Fitness Friday: Identifying My Vital Needs

Remember when I talked with you about digging up my mental dirt? I’ve been digging, and I’m covered in it. Dirt I mean. Or something. It’s possible I’m trying too hard to fit the metaphor in to the opening paragraph of this post.

*Anyway.*

I’m getting back to working on the physical part of my fitness too (in addition to the brain part of the whole deal). Part of the program I’m doing has a component to help deal with emotional eating, and it’s identifying your vital needs. Basically, your vital needs are a set of things that are important to you, that, if not met will have you turning to food to fill the holes. If you’ve ever had disordered eating and been an emotional eater, you’ll get that completely. It’s a slow process, figuring out what your vital needs are, but I think I’m mostly there.

Between figuring out my vital needs and working with the counselor, I will get a handle on this thing. I hope you’ll be there with me when I do!

Fitness Friday: Week 14 Working My Way Back

You’re stuck with just me this week! I took this week off of work to hang out with my Mom who is here from Florida until the end of next week. It’s been so nice to just relax with my Mom and the kids. Amazingly, I haven’t been completely relaxed with my diet. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve had a better week than I thought I would being away from the office.

Successes…

  • Weight…I maintained from last week. So, yay! That’s 12 pounds down in the last 14 weeks. I’m almost done with the steroids, so I’m hoping between that and getting back on the wagon I’ll start dropping some more pounds soon.
  • Inches…I lost an inch from last week for a total of 26 inches lost in the last 14 weeks. Woot!

Challenges…

  • I’ve been off this week and being home makes me want to bake and cook. I’m going to bake cupcakes today…and take most of them over to my Grandmother’s house on Sunday :)

So, how did you all do this week?

Past Posts on my fitness Journey…

Fitness Friday: Week 12 & Finding Fitness Balance

Every week, along with my progress update, I’m sharing guest posts from friends who are making changes in their lives to live more healthily. This week’s guest poster is my friend, Sadie D. Wilks. Sadie and I have known each other for a shockingly long time. Really, it’s about 14 years, but since it seem like we met just yesterday, it’s shocking. Sadie is one of the smartest public relations people I know, she cracks me up, she has a great accent, and she doesn’t think I’m crazy. She’ll totally be my PR rep if I ever get famous…or am arrested. Sadie shares her thoughts on struggling to maintain a healthy weight while living a very busy life.

Sadie’s words…

As I get older and my life busier, I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight. Sound familiar?

Food makes me happy. Chocolate calms me. Macaroni and cheese satisfies more than just my hunger. Gumbo reminds me of my grandmother. Beignets and coffee bring me a joy that no other food and beverage can fulfill. Many people love food – but really, loving food is in my genes. I’m Cajun after all.

Born and bred in South Louisiana , where we have festivals devoted to food and food products – shrimp festival, crawfish festival, strawberry festival, frog festival (yes, they are food here in Acadiana). Entire weekends planned around one particular delicacy. It’s a thing of beauty really. Eating is part of the culture. Consequently, managing your weight in Louisiana can be more than a challenge.

Before I had my son, I was a runner. 5Ks, 10Ks, adventure races, half marathons, you name it. And I loved it. To this day, running gives me an inner peace I cannot achieve in any other way. But, if you asked me why I ran, I would say, “So I can eat whatever I like and not feel guilty about it.”

Post pregnancy, I still loved to eat and run. But as I got busier, at work and at home, I seemed to find more time to eat and less time to run. When I hit 35 last fall, I decided that the “baby weight” had to go. My son is now five so “baby weight” was becoming laughable. I wanted to get healthier, mainly because I was tired all the time and was struggling to catch my breath just getting in and out of the car.

Not that I haven’t tried before. I would begin eating right, exercising, renewing my focus on being a good wife and mother, while keeping up with my duties at work. All at the same time. Ultimately, I spent too much time comparing myself to my pre-pregnancy self and setting my expectations very high.

