Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Building a better lunch

Since I've not talked about my lunches in awhile I guess it was time for an update...literally.

I don't know if I made this clear earlier, but since my parents left there was an interesting argument I had with myself about the quality of my lunches. Since my mom wasn't around to make them for me they could go one of two ways: they could either get significantly fancier, since I was more in control of what I wanted to eat and I love to cook, or they could get significantly poorer since I work a lot and there was no one who had bunches of time to make them for me.

What was the verdict you ask?

Well, considering that I'm still a failure at grocery shopping more than once every 2-3 weeks (actually it took me a solid 4 weeks to grocery shop for the first time on my own after my parents left...my excuse is that I actually wasn't around for most of that time and was instead being a WT as I am normally)...as can be extrapolated from the appropriate information: my lunches got...interesting. I wouldn't say they got poorer in quality, but quantity certainly took a swan dive and so did my weight.

What was I eating during that time, you ask? Well, I still wanted to save money because Britain can be an expensive place to live (I'd finally turned off my heater though so at least I wouldn't be paying a ridiculous amount for electricity anymore) but also I wanted to be really healthy, similar to how I was in Helsinki. Unfortunately there is no subsidized lunch. There is also no culture that says I can't make my own lunch and bring it to work. People don't ostracize you (as much) for bringing food from home. In Helsinki I did it a few times and realized how weird and out of place that was. Never again.

Anyway, after my parents left they loaded my fridge with all of the things I said I wanted and would eat in their absence: raw veggies, a hell of a lot of hummus, and some nuts. There may have been a frozen loaf of bread in there somewhere and some eggs. I think that was the bulk of it. I'm a simple person and don't require much from my diet, despite the whole running thing. Take from that what you will.

So my lunches were...raw veggies. Literally. Oh, and hummus. I started making my own homemade hummus after the storebought stuff ran out, which isn't as hard as it sounds, especially after my parents did a spectacular job chasing down tahini for me at a nearby Turkish supermarket. Very excellent stuff. They even found a cheap source of canned garbanzo beans (as well as other beans like white beans). Fabulous stuff.

So that's what I'd been having for lunch for the last several months.

Unfortunately as I ramped up my running and exercise habits, as tends to happen as I work more and more and go out with coworkers more (it's my way of dealing with stress), I also started getting less interested in food again and my weight really started to dip. Severely. Oh starvation abroad, you follow me everywhere it seems!

So I made myself a vow: eat more, if possible (this is a hard thing for me, because I find it hard to find the time and energy to go out and buy myself more food...just look at my grocery buying habits), and of the things that I do eat, eat better.

The lunches were going to get a revamp. I was actually going to be home for the foreseeable weekends, allowing me lots of time to actually make my lunches ahead of time. More time than just making homemade hummus (still great stuff but maybe should spread to something more than just the variety of veggie crudites).

What was on the menu then? Well, my first week of exploration: Israeli couscous (also known as pearl couscous) with fresh veggies and basil-infused cold-pressed olive oil (a delicious gift sent to me by my bestie Rhinda).

Not too shabby, I'll admit. It was pretty quick and painless as well. Three day's worth of lunches made from a single batch. I included red bell pepper, cucumber, and the usual sprinkling of olive oil, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and a splash of white vinegar. Boof! Done. Lunch is served.

Granted I still get stares at work for only having that for lunch so I'm going to beef things up for the next round of lunches, but I feel this is a good start and a step in the right direction.

I'm also trying to scale back a little bit on the exercise in an attempt to not be so nuts about it. I don't need to live at the gym, merely deal with my stress better. Maybe more time in the sauna, a little less running. :)

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