Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

I donít know about you, but I tend to shop for, prepare and eat pretty similar things from day to day. Even though I love food, its just hard for me to be creative and innovative. I even have a pre-printed Costco list with items that I can check off as I load them onto the cart. And lest you think Iím just an outlier, there’s some research that shows most people eat between 35 and 40 different things.

Unfortunately, thereís also a lot of research that tells us boredom is a major factor in causing us to overeat. (Food is so endlessly entertaining, after all). So I recognize that I have to occasionally challenge my natural inclination to just keep rotating the same meals over and over. Getting in a little variety is a sure fire way to keep things interesting.

Still, its not easy to strike the right balance. After all, there is a certain comfort in the reliability of tried and true meals that we know will be satsifying. Given that I donít really enjoy the process of meal preparation, Iím particularly likely to steer towards foods that are easy and quick to assemble.

One thing that can help me with this is my food journal. When I look back and see that Iíve had the same breakfast for 16 of the last 20 days, I know Iím in a rut. When I see lunches and dinners that never vary, ditto. Even if Iím satisfied with my weight maintenance and not feeling deprived, past experience tells me that I need to explore a little and find new inspirations and ideas.

Yesterday when I was at Costco, I couldnít find any salsa. At first I was mad, thinking Iíd have to make a second trip to a supermarket to find some. Then I realized that the lack of something on my list was actually an opportunity to explore the aisles and find inspiration elsewhere. I spent a few moments looking over the shelves and my eyes lit upon the words ďroasted chocolate mole.Ē

At first I figured anything chocolate would be caloric and overly sweet. But after finding out that it was intended ďas a cooking sauceĒ I checked out the label and discovered it was 24 calories for two tablespoons. I brought it home, and added it to my next vegetable stir fry. I discovered that it was spicy and tangy, and that two tablespoons were actually more than enough for a serving.

Itís a pretty huge container, and itíll take me a while to use it all up. Iíll try it in a few different recipes and see what works and what doesnít. And hopefully by the time its gone, Iíll have exhausted my interest in it and Iíll be ready to go exploring again! Maybe Iíll even find that salsa I was looking for.

12 thoughts on “Variations on a theme

  1. panda says:

    Jonathon-
    I love mole sauce! You’ve made a great discovery. As you’ve found, a little goes a long way, and it is especially good on chicken and vegetables.

    I really enjoy your columns. Blessings to you in the New Year!

  2. Teena says:

    I tend to have the same breakfast and lunch every day ~ I know exactly how many points they are. My supper changes every day, though.

  3. Greta says:

    I have had the same breakfast for several YEARS. It’s the meal I am most satisfied with though so that’s what’s on the menu for tomorrow (oatmeal cooked with fruit). I think you might be right though. Boredom causes me to eat off my plan.

  4. Judy says:

    I’m tired of being so nasty to myself about how and why I eat what I do sometimes. It doesn’t help when I talk sarcastically to myself about food not being “entertainment.” Rather, I think it would be worthwhile to take a look at the relationship between boredom and loneliness. Alot of what gets labeled boredom might really be loneliness I think. Even if I’m with someone I love. Or a feeling of alienation. Or not fitting. Or not belonging. Or something like that.

  5. london slimmer says:

    I tend to make my staple meal of roasted vegetables with some protein element a lot, but I ring the changes to prevent getting bored. I’ll sometimes toss the veggies in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and add herbs (dried at this time of year!) and a ball of half-fat Mozzarella; or I’ll use sesame oil, a small amount of pumpkin seed butter and top with a few slivered almonds; or I like them with tinned tomatoes, dried basil and a slug of white wine; or Hoisin sauce thinned down with a little water, smoked garlic and grated ginger; or miso, also thinned down, with dried tofu skins and strips of toasted nori seaweed; or tinned tomatoes, again, turmeric, cumin, coriander and a mini can of half-fat coconut milk. It’s particularly important to ring the changes at the moment, when the offerings at the local farmer’s market are getting very skimpy and we’re living on squash, cabbage and root vegetables.

    On another note, I had a question for you guys. In your columns, you’ve often recommended sweetening things with stevia powder. This is available in Britain, but always bears the scary label “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” (in large capitals). Is it really safe to use as a natural sweetener, given this warning?

  6. Jonathan says:

    I’ll have to let others answer the stevia question (never tried it myself), but I wanted to comment on how amazingly delicious your “staple” meal preparation sounds!

