Confessions & Food Secrets

What is a secret but a tale waiting to be told.

The idea for this page came to me in the infancy of this blog. What would be different about mine than all the many others out there? Then the idea of asking co-workers and fellow members who belong to the neighborhood rec center their food secrets came to mind. It could be good, bad, silly, ingenious, healthy, unhealthy…..anything from stuffing your face with Ho-Ho’s in the middle of the night, to having an insane amount of willpower while a plate of nachos or chocolate chips are under your nose. I will post these anonymous food secrets – along with some personal interjections at times – and offer (if needed) a healthier alternative for them to use or do.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way, advocating that I am a nutritionist or psychologist. I only offer tips that have worked for me and people in my life. Please seek the advise of a professional whenever starting something new.

Confessions & Food Secrets…….

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“When I am in the kitchen by myslef, I eat the semi-sweet chips right out of the bag one at a time. It is like eating mini-Hershey Kisses. It’s my secret chocolate indulgence. No wonder I don’t have enough chocolate chips when I actually go to make a batch of cookies.”

Well, there’s nothing like eating a mini morsal, one at a time. Those little buggars really are dangerous because there is so much you can do with them and they taste so wonderful. Moderation, moderation, moderation is all I can say with this. Try not to eat the whole bag in one visit to the kitchen. Plus, buy more bags when you actually DO make those cookies. Hide the bags. Play a game with yourself by stashing the bag so it’s out of sight. When you go to make the cookies, you will remember you have the morsals in a hidden area.

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 When I was in late elementary school, my father would not let me leave the dinner table until I tried the asparagus. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t like the looks of it, the smell of it and the perceived texture of it. Everyone was done with dinner. My dad put about a two inch piece on my plate and the two of us sat there, full stare down grudge match for an hour. Complete battle of the wills.

I finally broke down and put it in my mouth, choked it down, made some gagging noises (involuntarily, of course) and gulped some milk. Left the kitchen in tears.

Won’t eat asparagus to this day!!”

 Well first off, thank you so much for the visuals…reminded me of the time I wouldn’t eat the boiled potatoes my mother plopped on my plate. I was around 5 years old. Everyone was done, table cleared except for me, my plate and fork. I wasn’t allowed to leave until I was done with every last bit of those things. So I did what any other Kindergartner would’ve done…I smashed those potatoes to a very fine perfection. Almost in a mashed potato consistancy. I then proceeded to spread them around my plate as thin as possible, no bumps or lumps anywhere.

My mother was so proud that her persistance finally paid off and she got me to eat those potatoes. She sweetly caressed my cheek, saying I was such a good girl and excused me from the table. Triumphantly she took the plate to the kitchen feeling so proud….until she went to rinse the plate off and down the sink went my perfect work of art….and a thumb to the nose for her so called persistance. That was the last time she tried to make me eat something I didn’t want to.

Unlike your story, I now do eat potatoes. But you know, if you don’t want to eat asparagus, you certainly have my permission to not touch those things, because I completely understand where you are coming from.

                                                                           

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The following secrets really can not have any healthy alternative to them…but they were a joy non-the-less to read – and make me giggle.

 “I love eating muffin tops….leaving the rest for someone else.”

“I don’t like eating the pointed tops and bottoms of bananas.”

“My favorite parts of an ice cream drumstrick are the crunchy sugar cone & the nut topping…someone else can have the ice cream.”

“I love crispy roasted chicken or turkey skin and will eat that off the bird when no one is watching. I also enjoy nibbling the tender meat off the neck and chicken wing tips.”

Okay, so this one I can give a healthy alternative to eating the roasted skin..you know it’s bad for you, right? This is probably the fundamental reason WHY you sneak a bite of this, that and it has that perfect savory taste and texture to it. Am I right?

“I’m not fond of artichoke hearts…I will eat the outer leaved down to the heart and then offer the artichoke heart to my husband.”

“I claim the heels of fresh bread…”

“I incorporate leftovers into fresh food (camouflaged)”

This actually is a brilliant idea…no one needs to know and food isn’t wasted this way. I like it!!!

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“Putting grapes – preferably the purple ones – in the freezer for about 15 minutes or so (just so they are cold enough but not yet frozen) and enjoying them while I watch some movies. It’s the little things that make me happy.”

My daughter, Monica, loves doing this. Although this isn’t her secret – FYI. There’s something about an icy cold purple grape that gives you the satisfaction of something sweet and crunchy, and, with moderation, an excellent snack. I’m sure little ones would love this idea!

