A Plan for Healthy Eating

Last posting I talked about the snowbirds leaving the south and looking ahead to our garden and all the good eats it will provide. Well, this post is from out cottage in upstate New York. We just accomplished our semi-annual migration ourselves, at least the trip north. We are still in the throes of unpacking and settling in. One of the things our moves spur us to take a look at is all the stuff we really shouldn’t be carrying back and forth. We also take a look at things we haven’t used and probably can get rid of. But that’s not all. Like New Years, our semi-annual trek encourages us to give consideration to what we are eating. You see, we tend to work hard,  exercise less, and eat things we shouldn’t because of end-of-season get-togethers, a need to boost our energy, and because eating on the road is hardly diet-friendly. Invariably, the change of season move results in a weight gain–followed by a renewed resolve to eat a healthier diet. So this is it, the semi-annual resolve.

Actually, I enjoy most of the process. New beginnings can be fun. The splurges leading up to a need for a new beginning can be fun as well, although I keep telling myself the better answer is learning how to better limit those splurges. Forever an optimist, I even enjoy the thought I might succeed in this endeavor, after all, I think I am learning how to eat healthier and enjoy it.

I’ve tried an assortment of diets, most of which pointed out that the plan was to change the way we eat, not just lose a few pounds. They generally worked to lose some weight, but did not become a life-style change. I love good bread. Why not? I’m a sourdough aficionado. I love pasta. I love baking.  I love eating. I love the foods I associate with cold weather, wood stoves and campfires. So adopting a diet plan that substitutes artificial flavors for real food hasn’t worked, no matter what the form. That leaves limiting caloric intake, which has been a problem too. Did I say I love eating?

On the other hand, all has not been for nothing. I’ve made little gains, no pun  intended. I manage to keep some of the weight off. I have also made some changes in what I actually enjoy eating, and what I can cut way down. Bread, good bread, is something I won’t give up at this point. I have discovered I don’t need to eat nearly as much of it as I assumed was essential. For example, I used to think two pieces of toast with breakfast was a minimum. Now, I realize I don’t need toast at all a good part of the time. I’ve discovered that savory, old fashioned oatmeal is a delicious compliment to a breakfast egg. That’s right–an egg. An extra large egg, but just one nevertheless. Savory oatmeal is also an excellent alternative to rice or potatoes as well. In a future post, I’ll share my recipe for cooking and flavoring it. I’ve also learned I don’t need as much meat as I used to think I did. This even helps eat a little healthier on the road. A SMALL steak and a big salad is terrific after a long day of driving. Of course, it helps when you love oil and vinegar as a salad dressing.

So, my spring resolve is to exercise more, eat a little less, and eat better without giving up my love of good food. I’m almost eager to begin. Oh, did I mention. . .? The biggest contributor to my seasonal weight gain may have something to do with enjoying a good martini before dinner and wine with. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained–or, in this case, nothing ventured, too much gained.

Spring is the time to….

In Florida, you know spring is here because all the snowbirds pack up and leave for the north. It always seems that we have left too early when we get close to our northern home and find the trees still bare, the hillsides wet and brown, and the skies overcast. We’ve seen it snow three inches in the middle of May, though, so picking the time to return north becomes more a matter of appointments and commitments than weather.

Once back however, attention turns to all the work to be done, the flowers that have pushed through the snow, muck, mud, or whatever to make their annual appearance, and the condition of the raised beds that will produce the summer’s yield of vegetables. This has truly been a joy. We’ve become thoroughly spoiled on fresh-picked lettuce, squash, beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I love salads, and I especially love garden-fresh salads.

Last summer we had so many cucumbers we made pickles, and we are still enjoying them. What a treat! We also canned applesauce and made strawberry jam. I can easily see why so many people are turning to growing and preserving their own foods these days. It’s a healthier way to eat and a tremendously satisfying way to get in touch with something that seems real and natural. There is so much information available on the net for cooking ideas, recipes, and techniques. It seems a logical extension to taking cooking to the next level of getting back to basics and grow and preserve some of the food we eat.

My niece Reseda used to write me about the foods she had grown and preserved at her home in Washington. I really loved getting those letters. We don’t grow nearly as much as she did, but we love the results of our garden nevertheless. So, a toast to all the folks who are adding the joy of fresh, home-grown vegetables to their culinary lives. I can’t wait for the first of our garden to find its way to the table.

By the way, I had another reason for this blog in addition to the season and the annual migration of self and neighbors. I was checking through my old blog and clicking on the follower icons. One of them turned out to be that niece’s oldest daughter. Talk about a special discovery! So with all the good thoughts of summer meals on the back deck, fresh salads from our own garden, and the simple joys of getting back to basics, this blog is to Reseda and Julie. Julie, I’m so delighted to discover you have been a follower.