High expectations are not all bad, but for me, it was detrimental. I was trying to accomplish too many things at once. This time, I decided to tackle one thing at a time. I chose to focus on healthier eating first, with the hope that once I lost 20 lbs, I would feel more energetic and thus, regular exercising would be the next step.

Since my own efforts had not produced the desired results, I decided to seek help. After weighing several options, I settled on the Ideal Protein diet, working through a local hospital’s wellness program. I have lost the weight over that last four months. It was tough but I was financially invested and thus determined to get my money’s worth. Having to weigh in each week kept me motivated and on target as well.

Now I am focused on maintaining a nice, healthy balance between eating foods I love and eating what my body needs to survive. And exercising regularly. Truthfully, I am struggling with step two. I was hoping that losing the weight would provide instant motivation to get back out there, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

 

 

Wife. Mother. Communicator.
Sadie was married in January 2000 to her husband, Scott, who is an associate professor in the LSU School of Social Work. Together, they are raising their son, Noah. More or less. Her professional life includes extensive work in communications and public relations specifically for non-profits and associations. She is an alumna of Louisiana State University (LSU) and a native of south Louisiana. You can read some of Sadie’s writing on Detaild and follower her on Twitter as @sadiepr

 

Sherry’s update…

I’m struggling, y’all. I want this getting healthy and losing weight thing to be easy, but it’s not. And that is frustrating. I didn’t have a horrible week, but it wasn’t stellar. Honestly, keeping myself accountable here (and to all three of you who read these posts :) ) is probably one of the things that motivated *anything* healthy this week. Also? I’m still hating the steroids!

Successes…

  • I didn’t eat an entire peach cobbler. This is mostly because I burned it, but the old me would have pushed past that detail to devour it anyway.
  • Weight…I lost 3 pounds from last week’s crazy! So, I’m down 12.4 pounds from 12 weeks ago and 23 pounds since my highest of 301.
  • Inches…I got rid of 4.5 inches from last week. So, I’m down 25 inches total from 12 weeks ago.

Challenges…

  • Not getting discouraged about this weight/inches/swelling situation. I know it’s not all just my behavior, but it’s hard not to get frustrated.

So, how did you all do this week?

Past Posts on my fitness Journey…

Fitness Friday: Week 10 & Tips for Staying On The Wagon

Every week, along with my progress update, I’m sharing guest posts from friends who are making changes in their lives to live more healthily. This week’s guest poster is my friend, Ellen. She and I have known each other for many years and I’m excited for her to give you some tips for staying on the wagon (and a bonus recipe!)

Ellen’s words…

I’m honored that Sherry asked me to contribute over here at Paper, Scissors, Keyboard. Sherry and I have known each other for years, and have had a crazy adventure or two, which now includes our journey for weight loss.

Though you wouldn’t believe it if you saw me in person,  my doctor told me to lose 50 pounds – before I had children. I wear all my weight in my thighs and hips. He wanted me to go on the South Beach Diet. I tried, but that “lifestyle change” just didn’t work for me.

Over the years I have tried Weight Watchers and LA Weight Loss – both wonderful programs in their own right. However I’m on a tight budget now that I am a SAHM, so I’ve picked up some sound advice that I’ve learned from each program (and others) and have incorporated them into my own weight loss initiative through the LoseIt app for the iPhone.

So here are some weight loss tips that I’ve collected over the years that I’d like to share with Sherry and you:

  1. For me it all comes down to <<cover your ears>> counting calories.  Seriously, if I can keep my calorie in-take below 1,600 daily and watch my portion size – I’ve won the battle for the day.  Measuring everything for the first few weeks is essential until I have a feel for correct portion sizes for different food categories.
  2. A lot of recipes call for sautéing onions and garlic in oil or butter. But do you realize that water sautés just as well and is calorie free? Try it. I don’t think you’ll miss any flavor at all.
  3. Have a sweet tooth? Snack on dates.  Majool dates are my favorite and can be easily found in your grocery store. They are plump and “milky” and I recommend starting with this variety first. However make sure they aren’t dried out before purchasing.
  4. Water, water, water – and then drink some more water.  If there is one thing that is the greatest contributor to loosing weight, it’s water. It flushes our system. Water really is the fountain of youth.
  5. Don’t skimp on your kitchen tools. Last week I bought a Vitamix, a purchase I should have made 15 years ago.  I never knew making smoothies, humus and soups could be so effortless. By buying a refurbished mixer from the Vitamix website I saved $100 and also received a five year warranty.

