Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Cooking: 2011: A Look Back at a Year in Food (and a Look Ahead)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by my friend Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Since we bloggers do year-end wrap ups of books and everything else, I thought a look back at 2011 as it was in food might be a bit of a fun retrospective.

(I had intended to do this post last week, but since I had just finished Joy for Beginners the night before, I couldn't wait to tell you about that ... so that review became last weekend's Weekend Cooking post. I figured you wouldn't mind the week's delay for this.)

Three specific restaurant meals immediately come to mind as highlights of the year in food.

There was the fun dinner with several book bloggers in May at New York City's Eataly, following the Book Blogger Convention.

From left, Teresa from Shelf Love (with glasses), Colleen from Books in the City, Ash from English Major's Junk Food, Florinda from The 3Rs Blog, Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, and yours truly. 

In the summer, several coworkers and I reunited for the first time in many, many years and had a delicious dinner at Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken, Pa - not to mention this tower of margaritas that was the envy of the other patrons.  We nicknamed this the "Tower of Power."

Never fear. There was some food involved that night, too. I can prove it, because I am that annoying friend who photographs everyone's meal.

Starting with mine, this Coyote Veggie Burrito (pictured below) with poblano onion strips, rice, corn, and black beans. It was topped with a pumpkin flower sauce (whatever that is, but it was damn good) and avocados.

Then there was my friend D.'s Tequila Lime Salad.

The dessert that I shared with my friend T., cheesecake wrapped in a flour tortilla dusted with cinnamon and sugar, with chocolate sauce for dipping.

And lots of laughs and memories to last us another several years (although hopefully it won't be that long till we're together again.)

And then there was my visit to eden-a vegan cafe in Scranton, where I had one of their amazing Fun and Green Burgers for lunch.  There's another business trip to Scranton in my future (maybe as early as this month or next, but definitely again next fall) and I'll be eating at eden for every single one of my meals while I'm in town.

The kids and I visited the Farm to Feast exhibit at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens here in Pittsburgh.

There was birthday cake, and the particular happiness that a piece of lemon cake brought to my friend's little boy (and me).

There was also the mundane stuff of trying to make meal plans (I succeeded somewhat, and need to work on this more in the new year) and trying to eat us out of house and home when we were moving and I didn't want to take the entire contents of our pantry with us.  I did pretty good with that.

This was also the year I pretty much gave up chocolate.

(I know.  For some of you, that sounds like giving up a limb.)

But it started becoming too much of a migraine trigger even in the smallest amounts and I - never really much one for sweets anyway - decided to give it up.  My dad, also a migraine sufferer, was always "allergic" to chocolate and as I grew older I understood why. It's made a tremendous difference.

Towards the end of 2011 came the wake-up call from my doctor ("You Could Have Wound Up in a Coma!" and Other Phrases That You Don't Want Your Doctor to Tell You") that, given my cholesterol numbers from the bloodwork she ordered, is going to affect my eating habits in 2012 and beyond. Apparently, my triglycerides are too far gone off the charts that they can't even measure my bad cholesterol - or some such nonsense. And my total cholesterol is in the moderately high range.

I've already started to make some changes since getting these results the week before Christmas.  (And can I tell you how much fun it is going on a low-cholesterol diet THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS??!!)  But, my attitude was, better to be on a low-cholesterol diet now rather than a hospital diet of food in the cardiac ward after having a heart attack or stroke.

Breakfast is now a bowl of oatmeal with a sliced banana.  I'm down to an average of one cup of coffee a day, mainly because I'm back on my thyroid medication (which prompted the coma comment from the doctor) and most days I don't feel like I need that mid-afternoon cup of caffeine.  Snacks are walnuts or some raw veggies, like carrots. Salads are present at lunch and dinner, if not my meal itself.  My nightly bowl of ice cream has been eliminated. (Well, most nights. I think I treated myself to a bowl one night this year, which isn't too bad.)

This has only been a few weeks now and while it's not easy (and admittedly, not always fun because I really love my pizza and pasta and ohmigawd, my cheese) it is what needs to be the new normal around here as far as food goes. I'll be writing more about this journey in the months to come because it is going to meet a change in our eating habits, mostly mine.

Here's to a healthy 2012!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Joy Weese Moll said...

Looks like a good year and a good start to a new year with new opportunities! Ok, new challenges, but opportunities sounds better. I wrote a post a week or so ago with the books that helped me the most when I tackled the project of a healthier lifestyle:

Anonymous said...

Pumpkin flowers would be a variety of that old standby, squash blossoms? Actually, I remember a salad that calls for squash blossoms. Looks like some good eats.

Sue Jackson said...

A year-end food wrap-up - what a good idea!

Coyote Crossing sounds and looks fabulous. Conshohoken is a bit far to go for dinner from DE but we may need to try it!

Sorry to hear about the health problems but it sounds as if you have a good plan and are on track for a better year health-wise.


Beth F said...

My in-laws aren't too far from Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken, Pa -- hummm. I think I know where I want to eat next time I'm in the area. OMG yum.

Making changes is difficult, especially when you have to do it all at once. But it *is* doable. Good luck. I'll be rooting you along.

Vicki said...

I also got the blood work wake up call. High cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and diabetic. I'm still working on getting my numbers down. I've kinda slacked off on watching what I eat. Like you, I love pizza, ice cream and cheese. Cheese on tomatoes, eggs, toast, anything really. I've switched popcorn for ice cream...most nights.

When I am eating healthy, for breakfast I eat oats with fruit, flax seed, wheat germ, cinnamon, nuts/seeds and sometimes a little honey.

Good luck!

Here's My WC

Margot said...

A year-end wrap-up of food is a great idea. I like how you took us through your whole experience. Sorry to hear about your problems. I'll bet you find some fantastic new, healthy dishes to tell us about this year. I look forward to it.

Booksnyc said...

Maybe we can reprise a book blogger dinner this year at BEA? It was a nice way to end the week!

Sorry to hear about your health issues but it sounds like you have a good plan in place so here's to a healthy 2012!

IMOK said...

I hear you. Too bad my triglyceride numbers were not my SAT scores! I used to do the nightly bowl of ice cream. In recent years we've reduced to every other night. While others think that's a treat I see it as punishment.

Best wishes as you adapt to new eating habits.

Heather said...

Hang in there Melissa,
You can make those dietary changes. My nephew didn't understand what high cholesterol was and how dangerous it was. He passed away in the summer at 26 years old. I recommend testing to everyone I am talking with. Glad that you are tested and have the time to work on your health. Pass the word along. who knows how many lives can be saved by your post here.