Catfish and Movies

We had a great time today celebrating the graduation of Jeff and Lindsey’s neighbor’s son Garrett. We did so at the oft-recommended Ray’s Millpond Cafe, and the food was oh-so-good.

Upon returning home, we were a bit too stuffed to want to be productive, so instead we opted to pass the afternoon watching movies. And the movies did not disappoint. We started with the comedy Game Night and then pivoted genres to the more dramatic The Post. Both were fun and entertaining films, and it was a very good, chill evening.


A Taste of My Childhood

Senses can be like a time machine. A picture can transport you back to that wonderful vacation from so many years ago. The feel of a warm blanket can make you long for those crisp evening’s at the mountain retreat. A song can tele-port you back to middle-school, and make you relive your first heartbreak. And the smell and taste of certain foods can make you a kid once again.

This past weekend was Lee’s and my first travel experience since transforming our lifestyle to one of clean eating and more healthful foods. We kicked off the Fast Metabolism Diet on January 6, and we’ve seen great results so far. Our 4-week program ended on February 2, and we’ve been in ‘maintenance’ mode since. Maintenance mode is where we gradually introduce food items back into our diet. For the most part this past week, we’ve stuck to FMD compliant and phase specific foods. However, wrapping up a weekend in South Florida and having breakfast with my mom as we prepared to drive back home, we kinda’ fell off the wagon.

You see, Cuban food and Fast Metabolism Diet don’t go well together. Versailles Restaurant and Fast Metabolism Diet REALLY don’t go well together. How can you possibly stay on plan with a breakfast buffet that includes a plethora of items that are not plan compliant? Bacon, fried eggs and scrambled eggs (both of which I am sure are prepared in butter or grease), sausage, picadillo, cod fish fritters (yes, for breakfast), and so much more.  I think if nutritionist and FMD author Haylie Pomroy stepped into that restaurant, her heart would seize. Furthermore, the restaurant has it’s own bakery. I am proud to say that both Lee and I avoided all the baked goods …. with one little exception.

I believe in Heaven, and I believe that in Heaven, there’s an unlimited supply of Cuban toast. I have no idea how Cuban bread is made, but I am convinced it involved magic. Take that magical baked good, slice it in half, lather it with butter, and press it and you get one of the most divine breakfast foods ever. Couple it with traditional Cuban cafe con leche, and I’m instantly a kid again sitting at my grandmother’s house, watching the men of the family play dominoes while their wives talked about whatever it was they talked about. Having the Cuban toast with my breakfast this morning was a visceral experience, and although I knew full and well the food was not good for me physically, it was also a heartwarming and joyful experience. The fact I got to share it with my kids made it that much more special.

Cuban Toast with Cafe con Leche

I guess the moral of the story is twofold. For starters, it’s okay to indulge a little every now and then. Being disciplined means knowing how to do things in moderation, and although I am proud of the changes I’ve made in my eating habits, having a moment of extravagance can be somewhat liberating. Secondly, there is something healthy and endearing about reminiscing on good times. It uplifts the soul and strengthens the heart. We learn from our mistakes and we build upon our experiences. Looking back on those happy building blocks reassures us of the strength we possess. So if you ever want to go back in time for a bit, find that special something that will set your senses on fire, and subsequently warm your heart.

Clean and Lean

Today officially marks the end of the 28-day, Fast Metabolism Diet program Lee and I began back on January 6. As a matter of convenient clarification, I ended my program sometime yesterday afternoon. Let me explain.

Our goal, as we undertook the commitment to this new diet, was to lose weight. We were both tired of being too flabby around the edges and just sluggish every day. We bought the book, bought the cookbook, planned our meals, and, for the most part, managed to eat on schedule and eat what we prepared. Yes, there were some afternoons we’d forget to snack, and yes, there were sometimes when that, “eat every three to four hours” stretched to four and a half to five. Nevertheless, we completed the 28 days (27.5 for me) with resounding success. My wife dropped 12 pounds and 2 sizes (we’ve already been shopping for new clothes for her). I dropped 21.5 pounds, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good in terms of having a continuous ‘bounce in my step’.

Still, all the planning in the world could not prevent us from having our program end on Super Bowl Sunday. Yikes! What were we going to do?

My wife didn’t care. She made sure to tell our friends hosting the Super Bowl party to not include us in their meal planning since we were going to bring our own food. Then she spent all of Saturday and part of Sunday preparing FMD compliant snacks, treats, veggie trays, and dinner (vegetable meatballs) for us to consume. For the record, everyone at the party raved about Lee’s non-dairy ranch dip. It was amazing.

With the exception of two mushroom and cherry mini-quiches (they were prepared by our friend Jason who is a chef, and they were spectacularly divine), and my four-pack of gluten free beer (I had to have some brew for the big game and I figured gluten-free would be a happy medium), I stayed on plan during the party. I thought I would just cave and revert back to my pre-FMD ways for the party (especially with the beer), but I did not want to risk feeling like absolute crap in the morning. I also didn’t want to have a huge setback after twenty seven and a half days of culinary discipline.

The thing is, I’m done with eating poorly. This FMD experience has been a ‘proof in the proverbial pudding’ trial that has lent tons of weight (pun intended) to what so many of my friends have been telling me for years: It’s about eating clean. The feelings of sluggishness and lethargy are gone. The afternoon headaches are gone. The episodes of having my stomach feel upside down are gone. I feel better, stronger, and more agile than I have in the past decade. The weight loss is just a bonus on top of the more healthy feeling and appearance I’m displaying.

