That’s right, FOOD! (Get your mind out of the gutter…jk I love you and your filthy mind. Let’s be friends)
I love food. Who doesn’t?! We’re approaching one of my favorite seasons for eating: summer. I love all things BBQs, salt potatoes, corn on the cob, grilling and chilling, and s’mores. I also love the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, making it so easy to diversify your plate. Now this isn’t to say that I don’t love eating in every other season, because I think there’s something to love, food-wise, about every season. That being said, I just really really love summer in general and it’s what’s coming up so that’s what I’ll write about. Don’t tell me you want winter food discussion right now! I know you don’t want to think about snow!
Before I get into some suggestions for my favorite summer eats, I want to talk for a minute about my current relationship with food and where I am with that. As a woman in her early/mid 30s, I feel like it’s societally acceptable and even expected for me to be on a diet and want to lose weight. Which is true. Kind of. But not really. I’ve worked hard the last few months to get where I am (down 25 pounds since January which, when I type it out, seems unreal) and I wouldn’t mind dropping a few more, but I have no desire to have a 6-pack or be in a figure competition. At least not at this point in my life. What I do really want, what I need, is to find a happy relationship with food where I can trust myself to make good choices, I can have some yummy treat type foods on occasion, and I won’t eat an entire pan of brownies because they’re there or beat myself up because I had a s’more at a BBQ. This is really disordered thinking but I’m sure many people out there struggle with the same things I’m going through. I’ve gotten a lot better about my thinking about food and my relationship with it, but this is something I’ve struggled with since puberty so it will take time to process and relearn new behaviors.
Here are some actionable steps I’ve taken to reclaim my relationship with food:
- I started following Jess (or Jessie) Golden on social media and she teaches a course about how to eat like a “normal” person. Her Instagram stories have really changed a lot of my thinking. Check her out, she also has a Facebook group that I’ve found to be empowering.
- I’ve also started doing Beach Body and 21 Day Fix, complete with the colorful containers to portion out my meals. Seems weird and like a lot of work, but let me tell you, it’s been a game changer not only for me but for Dan as well. This is actually a system, unlike counting calories or macros, that I feel could be sustainable for our family. I’m still fairly new to it but look it up, let me know if it’s something you might like, and I can put you in touch with my coach.
- I’ve re-evaluated what my goals are. While having a number on the scale to strive for used to mean a lot to me, it just doesn’t now. It’s just a number, our gravitational pull toward the earth, and really very little about our health can be determined from that number (obviously there are instances where a person’s weight is very indicative of their health, but as someone who is a healthy weight, I don’t fall into that category). Instead I’ve set other goals, and I think of my weight more in terms of how I feel. I love running, but it’s hard to run fast or far when you could stand to lose a little weight. Same goes for lifting, which is my other fitness passion. Pull-ups are a lot easier now than they were 25 lbs ago…and that’s just a functional observation. Plenty of people weigh more than me and can kick my ass at running and lifting, believe me, but I’m just speaking of my personal goals. I had also “outgrown” some of my favorite clothes, so losing weight to fit into them was a huge motivator (I’m cheap AF and hate clothes shopping, what can I say?).
- I’ve started really listening to my body and what it needs, before what it wants. I’ll always want a big ass ice cream cone, but maybe just settle for a small, or just skip the ice cream this time? Or if I’m ravenously hungry and want to eat the entire contents of my kitchen (woe befall any human who also happens to be in the kitchen cuz they’re getting ATE!). I’ll drink some water and try to think of what nutrient I might have missed. No fat in my lunch? No wonder I’m so hungry 2 hours later. Let’s have some almond butter and a banana and calm TF down. I don’t want to obsess over food but it is really important to assess what you’re eating and when so that eating/hunger trends can start to make some sense.
- I really have to determine if a food is worth it. I talk more about this below.
I know what some people are dying to ask: “Ok cool, relationship with food blah blah but HOW did you lose that weight?!” I’ll tell ya, it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of sacrifice BUT I did still celebrate when the occasion called for it. I cut out most processed foods and ate a mostly Paleo diet. No gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol. I ate meat, veggies, some fruit, nuts, and the occasional beans and very rarely would I have rice. No pizza. No subs. NO SODA (that was hard). Burgers with no bun. And that’s pretty much it. We did get some gluten free baking mixes and I would make gluten free pancakes on some weekends with a little maple syrup. I’m still sticking with that, although I do allow myself some dairy and I’ve had some gluten but both wreck my stomach. This is where figuring out if something is “worth it” comes in. Cheese on a burger? Yummy, but not worth it. A sub from a bomb-ass place in town? Worth it, but only like once very sporadically. A sandwich every day for lunch? Nah, I’m good with meat and veggies. Homemade ice cream with my kids? Yes ma’am.