    -Jonathan

  7. Debbie says:

    I tend to eat the same breakfasts and lunches, but different dinners. My hubby and I eat out a lot, and I think that keeps boredom from setting in.

    I do, though, try to look for new prep sauces and other interesting things. Here’s something you might consider. You can now get these from Whole Foods, but also direct from the website. They’re “culinary sauces,” and I use them to flavor chicken, pork, and fish, and also in homemade salad dressings. (My standard salad dressing recipe is: 1 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (sometimes a flavored variety); 1 tablespoon culinary sauce (depends on my mood).

    http://www.earthnvine.com

    I am in no way connected to this company; I just happened to discover their sauces abouta year ago.

  8. contessa says:

    Here is what I know about stevia:

    Before it was given the OK from our FDA for use as a sweetener, it was sold as a beauty product to mix as part of a masque. Apparently stevia has been used in South America as a sweetener for centuries.

    It has probably not gone through certification in the UK as a food product which is why it bears the warning you mention.

    I use stevia and know of no one who has suffered ill effects from using it. The thing to remember is that a little goes a long way. I tend to like it in cold drinks and not heated or in cooking.

  9. london slimmer says:

    Thanks for the information about stevia – and the compliment about my dinners, Jonathan!

    As Debbie brought up the point about eating out – if that’s an option for you to stave off boredom, then I think Japanese is absolutely ideal. The food is, on the whole, healthy and reasonably low calorie (low carb, too, if you avoid the rice and noodle dishes) and the portions of individual dishes are very small, so that even if you order tempura, the damage done to your waistline is not so great. Since my husband and I have been dieting, it’s become a regular option for us and we often go to a good Japanese when we want to have a special treat, without breaking the calorie bank.

    The other really good thing is curry. I tend to avoid Indian food when eating out, as it’s often made with ladlefulls of oil and/or ghee (clarified butter) – unless I can get ayurvedic food (which might not be so easy in the US), but curries are so easy to make at home. Just sweat onions and garlic in minimal oil, grind up some spices in a coffee grinder (or use curry powder, if you’re a beginner), cook them for a couple of minutes, then add lentils and water/vegetables, a little water and tinned tomatoes/chicken or seafood or tofu with veggies, etc. as wished, with perhaps a little yoghurt or half-fat coconut milk. Leave to cook until everything is tender. Delicious and easy!

    I could add dozens of recipes, but I’ll stop now! Good luck varying your repertoire in the kitchen, Jonathan. I really like your site, which is full of good, common sense advice and very motivating!

  10. stretch says:

    I have used Stevia since I began the journey, and I researched it carefully first, back in 2002. Japan uses Stevia in soft drinks instead of Aspartame. I noticed while in Scotland, that aspartame was in everything you could possibly imagine. Even ordering Lemonade in summer, I was given a glassful of something that tasted strongly of aspartame, and yes, I was told not to worry, a little bit wouldn’t kill me! But if I drank two 8oz, glases of it in one afternoon, I would get blurred vision and feel sick. (This happened once with cranberry juice that tatsed fine, but had aspartame in it and once with another fruit drink) I have ask every wait person or ask for the original container & put on my glasses and read the tiny type on the label, or just shrug and order a beer instead!

    I was raised all over the place, so I have always been adventurous with food. I have 7 very different breakfasts each week, and I just make sure i eat a lot of fruit and veggies.

    BUT…when I was losing weight, I found it much easier to eat exactly the same things for meals, because I could know I was eating 1,200 cals, and then if I worked out extra hard, I would just add a protein shake or bar. The pounds melted off, that way.

    Maintenence is hard when i don’t work out, but when I do, I eat pretty normally. I no longer desire meat or white sugar, flour, or greasy fries, so maybe that came from my regime while dieting–
    over the holidays I noticed cakes tasted sugary and way too rich –nauseating –and my friends said the same cake was delicious. I kept tasting stuff, and slowly got back into sugar. hmmm….

    Stevia came to my rescue in the New Year, to once again, get off the sugar.

    I am happy to report I have been very good with my workouts, and that keeps me happy and mentally together more than anything else.

  11. holly says:

    Wikipedia says that stevia has been banned as a food in Europe, but is still used elsewhere. The research on it’s harmful effects seems inconclusive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

  12. karen says:

    I asked a fellow dieter for a recipe, and it turned out to contain a can of hominy, which I have heard of before but never tasted. Its so exciting to cook with new ingredients.

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