First off, how about a hearty round of applause for NPW on last week's Choose Your Own Blogventure game? Wasn't that fun? I know it was no small feat organizing all of us wily bloggers into formation for such an undertaking, but NPDubs did it presumably with all fingernails still intact. Well done, my friend. I won't dare ask you when the next CYOB will be, but I do believe you have started something that must happen again. Good luck with that. And by the way, as a brief side note, is it just me, or do the rest of you see "CYOB" and want to turn those letters into "Carry Your Own Booze" or "Cover Your Own Butt" or some other similar distortion of another semi-well-known acronym? No? That's just me? I thought so. Moving on.
Friday after work I spent an absurd amount of money on groceries. ("Absurd" = $161, which, eerily, is the same amount that Poppy spent on groceries this weekend as well. As we both live alone, we were equally dismayed we managed to rack up that total.) In my defense, I had not gone shopping for weeks, and I was essentially down to spaghetti sauce, Kraft singles, pudding cups, and Triscuits. Sometimes I think it would be fun to host an Iron Chef-esque reality show in my home. In my version, though, there would be no secret ingredient. Instead, the catch would be that the chefs have to make a delicious meal using only ingredients I have on hand. I would love to see what inventive and remarkable things could be accomplished with no staples such as bread, eggs, or vegetables. Don't worry, chefs... I have flour! And condiments! Surely you can do something with those! (Incidentally, have I already written about this idea before? It's entirely possible I have. Carry on.)
So anyway, I went grocery shopping so that I wouldn't resort to having Kellogg's All Bran crackers dipped in cream cheese for dinner (or, to be more honest, resort to having Kellogg's All Bran crackers dipped in cream cheese for dinner a second night in a row). Rather than filling my cart with my usual boxes of carb-heavy, preservative-laden frozen and packaged foods, however, I did what the experts have been telling me to do for years: I focused nearly all my shopping in the outer areas of the store--the produce, dairy, and fresh foods area--and made only a few forays into the inner aisles. I bought fruit! And not just bananas! I bought a papaya and a mango and a bag of oranges! I bought lettuce! And jicama! And cherry tomatoes! I am entirely more proud of myself for this than I should be. I felt like the cashier should have given me a gold star when I piled my selections on the conveyor belt.
I've tried this "I'm going to eat real food" thing before... several times, in fact. It never sticks, largely because I am lazy and I do not like going to the grocery store as regularly as is required when the food you're buying is food that can't be stockpiled for weeks. Also, real food requires assembly and preparation. Theoretically, I'd love to bring a healthy snack such as baby carrots and hummus to work, but that requires divvying the carrots up into a little bag and finding a handy travel-sized container to hold a serving or so of dip, and making time for these bothersome tasks in my morning routine would require that I hit the snooze button a time or two less, and that, friends, is a battle I just can't seem to win. So we'll see how long this healthy eating kick lasts this time. I did rather well all weekend, if you don't count the many pumpkin oatmeal cookies I have eaten (Did anyone else make these after Noelle posted the recipe? If not, why not?? They are damn tasty.) or the three spoonfuls of peanut butter that I for some reason ate straight out of the jar, drizzled with honey, about a half hour ago. Oh, and also, the ridiculously over-the-top dinner I had last night. So really, I suppose I didn't actually do so well at all. Baby steps, as they say. Baby steps indeed.
Last night's dinner was, however, delicious. I don't know why I haven't been here before, it being rather conveniently located for me and having gained rave reviews in several publications around town. I am glad I finally went, though, if for no other reason than I now have a perfect "date place" in mind, should I ever actually go on a date again. Or, more specifically, should I go on a date with a rugged man's-man sort of guy who thinks dinner isn't dinner without a big slab of meat involved. (A note to my vegetarian friends: You might want to avert your eyes through this paragraph. Think fond thoughts of tofu and move along.) This restaurant is like a classier, urban, foodie-friendly version of our famous local barbecue chain. Their chicken is so juicy, their pork so perfectly seasoned that it makes me think those redneck bumper stickers have a point: if God didn't want me to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them so damn tasty. This place is so serious about their meat that they even put it in their vegetables. Yams topped with chorizo... collard greens with turkey. You can have your meat with a side of meat. I am telling you, boys would love this place. Or, many of the boys I've known would, anyway. I'll test this theory out eventually and report back.
But back to my grocery adventure. I mentioned listening to the "experts" and shopping primarily in the produce section. I haven't admitted that the "expert," in this case, is Montel Williams. Yes, that Montel Williams. Did you know he wrote a book? He wrote a few of them, actually. The one I have from the library at the moment, however, is this one. I don't even remember how I came across it, but I read the summary and somehow got sucked in. I do want to transform my life and feel spectacular! I do want to look better, feel better, have more energy and fewer aches and pains. But can Montel really make that happen? Maybe he can and maybe he can't. I'm only about a third of the way through the book, and so far I can sum it up thusly: "Vegetables are good for you! Eat more of them! Fish is good, too! I'm 51 years old and I look and feel great! I can wear a Speedo if I want to! Vegetables! Yay, vegetables! Superfoods!"
I may have taken a few liberties with the exclamation points, but I think you get the point. In any case, he does offer some fairly useful advice for incorporating those pesky vegetables into my life by encouraging me to blend them up into tasty drinks. I haven't yet tossed a head of Romaine in the blender with an orange and some ice cubes, as he recommended, but I did make a tropical fruit smoothie yesterday that was so good I almost forgot it was good for me.
So anyway. Healthy eating. Routine consumption of fruits and vegetables. It's my new (old) goal right now. I give it until Wednesday before I'm baking a frozen pizza again, but at the moment, I have high hopes, anyway. Wish me luck, because I will need it. Luck, and tips, actually. Have you figured out a way for complicated salads to miraculously make themselves? How about a way to make broccoli or cauliflower taste good without being slathered with cheese or salt? Anyone? Anything? I'm all ears.