Last of all; if you fall off the wagon, just jump back on. That’s the beauty about it being a wagon: it goes really slow so you can catch up.  I’m just thankful that it’s not a race car that speeds on ahead and leaves me behind.

Veggie Hot Pocket

  • ½ Yellow Sweet Onion, sliced
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, sliced
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1 Tomato, medium sized, diced
  • 1 Avocado, diced
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Sauté onion and fennel bulb in 2 Tlbs of water. Add water if needed. Add spinach and sauté until wilted. Add tomato and avocado until warmed. Season with salt and pepper. Cut pita pocket in half, toast or lightly heat. Fill each half of the pita pocket with veggies.

Ellen blogs over at The Hip Vegetarian and The Bloom Diaries. Since the new year she’s lost 10 lbs by watching her calories, however she falls off the wagon every week. She’s a little bruised up. However her new Vitamix has given her the energy to take a running leap towards the wagon again.

Sherry’s update…

This week, I worked slowly toward a firmer seat on the wagon. I’m still on…but it’s still easy to fall off.

Successes…

  • I did much better with staying hydrated this week. I drank all of my H2Orange several times during the week and almost all on the other days.
  • I worked to keep my portion sizes right and to only eat when I was hungry.
  • Weight…I lost 2 pounds! I’m so excited! So, I’m down 16 pounds in these 10 weeks and 26 pounds since my highest of 301).
  • Inches…I lost 2 more inches! That’s a total of 26.5 inches in the last 10 weeks. Woot!

Challenges…

  • Avoiding sugar continues to be a challenge for me. And it is pretty directly related to not drinking the full gallon of my H2Orange. When I drink that, I stay pretty strong…when I don’t? I want to eat my weight in peach cobbler.

So, how did you all do this week?

Past Posts on my fitness Journey…

Fitness Friday: Week Nine & Living With Extreme Food Allergies

Every week, along with my progress update, I’m sharing guest posts from friends who are making changes in their lives to live more healthily. This week my guest posters are Lauren Vargas and Leo Souza. Lauren was born with life-threatening allergies to dairy, they have one daughter with no food allergies, one daughter with life-threatening allergies to eggs, and Leo loves to eat and cook for all of them. I take for granted, every day, that my family can eat whatever I set in front of them without much thought. I am amazed at the way Lauren has always eaten and the adjustments Leo has made to be able to share his love of food and keep his family safe.

Lauren’s words…

Growing up with a severe food allergy felt like I was always living without. Without pizza. Without rocky road ice cream. Without cheeseburgers. Without chocolate bars. Without. When I went to birthday parties, I could never eat the snacks the other kids were devouring and was relegated to a Tupperware container of safe foods. Living without felt more like the exclusion of food.

The doctors said I would grow out of my allergy to milk and all milk products. Two years. Four years. Six years. Now, thirty-one years has past and I am as severely allergic to milk and all derivatives as I was on Day One. Whether I touch or ingest milk products, I go into anaphylactic shock. Taking Lactaid or grimacing through stomach issues is not an option. The Epi Pen has saved me on more occasions than I care to remember.

Twenty years ago, people did not recognize food allergies as they do today. Having an allergy of this extreme was ostracizing. Very rarely did we eat out at restaurants as a family, and I could only eat McDonalds hamburgers plain without the bun. My mother made everything from scratch. We lived overseas and did not have milk replacements readily available. So as my parents heard of new milk replacements come into the market, my dad would fight to have them brought to our military base and my mom would have me try each one. Nasty as they were, we did try to cook and bake with these replacements.

