Healthy Eating

Mary Ann and I went to Newk’s for lunch today and enjoyed enormous Greek chicken salads. That salad features lots of goodies like lettuce (the spiny kind which I love and Daisy hates and also the wimpy leafy kind which Daisy loves and I hate), grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta, red onion (barf), slices of pepperoncini peppers, and artichoke hearts, something I can eat by the jarful.  There’s a delightful vinaigrette poured over it and you are welcome to supplement your lunch with Newk’s very own pickles, capers, jalapeños, parmesan shreds, roasted whole garlic cloves, crunchy bread sticks and/or croutons.  Newk’s also plays it fast and loose with their tea selections so really, it’s a very interesting lunch place no matter how you cut it.  I love tea.

Mary Ann and I yapped about changes at work while we ate to the very last lettuce leaf, yes even the wimpy leafy kind, and as we were leaving we saw a couple of men having the same kind of earnest conversations we just had. I’d say that they were enjoying salads with lots of additions but the truth is, only one of them was doing that.  The other man had the saddest looking salad I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  He had ordered the kale Caesar with no croutons, light cheese (apparently) and dressing on the side, so basically he had a bowl of raw kale fluff with four shreds of parmesan.  You could tell he thought it was sad, too, because mostly he sat at the table with his arms crossed while he talked and very occasionally he’d load up his fork with a wad of stiff kale and one corner of parmesan shred, delicately dip one kale curly into his dressing-on-the-side, and chew for six minutes while he tried to choke it down.  Look, I’m into health, truly, but you cannot convince me no how no way that a bowl of raw kale is an excellent lunch.  It’s not even an excellent side item.  I think he’s in the midst of a mid-life crisis, to be honest. He looked like the sort.

Speaking of men, and follow me here, I have a new roommate. He got here in September and then promptly got sent away for work so basically he pays me to store his things while he Armys off to protect dams and other federal structures.  In the month he actually resided in my home, I learned that he’s a huge fan of German food and also cake, which I can get on board with.  What I’m struggling with is that he enjoys cooking the German food and also baking the cake, and on the first pass I can see why you’d look at me in askance.

“Jimmie, everyone knows a man working in the kitchen is hot, hot, fire, and then usually there’s food afterwards, so why the struggle?”

Right. First, this is just one example of what my table looks like after his cooking is done.

IMG_4841

A tablecloth is not a cutting board, nor is it a napkin. You should see my floor, too, holy moly.

Secondly, new roomie wants to eat healthy. Again, “Jimmie, you have moaned about your extra hips for years, why is this a problem, you high maintenance heifer?”

Right. It’s just that his idea of eating healthy is to add red onion to everything.  Also, if we are being specific, garlic.  And then he substitutes the pork, beef, and chicken with turkey, the vegetables with spinach, any bread items with crushed Triscuits, sugar with agave nectar, flour with coconut flour, baking powder with tapioca starch, chocolate chips with grated unsweetened baker’s chocolate, and sugar free jelly for fruit. Plus he doesn’t read instructions so things like “add three whole cloves to the sauce” somehow means, “the recipe called for cloves but I’m not sure the quantity so since I have a full package, I guess 1/4 of it will work.”

“Would you like beef rouladen for dinner? You can have turkey with spinach, onion, and garlic but we will call it rouladen because it’s rolled.”*

“How about schnitzel with a potato dumpling? Sounds great!  Have this turkey with spinach, onion, and garlic!  It’s just like the rouladen but this one has a crispy Triscuit coating that got burned in the skillet.”*

“Want some cake? Pictured is a slab of chocolatey goodness covered in a fudge-like ganache but I subbed a few things and this patty of coconut flour sadness features lemon curd, a custard that never set but pooled in the center of the cake plate and on to your tablecloth, and more maraschino cherries than is good for a person.  It’s delicious and has a delicate clove essence!”*

*I might be paraphrasing.

*And he does eat a lot of red cabbage so maybe I’m slightly unfair.

You can tell he doesn’t even see the problem because he presents each dish with a flourish by waving the plate in your general direction and wafting the steam towards you with his hand. He also says, “TA DA!” and then struts around the house like a peacock while I drag the tablecloth to the washing machine for another bleaching. The first time he made a cream sauce with coconut flour, he poured the sauce over the turkey schnitzel and took a giant bite.  As his mouth worked against the glue the coconut flour created, he wrinkled his nose slightly and gave an involuntary, nearly imperceptible shudder as he said, “It works!  It’s good! Want some?”

I demurred, “I already ate, I’m stuffed, I couldn’t possibly take food from you as my tenant.” Look, I ate Roomie’s food all the time, and also Daniel’s and my cousin’s and the other roommate I never told you about, Amy.  It’s just, coconut.  Ugh.  You know?

I will say this – he’s as skinny as a bean, much like Peter, so perhaps there is a lesson in here that I’m too obtuse to see?

We had a snow day recently wherein I got house bound by an entire inch of white powder. I took that opportunity to clean and organize the pantry, the spice cabinet, the cabinets under the sink, and the closet that holds all my books.  I also tackled the refrigerator and as I threw away my enormous bag of fermenting kale I truly had intended to use in a Caesar salad, I noticed several containers stuffed in the back of the fridge, hidden behind Roommate’s delicious Cherry Cokes.  Old containers of every cream sauce he has made with coconut flour, an entire bowl of crushed almonds that had been sweetened with agave nectar and left to harden into an almond mold that would not let go of the sides of the bowl, and a red onion growing fur crowded the shelf.  The true lesson here is that he doesn’t want to eat that crap either.  When he serves it, we sit at the table with our arms crossed while we have earnest conversations and very occasionally load up our forks with a wad of his “ta da” offerings to delicately dip one burnt turkey corner into our coconut flour cream sauce and chew for six minutes while we try to choke it down.

It’s great! Please bring dinner.

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