Lent: Days 27-29, On the Road Again

Lent: Days 27-29, On the Road Again
Spring!  We thought you would never come!
Spring! We thought you would never come!

It has been a busy few days fitting in a short local vacation to spend time with my visiting parents. What do you do when you are on a diet and have to go on vacation?

My answer was to bring my food with me. It took a little while to cook it all in advance but I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week!

Starting the day off with the body builder smoothie.
Starting the day off with the body builder smoothie.
I was short on quinoa so I made the sweet quinoa with leftover brown rice instead.
I was short on quinoa so I made the sweet quinoa with leftover brown rice instead.
Beet greens.  These are the tops of beets we usually throw away.  Gwyneth has a recipe to make them into a soup so I tried it.
Beet greens. These are the tops of beets we usually throw away. Gwyneth has a recipe to make them into a soup so I tried it.

“Clean eating desserts” is an oxymoron to me. I have yet to be convinced that substituting out all kinds of flour and sugar substitutes makes a dessert any more healthy. Dessert is dessert. It is not on my current diet so I don’t eat it no matter what it is made of. This is the part of clean eating where I think people can go wrong. In the grocery store, there are aisles of sugar alternatives (date sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.). To me, this anti-sugar obsession is a bit weird. As I saw from my prior experiment with gluten-free, sugar-free cookies, desserts made with these alternative ingredients are just as addictive and just as tempting for overeating as regular desserts. For the calories, I would probably rather just eat regular desserts. However, Gwyneth has some desserts in her cookbook so I made some as presents for our visiting guests and my kids.

As soon as my son found out I was making brownies, he immediately came to assist.
As soon as my son found out I was making brownies, he immediately came to assist.
For a bit of fun, I made Gwyneth's brownie recipe.  It has variations to turn the same mix into 3 different treats: brownies, "Power Brownies" and chocolate almond butter cupcakes.  Here: making the Power Brownies (left) and regular brownies in the same pan.
For a bit of fun, I made Gwyneth’s brownie recipe. It has variations to turn the same mix into 3 different treats: brownies, “Power Brownies” and chocolate almond butter cupcakes. Here: making the Power Brownies (left) and regular brownies in the same pan.
Preparing the chocolate cupcakes with almond butter centers.  I made them mini-size.
Preparing the chocolate cupcakes with almond butter centers. I made them mini-size.
My official cupcake taster.  She loved them!  Gwyneth makes a good brownie.  Everyone loved all of the brownie variants.
My official cupcake taster. She loved them! Gwyneth makes a good brownie. Everyone loved all of the brownie variants.
The three variations: Power brownies (dusted in cocoa powder to tell them apart), chocolate almond butter cupcakes and the regular brownies.
The three variations: Power brownies (dusted in cocoa powder to tell them apart), chocolate almond butter cupcakes and the regular brownies.
My Gwyneth-approved food all packed and ready to go.
My Gwyneth-approved food all packed and ready to go.

I checked ahead of time and found that the hotel room we were staying in had a mini fridge but no microwave. So, I made sure to pack only things that could be eaten cold and that wouldn’t go bad if they were left out for a bit of time.

When we met up with my parents, they were a little surprised I had brought my own food but didn’t seem bothered by it. I went out to eat with everyone but instead of eating I was on kid duty making sure everyone was behaving properly and cleaning up inevitable messes. It all seemed to work out just fine. I have become convinced that the most important part of sharing a meal together (an important bonding experience) really has nothing to do with the food and everything to do with the conversation. I had my meals back in the hotel room afterward.

Naturally, my dad had to tease me a bit about my latest nutritional fad.  He saw this sign as we walked through a hotel in Crystal City and he told me I needed to go register.  :)
Naturally, my dad had to tease me a bit about my latest nutritional fad. He saw this sign as we walked through a hotel in Crystal City and he told me I needed to go register. 🙂
The beet greens soup I packed: 2 servings.  I have to say that this is not one of my favorite recipes.  I don't think I will be making it again.  The flavor isn't bad but the texture was a bit off-putting.
The beet greens soup I packed: 2 servings. I have to say that this is not one of my favorite recipes. I don’t think I will be making it again. The flavor isn’t bad but the texture was a bit off-putting.
The lentil salad I packed.  In general this was very good and travels well (for a packed lunch or a picnic).  However, I need to learn how to cook lentils better.  Mine weren't quite soft enough.
The lentil salad I packed. In general this was very good and travels well (for a packed lunch or a picnic). However, I need to learn how to cook lentils better. Mine weren’t quite soft enough.
My dinner: butternut squash with quinoa.  This is a side dish but I just doubled the serving size for a main dish meal.  Add butternut squash to the list of sugar-tasting vegetables.  Delicious!
My dinner: butternut squash with quinoa. This is a side dish but I just doubled the serving size for a main dish meal. Add butternut squash to the list of sugar-tasting vegetables. Delicious!

I also had a snack of apples with peanut butter, my other addiction on this diet.

