Resolved: Be Good…Most of the Time

Am I the only one who finds it really irritating that New Year’s and all its attendant cayenne-spiked-lemon-water dieting resolutions happen to fall right in the dead of winter…precisely when the weather is demanding you soothe yourself every night with stewy braised meats over creamy polentas or potatoes? Polished off with the brownies that your kids made earlier that afternoon because they couldn’t go outside and kick the soccer ball against the wall so what else were they going to do?

I’m not the first to point out that the whole resolution industry is rife with peril and yet and yet and yet, there we were — Andy and I — resolving left and right all vacation long. I resolve to be better about compartmentalizing work when I’m not at work. I resolve to finish the short story I started in 1998. I resolve to give back. I resolve to reply to email in a timely manner. I resolve to read one book a week (if Bill Gates has time, I certainly do!) I resolve to learn how to play the ukulele (Phoebe), to get better at soccer (Abby), to find a screen-less hobby, to do something foolish. (That last one is actually my friend Diron’s, and I’ve already achieved it by spilling an entire trash can filled with, among other things, eight thousand pistachio shells all over the driveway at 6:30 this morning. Though I’m pretty sure that’s not what he meant??)

As for food-related goals, we dedicated our Providers column to those in this month’s Bon Appetit and perhaps it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that we’ve collectively already broken #2 (See: brownies).

I know better than to worry, though. It’s that thin line between denial and optimism, and let’s face it: the world would be a dark place if we gave up on self-betterment completely.

And in reality, it’s really only the extreme self-betterment that promises to be a losing proposition. I know myself by now and I know that no matter how many times I swear off nutritionally bankrupt pastas and white breads, I’m never going to be able to resist spaghetti with Great Grandma’s meatballs when it comes up as a dinner option. No matter how many times I swear this will be the day I do not nag my daughters from dawn til dusk, one of them will walk through the just-cleaned house with a corn muffin, leaving a trail of yellow crumbs (and a screaming mother) behind her. The whole thing reminds me of what my friend Sarah once told me. Sarah was remarkably wise for someone who had only been a mother for a year or so (we were both in the throes of new parenthood) and one day I was telling her how guilty I felt about parking the kids in front of the TV while I was getting ready for work. She brushed this off as it if was nothing. “Oh, whatever. As long as you’re a good mother most of the time.” It’s amazing how easily those four words became my mantra of motherhood…and life in general.

I can’t resist buying the girls chocolate croissants and pink-frosted doughnuts for a snack, but most of the time, they’re eating apples with peanut butter, hummus with pita, avocado on toast.

I am a naggy and monstrous person first thing the morning, but most of the time (that is, post-coffee) I manage to rediscover my inner family cheerleader.

I’m probably going to eat one of those brownies for dessert tonight, but for the rest of the day, for most of the time, I’m eating things like salmon with brussels sprouts, whole grain vegetable-packed wheat berry salads, green juices, and my beloved Cara Cara oranges that are finally in season.

I guess it’s all just another way of illustrating the old saw Everything in Moderation. Or, as Adam Rapoport says in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit, about being healthy-ish. (How great is that word?) “We’re not ascetic,” he writes about BA’s food-loving staff in his editor’s letter. “Instead, we think about what we eat, and when and why we eat it. We indulge when the situation arises (that reservation we’ve been gunning for; Shake Shack Fridays in the art department). And we try to eat smart other times.”

Now there’s a resolution I can get behind.

A Few Healthy-ish Dinners for the Week


Oven Roasted Chicken with Grapes
From Bon Appetit’s (Food Lover’s Cleanse. (More on that later in the week)


Vegetable Dumplings
 You can steam or fry these. Also: Best to save for a weekend or a night you have a little more time or a little more help.


Salmon and Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Scallion Sauce
. One-pan wonder.


Marinated Chicken with Kale-Brussels Hash
 Greens=healthy part; Bacon=”ish” part


Spicy Shrimp with  Yogurt and Lime
 Oldie but goodie.

Happy New Year!

Oven-roasted Chicken and Grapes photographed by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott for Bon Appetit.

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14 Comments

Awads

Love your providers column resolutions!! I am totally on-board with #3 (although i’m starting my weekends on Thursday; Sunday thru Wednesday = no booze); and yes to #4, the Boulevardier! It’s been my choice since gin (summer) gave way to bourbon (fall). And i hear ya on #6: easy to be a mindful eater during the day, but i succumb to all kinds of bits and pieces while making supper and the next day’s lunches. I”m resolving to pop a mint and see if that changes the equation?

cheers to a happy, healthy 2016!

Reply
Raising The Capable Student

Oh my goodness, thank you!! Yesterday I cleaned out my pantry with the goal of eliminating all processed foods…until I got to the dried pasta. I felt like a cheat for keeping it, but my family sees wholewheat pasta as a punishment. Now instead of feeling like a cheat, I can feel good about getting rid of most of the processed food in my pantry. I like that much better!

Reply
Peggy

Just want to give a shout out to your spicy shrimp with yogurt/lime–we also have an old spice jar filled with your spice mix always ready in the spice drawer. My 5 yr old and 2 yr old both love it! Happy new year, and thanks for all the great posts.

Reply
M

My food resolution this year is to try your pork ragu recipe. I’ve been a reader of yours for YEARS, so many of your recipes are staples for us, and for some reason, I’ve never tried that one.

My other food resolutions are to really master kale salad (with the massage and everything), and to master pan-seared salmon. It’s my favorite thing to order in a restaurant, and I’ve never quite been able to get that crispy layer. This is the year!

Reply
Linnea

I had completely forgotten about that delish spicy shrimp! Thanks for the great recipe and the reminder — it will go into the dinner rotation this week.

Reply
Jessica

Healthy-ish is the kind of New Year’s resolution I can get behind! Looking forward to the chicken with the kale and brussel sprout salad!

Reply
jenmarie

I basically stopped eating pasta, too, until I discovered Barilla Protein Plus pasta. It tastes almost exactly like standard pasta (not grainy, like whole wheat pasta) but contains a bunch of legume flours so it has 17 grams of protein per serving (plus a decent amount of fiber). I still don’t eat pasta as often as my little heart desires, but at least when I do I feel better about it. And I’m no shill for Barilla (no Shillilla?) — I just like the stuff.

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jen

I love the entire concept of “healthy-ish”. It’s how I live my life and it’s more satisfying as a result.

Reply
Mary

This was my favorite New Year’s post. This so resonates with me. I’m not one for cleanses or cutting anything out completely. My dad always said, “Everything in moderation”, and that’s pretty much how I live my life. From parenting to diet, it’s a good rule to be good “most of the time”. Love it.

Happy New Year!

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