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Emerging From a Food Rut

Posted May 28 2009 11:24pm

By Lynn Haraldson-Bering

About a year ago, I wrote about how bored I was with my strength training routine (“ Kicking It Up A Notch ”). So I bought a barbell and got refocused. I don’t know what it is about this time of the year, but now I’m bored with my food choices.

Every morning I make a smoothie. Every afternoon I make a salad. Every night I eat a veggie, a protein and maybe a starch. I use different fruits in my smoothie or use a different kind of soy or almond milk, but it’s still a smoothie. I switch up veggies in my salad (hearts of palm one day, red onions the next – whoohoo) but it’s still a salad. I use different beans in my bean burgers, but they’re still bean burgers.

Yawn.

It’s not that I need to try all kinds of new foods or want to reintroduce meat to my diet. I’m pretty happy with the core repertoire I’ve got going as a vegetarian. It’s the combinations of foods in a recipe, the spices, the order in which I eat things that need to change. What happened to the Lynn who loved to eat breakfast for dinner and leftovers for breakfast? Life, I guess. There’s comfort in knowing I have the same old reliable foods on hand so I don’t have to put a lot of thought into what I’ll eat when I’m as busy as I’ve been the last few months. But the new grandbaby is here and my writing project is in the hands of someone else for the time being, so it’s time to get out of this rut.

Lentils This morning, I dug out one of my favorite cookbooks, one I haven’t looked at in six months or more: " Betty Crocker’s Healthy New Choices". I forgot how much I love Red Lentil Soup, and I discovered a black-eyed peas recipe that I wouldn’t have given a second look if not for having tried black-eyed peas a while back and loved them. So it’s off to the store to buy black-eyed Blackeyed_peas peas and some red lentils, since the ones I have stored in an old margarine container in the back of the cupboard probably haven’t seen the light of day in a year. I’m surprised they haven’t sprouted legs and walked out on their own.

After perusing the cookbook, I automatically went to the freezer to grab frozen fruit for a smoothie. Wait! You’re thinking outside the box, remember? said the voice in my head. I opened the refrigerator instead. There on the top shelf was my husband’s light cream cheese. I say my husband’s because I haven’t eaten cream cheese in more than a year. Heck, I think it’s been two, almost three years, maybe.

Bagel I have a long history with cream cheese, and it’s one of those foods that makes me sad to eat in small quantities, if that makes sense. When I was 300 pounds, I chose between two standard breakfasts: 1) drive-through McDonald’s for two (yes t-w-o) Egg McMuffins and a hash brown; or 2) a toasted (very well) bagel with veggie cream cheese and a coffee loaded with half-and-half from our local coffee shop. Granted, the coffee shop uses only light cream cheese, but when you’re talking three or more tablespoons, there’s nothing light about it.

As I lost weight, I still ate a half bagel with smaller amounts of cream cheese whenever I went to the coffee shop, but when the half bagel was done, I wanted more. The craving was overwhelming. So much so that I had to give up cream cheese and bagels entirely because it was literally emotional torture to tell myself “no” to more cream cheese. Ridiculous, perhaps, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who understands this.

Back to this morning. I spied the cream cheese and thought, Hmmm…I’ve got some lovely chives growing in the garden, a whole-wheat Arnold’s Sandwich Thin in the bread drawer…I think I’d like to give it a try.  

I toasted the Arnold’s and snipped some chives, measured out a tablespoon of cream cheese and made a pseudo-bagel with cream cheese.

It. Was. Divine.

And I didn’t want or crave anymore than that one tablespoon. Could it be I have no more emotional ties to cream cheese? 

I wanted fruit for breakfast, too. Rather than reach for the old standby – a banana – I again grabbed one of my husband’s staple foods. A grapefruit. I see and smell the grapefruit he eats almost every day and think, You really should have some one of these days, but I always have the frozen fruit and a banana or apple, and since I only eat two fruits a day, I run out of “food time” for the grapefruit.

So I took out a grapefruit, and instead of cutting it in half and eating it with a grapefruit spoon, I peeled it and ate it in sections.

It. Was. Devine.

I always try to eat a veggie for breakfast, too. Usually it’s broccoli or asparagus from the night before. This morning, however, there were steamed carrots from – surprise, surprise – my husband’s meal last night! I heated those up, too, and…they were divine as well.

A totally different breakfast has me thinking in all kinds of different ways this morning. I’m really excited to make Red Lentil Soup this afternoon and the black-eyed peas tomorrow and any other different recipe I can find that is a little outside my ordinary of late.

Viggo Who says maintenance has to be dull? We have to shake things up once in awhile or we get bored. And as Hollywood hunk-o-rama Viggo Mortensen (whom I prefer without a beard, personally) said, “There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever.”

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