Who would love to pop these little delights in their mouth?

Another great idea based on frozen grapes: Slushies! For the Dog Days of Summer that are quickly approaching us: just add 1/2 cup grape juice and one cup each of frozen purple grapes and honeydew chunks in a blender and whir. Viola! A sensible and quick snack…..I just might make these this weekend!

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“I salt my grapefruit instead of using sugar.”

I honestly think a lot of people misunderstand the importance of salt in cooking. Since there are quite a few people who must watch their sodium intake, it seems as if people have taken the “all or nothing” approach to this fundamental food ingredient.

Salt enhances so many flavors in foods and with grapefruit, believe it or not, actually makes it sweeter! Don’t believe me? Try it. This doesn’t mean to dump the whole shaker on the grapefruit. Just take a pinch and sprinkle it on a grapefruit half. Go ahead, we’ll wait…..

See? Again, with any food or in this case, condiment, moderation is absolutely key here. It’s always, always, ALWAYS easier to add than to take away. So just use a tiny bit and taste. Repeat until you get it just right because no one likes something that tastes like you’re drowning in the ocean.

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“I love parmesan cheese so much…I eat it straight from the container….(oh the shame!)

I have a feeling this is something you do while you are home alone, with no other human around as a witness. Possibly a pet or two, but they aren’t talkin’ your secret is safe with them. Especially since they don’t have opposable thumbs to take video or pictures.

Mmmm, Parmesan cheese. So let’s do a little bit of history on this wonderful cheese. There’s a region in northern Italy named Parma where, during the Roman Empire and after the fall of it, it was a common practice to name the foods made by region. The monks in and around Parma first started making this distinctive hard cheese. Back then, the royals were the ones who had it for their tables and it was known as “caseum paramensis” in Latin, and locals shortened this to Pramsàn, in dialect.

By the 14th Century, Parmesan started to take off and travel to other parts of Italy, then on to France and other countries. It continued to grow in popularity all the while having the name “Parmesan” sticking to it. In 2008, European courts decreed that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only hard cheese that can legally be called Parmesan.

What does all of this have to do with its nutritional content or help in any way give a healthy alternative? Absolutely nothing. I just thought it would be cool to give a short history lesson on this FABULOUS cheese!

Who could resist this cheese that has a sharp, complex, fruity/nutty flavor that pleases practically every taste bud on the tongue? And if you are anything like me, you like the authentic stuff so there is no reduced fat, skim milk or low sodium kind. Ever. “What?!” you say? There’s some in your fridge right now? Well sorry to say, that stuff is imitation and some of the brands have up to 15% fillers. Again, this food falls into the absolute moderation category.

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“When I crave a ‘sweet’ after a meal, I chew a piece of gum”

This is actually a great idea, in my opinion! Instead of stuffing your (or my) face with chocolate, ice cream or worse, ice cream doused with chocolate fudge hard shell – yep, I used to this – chewing a piece of gum does the trick. Not only does it satiate your sweet craving, but it is also giving your mouth an act of chewing. There’s nothing worse than the vicious cycle of eating something savory, followed by something sweet that only makes you crave something savory and then back to the sweet craving.

I was in that cycle after my twins were born. I would go from a handful of chips to that ice cream doused with chocolate fudge hardshell and back to the chips…it was vicious. Chewing a piece of gum never occurred to me. Had I done that, especially the sugar-free kind, I would only be ingesting 5 calories instead of a gazillion and who knows how much fat.

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“I knowingly underestimate the serving size of the food I eat.”

Absolutely no offense, but why? If you knowingly do this, couldn’t you knowingly NOT do it? By under estimating, you are not eating enough therefore depriving your body of essential nutrition and fuel. Trust me, there are days where I too, under estimate and have only 900 calories and have done a couple of workouts. But I do not do it knowingly. And it’s only every once in a while. It’s a mathematical balance between the nutrition you give your body and the calories burned.

We are constantly burning calories but with your secret, I can not tell whether or not calories are burned through exercise or through daily, normal routines.  I also can not tell if there is something else going on as an underlying reason why this is happening. I can only say IF you are exercising on a regular basis and you are knowingly under estimating the serving size of the foods you eat, I urge you to knowingly NOT under estimate the size and consume the proper amount to keep your body healthy and strong.