The best example I can give is this. My mother-in-law Patsy, who lives with us, has also been participating in the FMD. In addition to the dietary changes, she also gave up her Coca Cola and smoking (all at the same time and all cold turkey). She, too, has lost 12 pounds. More importantly, her well being is noticeably better. We had a bit of a cold front pass through here in Florida, and Patsy mentioned how her arthritis would normally flare up with the cold weather. It didn’t this time around, and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s because of the change in diet and her improved nutrition.

Haylie Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet has been a life changer for us, and we look forward to staying the course with regards to clean eating. Yes, we will introduce some items back into our diet, and we may not necessarily eat phase-specific,  but we are committed to not going back to processed foods, fast food restaurants, and impulse buys at the checkout counter. Those days are behind us, and it’s cleaner and leaner on the road ahead. A road, I like to think, that’s been made a little bit longer as a result of this lifestyle change.

Happy eating, everyone.

Nancy Peterson

198/365 Last Time For A Long Time?

So …. Lee and I are on what I am calling a minimalist diet. We’re trying to cut out 95% of the meats we’d normally consume and go as vegetarian or vegan (really … vegan-ish) as we can.

Like Freshman on the first day of high school, we are really small fish in a ginormously huge and new pond. It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s that we don’t even know what it is we’re supposed to know. Still, thanks to Pinterest and our circle of informed and healthful diet friends, we are managing to ease into this new mindset with some success (and by we I mean Lee b/c she’s been the research hound. I’m just eating what she makes).

The goal: clean up how we eat. The process: eat more whole and plant-based foods.

Don’t get me wrong. I can never go 100% vegan, if for the only reason being that honey (somehow inexplicably to me) is not vegan, and I’ll be damned if I am not going to drown my salads in some zesty honey mustard dressing. That and the fact I can’t imagine a true breakfast without eggs, or a special dinner without steak. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think I am crazy for even trying this (but I digress).

What is really going to be an adventure is trying to minimize our dairy intake. Talk about tough! No cheese. No milk. No ice cream. No *sniffle* frozen yogurt from our favorite froyo shop (Cherry Berry).

The good news is that I am going into the healthful eating plan knowing I cannot/will not get a 4.0 on my final grade. I will fail to be vegan. I will barely pass at being vegetarian. Still, I WILL make a difference in the fuel I put into my body, and I am confident that it will yield both short and long-term positive results on my well being.

So as I polished off the last of our cow milk and dropped the gallon jug in our recycling bin, I can’t help but think, “When will be the next time I go out and buy some more cow milk?”  We’ll just have to wait and see.

PS. Before you judge, those empty cans of Coke are not mine. Part of our new plan is to cut out all sodas. The empty can of Monster and the discarded bottle of beer, however, are totally mine.

More Than A Meal

Random Writers: What was your most memorable meal?

I love food. I love eating food. As I look at the mirror and try to wrap my brain around the fact when I graduated from high school over twenty-one years ago, I weighed 100 pounds less than I do today, my love for food is that much more obvious.

It’s tough to try and nail down one meal I’ve eaten in my lifetime that is the most memorable. Seriously? Can you think of one meal out of the thousands of meals you’ve eaten in your life that you feel is the most memorable? I can’t.

I can, however, highlight some very special meals that stand out in my memory. They stand out not so much because of the food experience, but because of the situation or event that surrounded it. I present them to you in no particular order.

One meal that I remember is the dinner to celebrate the college graduation of my girlfriend at the time. It was at a restaurant in New Orleans named Antoine’s, and the experience was second to none. The food was amazing, the service was exceptional, and the overall dining experience set the bar in my mind at to what excellent dining should be. It was my first experience in a restaurant where we had a team of waiters, and the captain did not write anything down. When our meals arrived, our plates all touched the table at the same time. We were served from the left and upon completion of the meal our plates were collected from the right. It was top class all the way, and it ranks as my number one overall dining experience.

There are several other dining venues in New Orleans that provided amazing food experiences; Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s, The Rib Room. I think one of the best things about living there for six years was all the amazing food available in that city. I think one of the worst things about living in New Orleans was all the amazing food available in that city (see aforementioned weight gain).

I also fondly remember the dining experience of when I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my first marriage. We ate at Armani’s which is located at the top of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.  The food and service were amazing, and it’s the only place in Tampa at which I’ve eaten that rivals those amazing dining experiences of New Orleans.

I can probably go on and selectively find a meal here or an event there that was very memorable. But if I had to narrow it down to just one; one meal that really stands out in my mind, I think I have to go with the one Lee and I shared November of 2005.

The restaurant was called Café Tsunami and it was located in Pinellas Park, Florida. I had introduced Lee to sushi earlier in the year, and she was immediately hooked. What made this particular meal memorable, in addition to the perfectly prepared and incredibly succulent tuna and salmon, was the meaning of that night. For Lee and me, it was our ‘starting over’ dinner.

Following eight months of an up and down, back and forth relationship, one in which Lee was surprised of what she wanted for our future and I wasn’t yet ready to let go of the past, Lee decided she could no longer stand to watch me self-destruct, and we split up.

As with all things, God intervened and Lee and I found ourselves at dinner after several weeks of not seeing each other. It was the first step in my growing up and me letting go of the baggage that had been weighing me down. I distinctively remember the feeling I had as the realization of it all swept over me. The best thing to have ever happened to me was sitting right in front of me, and she’d been there all along. I was just too blind and too stupid to have seen it before.

That dinner was a turning point for Lee and me, and I am not sure if I’d be here writing this blog post right now if not for that night. As far as meals go, I can’t think of anything more memorable than a moment like that.