My daughter, Tammy, sent me a link to read on foodies who were asked to expose the secrets of their kitchens. What will you find in their refrigerators, pantries, and cupboards? The world wanted to know. Last night I thought of this again when I had one of those terrible attacks of wanting to eat the carb-ridden snacks of my past. Thankfully, though I scoured for a few moments, there were no ‘dangerous’ snacks available!
Hello, my name is Mary and I am a carb addict.
Now I am not saying all carbs are bad or that carbs are bad at all … in moderation. If you are a person like me you have to be very aware of your weakness and your commitment to a healthier lifestyle has to reflect that. I know this is true because admission a few years ago and changing my lifestyle has resulted in not only losing 70 pounds, but being healthier in general.
There was a day when I could go through my whole day and eat only carbs. Sound crazy? How about a bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner. I am sure a few nutritious things fell on the pizza or the pasta, but seriously, that was an average day for me.
Things changed a few years ago when Barry and I were visiting Tammy and Boyfriend (aka Mike). We took the metro from their apartment in Arlington and went to DC to see the beautiful cherry blossoms. It was a breathtaking experience. No, literally, it was breath-taking. I finally had my “Ah ha!” moment on that excursion. Though I married the most loving and supportive man on the planet, I was brutally aware of my limitations on that day.
By the time I had worked up a sweat, Barry was just getting started. I couldn’t keep up, but I didn’t want to admit it, so I pushed myself beyond reason. On the metro trip home I had chest pains. I was secretly praying, “Dear God, please don’t let me die on the metro. Please let me at least get to a hospital.”
Well, I didn’t have the heart attack I feared, but I did have an epiphany: it was time to change my habits and recapture my health and well-being. So I did. I went for a comprehensive health evaluation and I found a plan with the support of my doctor that would get me on the road to better health. Frankly, the weight loss almost became a delightful by-product. The journey began with a step. I had to admit I was eating poorly and it was compromising my well-being.
Purging my kitchen of the foods that were my downfall came first. Doing this without punishing Barry in the process was sometimes tricky, but he didn’t suffer much – or at least not for long! I began to follow the mantra “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” (Note: I mean this in the healthiest way possible. None of that “suffering for the sake of beauty” crap.) So my diet got a makeover from heavy to light. I had to cut the carbs and bump up the protein. And I had to add the, then, almost non-existent produce that is now the bulk of my diet.
Out went the candy, the cookies, and the ice cream. I repeat: out went the candy, the cookies, and the ice cream. Reduced were the “white demons” ~ potatoes, breads, pastas, and rice. Phew! I was feeling lighter already.
I have a great pantry space, but that needed evaluation too. Canned vegetables were tossed, as were packaged quick rices and quick prep foods. My pantry now primarily holds those things that support my cooking. You will find a variety of broths in a variety of sizes. There is chicken, beef, and vegetable broth in both large boxes and 16 oz. cans. I have a large variety of condiments. Yup. Love them. They support my quest for flavor. I have canned tomatoes in different sizes and types: crushed, diced, and whole. There are San Marzanos and organic fire roasted tomatoes. These help me make chilis and sauces and sometimes a quick toss meal with pasta. (Yes, pasta is allowed back into my kitchen from time to time.) And there are cans of a variety of beans. Buy these on sale too! I recently made my own hummus for the first time so chick peas are now a staple!
My cupboards have baking necessities and a plethora of seasonings, herbs, and spices. My refrigerator and counters now have produce instead of cookies and candy. When I went truffle-hunting last night I found crisp red grapes and was satisfied with a handful. Another battle won. Then what are my go-to grocery items?
- Produce! Produce! Produce!
- fontina cheese ~ my personal favorite
- other cheeses for cooking ~ watch for sales and buy your favorites. I just bought monterey jack and sharp white cheddar on sale.
- tortillas ~ they make lighter sandwiches or crispy chips for salsa
- PROTEIN ~ usually chicken or pork, with occasional beef
- edamame ~ Barry and I both love it and eat it probably twice a week.
- nuts ~ keep them in the freezer. Right now I have walnuts, pine nuts, slivered almonds and whole roasted almonds in my freezer.
- quinoa ~ yes, there are carbs, but less carb and some protein! We will talk about quinoa another day!
Switching from a diet dependent on carbs to one high in protein, the weight came off and my health improved remarkably. Six prescription medications are no longer needed. I have more energy and can keep up with my husband!
Speaking of Barry, I don’t deprive him of his treats. He loves potato sticks, so I buy those. He loves apple walnut bread, which can almost always be found in the kitchen. I make fudge for him and I actually make his trail mix so that it has his favorite things in it. So he is well taken care of and these are not items that tempt me.
The journey started with a single step but it was a big one. I am still on that journey, and from time to time it is good to reflect on where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. It is worth the effort because my health is the beneficiary.
Where is your journey taking you? What’s in your kitchen? Have a healthy, carb-reduced, protein and produce rich weekend!