Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and I completely forgot.
First I made him take a boring walk around the neighborhood with me and the baby instead of letting him go on a scenic hike when he got home from work early.
Then I pooh-poohed what he wanted to make for supper. “Do you think we can grill a plantain? Then we could eat it with the grilled sea bass and some black beans.”
“You might like it!”
“I might like it but I’m not really in the mood for it.” (I’m not really in the mood for it – on his birthday!!!)
Then he offered me oysters and I said, “No!” As in, Ew, how could you even suggest that!
He said, “But it’s a special occasion! We have to celebrate.”
And I said, “Celebrate what? That you bought oysters again?”
“No, today is a special day. Don’t you know what it is?”
I tried to get my sluggish, stuck with baby twenty-four hours a day on very little sleep, don’t even know the date, brain to work. Our anniversary!? No, I know it’s not May yet. Just when the light bulb was about to go off he says, “Today is my birthday.”
Oh, I felt so bad. I buried my face in his chest for a while. He took it well though.
Then he made this fancy concoction for dinner:
Grilled sea bass (his own recipe, with stuff like chiles, minced tomato, onion, and cilantro, lime, etc), a tostada with vegetarian beans (for me) and queso fresco, a mango-cucumber salad, and a grilled plantain that didn’t turn out very well.
And then I shared this awesome birthday video with him:
And now for a small respite from baby talk – or at least from birth talk.
Food has been on my mind in a big way lately. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but if I were to adopt some kind of goal for this year,one main goal, it would be to pay more attention to the food issues I care about. I really believe that food matters(as Mark Bittman says), I’ve just been lost in our insular world of adapting to each place we’ve moved to for the past four years and then getting pregnant and starting a family. But, finally, I’ve been able to poke my head out a little bit (mostly while nursing in the middle of the night) and pay attention to some of those things that I care about in life.After all that is why we moved to this small town. So we can live a better quality of life that focuses on what’s important to us – and that includes things like growing our own food, choosing locally produced foods, and eating foods that are minimally processed, etc.
Ironically, we had a gigantic garden in Denver, but won’t be able to have one here for at least a year, when we finally buy a house.
My little sis trying to water the back edge of our giant city garden.
We are part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) here though, and we pick up a box of veggies every week.
The geodesic dome at the farm where we get our CSA.
Tim usually has fun figuring out creative ways to use up the celery roots, greens, and more squash and potatoes than I can count. That is, until the baby was born. Now we’re lucky if we can even pick up our weekly share. We’ve been eating a lot of take-out.
But what renewed my interest in food lately, was an article I stumbled upon, via Twitter, while breastfeeding in the middle of the night last week: New Organic Milk Contains Synthetic Hormone Additive. It’s about how Horizon Organic (owned by dairy giant Dean Foods – a fact which I didn’t even know before reading this article) is adding an illegal synthetic additive to its “organic” milk. They now include “organic” and “vegetarian” DHA, produced from “microalgae species that have never previously been part of the human diet, and that are fermented in a medium including corn syrup that is likely genetically engineered….”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like all that big of a deal, except for all the other stuff surrounding it, all this Dean Foods and Martek stuff, and putting this DHA stuff into baby formula(!).
In addition to Dean Foods, a few other food processors and several infant formula manufacturers have included the synthetic additive, manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation, in organic products, despite their lack of approval. (Emphasis mine.)
It’s disturbing that big food corporations can get around the organics label – which essentially makes it meaningless. And its disturbing that they put this stuff in baby formula. And according to some studies sited in the article, its been giving babies diarrhea and other allergic reactions. And so here I was in the middle of the night all upset, that, (a) Horizon organic half and half is exactly what I put in my coffee, (b) I really haven’t been paying attention to food issues.
I’ve been mostly vegetarian since I was thirteen years old. I don’t eat beef, chicken, or pork, and I think drinking cows milk is disgusting and wrong. If I do eat cereal, I use soy or rice milk. But I’m not strict and still eat ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and put cream in my coffee. I do always try to buy organic dairy with happy cows and good business practices and all that, though.
And so I’m starting to question some of my lassitude now. (Whew, big word! I guess I’m not all “mommy brain” yet.)
Luckily the instant coffee I’ve been drinking – because it’s the only thing I can manage to fix for myself with one hand while slinging my baby on the other hip – has been tearing up my stomach, causing me to switch to tea – so I don’t have to make the decision of what else to put in my coffee just yet. But I feel that I need to keep myself more informed about where my food comes from now that we are hopefully settling down for good.
All right, that’s deep enough for one night! I’ve got to get some shut-eye before the baby wakes up again.
Which brings me to last night. As you may know, I’ve been trying my darndest to make positive changes in my life. I’m trying to kick bad habits and replace them with good ones. But yesterday evening I was feeling particularly down. I was in a state where I was creeping closer and closer to tears, and really, really, really, wanted to lay on the couch and order take-out rather than cook dinner. I was dangerously close to wallowing in Do-Nothingism.
What is Do-Nothingism? It is the odious state in which you feel so bad you can’t bring yourself to enjoy or do anything – it is procrastination’s nefarious cousin. David D. Burns, M.D. wrote a very influential book that I’ve been reading this week, called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Dr. Burns and his colleague, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, are pioneers of the revolution in therapy that is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. They discovered, through much documented research, that there is an undeniable connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that you can improve your mood by improving either your thoughts or your behaviors.
Dr. Burns has worked throughout his career with severely depressed patients who can’t even bring themselves to get out of bed. In his books, he demonstrates techniques for combating this severe form of doing nothing, which tends to lead you on a downward spiral of depression. He has proven that doing nearly anything at all will undoubtedly make you feel better than not!
So, I decided to take Dr. Burn’s advice and Do Something – Anything! I went to the store and bought a few ingredients to make a stew from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged.
Simultaneously, I examined my thoughts:
“I hate cooking.” “Cooking is hard.” “Life is hard.”
While chopping the potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and brussels sprouts, I marveled at how easy this was. If broken down into components, cooking is really just a series of very easy steps! Right? And, though I felt fatigued and wanted to curl up in the fetal position and eat ice cream, I couldn’t deny that the closer my stew came to being finished, the better I felt. I mean, I was still very, very tired, but now I had a delicious stew to nourish that tired body!!! Score!
In the end, I had one of the best stews I have ever made, which I will absolutely make again. In fact, I’m certain that I will make it often enough to do so without a recipe.
Now I do feel better than I would have if I’d done nothing. I feel pride that I served my husband and myself a delicious meal (and this on the night before he had to take his Step 3 Medical Licensing Exam).
And if you want to make this delicious stew, it is really easy:
I used four organic russet potatoes, three large organic carrots, one onion, three cloves of garlic, and eight brussels sprouts, all chopped. I sauteed these until they were tender while boiling a cup of French lentils in a separate pot.
Then I added a magical combination of spices: 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and a dash of cayenne.
Once mixed in, I added four cups of low-sodium veggie broth, sea salt, and the lentils. I let it simmer until it tasted ready to eat!
So, the next time you are feeling like wallowing in do-nothingism, remember that actions can change both your thoughts and your feelings. I believe that this observation is so incredibly life-changing, that I made this handy little diagram for you to picture when you’re feeling down. Cheers!
Really the arrows should be pointing in both directions, but hey, I've never made a diagram on the computer before.