Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lunch: from fuel to fun

Lunch has always been my least favorite meal. Since high school, it's been an ongoing dilemma to find foods that are portable, filling, and that don't need to be reheated/refrigerated. It's even harder when you try to be healthy while doing it. And in college I often had to eat on the go, so I needed food that was inconspicuous and odor free. There aren't a lot of foods that fit these parameters. And those that do are bland and uninteresting.

So I've taken very little delight in lunch; it's simply fuel to ensure I survive until my next meal.

Some people can pack a simple sandwich or throw a granola bar into their purse and consider themselves prepared for midday, but my appetite has always been too ravenous for such measly helpings. Others forget lunch altogether, to which I say, do you forget to get dressed in the mornings, too?

But as my schedule calmed down and my body required less fuel to get from one place to another (those hills at BYU are mean), I was able to gradually reduce the size of my lunches.

Not only that, but I think my metabolism is starting to slow down, as well. I got down to a sandwich + one side for lunch, and that's not even the weirdest thing. I no longer need toast to complement my breakfasts in the mornings. Noon rolls around and my stomach isn't imploding with hollowness. The work day ends and I sometimes have the stamina to consider taking my evening walk before eating dinner.

I am no longer the hungry person I once was.

This decrease in appetite happened around the same time I finally decided I had had enough of sandwiches. Even homemade bread wasn't enough to ensure my faithfulness of 10+ years.

So I made possibly the biggest food-related change of my entire life: I ditched the sandwiches and started experimenting with salads.

Let me clarify a few things before you die of shock. I did not go full-out vegetarian. Any time I eat a meal that is heavy on the fruits and vegetables, I feel deprived for the rest of the day and seek comfort in donuts, ice cream, and all things salty to compensate for my lack. Any meal that doesn't include meat and cheese just isn't a proper meal, in my opinion.

This drastic change was merely an opportunity for me to make lunch fun again, to stop eating the same boring thing every day. Even if it meant more time in the kitchen cutting up vegetables.

Some of the experiments didn't impress me, like this Italian Tuna and Rice Salad. The olives were delightful, though.

This experiment would repulse tomato haters, but scored with me (after I added some chicken, of course).

But things got even more fun when I finally stepped out of my comfort zone and tried out a new grocery store: Trader Joe's. My coworkers who truly care about the food they consume swear by Trader Joe's, so I decided to try it out. And let me just say, I haven't had so much fun grocery shopping in a long time. The store is small, so you don't waste any time traveling through miles and miles of aisles, making the hunt for specific items so much easier. And so far, everything I've tried has been a hit: the carrot-cake cookies, the tomatoes, the applesauce, and the concoctions I threw together for lunch.

Not lunch, but delightful all the same.

You hungry yet? Let the fun commence!

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