Turkey, provolone and tomato on whole wheat “flat bread” (because… flat is so much healthier than poofy?) with mustard and mayo: Today I made a sandwich in the shower. Nah, I didn’t have a weird craving for soggy bread – it was courtesy of my two youngest children who while they can easily undo a buckle, three zippers and a magnetic clasp to find the gum in my purse, couldn’t figure out how to open the shrink-wrapped sandwich goodies and condiments. They were also terribly impatient and aren’t old enough to care about seeing mom naked, not to mention terribly pleased with themselves that they had the foresight to bring it all to me – in the shower – including a plastic knife with which to spread the mayo. So I just went with it. Living with children makes every day a Seinfeld episode.
What does it say about me that I was just so glad they hadn’t used my shower time to sneak down to the lobby and fill their pockets with free cans of soda (again) that I happily made them a steamy sandwich? And then let them eat it in front of the TV? Watching Spongebob?? IS NOTHING HOLY ANYMORE?!?
Apparently not. Since living on the lam, er, in limbo, I’ve found many of my complicated food “rules” getting stripped away in deference to convenience and/or desperation. And it’s not just shower sandwiches. (Don’t worry I’m not going to bring up butt brownies again!) While our hotel room does have a fridge (that freezes everything rock solid) and a microwave, it’s not very conducive to healthy meal making. Suddenly I’m having a lot more sympathy for people who have to live like this all the time. It’s really tough to eat as healthy as I like to when I don’t have things like my Vitamix (for making green smoothies) or my cast-iron skillet (for iron-fortifying my morning eggs-n-hummus) or even simple things like a glass bowl to steam veggies in.
So I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately: What does my food say about me? About my priorities? About my neuroses?
Lesson 1: Good protein is valuable. And the hardest to find. Sure you can walk into any McD’s and get a meat patty I guess but I’d rather go back to being a vegetarian than eat factory-farmed meat product on a regular basis. No, good quality protein is hard to find, hard to cook and hard to store. Since I’ve yet to find a jerky that I’m comfortable eating, I’ve been chowing a lot of eggs at the free breakfast buffet every day. Like, a lot of eggs.
Lesson 2: Food is everywhere but good food is scarce. It’s relatively easy to find a cheap source of food – my husband discovered our first day here that the local bank hands out free doughnuts every Saturday! – but finding healthy, delicious food is tougher. There are some restaurants that cater to this but even the cheap ones are pricey and so I’ve been eating a lot of bagged fruits and veggies, boxed salads, packets of nut butter and foil packs of tuna fish or sardines. (True story: a half-eaten packet of tuna spilled in my car, on a 100-degree day. The smell is still giving me nightmares.)
Lesson 3: Work with what you have. Even simple veggies like celery sticks take some minimal preparation. I grabbed a bunch at the store without thinking about it and then when I arrived at the park ended up rinsing them off in the drinking fountain and trimming the dirty ends off with toenail clippers. Before you start gagging, know that I washed them first. With hand sanitizer. (The clippers, not the celery.) Sure I’d prefer to eat one of my yummy salad concoctions but I don’t have the time, money, refrigeration or cooking space for that right now. So instead I’m making do with toe-nail fungus celery and peanut butter packets from the breakfast buffet. And it was actually super satisfying and delicious.
Lesson 4: Sometimes you just need a slushee. (Or slurpee or icee or snow cone or Hawaiian ice or whatever you call them where you live!) It’s crazy hot here right now. Half the state is literally on fire. And sometimes the only thing that will remedy that strange combination of weather and disaster is some comfort food. We made two slushee runs today. And I’m not sorry.
Lesson 5: Accept help. We’ve been so blessed to have already been invited over to people’s homes for lunches and picnics and dinners. (SO blessed!) And while part of me feels guilty for letting so many people help me without being able to return their generosity in kind, when new friends cooked us salmon, steamed green beans, brown rice and fresh berries for dinner I nearly wept with relief. (As did my tied-up bowels. Don’t picture them weeping though. Seriously stop it. Gross.) It was SO good. Gratitude really is the best seasoning!
Lesson 6: Enjoy your food! Whether you’re on vacation or in between places or simply trying something new, food is an adventure. Have fun with it! While I was pondering about what my stripped-down food priorities say about me, I came across this article in Parade mag “What your favorite movie treat says about you.” In it they analyzed people’s fave movie treats with their scores on a personality test and came up with very admittedly pseudo-science-y but still fun results. I was mostly amused because I love self quizzes (duh!) and also because they nailed me! Here’s the Cliffs Notes version:
Junior Mints: Intellectual types who work with computers. Creative. A thinker.
Peanut M&Ms: Easy-going, level-headed and calm.
Low-Fat Popcorn: Imaginative, reflective and open to new experiences.
Raisinets: Charming, engaging and social.
Yogurt-covered Pretzels: Flirtatious, commitment-phobic, energetic – the life of the party
Weird self-serve bin candies: Immune to peer pressure, don’t care what others think
Sweets in general: Kinder, more likely to volunteer to help others
Nothing: Opines the author, “Those who avoid snacks tend to be controlling and have a functional relationship to food. They’re fearful of indulging too much, or losing self-control. (So don’t bother sharing your last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with them—they won’t enjoy it as much as you will anyway.)”
So I’m a Junior Mints girl all the way at the movies!! (Either that or I eat nothing, which, sadly, they nailed me there too. Curse you science!!)
Now I’m curious: What’s your fave movie theater food? Did they get you right on the list? What are your go-to foods when you’re in a place where you don’t have access to your normal eats/way of cooking??
P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who’ve taken the time over the past couple of weeks to give me sympathy, encouragement, kind e-mails, tolerating my whining and even gym recommendations! You guys are the best and I can’t tell you how much your support has meant to me and helped me! I don’t tell you all thank you nearly enough but you – yes you – have really helped me through this difficult transition and I’m so so grateful for you guys!