Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Reality of Being a Foodie...

I think Spring is actually here now. Today, the temperature warmed up again and it's only going to get warmer. I think this is really going to force me to have to remember which of my giant tupperware-like storage containers holds my Spring/Summer clothes. Of course, this is all assuming that my clothes will still fit. Given my obsession with the Food Network and my devotion to Mario Batali and his highly caloric though delicious recipes, I might have an issue there.

Weight is a funny thing. I was a skinny little thing through most of my life until I got to about age twenty-seven. Then I realized that being skinny was starting to take work. Now, some years later, it's definitely taking work. I'm no longer skinny. I'm not overweight, not by all those Body Mass Index thingies they insist on having you participate in at health fairs. Still, I know, compared to the Captain Monkeypants of ten years ago, I'm no longer skinny.

I go back and forth on that. I see friends and coworkers who are gung-ho for Weight Watchers. They count their points. They exercise. They deny themselves of all things tasty and truly delicious, replacing them with low/no-fat substitutes that try to convince us taste exactly the same as the naughty versions but, in reality, taste almost like nothing.

Quite frequently, at work, I'm pouring a cup of coffee in the kitchen and a coworker will come in to make toast. They use that healthy bread that's low in calories. Then they spray it with some generic "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" type of spray. Then they leave, excited to eat their breakfast.

I think it's the 'non-butter' spray that gets me. That's not butter. It's a sprayable form of margarine. Butter's bad qualities are saturated fat and cholesterol. Margarine's bad qualities are trans fat.

Also, in the Butter vs. Margarine battle...well, honestly, have you ever had a good slice of toast with butter and then tried one with margarine? If not, try it. You'll realize that while margarine might be more Weight Watcher's friendly, in some ways, there's no comparison, namely...taste.

I suppose I do admire those Weight Watchers who actually do keep track of their points and their trips to the gym. I've tried it. I like my yoga but, currently, trying to do yoga with two puppies running around is pretty much a complete loss. If I tried to do a downward-facing-dog, I'd have an upward-facing-puppy trying to lick my nose nip at my trousers. I could crate them but I'd have a cacaphony of puppy-whining to accompany my 'relaxing yoga music'. When they're older, it'll be easier. In the meantime, given that I crate the puppies for 8 hours, total, a day (with a one hour break for lunch), I can't deny them their evening freedom.

So I think what I'm trying to say is that...I'm not a Weight Watcher. I can't be. I like food too much. If I was on Weight Watchers, I'd be forbidden from going to Jungle Jim's and trying all the delicious things I see on Iron Chef America and want to try for myself. Cooking is so much more fun when you don't have to really substitute for calories. It's far less limited to have everything on hand for which a recipe calls and then not have to read the labels to see if it's ok to use the ingredient to meet a diet.

I'm not saying I'm being a glutton but if a recipe calls for bacon, I tend to use...bacon. I've tried the turkey stuff and, well, it's not bad but it's not bacon. If it was, it wouldn't be called TURKEY-bacon. It's hard to substitue a recipe and have it taste as good. Take, for example, Mr. Batali's recipe for Fettucini Alfredo. His version has four ingredients: Egg noodle fettucini pasta, parmagiano reggiano cheese, butter and water from the boiled pasta. Oh, and salt and pepper to season. It's simple. It's absolutely delicious. It's not as healthy as a Lean Cusine meal, that's for sure. Yet if you try to substitute any of the ingredients...it's not the same dish, no matter how optimistic you are. You can replace the pasta with whole wheat noodles, the butter with margarine and the cheese, well, you could try to replace it with any low-fat cheese you find, even that bagged "parmesan" that you get in the pre-shredded cheese section. When you try...you get...pasta and cheese. It's not Fettucini Alfredo anymore. It's...something else.

I think that's the reason I'm getting heavier and can't necessarily fit into those thinner-person clothes I own. I've learned that for pure taste, there's no substition. You can cut corners in some places but when it comes down to it, taste is the best part of any meal.

Still, just like any normal woman, I admit, I'd like to do something about that excess weight that arrived somewhere between the last of the summer salads and the end of the winter comfort food. I may try to work in some exercise time at work. I'd like to be able to wear some of my older clothes even if I know that some of them will never fit me again.

I think, though, what it really comes down to is self-perception. Isn't that always what it comes down to, when we really look at it? Several years ago, the skinny Captain Monkeypants prided herself on being healthy and being able to avoid sweets. Now, in present time, Captain Monkeypants still exhibits good self-control over sweets and temptations but...she's learned to cook. Not only has she learned to cook but she's learned to cook from chefs who would smack her with a wet towel if they heard her considering to substitute margarine for butter. Stupid Food Network.

I suppose when I try on some of my Spring wardrobe, I may decide that drastic dieting and exercise are in my future. Yet, knowing me, I may try it for a week and then realize that I can't do it. The way I look at it is that while I might have gone up a size in clothing, it's not a hard size to find. I can still find clothes on sale in my size without too much bother.

I think most importantly, I just need to ask myself if I'm ok not being a skinny little rake and, instead, being a more realistic woman with curves, a little too much celluite and a taste for real butter.

As much as the fashion magazines encourage me to be a rake, there's a reason that I don't subscribe to any of them and, instead, subscibe to Food Network Magazine: It's much easier to cook a meal from a recipe in Food Network magazine than it is to try to look like a fashion model. Also, it means I can eat without calculation or having to do maths of any kind.

Of course, when I try on my Spring wardrobe, I might just change my mind.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

Fe said...

Instantly, a saying comes to mind... "Never trust a skinny cook" :)

That being said, bring on the butter. :)