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No more drive-thrus

Fast Food
Fast Food
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Did you ever have one of those days when you feel like everything has gone wrong, or you’re too tired to move, and there’s no vacation in sight? Of course you have, all of us have, right? Well, other people probably handle it better than I do. Whenever I have a bad day, I get this sense that I deserve some sort of scrumptious, unhealthy treat to sort of balance things out. In fact, even on days that are not so bad I have succumbed to this temptation.

Over the past week while I was trying to eat right, I gave in less, but I still gave in. I was trying to focus on staying away from fast food. But what did I do? You guessed it, I ate some fast food. Not very gourmet! Although I remember reading that even health proponent Dr. Andrew Weil ate fast food at least once, and he ordered a hamburger and a yogurt. So I guess I can forgive myself, but I will not do it again during this “quest” to eat right.

At the drive-thru, I got a southwest grilled chicken salad – I love southwestern cuisine. That’s not so bad if you forgo the tortilla strips and some of the cheese and dressing, but here’s the kicker…I also ordered a chocolate chip cookie. I know, pure sugar, but then, they accidentally gave me three cookies instead of one!

I should have given them to friends or thrown them away, but I ate them. Then I spent the rest of the day feeling like my healthy food chances were gone. This sort of fast food screw-up happened to me about three times this week because I felt stressed. Another reason is that I missed a couple of workouts, and not exercising really throws me off track.

So next week I am going to totally stay away from fast food! I’m also going to plan my menu for the next day/week. It sounds like I was just awful this week, but I did have a lot of healthy meals, some more haute cuisine than others. I’ll describe a couple below.

First, here’s a great tip - Use fresh ingredients and herbs whenever possible. My husband works as a culinarian at a country club, and they have a garden outside where they grow fresh herbs to use in the kitchen. I enjoy using herbs I grow indoors. One of my friends is from India, and she literally cooks fresh meals from scratch every single day. I don’t know how she does it. I try to at least find a happy medium, though.

I truly admire Alice Waters, the restaurateur who owns Chez Panisse where California cuisine was really born. She was inspired by French chefs to visit the market and find the freshest ingredients, then develop a menu from that. Of course, that sort of cuisine du marché isn’t very conducive to planning for the week, but you could still plan loosely as in, “a vegetable side dish” or “a berry parfait” and simply select the freshest ones.

The first recipe I love is a berry parfait. These are great for breakfast or for dessert. My favorite variation is one using low fat or fat free plain yogurt layered with berries – any kind will do, but I use blueberries and strawberries – and then topped with a drizzle of honey and a dusting of dutch cocoa powder. This combination tastes like dark chocolate and berries. It’s so delicious!

Another meal I felt good about was my Tex-Mex Burritos. Like I said, I love southwestern food, and it’s also one of the easiest cuisines to make and to transform into a gourmet dish. I like to buy the packs of tortillas in the hispanic specialty food section at the grocery store, as well as pinto beans and black beans. It’s fun to try the fruit juice in that section, too. You can get the queso blanco white cheese there and use that for the burritos, but I go for convenience and buy a bag of pre-grated Mexican cheese.

If you want to add meat, you can get some fajita meat and sauté it, or the ready-to-go chicken strips. Then just assemble the ingredients at home. You can add some cilantro or peppers, whatever you enjoy. I like to sauté onions and add them to my burritos. They are so yummy when they’re browned a bit and caramelized. Just make sure your burritos stay healthy and are not mountains of cheese.

Well, that sums up my first week of trying to eat food that is reasonably convenient and healthy, yet also gourmet. I sure bumbled the part with the cookies and fast food, but next week I will do better. I’ll let you know how much better in my upcoming blog entries.


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