As a young adult, I felt safe cooking with food at home. Unless it was a Chinese restaurant, celebrations were limited to Sonic. The same basic ingredient list of meat, potatoes, rice and pasta dominated my limited home menu. Until I met Leo and started to travel on business.

Two events opened up a whole new world of food to me. The first was our trip to Montreal. Leo researched all the surrounding restaurants and coordinated meals for me to eat. He just wanted me to relax and explore the city at his side. I have never eaten better. Well…perhaps we might have on our honeymoon to Paris.

The second food nirvana moment was in Las Vegas two years ago. A close group of friends got together for a delicious five-course meal. The friend who had organized (at this time I did not know him very well) ensured I could have each divine dish. I ate at a restaurant away from home. I felt safe. I laughed. I started to live with and not without.

Our oldest daughter does not have a single allergy, but a year ago, we discovered our youngest daughter, two years-old, is as allergic to eggs and I am to milk. For my husband, there was no option about Lyra ever feeling she had to live without anything. We discovered an online bakery called Divvies that sells dairy, gluten and egg free treats of all kinds that satisfies our sweet tooth. Also, we have modified our diet to high protein with vegetables. Out go the carbs (for the most part). We are eating healthier than ever. I have dropped several pants sizes and we are discovering fresh new foods. Since I am not the domestic of the two us, let me introduce my husband, Leo to explain.

Leo’s words…

Shocked. That’s how I was when Lauren told me about her allergy. I had heard of people with sensitivity to milk, but never ever had I heard of anyone with a milk allergy so strong that it could kill you.

You see, I loooove food, which is something that I acquired from my parents, who still enjoy going out for a delicious meal, as well as preparing some extraordinary recipes at home. Even when I was still living and working in São Paulo (Brazil), the main discussion at the office was always which restaurant we would go out to eat that day. Eating well to me is an integral part of fully enjoying life.

So when I heard about Lauren’s allergy, I took my main course of action when confronted with something new: research. I searched online for information about her allergy and also asked her a million questions to understand more.

I was never a boy scout, but I always liked their motto: be prepared. When we went to Paris, for example, my preparation included scouting online all the Thai and Chinese restaurants close to our hotel (always a good backup option) and also creating a portable list with all the ingredients that Lauren couldn’t have, written in Portuguese, English and French. Arriving at a restaurant, I would talk to the waiter, present the list and inquire about meals without those items. Not only did we eat divinely the whole time in Paris, but we also had the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had in my life (and yes, completely dairy-free).

All fine when we were eating out, but how about cooking at home, which became a lot more frequent once we had our two girls to keep us busy (and one of them with a severe egg allergy)? We couldn’t just keep eating out all the time, so we would have to find a solution to cook at home. We had a few egg-and-dairy-free recipes that we would cook practically every week, for the simple reason that we were familiar with the ingredients to buy (chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, ground beef, etc.) and because they were easy to prepare. We would always say that “next week” we would plan a diverse set of meals for the week and buy the ingredients in advance, but this next week would never come. We had lost the “be prepared” motto somewhere along the way…

Until one day we heard about “Sara’s Supperclub” from some friends that live just around the corner from our house. The premise of their service is pretty simple: for a reasonable price ($125 at the moment), every Monday afternoon they deliver at our door a list with 4 recipes for the week, plus all the ingredients to prepare it. Not only are these recipes a combination of the delicious-and-healthy Mediterranean diet, each one of them contains enough for 4 adult portions, which means that between us and the kids we get a total of 8 meals out of them (sometimes even more). In just one act we:

  1. Eliminated the burden of deciding what to eat every week. The answer to “what’s for dinner?” is always “I don’t know, let me check the list of recipes” :)
  2. Saved a lot of time from not having to go hunt down every ingredient ourselves
  3. Provided us with recipes way better and more diverse than we would ever have planned (e.g. who would have thought that both of our girls would love mussels?)