You might be reading this and think that style of eating isn’t for you, it’s too hard, or it isn’t sustainable. That’s ok. That’s just what I’ve done and I’ve seen results from it. I also work out regularly and that has helped me both physically and mentally.
Ok, enough of my soap box about food. I want to share a quick spring/summer recipe that I threw together the other night. It’s just lemon and garlic salmon with asparagus and creamy potato salad. Easy.
I got 2 pounds of salmon (on sale!) and seasoned it with lemon juice, garlic, and dill. I put it on a sheet pan along with some asparagus that I seasoned similarly. I don’t measure, sorry! I put that in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the salmon was about 145 internal temp. You can adjust based on your salmon preference. While that was cooking I cubed up some yellow potatoes and boiled them in salted water until fork tender. While they were cooking I combined about a tablespoon of mayo, salt, pepper, dill, garlic, and lemon juice. Once the potatoes were done I drained them and returned them to their pan to dry and cool for a few minutes, then added them to the mayo based dressing I made and tossed them! You could leave the mayo out if it’s not your thing and this would still be great.
Not everyone is into fish, and that’s ok. Dan typically prefers his fish breaded and deep fried but he actually really liked this.
Here are some other foods that I’m currently obsessed with that are pretty easy to throw together:
- Roasted zucchini and eggplant (literally cubed veg, little extra virgin olive oil, salt and garlic powder, on a sheet pan at 400 until they’re tender and brown and yummy). I did two sheet pans on Sunday for meal prep and now I have yummy roasted veg that I can just grab and reheat. (On a side note, last summer I had raw zucchini for the first time when we had people over for a cookout and someone brought a veggie platter with hummus. I’d never known you could eat it raw but it was so good).
- Grilling! It’s so easy to throw some chicken in a bag with spiedie sauce (I prefer Brooks’ spiedie sauce because it has less “weird” ingredients) and let it hang in your fridge for a few days, then grill those suckers up. I love chicken thighs so dang much, but if you’ve got some of those humongous chicken breasts you could try cutting them in half width-wise (basically butterfly them but cut all the way through) and then they cook way faster. Also, don’t knock a nice box of frozen burgers. In a pinch when you haven’t planned dinner well, those suckers can be a life saver.
- For quick and easy sides, you can’t go wrong with bags of frozen broccoli or other veggies you like. They’re quick, affordable, and can be ready in just a few minutes. I also love having a bag of frozen spinach or spinach/kale mix in the freezer so I can just add a handful to soups, stews, sauces, etc. My kids will down a plate of mac and cheese and they don’t seem to notice when there’s spinach mixed in…bahahaha!
- What about a “salad”? No one in my family really loves lettuce and, let’s face it, aside from very rare occasions, lettuce pretty much sucks. What I’ve been doing lately is making salads for a side at dinner, but with no lettuce. So all that yummy stuff in a salad that people love, like cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, shredded carrots (we chop up air fryer carrots, recipe to come in another post!), leftover steamed veggies, etc, topped with a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice, makes for a great summer side dish with no sad lettuce in there.
- There have also been times when we haven’t had much laying around for lunch, so I make a “salad” like I described above, and then I just add some lunch meat to it. So simple, so easy, so tasty. Always have some good quality lunch meat on hand.
- Check out Pinterest! Remember that old thing that was super popular like, 8 years ago but has since kind of faded into oblivion? I used to be obsessed with Pinterest, and every now and then I’ll find a hidden gem, but I don’t love that so much of what pops up is paid ads and crap like that. However, you can still search for things and find some great recipes and suggestions.
So there you have it. I’ll be talking more about food and meal prep in future posts, but let me know if there’s anything specific you want to know more about! Thanks for taking the time to read this, talk to you again soon!
Great post, Dani! I love the way you describe your relationship with food. Your recipes are great too! I love salmon and asparagus! We’ve been having salmon for dinner almost every weekend lately.
Great Blog Post, Cousin!!