Thursday, August 9, 2007

Feed Me Seymour

As I was cooking one of my new favorite dishes, pasta with sauteed egg plant and other in season vegetables and herbs (red bell pepper, onion, basil, banana pepper, and tomato) topped with a lemon olive oil sauce, I thought to myself how that type of dish would never have been served to me when I was a kid growing up in Michigan and in Virginia.

Why is that you ask? For two reasons.

The first reason is my late mother was a lousy cook. No seriously, she could not cook to save her life. That's why we ate things like hot dogs, pizza (mmmm greasy cheesy take out pizza with pools of grease on top), Twinkies, canned pudding, well you get the picture, she couldn't cook for shit so she fed us mostly convenience foods that were either take out or canned or boxed.

I honestly thought all pudding came out of a can and it was supposed to have a metallic taste to it. I also thought that all enchiladas came out of cans.

When she tried to do the right thing and serve us fruit and vegetables we rebelled like crazy. Of course it didn't help that one of the veggies she tried to get us to eat was the despicable product known as Veg-All. If you aren't familiar with the horror that is Veg-All, just know that it's corn, green beans, and other boiled to death veggies all in one can. It's disgusting.

So I did not learn good nutritional habits as a young lad. We ate badly and we did not know that we were setting our selves up for trouble way down the line.

The other reason is that after my mother passed away when I was ten we went to live with my crazy rageaholic control freak aunt, whom I shall henceforth refer to as Auntie Dearest (and yes feel free to draw any comparison you like between her and the film Mommie Dearest) and she was diametrically opposite to my mother in the cooking department. She was a good cook but since she had to control everyone she would not allow anyone to cook anything that she did have a say over.

She also had such crazy ass control issues that she would threaten us children, and by us children I mean only me and my brothers and sister, with physical violence if we did not eat all of whatever she served us. This was problematic for me since I can not eat cooked carrots with our vomiting. She would fix cooked carrots every Sunday with our regular after church meal of fatty greasy pot roast. I would try to not eat the carrots because they made me sick but every time she would threaten me and at times would whip me with a belt to get me to eat those fucking carrots. She also encouraged her horrid children to snitch on me if I did not eat all the carrots she tried to force down my throat.

I also had problems with drinking the unpasteurized milk she used to buy from a local dairy farm. I never was a big milk drinker and that milk she used to get was foul tasting, not to mention usually warm by the time I was forced to drink it down because I would let it sit because I hated it so much.

Auntie Dearest had to try to control everyone at all times, even at meal times. As long as you ate what she fixed and praised her to the heavens she was fine, but as soon as you said you did not like something that she fixed then she was in your face screaming that "You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it!" And she usually had a belt in her hand to back up her point.

After I got out of that madhouse and on my own and cooking and shopping for myself I did not adopt the best diet in the world. I hardly ever ate fresh fruit or vegetables, I remember buying iceberg lettuce and then tossing it a month later because it went bad. One of the dishes I used to make that I thought was somewhat healthy was something I invented called mac and cheese salsa burger. I'd make a box of Velveeta shells and cheese and put ground beef and salsa in it. It had all the basic food groups, meat, vegetables (via the salsa), dairy, grains (via the pasta). I hardly ever had a salad or a fresh tomato, or a banana, or anything that was good for me. Of course after eating all that transfat and boxed and canned foods filled with preservatives I developed an even bigger pot belly than I had before. The fact that I drank soda filled with high fructose corn syrup didn't help matters either. My diet history was leading me down Heart Attack Highway at about 100 MPH.

Then I met my gf who taught me how to eat properly. She had grown up eating fresh garden grown foods and she ate a sensible balanced diet. She taught me to incorporate green vegetables, fresh tomatoes, fruits, and other healthier foods in my diet. But even though I ate better after I met her we still ate far too much red meat and we liked our chocolate cake and other transfat filled foods. So for awhile I ate better but still not great.

Then almost four years ago I had my heart attack and quadruple bypass and I got put on a low fat low salt diet. The low salt part did not bother me since I rarely added salt to my food anyway, but the low fat part of my new diet was tricky.

A low fat diet consist of eating no more than 20 grams of fat a day. To put that in perspective for you the sausage biscuit I used to get every morning from McDonalds has about 25 grams of fat alone. On top of that biscuit I would usually eat a fast food lunch as well during my work day and a candy bar or two on top of that. Then I'd go home and eat whatever sensible thing I'd cook for us for supper that night. So before the heart attack I was probably eating about 75 to 100 grams of fat a day, maybe more, day in and day out even though I was also eating things like steamed broccoli, spinach, grapes, and other fresh fruits and veggies.

But we learned to adapt and to cut out the fat. We bought low fat cook books and I learned to make good tasting recipes from them. I also learned to cook ethnic dishes like Aloo Sag, Kashmiri Chicken, various Thai and Chinese dishes. I love the Asian cuisines because when I cook them here at home I can cut out the salt and be skimpy on the fat but go wild with the flavor.