Now what about the egg and dairy allergies? Before joining the service, I contacted one of the Sara’s and made an agreement that they wouldn’t send any dairy or egg ingredients in our bags. The only thing I have to do each week then is to check all the egg/dairy ingredients that will be needed and arrange replacements.

After doing this for a few months, I must say I’m almost an expert at replacing ingredients. My favorite: replacing Greek yogurt with a mix containing half Tofutti Cream Cheese + half Tofutti Sour Cream. It works like a charm. :)

Here are some other replacements:

  • EnerG Egg Replacer (Wholefoods) – We have used this substitute for all of our baking and even fried rice!
  • Silk Soy Milk (cooking and baking)
  • Silk Soy + Lemon for buttermilk substitute
  • Daiya for cheddar and mozzarella cheese substitute – No aftertaste and great for pizza.
  • Countrycrock Sheddspread for butter substitute
  • Toffuti Cream Cheese – Make a healthier and tastier cheesecake, yes, it is possible!
  • Tofutti Sour Cream

Any recipe is possible!

 

Sherry’s update…

Well, after last week’s mayhem, I was worried about this week. I haven’t done a stellar job this week, but it’s been substantially better than last week.

Successes

  • I drank H2Orange every day. Not a full gallon, and maybe not even 60 oz, but at least some every day!
  • I mostly got back on eating only when I was hungry, and eating slowly to better identify when I was full.
  • Weight…I lost a pound, so I’m at 277! So, that’s 13 pounds since I started the program and 24 pounds since my high of 301 in August.
  • Inches…lost 2.5 inches this week! That’s a total of 24.5 inches since March.

Challenges

  • I didn’t get all the way back in my routine, and it’s so much easier to make lazy choices when you’ve been off the wagon for a while.
  • I didn’t get in all of my hydration and I know that’s what allowed me to eat when I wasn’t necessarily hungry and to give in to some sugar cravings.

How was your week?

Past Posts on my fitness Journey…

Fitness Friday: Week Seven & Greta Goes Gluten Free

Every week, along with my progress update, I’m sharing guest posts from friends who are making changes in their lives to live more healthily. This week my guest poster is Greta Funk. Recently, Greta and her family started living gluten free because of a diagnosis for one of her children.

Greta’s words…

My two year old daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in February.  Because it was the toddler who could no longer have gluten, and she’s too young to really understand why, I made the decision to cook only gluten-free meals at home. People probably thought I was crazy, but I didn’t want her to accidentally get a bag of Goldfish, or have a fit because she couldn’t have Goldfish. So anyway, for the past two months, we have completely revamped the way we eat.

It has been HARD. It has been overwhelming, and stressful.  And I am just now starting to come out of that fog and feel more comfortable with what I’m cooking and buying.

Because anything specifically labeled “gluten free” is automatically twice as expensive as regular food, I’ve done a lot of cooking from scratch. I roast a ton of veggies (cauliflower, asparagus, potato “French fries” and Brussels sprouts are our new favorites). I prepare meat simply, often in the crock pot with just barbecue sauce or salt and pepper. We don’t eat a lot of breads anymore, because they take a lot of extra preparation to get from oven to table, and we don’t rely on “convenience” foods at all anymore, unless it’s something that I’ve made ahead of time and frozen. Pasta dishes are also simpler, with gluten-free noodles and homemade sauces, low fat cheeses, and meats. We’ve also tried new things, like quinoa (which, we discovered, is delicious!).

If there is one positive aspect to her diagnosis, it is that it has forced me to take a good long look at what I’ve been feeding my family and make better choices. Unprocessed, whole foods have definitely become the norm in our house.

I think it’s too soon to see dramatic changes in my health (or my husband’s), but mentally and psychologically, I feel much better about the foods that I’m eating and cooking. I make better choices as a whole, and I’m proud of that.

Greta is a Stay At Home Mom of four children under seven years old. She doesn’t control the chaos, she just tries to contain it, and she documents it all at Gfunkified.com.

