501 Life Magazine | Falling off the wagon
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Falling off the wagon

I have been, for the most part, extremely disciplined in both the health and wellness department — with serious dieting and a major “nutritional lifestyle change” for the past four years. It has paid off — with a 93-pound weight loss, two or three wardrobe reductions and the satisfaction of being more “healthy!”
However, the desire to “fall off” recently “hit the fan,” and as the whimsical character Gooch in the musical Mame exclaimed, “I opened a window and traveled a highway that I have traveled before!”

For me, that meant Mexican food for lunch, fried fish for dinner, cooking cookies in the kitchen (perfecting the chocolate chip and the rum soaked oatmeal raisin cookie), a trip to Russellville for a Whataburger, two trips to Shorty’s for their gourmet version of the burger and homemade pizza. To keep from embarrassing myself any further, there were other stops along this “fall” that I am paying for as I write this article.

The most exercise I did was to sprint to the car for the next venture of my culinary career!

No one stood in amazement or criticized my epicurean extravaganza. In fact, I think most were happy to see the joy return to my countenance! Sugar has an amazing effect on my personality. It turns things “happy” and sends me “singing in the rain.” You would think I could double Gene Kelly with my footwork and an umbrella while dancing through a Starbucks Frappuccino!

Well, I know there are none of our readers who experience this dilemma, but should there be one on the verge of this happening, let me give you a few tips to enhance your experience. Know that the scales will be facing you at some point so a one-day “fall” is better than three days as enjoyed! There was a “looming presence” in our bathroom where the scales remain — and I almost reverted to taking my shower in another bathroom — but alas, the time came when I approached the dreaded scales.

Next time I “fall off,” I will endeavor to get back on track as quickly as possible. There was nothing “unhealthy” about the foods in particular (if you disregard they were not all locally grown, green, natural, baked or flash frozen — they were more fried, festooned and dipped!) But the amount and length of my “stay in undisciplined land” of confectionary treats was way out of bounds. 

Then, you will need to remember that certain “pudgy, slightly sluggish, tight-around-the-middle feeling” that accompanies such a venture. The feeling of self-control is a wonderful feeling and a true reward in itself. Each time I passed the mirror, I checked out the “over-hang” development. Although everything still hung in the right place, I knew the dam pressure was building and about to erupt. Relatively soon, I was realizing I had gone way beyond the simple treat into a head-long spread-eagle thud from the proverbial wagon.

There was also the guilt (whether imagined or self imposed, I’m not sure) that I did not deserve to put on clothes for the “smaller frame” — as the new shirts and slacks were definitely a reward for a “mission accomplished” throughout the weight loss journey.

The key when you do fall is to GET BACK ON THE WAGON! As we are all human and each have our own personal weaknesses — mine happens to be sugar, eating and everything that is involved in the dining process. Talk about obsessive compulsive, I truly both “take and EAT the cake!”

I am thankful to say, however, I am back on the wagon. I enjoyed my retreat to the old ways, but I know better and the rewards are far greater than the momentary affliction of casting all to the wind. My goal now is to get off the results of my fall and be back on the scales by Thanksgiving.

I recently baked a coconut lime cake — an incredible creation to honor my mother-in-law’s birthday. I enjoyed making the English version of lime curd for the filling for this “scratch” cake with a simple syrup glaze. At the present time, I’m still debating whether to do a meringue butter cream or cream cheese based frosting. Whatever I do, I will be able to pass my serving to the others at the party.

 McCardell’s Special Spinach

3 cups chopped spinach (frozen)
3 tablespoons onion, finely diced
3 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup rich cream sauce
2 eggs, beaten only until blended
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese
Salt and Tabasco sauce to taste
Small clove garlic, chopped fine (optional)

Cook the best quality frozen chopped spinach in boiling salted water. Do not overcook. Drain well. In a heavy sauté pan, melt butter, cook onions and mushrooms. Don’t brown. Add tomatoes just to warm through. Add spinach and blend lightly with onion, mushrooms and tomatoes. If you use the garlic, it should be sautéed with the onions. Add cream sauce. Blend lightly. Add beaten eggs and cook over low heat, stirring to keep from sticking until the eggs are cooked. Add cheese, salt and Tabasco sauce. Blend and serve.
Serves 8.

Cauliflower-Mushroom Salad   

1 large cauliflower   
Cold salted water   
3 ounces chopped ripe olives   
6 tablespoons chopped parsley   
1 clove garlic, chopped   
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/2 cup olive oil   
3 to 4 tablespoons wine vinegar   
Salt and pepper to taste   
Break cauliflower into flowerettes. Place in bowl of cold water until ready to use, drain well. Mix parsley, garlic, capers, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cut up mushrooms, olives.  Add cauliflower and dressing.  Serves 4-6.

Tomato-Corn Spoon Bread

3/4 cup white self-rising cornmeal mix   
1 cup milk
1 (8 3/4 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained and slightly mashed
1 (8-ounce) can tomatoes, cut up
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
4 stiff-beaten egg whites
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup soufflé dish; set aside. In saucepan, combine cornmeal mix and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is mush. Remove, stir in corn, undrained tomatoes, butter and sugar. Stir in egg yolks. Fold in egg whites, pour into dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until center is set. Serve hot.
Makes 6 servings.

Bran Muffins

2 cups water, boiling
2 cups 100% Bran (Nabisco)
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons  soda
1 teaspoon  salt
1 heaping cup  shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 quart buttermilk
4 cups All Bran (Kellogg’s)

Pour boiling water over 100% Bran, set aside. Sift together and set aside flour, soda and salt. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix buttermilk with All Bran. Mix the four mixtures and store in large container in refrigerator for up to 1 month. Bake in muffin pans, greased, 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Makes about 6 dozen muffins.