“Cheesy Pasta” Is My Middle Name

Let me share with you some interesting changes I’m making in my life. I’ve had the wrong idea about food for a long time. Most of my life, really. And the Great and Mysterious “They” are not wrong when they say being healthy is not about dieting, it’s about lifestyle changes. It’s about being willing to make some sacrifices in order to feel better, to lose weight, to be healthier mentally and physically and ultimately live a longer life. What I’m constantly learning, though, is that the sacrifices I am making are not what I thought they would be. There is this idea that in order to eat healthy and lose weight you have to sacrifice anything and everything that tastes good and consume nothing but unsalted cardboard and hot mash. And you hear things like “not all diet food tastes bad!” And it’s true.

Well… It’s not exactly true, because “diet food” does taste bad. And it’s not even good for you. These laboratory concocted low carb, fat free, sugar free replicas of our favorite foods are packed with so many chemicals and preservatives and nitrates and fake stuff just to TRY to make it taste like the real thing. And it never does. And in the process of extracting fat and carbs from foods where they occur naturally, we lose every bit of nutritional value. Diet food sucks and no one should ever eat it. I turned to that kind of thing for a long time because I did not have the right idea about what it meant to be healthy. I was trying to trick the system and buy foods with zero nutritional value so that I could get away with eating more while still losing weight.

That was me pursuing the calories in vs calories out mentality. Which still matters, because no matter what you won’t lose weight unless you’re burning more calories than you consume. But what I’m learning is that not all called are created equal and it deeply matters what kind of calories and other nutrients you are taking in. For example: when you eat an avocado, that is about 240 calories, 24g of fat, 1g protein and 11g of fiber (plus vitamin d, potassium, iron, calcium, and a bunch of other good stuff). Because it has so much fiber, and because your body doesn’t actually break down fiber, it takes longer to digest, which means you stay full longer and your body has more time to process it, which means you get more of the nutrients out of it, and you have more time to burn it off as it slowly enters your blood stream. Now, say you were to eat a diet food, like a pack of reduced fat chips – you think to yourself “this is good, I can have this because it’s low fat” but in reality, you’ve put a big ole fat bomb in your belly because there’s no fiber, which forces your body to send everything directly into the blood stream all at once, and forced your body to immediately start turning those carbs (sugars) into fat and you have less time to burn them off. I am, of course, not an expert on how your body processes nutrients, these are just things I’m learning through this process. But it makes sense! And that’s exciting to me, because I have done a lot of failing and not understanding why and now I’m starting to really get it. It’s not just about calories, it’s about total nutrients, it’s about committing to eating real food.

It has taken me a really really REALLY long time and a lot of frustration and resistance and failure and tears to get to the point where I accept the old dieting trope that you have to change your relationship with food. I hate that phrase. It makes me cringe. I don’t like to think that I have a RELATIONSHIP with food. But that’s because I’ve always had a bad relationship with food and have pretty much always taken the wrong approach to healthy eating. So recently, I have tried to really embrace the “whole food” philosophy, cutting back (or cutting out entirely) most processed foods. Of course there are traditionally processed foods that I still want to eat like cheese, chips, crackers, pasta, and bread. Those were the five big things I don’t really want to give up. And let’s face it, I’m not going to give up cheese (although I have cut waaaaay back on how much I have). For the other things, I’ve been experimenting and looking into non-processed alternatives, which I thought was going to be hard, because I thought there’s no way they will be as good as what I’m used to and I’ll end up slipping back into store-bought. But here’s what happened: I actually like my whole food alternatives BETTER.

No lie. Not blowing smoke. I would honestly rather have zucchini noodles than regular pasta. What I don’t want you to read in that statement is that they are the same. They are not the same, in taste or consistency. And that’s what I mean when say the sacrifices are different than I anticipated. What I’ve learned is that I am not at all sacrificing good taste and consistency, what I am sacrificing is tradition and my own comfort zone. And the reward for that sacrifice, in my mind, outweighs what I though I would be missing out on and now I am mildly obsessed with my whole food alternatives.

Two foods that have recently changed my life: zucchini and cauliflower. They are versatile, naturally low cal, low carb, fat free, gluten free, and packed with vitamins and other stuff that’s good for you. I made salted zucchini chips on the dehydrator, which have a nice crisp and I’ve started using those instead of crackers to have with cheese or dips. I made zoodles (zucchini noodles) which actually are surprisingly pasta like both in flavor and consistency, when prepared correctly, so that wasn’t really a sacrifice at all. I made a cauliflower pizza crust, which I thought tasted better than traditional pizza crust, but with a different texture. I liked it so much, in fact, that I got up this morning and made sandwich flat breads using the same recipe but adding an extra egg. I was concerned it would be crumbly but it actually turned out perfect and firm and held together beautifully for me egg and guac breakfast sandwich.

Now, I am on a mission. My first few experiments with healthy alternatives have gone so well that I’m excited to follow through with this change and I want to share!

Here’s where you can find the recipe I used for cauliflower crust: try it, it’s amazing. https://www.oatmealwithafork.com/personal-pan-cauliflower-pizza-crust-dairy-free/

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