I've reached the final day of my self-inflicted...ahem, imposed low-carb diet. The last few days haven’t been tough at all really, but I have to admit that I didn't stick to the 20 carbs per day limit. There's only so much you can ask of a reluctant dieter.
Sadly, my scale hasn't reflected much change, just about five pounds. However I did say that wasn't the main focus (liar, liar, pants on fire). You have to admit that it helps to see those digital numbers work backwards on your scale. It's purely psychological, which is probably why shows like the Biggest Loser have their weigh-ins. It keeps the "Losers" motivated. The great thing is that my clothes are far more loose, not the slutty kind of "loose," the reason we diet kind.
Actually, both definitions apply, don't they?
One of my thin neighbors suggested I try a low-carb plan where the carbs are reduced during the week and then I enjoy myself a bit more on the weekends. He lost fifty pounds doing it, so it’s really a no-brainer that I should give it a try. I really just want to lose ten pounds, okay fifteen, so what?
There are few things I've missed while on this diet adventure, aside from the satisfaction of a full stomach, that I plan to reinstate now that it's over:
Bread - I'm a simple gal who likes a little toast with my eggs and maybe a sandwich now and then. But, I’m not one of those nutty folks who literally moan when freshly baked bread is placed before them, or the Husband who can’t seem to make it through the grocery store without eating half of a crusty baguette. You should see the strain in his face when the kids ask for a piece. I'm convinced he feels actual physical pain as he hands it to them.
Potatoes - Ya gotta have the hash-browns at breakfast! Not everyday, mind you, just on the weekends and perhaps Monday through Friday - but only those days, otherwise it's really too much.
Tortillas - Some might say this falls in the bread category, but any tortilla connoisseur knows better. These circular vessels of cuisine are essential to my well-being and I will once again proclaim that almost anything tastes good in a tortilla. I’m not sure what there is to exclude, but the “almost” is for the ones who always have to think of something. You know who you are.
Italian Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Veggies
So begins my next food adventure. Although I'm looking forward to returning some much needed carb-fuel to my menu, I do still plan to use many of the recipes I've received and researched to make low-carb options easier. I love to try new things when I cook, so why not?
And, I guess if you absolutely have to label it, it would technically be a "diet" as I'm still holding out on my body's deluded thirst for carbs. But, I'll just call it something else...like, George Clooney. It will go something like this:
"Hey, are you on a diet?"
"No, I'm on George Clooney."
See what I just did?
I find myself once again at the brink of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I look forward to it immensely every year, never wondering what might be served. The table will always house my favorite things: roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce straight from the can. Yes, I said from a can! Anything else on the table is superfluous as far as I’m concerned. Oh wait…the rolls, I can’t forget the rolls AND they have to be that cheap $.99 kind. Why? Tradition, of course! By tradition I mean that the first batch of rolls is to be burnt because we ritually fail to remember they’re in the oven. So, getting the cheap kind makes the crime of wasted bread easier.
Families getting together and relishing the many flavors customarily at our table year after year is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Grandma’s dressing, mom’s freshly mashed potatoes flooded with butter and sour cream, and a rich gravy that cannot be made without the essence of the turkey that just roasted, ever. My contribution is baked sweet-potatoes, the last acceptable addition to our unvarying feast. It was over a decade ago when I ambitiously tried a new recipe, having since made it my own. I'll admit that I attempted making them different last year, however I knew immediately that I had made a mistake after the first bite. Thanksgiving…shot! Kidding, I saved it when I made my traditional one the next day for leftovers, thus allowing to world to spin properly again.
This isn’t to say that a family member won’t make a delightful cranberry relish or even a friend sharing their famous broccoli-cheese casserole. Not only are they delicious (usually), but welcomed. All I’m saying is that my plate must be filled with the foods I’m thankful for – or else. Kidding…actually no, I'm not.
I'm very flexible when it comes to daily meals, really. On any given day you’ll find me trying to put a spin on chicken, fish or even ground beef. By the way, ever notice how limiting ground beef is? What do we got? Meat loaf, hamburgers, spaghetti or tacos – that’s about it. Nevertheless, I’m always online at Food Network, using the All Recipes app on my phone or fishing through many a cookbook, desperate to try something new. I’m pleased to say that I’ve created some pretty amazing things that have surprisingly expanded the very limited palate of my kids. That, my friends, is what it’s all about, pleasing the family. Unless you’re talking about Thanksgiving, then it’s all about me.
Bridgette and me.
But…this Thanksgiving will be different because we’re spending it with my dear friend and her amazing mother. Although I am genuinely thrilled at the idea, I did fear the initial discussion of the menu as this is her home. Far be it from me to be an ungrateful guest. Yet, I knew my alter-ego, the Thanksgiving Day Bully, would surface...and it did, yet very graciously. Can you believe my canned cranberry sauce was ridiculed?
I’m delighted to say that our Thanksgiving menu has been decided without jeopardizing a friendship. I’ll get my cranberries jellied as I like and she’ll make a fabulous cranberry soufflé that will no doubt make the finest of chefs green with envy. The important thing is that we are maintaining our individual traditions while creating new ones. That's something to be thankful for.
This is just a bit of advice for those of you who like to cook for your friends. We all have our favorite dishes, some of which are family recipes that go back generations. However, we tend to forget just how much taste buds vary until you are confronted with “this taste so interesting.” What?
Wanting to impress my friends last Saturday on our pot-luck ladies-night sleepover, I thought I would make Pastelón– it’s a delicious Puerto Rican lasagna that The Husband’s grandmother used to make. We really are a combination of cultures in our family with Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban ethnicities influencing almost every aspect of our daily lives. It seemed only natural to go with what I know.
The dish calls for a layer of sweet plantains, followed by picadillo (a Spanish ground beef hash is the best description), and then a layer of French-cut green beans. It’s topped with another layer of sweet plantains followed by pouring well-beaten eggs over it to seal the deal before baking. It seems some Pastelón recipes use cheese (yum) instead of green beans, but I wanted to keep it real, for family’s sake. Every step I took was done with care and naturally several taste tests as any good chef will tell you are essential to ensure the utmost quality. This was good stuff!
Now just the mere mention of its name impressed them, at first. But, I don’t blame the ladies for not gushing all over the dish as I recall not doing the same the first time I tried it. So what’s the take away? Keep it simple when you’re outnumbered by non-Hispanic friends? No. Maybe. All I’m saying is that when you want to impress the friends with your culinary skills and you aren’t too sure what their pallet can handle - go with Mexican.
Note: I did not use any of the recipes found on the links, but would gladly share mine. Just let me know.
My photo adventures in Florida