Sherry’s Week Seven Update

Well. Like last week, this week was a tough one for me. I can’t believe how easily I was thrown off course in this whole living-healthier endeavor. I haven’t given up, and I know I’m going to do this thang, but it’s easy to get frustrated. I am working on fixing my heel and knee so I can work out without pain, so I know that will help me to stay on track also.

Successes

  • Not many. I managed not to eat my weight in cake, so I guess that’s good.
  • Weight…Somehow, I lost two pounds this week. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it’s encouraging. I’m at 278, so 12 pounds during the program and 23 pounds from my heaviest of 301.
  • Inches…Again, in the “weird” department, I managed to lose half an inch this week. So, I’ve lost 22 inches since starting the program!

Challenges

  • Everything. Everything was a challenge this week. I ate too many times when I wasn’t hungry and I let stressful situations lead to eating.

How was your week?

Past Posts on my fitness Journey…

 

Fitness Friday: Week Three

Three weeks in! Here’s the breakdown for the week:

Successes

  • I’m still steering clear of caffeine for the most part. Over the last week, I had one can of diet soda and one 20 oz. bottle of diet soda (consumed over two days!) This is a giant improvement over the 3+ bottles I used to have every day.
  • I drank a full gallon of the H2Orange every day this week. And learned that I don’t love the cherry pomegranate Crystal Light.
  • I added two exercise sessions. I walked about a mile with the boys once this week and a mile and a half by myself yesterday. I’ve also been trying to get more steps in at the office (taking the long way around or tagging along if someone needs to run an errand). And I’m sitting on my exercise ball at my desk at home (that’s for the core or something, right?).
  • I know this wasn’t one of my goals for weight loss, but not buying breakfast or as big a lunch every day is saving me a lot of money! Bonus!
  • I only ate when I was hungry!
  • Weight…I lost 3.4 pounds this week! That means I’ve hit the 10 pounds lost since March 26th! That is also 21 pounds lost since my heaviest last August. Doing the happy dance!
  • Inches…I lost 5.75 inches this week. The biggest change was in my abs, which I expected because my, umm, lady friend left today. I was happy to see the first change in my bicep, though, as that’s always the last place to lose for me.

Challenges

  • Y’all. Easter chocolate? The Devil. I did have four pieces of chocolate candy this week. It was fun size, but I knew I shouldn’t have it, but did. Not beating myself up about it, but it’s been a challenge to resist the kids’ candy.
  • I am not hungry at dinner time any more. This isn’t bad for my body, but I miss eating with my kids. So it makes me want to eat when I’m not hungry. I still sit with them at the table while they eat, but it feels not the same.

Lessons

This week’s lesson in my program was about Sugar (aka, the Devil’s tool). I knew we (Americans) ate a lot of sugar, and I knew that it was bad for you…but I hadn’t really looked at the numbers before. It’s estimated that Americans eat 200 pounds of sugar per person, each year. In 1948 we ate 15 pounds of sugar per person, per year. I’m fairly sure I’m responsible for at least 70% of the daily allotment of the people who don’t eat sugar. I’m also noticing how much sugar is in processed/packaged foods. I feel dumb for not noticing the impact before now. A couple of the stats that freaked me out the most were: (1) the caloric density of one slice of shortening-iced birthday cake with a scoop of ice cream is the same as 1/2 pound of cooked pot roast, (2) one slice of pecan pie has the same caloric density as four English muffins, and (3) one package of peanut M&Ms has the same caloric density as 6 large peaches.

These lessons are important because of the awareness. I can’t pretend not to know these things any more.

So, how did your week go?

Previous weeks…

Week Two

Week One

I’m Fat, But That’s Changing

 

 

Fitness Friday: Week One

I made it through my first week, y’all! I started the weight-loss program through my hospital and it’s challenging a lot of my thinking. This week has been pretty big for me though! 