We also eat more organic foods now, even cereals and meats, as well as fruit and veggies. We also try to buy as locally grown food as possible because it is better for us and because less fossil fuel is wasted getting it to our table. We avoid, for the most part, food that is in cans, with the exception of certain beans and legumes, most processed foods, though we do have a fondness for frozen yogurts and low fat ice creams when it gets really hot like it is now. We also try to avoid genetically modified food like the plague. And sorry to the farmers in Europe, Australia, China, and parts of South America, but we try not to eat anything you guys grow, not becasue we don't like you but because we don't think we need to be eating food that has come to us from that far away.Here's a picture of some fresh food I bought yesterday at the farmers market here in town:

They don't sell bananas at the farmers market so I had to get them later at the grocery store.Mmmm, doesn't that look good?

Lastly in an effort to not be a big ass hypocrite I gave up drinking soda to show my solidarity with the guy I consider my brother, Samurai Frog. He writes about his battles to lose weight and live a healthoer life most every week and I figured if I was going to offer him my thoughts on his diet in the comments section of his blog, then I better get off my high fructose corn syrup soda sucking ass and do something to be even healthier too, so as of last Saturday I am Mountain Dew free. I have been drinking a can or three of that swill every morning since college and I know it's been a big part of my post bypass weight gain. I have not missed it but I am still not completely soda free. I have been drinking one and only one of these a day since I gave up the high fructose corn syrup sodas. It's organic and it is sweetened with natural cane sugar not chemical laden HFCS. I don't miss the caffeine in the Mtn Dew like I thought I would, I'm naturally caffeinated I guess. But I do still like the cold carbonation. Soon I'm going to switch to just lime or lemon lime flavored sparlking water and I'll see how that goes.

I want to eat and drink healthier to live longer yes, but I also must be honest and admit that it would also be nice to look like this:


NotSoccer Mom said...

oh yeah, that's daniel craig's body, isn't it!

i'm going to try to shop mostly at the farmers market too. it just seems to make way more sense.

Splotchy said...

Oh, evil, evil auntie. I'm sorry you had to go through that.

You and SamuraiFrog, you bastards. Now look what you have done. I'm going to try and cut out soda pop, too. I drink way, way too much of it.

It won't be official until I announce it on me blog. But I'll do it.

Solidarity in soda desaturation...

Life As I Know It Now said...

We had to eat everything on our plates or get a whipping growing up and every week I had to figure out how to eat the liver and onions that made me sick. I would stuff as much as I could in my mouth, go to the bathroom, and then spit it out. That was better than eating it and then throwing it up because it made me sick. I also slipped food to the dog when I could. No I never want to be young again!

Good luck with the no soda thing. My kids complained endlessly because I would never buy any but in the end I think they are the healthier for it.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Notsoccermom-No, that's my body in a few months! Deal with it.

Splocthy-Join us in our antti HFCS crusade!

Liberality-Eww, I hate liver and onions too. Sounds like you had Great Depression era food freaks in your house too.

PJ said...

I'd recognise Daniel Craig's bond body anywhere! Give it back!

On a serious note, you're an inspiration.

Whiskeymarie said...

Good for you!
Now, if you can cut out the bubbly stuff altogether...
Unless we're talking Champagne, of course.
Seriously though, I rarely have the stuff and I feel much, much better without it. You adjust- I promise. After a while you won't even miss it.

And kudos to you for supporting your Farmer's market.
Frankenfood bad, Farmer's market good.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hear you. About two years ago I moved from a place where I could walk to work (about 20 - 25 minutes) and I'd do so regularly - to a place where I ride the subway to work.

Suddenly I realized I started gaining weight and went up a pants size (or two.) Now I'm very aware that I need to watch what I eat more carefully and find some new exercise.

BTW, where in VA were you from? (Born in raised in Norfolk myself.)

Angry Ballerina said...

oooh how i have missed those ripped abs....i need to start paying more attention to my online life....

SamuraiFrog said...

Excellent job! The caffeine was especially a killer for me; I overdosed on it three times in the past year, and it was bad. The HFCS was crippling me, I think. I found a couple of other brands of cane sugar-sweetened soda (Archer Farms, Jones), but it's never going to become an everyday thing again. I can't do it to myself anymore. I have things I want to live to see.

I want to shop more at the Farmer's Market myself. I'm starting to rebel against convenience. I wish I could have the kind of life where I buy less food more often instead of buying a ton of it at once. I think it forces you to take a more active interest in what you eat. Cooking does, too.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

PJ-No, he can't have it back! Thanks, you inspire me as well.

Whiskey-Champagne? Sure, lets drink some!

MWB-I used to live in the other end of the state in Lee County.

AB-I knew you'd miss my bod someday.

Samurai Frog-We try not to buy too much stuff at once, but then we also live in near four grocery stores. I am going to try to get off soda all together soon. One step at a time my man.

kelsi said...

there's a lot to comment on here (particularly - congratulations on all your work, my dear) but seriously? I'M DYING OF JEALOUSY. where did you find man apples? gosh, you're amazing.

Cup said...

How are your numbers since you changed your diet? Is your cholesterol and blood pressure down noticeably?