For some of reason, this year I couldn't wait; I could practically taste Christmas.
Thanksgiving was a teaser; a slice of pecan pie here and a sliver of pumpkin pie there. If I squinted just a little, the vague outline of mince pie, Christmas cookies and chocolate in its many forms, could be seen around the calendar's corner.
No dessert, confection or amuse would be safe from my prowling palate during Advent.
Pfeffernusse, Mexican wedding cookies, shortbread and thumbprints; I love them all!
The Christmas Sweet Season hit with the sensory overload of a SpongeBob cartoon marathon.
Fruit cake was good and yes, I would like extra hard sauce!
Designer Chocolate? Why yes, I would like to taste the differing terroirs of 72% cacao!
Macaroons? Maybe just one...
Things were getting bad and I knew it.
I was going down in a twisted, uncontrollable sugar tailspin and if not for the aid of my eldest child, I would have bought the farm, bit the dust, O.D.-ed.
"Dad, here...have a salad and some chicken broth."
We grabbed the controls of a Holiday binge and slowly eased her out of a 4-G dive.
That's what a culinary wingman is for...
It's time now for some annual introspection; let's see what we should do, what we can do and how to make those two lines intersect. What can I do to make this forty-niner body work better?
Exercise--haven't been so good.
Eat smarter--can do.
Sugar and carbs are killers for me anymore. Hell, I brag to my boys how we'd get kicked out of an all-you-can-eat buffet when working in the oilfields of Oklahoma. Slamming 3/4 lb. burgers, fries and a chocolate malt when playing football. Eating everything I wanted when first married because I was running 40 miles per week.
Those days are gone and adaptation is needed. I'm bumping the big 5-0 and need to get in better tune with my body. Quit putting the pedal to the metal at the table and start listening to the hum of the engine. What does it really need to run well?
Food intake is one leg of the three-legged stool of middle age fitness; the other two being exercise and rest. I guess that goes for any age, actually.
As a chef, I should place my money where my mouth is and start eating healthier foods at better times of the day when fuel is needed for optimal performance. So here it my plan with a few options for those of us trying to make some real change...
1) Dried fruit. Raisins, dates, figs, apricots...you name it! There are so many products available out there, it's easy to find several things that you will like. The good thing, too, is that these sweets keep really well and are easily transported; you can keep a ziploc bag of goodies in the car and have something tasty on hand 24/7.
2) 'Larabars.' These things kick boot when it comes to flavor and health. They don't give 'em away, but, with flavors like 'Pecan Pie', 'Mole'', Chocolate/Coconut, Key Lime and Apple Pie, I can justify the buck-fifty for a snack. Made from a base of dates, nuts and spices, these bars are versitile enough to have a hunter and GreenPeacer agree on at least one thing.
Soon, I'll be grinding my own versions with similar flavor combinations.
Vegetables: Keep 'em coming! I like 'crunch' when I eat so, we keep our veggies on the raw or blanched side. Salad dressing is OK, but, it shouldn't lay on your greens like frosting on a homemade birthday cake. A little really does go a long way.
Acidity: you will be amazed at what a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime will do to broccoli, green beans, corn or carrots.
Kosher salt? Oh yah, you betcha! We keep a 4 oz fluted ramekin on the first shelf in the kitchen for 'just a pinch.' And something to remember too: you can't eat 'em if you don't got 'em. When you go grocery shopping, buy what looks pretty to you or things that you know you'll like. No sense in patting ourselves on the back for buying Brussel Sprouts and then hoping their anti-oxidant qualities will somehow enter our systems through 'crisper drawer' osmosis.
Exercise: I'm not really qualified to speak on this topic. Lost the desire to sweat and can't figure out how to get it back. It's good for you, I know it, but, can't seem to get motivated...
...maybe some Omega-3s from a piece of Grilled Salmon will stimulate my brain...
Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"