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“I like peanut butter on a spoon”

Oh. my. gawd. This is a person after my own heart. This too, is MY confession and food secret. I would sit with a 25 oz jar of peanut butter and a soup spoon and take ‘just a spoonful’ and then another, and another until half the jar was gone. I would do this literally, 6 days out of the week. I went through peanut butter so quickly, I should have bought stock! I had the reduced fat kind, and I knew it was a good source of protein. So what’s the harm in having peanut butter like I was doing? The calories, sugar and sodium content, that’s the harm. In 2 Tbs of peanut butter (the kind I was eating) has 3 g of sugar and 150 g of sodium and a whopping 190 calories. After a half a jar – in about 20 minutes time – I had ingested 33 grams of sugar, 1,650 grams of sodium and a mind-boggling 2,090 calories!!!

  By the end of my session, I would end up like this cute little tyke….seriously! But I wasn’t cute, didn’t even feel cute or sexy or normal. It only satisfied me for a fleeting moment and then I beat myself up for going that far.

I don’t do it anymore. I think the last time I had peanut butter on a spoon was….well, months ago. How did I break the habit? I told myself I couldn’t do it anymore, period. I stopped buying peanut butter (there goes my stock). When my trainer suggested I put a little peanut butter on some whole wheat bread, I had to stop her and tell her I couldn’t. I was like an alcoholic, if I had a taste, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Damn that peanut-butter-on-a-spoon-aholic!!!

   I just recently bought a jar of peanut butter and I can say I haven’t had the urge to take a spoonful. Thank gawd…I don’t want to have to go through those withdrawals again or, look like I did back then.

So liking peanut butter on a spoon is fine, just don’t put the spoon in your mouth and end up eating half the jar or even 3 or 4 spoonfuls. It’s just not worth it, in my opinion.

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“My friend makes me drink too much.”

Now, this could be a touchy subject. I struggled with this secret because of the social, psychological and ethical issues that go along with this. I will be honest and say my very first reaction to this was “No one, absolutely NO ONE makes you do something. Only you make you do something.” Just as we have the power to make the daily decision of being happy or in a foul mood, conversely, we have the power to make the decision to NOT drink too much. Why give your friend that kind of power over you? You are worth more than that.

I don’t mean to offend or downsize this secret. I feel this could take me into an area where I just do not have expertise in and it would take my blog into a whole other realm other than food.

Having said this, if you are having problems, please seek the help and advice of a professional, and know that you do have the power to make the choice, not your friend.  Good Luck!

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“My boyfriend swears that Guinness Extra Stout beer is a health food drink & I’ve been falling for that idea.”

A very wise woman once asked “Do you love him?” and when ‘yes’ was the answer she proceeded to spit on the girl and say she was crazy. For once you fall in love you are doomed. Using that logic, I would say if you fell in love with the idea of Guinness Extra Stout beer being a health food drink, you’re done. Just stop with that thinking and “snap out of it!”.

Let me guess, the boyfriend says because there are hops and barley in Guinness, that makes it a health food, right? Well, then why aren’t all the other stouts, ales and beers health foods? I do though, love the tenacity and the attempt of reasoning. Guinness IS a good stout, arguably one of the best. But I think, in my un-professional opinion, that as with everything and anything, moderation is key here. There are 176 calories in a Guinness Extra Stout and it’s 6% alcohol. That’s enough to give your average 150 – 180 pound person a nice little buzz.

Remember, it takes the liver an hour to process 1 ounce of alcohol so having more than 1 Guinness in an hour, your liver can’t recover and you end up drunk off your butt and maybe a picture of you will be plastered all over the internet in a not-so-flattering-way; like with your head dangling out of a car window, eyes closed…or sprawled out on your neighbor’s front lawn, face down in a mud puddle and it really isn’t mud…well, you get the picture.

The next time your boyfriend swears Guinness is a health food drink, give a meaningful, deep look and tell him you love him. Give him a peck on the cheek then grab a bottled water…because, you are not doomed.

“When my health-nut husband is away, I indulge in Dr. Pepper and Doritos!”

Cool Ranch Doritos and a Coke. That was one of my indulgences. I would carefully open the bag and take one Dorito out at a time by the tip of the triangle, not the sides. I would then proceed to lick off the ranch flavor from both sides of the chip, then pop it in my mouth. My fingers would end up caked with the flavoring giving me even more of a treat as I sucked on them. I would wash it down with a swig of Coke. That would tickle my throat as the carbonation reacted with the flavoring still coated on my tongue. I would never do this out in public for it was a personal ritual and one that would grant me pathetic stares from strangers. Who needs an audience while enjoying her Doritos, damnit?!

