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.