Successes

  • Within two days of starting the program, I noticed that the constant swelling of my feet and legs that hasn’t gone away since I was pregnant with Tobin went away! My hands are also significantly less swollen (which is great for putting on my wedding ring).
  • Zero sweets/sugar for the week. This one is really my biggest challenge. If I didn’t love candy and pastry like I do, I wouldn’t be fat. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t overeat meals, I overeat candy and sweet junk. So, for me to go an entire week without added sugar or candy is huge.
  • The program asks us to drink at least 60 ounces of this concoction they call H2Orange (seven parts water to one part orange juice with a package of Crystal Light powder for flavor). I’ve had a full gallon every day this week. Which also explains the awesome disappearance of the swelling.
  • Weight…I’ve lost three pounds this week! I’m so excited y’all! I know a lot of this is water weight and I have a lot more to lose, but I’m taking my successes as they come.
  • Inches…This really blew me away, but I’ve lost 10.75 total inches this week. What?!? It came off everywhere except my arms. I was stunned when I measured this morning.

Challenges

  • I really, really wanted some candy on Wednesday. Thankfully I have some great support folk who talked me down. But it was the first hard core craving I had this week.
  • I’m spending a significant amount of time in the bathroom from all that H2Orange. But yay for no swelling!
  • I don’t eat dinner with the family any more. I mean, I still hang out with them while they are eating, but I don’t get hungry for dinner until much later in the evening than they eat, so I don’t eat with them.

I’m sure I’ll be reading this post later, when the pounds and inches are coming off so quickly, but I’m savoring the success this week! How did your week go?

Book Review ~ Hungry Monkey: A Food Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater

When I was pregnant with Tobin I heard about a book called Hungry Monkey: A Food Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater. The review said it was funny, it talked about food for the baby and us, and that it was short. So I bought it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks after T’s first birthday and I finally got to read it! And it cracked me up.

The author, Matthew Amster-Burton, is a food writer, a foodie, a dad, and a blogger. He and his family are based in Seattle and he works from home (and restaurants). I liked the book a lot, I laughed out loud a few times, and Amster-Burton’s writing is down-to-earth. Some foodie stuff I read is way beyond my skills and understanding, but that didn’t happen with this book. I also like that Amster-Burton is very aware that he has a lot more access to ingredients than a lot of us do (he suggests substitutes) and that he has a lot more time to cook than most of us.  Anyway, overall the writing was very entertaining and it inspired me to make a couple of the dishes.

Pad Thai
This is one of my favorite things to eat at restaurants that do it well. I wanted to make it for my family. Amster-Burton’s recipe said it was easy. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it yet because my grocery store didn’t carry many of the ingredients (including the noodles). When I have time to hunt the ingredients, I’ll try it!

 

Stone-Cut Oats and Candied Bacon
I like stone-cut oats and am always looking for new ways to cook it. And candied bacon? Sign me up! It was good, it was easy, and it was filling. It takes a little while to make because stone-cut oats take a little while to make. The only problem I had with it was that it was a little too rich for me. I think if I’d had a smaller bowl and maybe a side of fruit I would have enjoyed it more.

 

 

 

 

Shrimp and Grits
I love shrimp and I love grits, so trying this recipe was a no-brainer for me. I cheated on the grits part, though. I got 5 minute grits. But I did manage to make grits correctly for the first time in my life! And sauteing the shrimp in the bacon fat made them perfectly salty and cooked without covering up the shrimp taste. I loved this meal. My family? Nicholas looked at me like I was insane when I had him eat a shrimp, William doesn’t like shrimp but ate a big bowl of the cheesy grits, and Tobin liked the grits. So, not so successful for the rest of the family, but really good to me!

 

 

 

 

 

I plan to make some more of the dishes from Hungry Monkey, and I’ll definitely make the shrimp and grits again. My verdict is that you’ll like this book if you’ve ever worried that your kid will grow up eating only peanut butter crackers, you’ll like it if you even kind of like to cook, and you’ll like it if you like to eat. Even if you don’t plan to ever make any of the recipes, you should read it. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy reading someone else trying to figure out how to use the crock pot correctly.

What are your favorite meals for the picky eaters in your life?