Monday, November 10, 2014

Pal-e- Oh, My Gosh, No!

I've been trying to eat healthier lately. As any mom knows: it's a challenge to find healthy foods to suit the entire family. Actually, successful meal plans are a challenge on any given day. I'm pretty sure kids conspire to see who can get Mommy's eye twitching when they complain about the food. It could be donuts, but one of them will whine and push the plate away in disgust because that's the agreed-upon rule.

My quest has been somewhat successful. I'm eating healthier and losing weight. My kids are... well, they're losing weight too. Mainly because they pretend to be full when they see the dinner that's in front of them. "Uh, I ate earlier. That banana really filled me up. But, it looks uh... great mom. I'm just not hungry." And then I find them eating their third bowl of cereal an hour later.

I've been focusing on a diet low in carbs and high in protein. For me at least. I'll have my chicken with vegetables and the boys get additional pasta or bread with their meal. Inevitably one boy complains because he "hates chicken" and swears I'm torturing him because he's a vegetarian (even though he devours In-N-Out burgers). The other boy complains because I put something green on his plate. The horror! It's like Kryptonite - it weakens him until he's slumped over in defeat, slowly dissecting each green bean pod to smash the individual beans before gagging them down.

I turned to Pinterest to find new recipes to torture them... I mean, to find amazing new food creations to tantalize my sweet sons' palates. Thankfully, each post has a picture so I can quickly judge the time from presentation to rejection. "Nope, too many weird colors. That one has a brown sauce that will make him cry." Some experiments have met with mild success, meaning that only half of our family hated it. I keep trying, going back to the drawing board - or pinning board as the case may be.

When you start looking for Paleo recipes or anything low-carb you stumble into a world of food substitutions. Vegetables masquerade as grains in any number of ways. I have to say that I enjoyed cauliflower "fried rice" and even cauliflower "pizza dough". Both were a bit different, but not horrible. (That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but it's hard to compare cauliflower to a good doughy pizza crust). Instead of traditional flour there are a million other "flours" that qualify as Paleo. Coconut, almond, tapioca. All of which require a special trip to the store. You don't just have this stuff sitting around in your pantry when you decide to start a low-carb diet. It becomes a hunt. Does the regular grocery store carry this stuff, and where is it? I lucked out and found a wall of bins filled with various flours, millets, seeds, and other mystery materials I've never used before. I had to Google whether I could use Coconut oil in place of Palm oil because I don't even know what this stuff is but it's supposedly good for me and I must have it for my no-carb muffins. Don't even try to figure out what "ghee" is.

I'm becoming better acquainted with some of the Paleo ingredients and tricks to cut the carbs. But some substitutions surprise - and scare - me. I found a post for a "meat bagel". Seriously. It's a bagel-shaped ground beef creation. People! That's a burger with a hole in the middle. Just because you sliced it in half and stuck lettuce in the middle it's not magically a "bagel"! No one is fooled by food masquerading as something else. Even turkey-shaped tofu knows it's not real turkey just because it donned a disguise. Broccoli "breadsticks" would never stand a chance with my kids. "Chia" and "chocolate" should not be used in the same sentence. And just because a recipe has the word "cake" in the title does not mean it should be in the same category as an actual sugar-rich, flour-heavy creation. Raw avocado vanilla cheesecake anyone? Um... No.

I believe we've come full circle and are back to the strange food combinations that some people tried to pass off as "creative hostess dishes" last century. Have you seen the Vintage Recipe pictures that feature meats, veggies, and gelatin in ever-stranger configurations?

Why did anyone think this was a good idea? And why do most of the jello salads feature olive-eyes that stare straight into my soul? I guess next time my kids are complaining about a meal I will just pull out a few old-time recipes and see what they think. I bet they'd eat their meat bagel and be happy about it.

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