When I share with someone that I have a passion for food, I generally get the same response.
“Well then why are you so little…”
It’s as if they took my love for eating as a declaration of stuffing my pockets with cheeseburgers when nobody is looking. Although most people say you should never trust a skinny chef–I’d like to disagree. Unfortunately the wisdom I’m going to share with you didn’t come easily to me in this lifetime. It didn’t pop into my head while I was sleeping. It didn’t come in a brilliant and equally delicious fortune cookie.
Up until the age of 18 I had no regard for what type of food went into my body. I had been blessed with a thriving metabolism and a love for mayonnaise. The two went well together. I vividly remember a dinner at an Italian restaurant with my family when, for the first time in my life, my jeans felt too tight.
Not to say that I had gained very much weight, but I had gained weight period. Something that was abnormal for me. I believe every person in their 20’s and up has experienced this before. That moment where you realize that your body no longer feels like the one you’ve known. In a bit of a panic, I turned immediately to exercise. Running became part of my routine and, to the surprise of gym teachers everywhere–thanks again for the C+ guys–I actually enjoyed it.
I then gained an interest in nutrition and another C became a very big part of my life.
Calorie has become a four letter word to me. The moment I discovered how easily I could count them and make substitutions, the Scorpio in me took over and I became obsessed. Food was no longer food. It was all a series of numbers and calculations.
Have you ever put six grapes on a scale?
The purpose of this story is to share with you that there once was a time in my life when food had lost some of its glory for me. It took days, weeks, months, YEARS to move past that and once again find the joy and beauty in eating. To not panic when I couldn’t “count” a meal. To not flip over everything I found in the grocery store to find those precious numbers. Everybody has reoccurring life experiences that teach them lessons and reappear for different purposes.
One of mine has always been moderation.
Luckily, I continued running and have found it to be one of the most balancing and meditative practices I could ever imagine. Even a simple thirty minute walk on the river has the same calming presence as an afternoon jog.
So to answer that one question…that one spark of curiosity that arises when I, a “skinny chef”, express my deep love for food…
Along with daily exercise, there’s just one more piece.
Are you ready for the secret?
I have learned that by limiting foods and denying myself of something that it occasionally craves, I’m only doing my body an injustice. If I want that pizza for dinner, then I balance it with a salad at lunch. If I wake up with a severe craving for bacon–I’m going to have two slices, not ten. I’ve discovered that instead of cutting out foods that are “bad”, if I approach all food as being divine and wonderful in its own way–than I can balance out the “not-so-healthy” with the nourishing.
The other bright side: with all of the nutritious information I absorbed, I have become a better judge of what healthy truly means. I have also become somewhat of an expert in finding substitutions and loopholes that boost flavor without adding unnecessary unhealthy elements. The combination of these factors has led me to “go for it”–in a way. I believe it’s through this journey that my passion for food has enhanced and my desire to spread these stories and inspiration has deepened.
Now let’s talk about pancetta.
Pancetta is essentially the Italian form of bacon. Both are cured, and the main difference is that while bacon is smoked–pancetta is un-smoked and contains peppercorns. I love the salty peppery bite of pancetta, but it is slightly more expensive than bacon. Luckily you can get it sliced by the pound in most grocery stores so you can purchase as much or as little as you like.
So…in a toast to moderation, I give you the “I’m Going for it” Breakfast Sandwich which combines the naughty (sinfully salty and delicious pancetta) with the nice (reduced fat cream cheese + whole wheat cinnamon raisin english muffin).
*Recipe at the end*
I prefer my scrambled eggs omelet style. By lifting the egg with a spatula and letting the liquid slide down the pan, you’re slowly cooking the bottom.
Once the bottom is set, you flip the egg and take it immediately off heat. This leaves you with a soft, fluffy omelet-style egg which you can fold onto your sandwich.
*Note: Combine 1 egg + 1 egg white and you double the size of your protein and add only 20 more calories and almost zero extra fat.
Don’t forget the fresh herbs. Whisk them right into your eggs before cooking and use them on top as well.
Ever seen Whipped Cream Cheese at the store? It’s fluffier, lighter tasting, and contains less calories and fat than the original.
The “I’m going for it” Breakfast Sandwich:
- Dice 1-2 thin slices of pancetta and crisp in a dry pan over medium heat. Remove and set on paper towel to drain off excess grease.
- Toast one whole wheat cinnamon raisin english muffin and spread one half with 1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese.
- Whisk 1 egg + 1 egg white with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (I used dill).
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in pan and “scramble” eggs omelet style.
- Place folded egg on top of toasted english muffin (the half with the cream cheese).
- Sprinkle with crispy pancetta and fresh herbs (I used basil).
- Serve closed or open-faced with strong French Roast coffee, orange slices, and a side of your favorite Julia Roberts movie.