Good times, good times. It’s been so long since I’ve done that so I can relate. I mean, I want to tell your hubby “Can’t the girl just have a handful of Doritos and one, just one swig of Dr. Pepper? You don’t want her to end up a Closet Chip & Soda Girl, do you?” I can just see it now, you walk out of the closet, in a drunken stupor with Dorito flavoring all over your mouth, crumbs on your chest and an empty Dr. Pepper can rattling under your feet.

What the two of you need is a compromise. The Health Nut Hubby wants only healthy food in the house (so it sounds) which drives you to be Closet Chip & Soda Girl so what’s the compromise? Have you tried Baked Doritos? What about diet Dr. Pepper? I hear (because I just do not drink diet soda, period. It’s a matter of taste for me) I hear diet Dr. Pepper tastes actually better than the real stuff – with 23 different flavorings that Dr. Pepper is. I don’t know – you may have tried those and there just isn’t anything to substitute your Dorito/Dr. Pepper habit.

    

To that, I would say “moderation”. Don’t tempt yourself by buying the king sized family bag of Doritos. A single serving bag should be enough and then just try to have half the bag. Close your mouth, you read that right – half the bag. You can do it. Save the other half for the next time Health Nut Hubby is away. As for the soda, they sell top name brands in small 6 oz cans now….go for that one instead of the 12 oz can.

What I don’t recommend though, is twisting the top off a 2-liter, opening a family-sized bag of Doritos and plopping on the couch next to hubby and saying “I’ve been up since 6 am, the dog got skunked, I had to take a cold shower because you took all the hot water, I got a flat AFTER rear ending a sweet little old lady and, I’m PMS-ing! Deal with it!” and proceed to stuff chips in your face and drink from the 2 liter while glaring at hubby.

“I know we are all supposed to drink more water and sometimes, there are entire days that go by where all I had to drink was a cup of coffee in the morning and a coke at lunch. I’m afraid to drink too much water because I’m at the age now if I laugh too hard or sneeze, I could pee my pants too! Any advice for us “mature” girls?”

At this point, it’s not what you drink that’s causing your issue. I have to tell you that you are robbing your body of the best beauty product out there – water. Drinking water hydrates our cells, flushes out impurities from our system and is just plain good for us.

How much and what liquid you consume has nothing to do with a little dribble of pee coming out when you laugh, sneeze, cough or even jump on a trampoline or do jumping jacks. Even women who’ve had children have this problem and it is quite common.

Consult your physician for treatments and/or possible exercises you can perform in order to control the medical issue you have. And please, drink at least 64 – 72 ounces of water every day. Try this for a week – before you go to bed, place a container that is at least 16 ounces in capacity, full of water on your nightstand. When you wake, drink it. I want you to try and drink all of it. Do this every morning for a week. Take note of how you feel after you do it. You’ll be surprised you aren’t as groggy. Then do it for another week, and then another. By then, you will have formed the habit and soon you will be drinking more water throughout the day. Good Luck!

“A glass of wine at night, if not measured is almost always more than 4 oz.”

Hmmmm, if you don’t measure your wine, it’s more than 4 ounces almost every time. Hopefully, you aren’t drinking more than one glass. The guidelines outlined by the Center of Diseases Control and prevention state “”A standard drink is any drink that contains about half an ounce (13.7 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in 5 ounces of wine.” Without any more information from your confession, if you are within an ounce and only having one glass, I would think it should be okay. However, if you are having more, say two or three glasses of wine frequently throughout the week for a prolonged amount of time…well, then not only are you taking on unnecessary calories (anywhere from 200 to 380 calories per glass), your body is at risk of getting liver disease, pancreatitis and heart disease to name only a few.

A lot is to be said for willpower. Disciplining oneself to make sure they are only drinking 4 oz of wine is difficult. But try. If you are out with friends or family and bottles of wine are being passed around, make sure you have water as well. It takes the liver an hour to process one alcoholic drink but if you drink more than what your body can process, your blood alcohol rises. Alternate between a glass of wine with a glass of water making sure that at least an hour passes between the glasses of wine. This doesn’t help with the caloric intake, only giving your liver kind of a break while processing the alcohol.

