea.  My skin has improved texture and looks younger.  Amazing.

I estimate that by brown-bagging my lunch, I have saved well over $1,200 and easily lost 4 pounds annually.

While  you are experimenting with brown-bagging it at lunchtime (please use reusable bags), I plan to activate one of my new year’s resolutions:  to be more sociable and go out with a friend at least once a week.

Hummus and Feta Sandwich (a simplified version originally from Bon Appetit)

Hummus

  • 1 14.5 ounce can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tablespoons tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Blend together in food processor to make hummus – keeps for 2 weeks.

Sandwich

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (I like Vermont Bread Company organic whole wheat.  The slices are not too big which means the sandwich is a normal portion size, not super-sized.  Also, there is not too much sugar.  Many of the more commercial brands add quite a bit of sugar to their whole wheat bread, so that people like my 13 year old son will like whole wheat bread.)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons hummus, spread across both slices
  • 2 ounces Feta

Turkey, Cheddar, and Avocado Sandwich

  • 1 slice of Mestemacher Natural 3 Grain Bread (this bread is tangy-sour), cut in half
  • Spread bread with plain greek yogurt (I use greek yogurt with everything.  It has protein and no fat.  It is tangy-sour, adding more flavor than mayonnaise, and is thicker and more spreadable than regular yogurt.)
  • Add 2-3 slices of turkey.
  • 1.5 ounces of Cheddar (My favorite is 7 year aged Old Quebec Vintage Cheddar – super sharp.)
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced

Peanut Butter and Jelly

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 3 Tablespoons natural chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Simon-Fischer apricot butter

Almond Butter on Raisin Bread

  • 2 slices whole wheat raisin bread (Vermont Bread Company)
  • 3 Tablespoons almond butter

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup prepared black bean salad (I cheat.  My local stores all have decent versions.)

Good as is, or enhance with some chopped radicchio and crumbled feta

Sweet Potato with Greek Yogurt

This is one of my favorite easy, quick meals and is very satisfying.  I microwave a large sweet potato for about 6-7 minutes.  It cooks more evenly if it is not to thick.  Spread the potato with a hefty portion of plain greek yogurt.

Ice Tea

  • Boil 1 quart of water
  • Steep 1 English Breakfast tea bag and 1 Green tea bag for 3 minutes
  • Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Bring with brown bag lunch in a thermos.

Dessert

6 squares of Sweetriot Pure 85% Dark Chocolate  (It is very bitter, with strong and complex flavor.  My husband stole one of my squares and looked at me aghast, feeling betrayed.  I tried not to mind that he stole it, but generally wound up feeling triumphant that he will not steal from me any time soon.  So ungenerous.)

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