Thursday, January 12, 2012
Ben and Jerry’s and the Food of a Primal Chick
I openly admit that I am a foodie. I watch Food Network and drool over the gorgeous meals they produce. I don’t dream in black and white. I dream in barbecue sauce. I’ve been known to get out at midnight in my pajama pants in search of the perfect Ben and Jerry’s pint. This goes a long way towards explaining the 80-90 extra pounds I carry around.
After deciding to Do Something About It, I began to agonize over what I’d be giving up. If you are interested in the science or want to go in depth with information about the Primal Blueprint, there’s a link to Mark’s Daily Apple on the right side of the page. For my purpose here, let’s just cut it down to this: no grains of any kind, no sugar, and no processed foods. We eat meat, fruits and veggies, eggs, dairy, seeds, and nuts. I thought, “Ew. No more cheeseburgers? No more pizza? No more bread or pasta? I’m going to hate this. No, I’m going to DIE!” But I was determined to follow through with this Do Something idea, so I sighed the deep sigh of the martyr and trudged forward.
I began to look up recipes online, and then ordered a few used cookbooks from Amazon. Some looked weird, I’ll admit. Offal? Oh, hell to the no. Others, though, caught my attention. The first week, I made venison chili, grilled chicken BLTA’s, venison backstrap with blackberry marinade, and cheeseburgers. Yep, grilled those burgers, topped ‘em with aged cheddar, lettuce, a slab of tomato, and some bacon. No bun. Burger King had nothing on this delight. One Saturday morning I cooked up some nitrate/nitrite free sausage with mushrooms, scrambled about 24 eggs, and threw it all together with some cheese and green onion in my muffin tins. Baked them for about 20 minutes and had breakfast for everyone for over a week. I sliced up sweet potatoes and tossed them with olive oil and seasonings and baked them until they were crispy. I threw together several Big Ass Salads filled with just about everything I had in my fridge. I found the key to life was preparation. An hour or two spent firing up the Foreman grill, slicing veggies, boiling some eggs, and sizzling up some bacon kept me in lunches and breakfasts for the week. I was feeling very Betty Crocker. Or Martha Stewart. Pick your homemaker of choice here, folks. It was a good thing.
Then the inevitable happened. We were out running errands, time got away from us, and we didn’t have time to cook dinner. We would….*gasp*…have to go out to eat! What would I do? What would I eat? Pulling into the restaurant parking lot, I steeled myself to face those piles of golden fried pickles and crispy homemade potato chips. I scanned the menu and ordered carefully, ignoring the funny look I got from the waitress when I said, “No bun.” The rest of the family ordered their usual-fried chicken strips, fries, chips, burgers. (I am slowly weaning my children off the junk and into the Primal lifestyle. Cold turkey doesn’t fly well with older kids. We’re almost there now. It’s hard to eat what Mama doesn’t buy.)When the food arrived, I found them all looking longingly at my plate. They had greasy, brown-crusted chicken strips and limp potatoes dripping in oil. I had a grilled chicken breast topped with Swiss cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and bacon. It sat beside a huge green salad filled with bright red tomatoes, green slices of cucumber, and bright orange carrots. My meal sparkled. It smelled good. It looked fresh. It was real. What had happened to their chicken was a crime against nature. You couldn’t even tell that it had once been a chicken.
At that moment, I began to understand something. I am not “giving up” the good stuff. I have been denying myself the good stuff for years. What I was eating wasn’t even real food half the time! Look at your labels, friends. What did they do to that grain, vegetable, meat, or dairy to get it that way? How many things are in there that aren’t even FOOD? Words like ‘hydrogenated’ and ‘emulsified’, along with that mystical Red Dye #5, don’t belong on something we are going to put in our bodies! I realized I have been mistreating myself with those things I’d considered treats! What I’m eating now tastes better, and I feel better.
So I’m experimenting in the kitchen now. I made a primal meatloaf and green beans with mushrooms. I made a huge pan of spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and parmesan that everyone LOVED, and the kids told me they no longer hate spinach. Miracles happen, my friends. I’m keeping ahead of the game by preparing large batches of recipes and grilled meats on Saturday mornings to have on hand all week, so I am actually spending less time in the kitchen. I just have to go throw it all together. I’m enjoying what I’m eating. I don’t even miss the junk food.
That perfect pint of Ben and Jerry’s, though, still calls to me at midnight occasionally. I never said I was perfect.