“I like to eat chips in bed while watching TV right before bedtime”

Chips are my downfall…I am more of a savory person rather than a sweets type. I can relate to this all the way up to eating them in bed. I couldn’t eat anything in bed because of a skit from “Sesame Street” with Burt and Ernie. Ernie kept eating chips in his bed (or it might have been popcorn or cookies….anyway) and he would get crumbs in his bed everywhere. This drove Burt nuts and back then, a kid just didn’t question why it would bug another puppet so much especially if it’s not his bed. All I knew was Burt’s explanation of crumbs in the bed – which I can’t remember now. The only thing I have from it is crumbs = grit in my bed = scratchy, scratch and I can’t sleep.

That’s not much of a healthy alternative, only a personal choice of mine. One that I couldn’t eat chips or anything else in bed for fear of Burt being driven nuts. Go figure. BUT, what I can offer is a suggestion: Mindless eating of chips while watching TV can be dangerous. You are so engrossed in your TV program, I’ll bet you’ve eaten way past the serving size in a matter of minutes. You don’t think about it until it’s too late, right? Now you’ve ingested mindless calories and tomorrow you have to do 20 more sets of Burpees, Weighted Sumo Squats, Tricep Dips and Sit ups followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill at 4.5 on a 3 % incline.

So, besides the obvious of not eating chips in bed, how about switching the type of food to a healthy food, like a piece of fruit. Sliced apple, grapes and strawberries are foods that if you drop them in bed, you HAVE to pick them up and, they really aren’t empty calories. This way, Burt is happy and your hips will thank you, or belly, or backside…where ever the chips may land.

“I eat a piece of chocolate every night before going to bed.”

 Who can resist chocolate? Well of course the handful of people out there who just don’t care for it. Close your mouth, people like that do exist. Chocolate…I do like chocolate, but not to the point I would eat a piece every night before going to bed. There are different kinds of chocolate; white, dark and milk. If you are going to eat chocolate, dark chocolate is the healthy alternative to milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the better and the higher percentage of cacao it will contain. Typically, dark chocolate contains anywhere between 60 – 80% of cacao. However, the more cacao, the more bitter the taste. It’s an acquired taste that one gets used to quickly….and it also stops me from eating a lot of it in one sitting.

There’s also Carob, which is a popular alternative. Carob really is a legume which has a natural sweetness, unlike chocolate. Carob also is lower in fat and calories, plus it contains 10 grams of fiber in every ounce. B vitamins, magnesium and iron are also found in carob. Most stores have carob in their health food section.

You could always try exercising your will power and just one night a week NOT have a piece of chocolate. Do this for a week then increase it to two nights a week and keep going until you are having chocolate (or carob) only every once in a while before bed.

“I put sugar on my Mexican food and spaghetti”

Sugar is usually added to enhance the flavor of baked goods, candy and some veggies but the benefits really stink. Your body burns through sugar very quickly leaving you feeling hungry shortly after you have eaten. Which means you eat more. More calories means gaining weight.

Lately, I’ve been using natural agave nectar. I love this stuff. It closely resembles honey but it’s taken from the agave cactus instead of a honey comb. Comparing agave to sugar, agave is three-times as sweet so a little goes a long way.

There’s also Stevia which, in its natural state, it’s an excellent alternative to sugar. It’s up to 300 times (yes, three hundred) sweeter than regular table sugar but it’s glycemic index rating is negligible – it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes.

Now, this got me to thinking – why on earth would someone put sugar on Mexican food or even spaghetti….then it hit me. Possibly because of the spiciness of the foods. Spicy cuisine is nothing if but a little masochistic. The compounds in peppers, such as capsaicin, don’t even have flavor. They activate the pain receptors on the tongue which creates the burning sensation you get after eating spicy foods. So what do you do? Capsaicin is alkaline so add an acid. Adding acidic ingredients neutralize the alkalinity of capsaicin. You could add a little lemon or vinegar to your dishes while cooking…and sometimes even sprinkle a little on your plate just before you eat it. Or, have a glass of milk or bread at the ready to calm your fat tongue down after eating a spicy dish.

“I eagerly watch people eat something sweet then ask them to breathe on me” 

Well…some people would think this to be just weird. Others will certainly relate to it. Hey, you aren’t getting the calories this way, but let’s just hope the person, if they agree to breathe on you instead of walking quickly away, doesn’t have a very bad case of halitosis because that would just defeat the purpose of smelling that decadent marshmallow air.

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