I love food. I hate poetry. It’s very simple.
It wasn’t always this way, though. I had a ridiculous relationship with food up until a few years ago, and while I still wage my battles from time to time, cooking and baking — nourishing goodness for myself and my husband have become fascinating pastimes for me. Almost nothing gets me as excited as thinking and talking about food – just ask anyone who knows me.
I was a very picky eater growing up. I turned up my nose at most fruits and vegetables. I refused to eat even one piece of lettuce at dinner and once threw up a serving of green beans all over my plate. My mother tried to get me and my brother (also a picky eater) to try different things, but she worked full time and my father traveled often on business, so I think many times it was easier for her not to fight us. That she is a picky eater in her own right probably didn’t help things.
Since most real food didn’t appeal to me, I ate a lot – a LOT – of crap. Cadbury Crème Eggs and Mountain Dew for breakfast. Shake ’n Bake straight out of the box. Bacon bits. Croutons dipped in blue cheese dressing. Cheetos. Nacho Cheese Doritos. I was chubby as a kid, but outgrew it during puberty, so I never figured anything was wrong with my diet since I was thin.
My husband, Brian, has always been astounded by my diet growing up. When I met him, I drank Kool-Aid by the gallon, couldn’t identify a great deal of produce when browsing in the grocery store, and had never tasted cauliflower or plums. He would take me to places like Sultan’s Market – home of amazing falafel sandwiches – and my anxiety was palpable. What the hell was I supposed to eat in a place like that?
Brian figured out how to get me to try new things, something others had never been able to do. He didn’t laugh at me (much) when I was scared to taste something. He would push me to take a bite, but he always knew when to stop pushing. He deserves all the credit for turning me on to those amazing falafel sandwiches, sushi, hummus, watermelon and countless other foods.
It took another major event to force me to embrace a healthier eating lifestyle. About four or five years ago I had my cholesterol checked during an annual physical. My total cholesterol was 217 – the count had been more than 100 points lower when I’d had it checked two years prior. I had it checked again two weeks later and although it had dropped to 200, I was still really freaked out. I was in my late 20s for pete’s sake, way too young to be dealing with that kind of issue. I joined a gym almost immediately.
Joining the gym was only half the battle for me. I knew I could hit the treadmill and lift weights until the cows came home, but I had to get a handle on what I was eating. That’s when I truly started investigating alternatives to what I was ingesting. It’s taken a number of years to get a strong handle on what I like, what my husband will eat, and how to prepare delicious dishes without compromising our health or busy schedules.
The greatest thing I’ve learned on this road to loving real food is that I have serious texture issues. I never knew that before and I believe it’s the cause of most of my issues with vegetables. My solution? Soups! Lots and lots of pureed soups (see below for some of my favorite soup recipe links)! Now I can eat broccoli stems, tomatoes, onions and cauliflower without issue. There are still some veggies I don’t like – I can’t handle asparagus unless I doctor the shit out of it – but I don’t have to like everything.
Now, can someone get me to love poetry? I triple dog dare you.