We’re on an RV jaunt to Moss Landing (just south of Santa Cruz) for 3 days, then on to Pescadero (just south of Half Moon Bay). It’s been a great time to reflect on proposed cooking adventures. So, here is something I conjured up (prose, not food) about food while enjoying the solitude of our home on wheels.
Cooking Light…or something like it.
As a long time self-professed foodie, self-taught chef (arguably), and all around chow hound, I must admit something I never thought I would hear myself saying: I’m going to concentrate my culinary efforts toward Cooking Light! OMG! I can’t believe I’ve said it.
Here’s a little back story to this most revealing admission.
I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to try new recipes. I love to collect recipes. For years I have been an advocate of very un-dietetic fine dining foods. Say the words Fettuccine Alfredo to me and I get all excited will have the heavy cream and butter reducing in a sauce pan within 5 minutes! Suggest a Number 1 at In N Out…I’m gone. Three-cheese bacon Mac ’n Cheese…show me to the Velveeta. Fried chicken…well, you get the picture. So my rationalization has always been this: I chose to NOT cut the flavorful fat and opt for smaller portions. Sounds simple right? And, it has worked for me (portion cutting) for a long time. However, as unfortunate as it sounds, reducing portions doesn’t seem to be the road I can, nor should, be on now. It just does not work any longer as part of my weight-maintaining, healthy diet life. I must ratchet my efforts up a notch or two.
I used to scoff at check stand magazines like Cooking Light. Sure, the recipe photos looked tempting, but the final product(s) were less than desirable. Bland, unsavory, boring, and so on. I just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) get a handle on this, until recently.
Recently, I have found a source for so-called lighter cooking of common comfort style foods, recipes that don’t compromise on flavor…my flavor preferences. I’m not going to reveal this source right now, but, it’s just another online food magazine that has caught my eye.
There are still some food concessions I refuse to make, one of which is using ground turkey instead of ground beef (sorry daughter, Jen). I will use ground chicken (more flavorful) in some recipes, but not to replace quality, lean ground beef. I will never (again) use No Fat anything. Talk about zero flavor! No fat cheese tastes like eating a candle (not something I’ve ever done, but just imagine that). No fat mayo is bizarre and unpalatable, same with no fat sour cream and cream cheese.
So with this being known, how do we reduce the fat and calories without compromising taste in our meals? Simple. You use low-fat common sense, cut some of the carbs, and add vegetables. I know what you’re saying, “Of course, dumb ass, no shit!” But come on, it’s the KISS method of eating right…keep it simple stupid.
Do we have to severely limit our intake of fatty snacks (God bless Lays and Doritos)? Do we have to cut back on Buffalo Wings with blue cheese dressing? How about foie gras or duck fat (not my cup of tea, but just saying)? So, yeah, short of total elimination of certain items, some wholesale portion cutting can’t be avoided.
I’m a couple months shy of 65 years of age. Tried and true methods of weight loss that worked 30 years ago ain’t gonna fly at this age. Example…I did Weight Watchers in my late 30’s (back when WW food wasn’t nearly as palatable as today). In two months, I lost 38 pounds. I went from 225 (my weight now) to 187 in 60 days. And, I did not exercise one iota. Plus, I cheated! I drank a couple of glasses of wine every night and ate popcorn ‘till it was coming out of my ears. Go figure (?) No. A change in metabolism. Let’s face it, most of us realized we can’t do the same things at 65 as we did at 35 including eat whatever and whenever we want. Not too long ago we used to entertain quite a bit, i.e., dinner parties…late dinner parties with lots or appetizers, adult beverages, and desserts. We just don’t do that any longer for a variety of reasons. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I had a meal after 7 pm. It was common to serve dinner at 8 or 9 at our parties. One of my best friends was a French chef named Jean Marie. We would have dinner at his house and not sit down to eat until 10 pm! On a side note, we smoked cigarettes while we ate (very European).
Back to my geriatric self. I am surrendering to the reality of my culinary, age-related frailty. I simply can’t eat as much as I used to. I remember my father once told me in the late 60’s (he was 50, I was 19), “You know son, I can’t do justice to a Sunday buffet any more. I just can’t eat that much food”. He was referring to the cost versus his appetite. At that time, a buffet at a restaurant was about $15.00 in 1969 dollars, probably $30 or so today. Being the pragmatic (and cheap) guy he was, he couldn’t eat $15.00 worth of buffet food. It kind of made sense to me at the time, perfect sense today.
Some of these new recipes I am planning on trying will show up here from time to time. They are all things I love to eat, certainly NOT twigs, sticks, and bean sprouts. These have about 2/3 of the calories and 1/2 the fat of the more traditional versions. And, like I said, I will share them with you here after trying them myself…photos and nutrition data. One of the first recipes is for Loaded Potato Bacon Cheese Soup. Really!
The biggest challenge? Doing these adjustments on our RV trips which, by the way, will occupy about half of our time.