My food fit nicely in the hotel fridge.
My food fit nicely in the hotel fridge.
Getting my yoga workout in at the hotel.
Getting my yoga workout in at the hotel.
Loved the vintage hotel maid sign.  Don't we all wish we could just hang these on the doors of our own homes!
Loved the vintage hotel maid sign. Don’t we all wish we could just hang these on the doors of our own homes!
Breakfast the next morning: quinoa with dates and walnuts. (I swapped the bananas for walnuts as they would travel better.)
Breakfast the next morning: quinoa with dates and walnuts. (I swapped the bananas for walnuts as they would travel better.)
We went to the National Portrait Gallery to see a wonderful exhibit on dance photography.  We discovered their beautiful new atrium where you can eat your lunch and enjoy the water sidewalks.  My son loved them and got tremendously wet.
We went to the National Portrait Gallery to see a wonderful exhibit on dance photography. We discovered their beautiful new atrium where you can eat your lunch and enjoy the water sidewalks. My son loved them and got tremendously wet.
They had some beautiful desserts on display at the cafe.
They had some beautiful desserts on display at the cafe.

I carried my lentil salad with me and ate that and the apples and peanut butter for lunch.

D.C. is gearing up for cherry blossom time.  Here: the lovely cherry blossom themed display in the gift shop.
D.C. is gearing up for cherry blossom time. Here: the lovely cherry blossom themed display in the gift shop.
My finds from the gift shop: a terrific illustrated book on dance anatomy, a set of postcards from the exhibition and a neat pen that looks like a tube of paint.
My finds from the gift shop: a terrific illustrated book on dance anatomy, a set of postcards from the exhibition and a neat pen that looks like a tube of paint.
After our museum adventures, we stopped by the Pentagon City Mall.  I did some window shopping and found that looking at jeans was a great incentive for staying on my diet.  Here: the "1981" jeans from Guess with "slim fit, high rise and skinny leg."  The trend in jeans for the longest time has been low on the hip to bare your belly.  Now it seems we are going the other direction covering up the belly.  You still have to be skinny to wear these as denim is one of the most unforgiving fabrics!
After our museum adventures, we stopped by the Pentagon City Mall. I did some window shopping and found that looking at jeans was a great incentive for staying on my diet. Here: the “1981” jeans from Guess with “slim fit, high rise and skinny leg.” The trend in jeans for the longest time has been low on the hip to bare your belly. Now it seems we are going the other direction covering up the belly. You still have to be skinny to wear these as denim is one of the most unforgiving fabrics!
Here: J. Crew's "Toothpick" jeans described as "our skinniest style."
Here: J. Crew’s “Toothpick” jeans described as “our skinniest style.”
My children savoring an Auntie Anne's pretzel.
My children savoring an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.
My late afternoon snack was kale chips.  I have heard so much about these but this was my first time making them.  I can't say I want to make these again either.  They were pretty good when they were fresh out of the oven and really did taste a bit like potato chips.  After a day in Virginia humidity (even sealed in a plastic bag), they lost their crispiness and were kind of chewy.  They also made my entire car smell like broccoli.
My late afternoon snack was kale chips. I have heard so much about these but this was my first time making them. I can’t say I want to make these again either. They were pretty good when they were fresh out of the oven and really did taste a bit like potato chips. After a day in Virginia humidity (even sealed in a plastic bag), they lost their crispiness and were kind of chewy. They also made my entire car smell like broccoli.
That night for dinner: leftover chicken and white bean chili.
That night for dinner: leftover chicken and white bean chili.
I had no interest in eating my beet greens soup for the day but by the end of the day I was starving and needed the calories.  As the saying goes, "Hunger is the best sauce."  So, I strained the soup to get rid of the beet leaves residue and heated it up.  It was more tolerable that way.  My husband was delighted to find that there was something on this diet that even I found unappetizing!
I had no interest in eating my beet greens soup for the day but by the end of the day I was starving and needed the calories. As the saying goes, “Hunger is the best sauce.” So, I strained the soup to get rid of the beet leaves residue and heated it up. It was more tolerable that way. My husband was delighted to find that there was something on this diet that even I found unappetizing!

The next day was a fasting day and I was very hungry. I so wanted to eat anything, even the beet greens soup. However, I kept myself busy and by the time dinner time rolled around I wasn’t that hungry any more but ate anyway.

My fasting salad of spinach, bell pepper, carrot, parsley, black beans and turkey.
My fasting salad of spinach, bell pepper, carrot, parsley, black beans and turkey.
Taking a stroll in my garden that evening to find the bloodroot flowers are just coming out.
Taking a stroll in my garden that evening to find the bloodroot flowers are just coming out.
The vinca (periwinkle) flowers are also out too.
The vinca (periwinkle) flowers are also out too.

Nutritional news:

The biggest news of late is that Mindy Kaling is joining in the fun of cooking her way through the It’s All Good cookbook. Who knew this was now an “in” thing to do?