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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.)