Confessions of a Bad Cook: My First Steps in Clean Eating

My best cooking ability has always been putting together a mean bowl of cereal. And to my fellow ladies’ dismay, makin’ a sandwich.

According to my mother, my spaghetti never had salt (who the hell knew pasta needed salt aside from the sauce?) and my meat and chicken were never seasoned, and so it’s been determined I have absolutely no sense of taste for seasoning and spices- unless you really just go ahead and dump the whole bottle in.

So with my family making absolutely no effort in changing food habits, I’m suddenly responsible for changing my diet and ‘eating clean’ with my hysterically awful cooking skills. I started with safe, baby steps.

As a self-proclaimed juice junkie, I am quite proud of completely cutting out my all-time addiction. I’ll always let myself have the pulpiest of orange juice when I’m sick, but otherwise… it’s been three whole months of bravely ignoring all the sweet, delicious juices in the fridge. I also gave nonfat milk another try and now I can’t go back to homogenized! I know- I was actually always surprised how much people don’t like homogenized, but quite frankly, I always thought it had everything people always raved about, and it’s the only kind of milk my family has always had.

I don’t care what kind of milk it is, though- I don’t love it.

Water has been my only drink this glorious year of change, refilling three twenty-ounce bottles throughout the day. Only downside is that I now pay the toilet a quick visit what feels like every fifteen minutes. Not the best on long bus rides.

Eliminated Foods- A Work In Progress
The only foods I can safely deem completely eliminated from my diet so far is mayonnaise and my beloved yogurt. For sandwiches I now just add a slice of cheese, more tomatoes or I don’t toast my bread to help it not be dry without the mayo and I’ve completely swapped out yogurt for Greek yogurt, my favorites currently by Dannon such as Light & Fit or Okios.

I also can’t remember the last time I used oil in my food. I use Pam cooking spray for everything, but I do know where the olive oil is if it’s ever necessary. The other day I watched my brother fill half a pan to fry the breaded chicken I now only bake; I couldn’t believe that used to be an everyday thing for me. No more!

This week I’ll be taking out white rice for good and will look into brown rice and quinoa? No idea what that is but a lot of healthy recipes want it.

Vegetables and Fruits
I tried spinach for a good while, but I just can’t deal with the taste. I’ve tried kale for the first time ever this month, and so far I enjoy it much more. I’ve been eating it both dry or with rasberry vinaigrette dressing, in sandwiches and in my smoothies. I also gave celery another desperate try and this time I’ve been able to enjoy them without having to load them with peanut butter or other junk to hide what used to be an awful taste for me.

I’ll be adding bell peppers to my vegetables, as well as red or green onions. Asparagus has been a usual in lunch and dinner. I’ve learned that sweet potatoes are actually a near must in clean eating, so I’m stoked on that!

My fruits have been pretty low. I have bananas, strawberries and pineapple daily but the fruits not only seem to go bad pretty quickly (I can only eat so much while my family buys enough for all of us but don’t actually eat much fruit) but it’s expensive! Especially blue and blackberries. One I do want to add is grapefruit. We’ll see how it all goes….

I am pretty restricted on my proteins, which is great because what the hell do I know about steaks and cod and all those expensive meats I can’t even tell apart? Got my tuna and lean turkey breast deli. I have skinless chicken breast from Costco and Atlantic salmon, but of course, all I do is thaw and throw them into the toaster oven. I’ll squeeze lemon on my salmon, but that’s it to my mother’s horror. I have to say, though, especially compared to my brother’s salmon soaked in butter and seasoning and always dry and burnt- I know exactly when to take it out of the oven. Sometimes less is more!

And speaking of ‘less is more,’ I am actually struggling with my cleaner eating. I can certainly eat more food now, but after five years of just forcing my body to accept three meals- I used to skip meals, especially in school- it’s really hard for me to do my meals with snacks. It’s also hard for me to make even bigger portions of my clean meals because I get so full so quickly. I just found a meal guide I hope I can follow, and also bought CytoSport’s whey protein in hopes of easily adding the calories without too much actual food.

Not every day your trainer has to scold you to eat more. What an ironic doom it can be.

My usual lunch. Simple but good, and I was not harmed making it.

My usual lunch. Simple but good, and I was not harmed making it.

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