Originally Posted by gailr42
What Kaplods said. Key, for me, is "transferring the obsession". I don't seem to be fully happy unless I have an obsession going on. I call it a "passion". LOL. Anyway, certainly taking half your food home for tomorrow's meal is good. Cooking at home with a loved one who shares your "foodie" interests is priceless.
Hubby and I are actually having far more priceless moments with our healthier food passions (passion is a better word, after all what's a passion but a healthy obsession).
When we went for the cheap thrills of high-fat restaurant food, we'd have great fun for an hour or two and then we'd get home and food coma would set in. Then we learned that our un was killing us, because hubby is diabetic, I've got multiple health problems. We eventually learned that sugar, wheat, and grains/carbs in general were triggers for my fibromyalgia and autoimmune symptoms.
At first we thought the food fun had to be over (because everyone knows that a healthy diet is a boring one, right? And even though I already KNEW better, part of my brain agreed).
It took a while to transfer passions, but now we have more fun than we ever did on a high-fat, high-carb diet, because not only is the food fun, we don't fall into food coma so the fun isn't over for the rest of the day (or have other health issue symptoms going on).
I am losing very slowly, because of some of the higher calorie foods I'm not willing to give up yet (or maybe ever) but that isn't the worst thing in the world.
It's also important to remember (whether making food yourself, or going out) that great tasting food doesn't have to be highly caloric. Some of my absolute favorite foods are very low in calorie. Thai and other indonesian foods are often quite low in calorie (if you follow traditional recipes, and not Americanized high-fat versions).
I love laab (ground meat salad) and papaya salad (which isn't sweet papaya, it's unripe papaya, which ends up tasting a bit like a bit fishy and VERY garlicky, spicy cole slaw).
We had so much fun at a local thai restaurant, discussing food with the owner and her husband that we became very good friends with the family. The owner even came to our house to give me cooking lessions.
I remember when I first ordered papaya salad, she was reluctant to make it for me, because I was the first Anglo person to order it, and she wasn't sure I'ld like it. She offered to cut back on the peppers, garlic, and fish sauce, and instead I asked her to make it how she would make it for herself, and if I didn't like it, I'd ask for modifications to my tastes next time. Even though it was so strong, I wasn't sure if I did like it, I ended up becoming addicted to the stuff.
We tend to associate good food with high-calorie food, and it really doesn't have to be, but you do have to pay much closer to ingredients, which in restaurants tend to translate into very, very expensive.
There are a few restaurants locally that speciallize in using fresh, healthy, high-quality ingredients, and all of them are way out of our budget for eating out (even if we hadn't been decent cooks, we would have had to learn to be).
Ironically, we actually pay less for the best ingredients during the summer, mostly because we have earned a reputation from the vendors as loyal, but buget conscious customers. By being friendly, polite, and generous with our praise of the vendors' products, we end up being gifted with produce "to try." On Saturday we visited our local farmers' market, and we saved our favorite vendor for last.
The elderly Hmong couple have been extremely good to us. We tell them how much we love their veggies and what we did with them, and they give us discounts and freebies that are almost criminal. We left with probably $40 in veggies for $6 (hubby slipped in $4 more, by folding the money so it looked like less, and he rushed me away so that the owner wouldn't have time to count the money before we left).
It was hard to estimate the true value of the food, because grocery stores don't even carry the types of heirloom and exotic veggies she does. She had a new veggie (every year they plant new and interesting varieties) a beautiful blue snakemean. It was cream colored, with thin streaky stripes of blue). She broke off pieces for us to try and threw in a bundle free to try. The bean had tasted so sweet raw (she told us yes, she often does eat them raw) that I bought another bundle in addition to the free bundle. I think she only charged us $2 per bundle (which looked to be about a pound).
We had just come from the grocery store where green beans (wilted and ugly) were being sold for $4.99 a pound.
She saves tiny baby red and yukon gold potatoes for us (most Anglo farmers don't even sell these, they use them for seed only). From the size of peas to the size of grapes, these are awesome (she washes them so well before selling, that I only have to rinse them well and pick out a stick or two). And they're great for a carb-reduced diet, because the fiber to digestible carb ratio is higher.
She threw in about two pounds of vine-ripened roma tomatoes free, regular price $2 (which at the grocery store were $5.99 per pound).
I bought beautiful white eggplants, streaked with purple stripes. I paid $2 for the bunch I bought (and after mentioning I hadn't tried this variety, she threw in another bundle for free).
And she also threw in some free hot peppers, when I bought a box of sweet peppers (her sweet and hot peppers are amazing, and I've never seen anything remotely like them in the stores for less than $6 per pound - she charges $1).
Not everyone is going to have access to afarmers market like this, or vendors like this, but it does pay to be friendly and complimentary to farmers' market vendors and other food sellers, not just because it gets you free stuff, but because it makes the whole foodie experience that much more enjoyable and exciting. People who love food, talking about the food they love. And you can tell the people who sell food because they love it from the people for whom raising food is just a job.
Going to a farmers' market really for us is more like going to a trade show. We spent 20 minutes at a salsa/relish makers booth, because we had loved their product so much, we were talking it up to the other customers (you couldn't PAY for advertising like that). The vendor doesn't have to know that I'm secretly trying to duplicate his relish recipe so I don't have to pay $5 per pint, though even if I do he still will have our business with the products we love that I don't have any interest in learning to make myself (I don't really "do" producsts that require a lot of work with hot peppers, because I've had too many kitchen disasters working with super hot peppers in large quantities).
As you can tell from this post, I can talk about food all day. And even by concentrating on healthy, low-calorie foods, there STILL is no limit to the possibilities. We still do enjoy rich foods occasionally, but less and less often the more great low-cal foods we find.