Monday, April 14, 2008

Where Vegetables Go to Die

I am a very healthy grocery shopper. I am not a very healthy eater.

I love walking through the aisles of the produce section, looking at the bright colors and absorbing all of their shiny promise. I pick up and squeeze apples and oranges, carefully inspect mushrooms before putting them in a bag, and always check the crispness of celery and asparagus. And then I take them home and put them in the crisper to rot. Oh, yes, I may cook a handful of asparagus here and there, or I may take an apple with me to work so it can see another refrigerator before it dies, but for the most part vegetables and fruits are usually scraped out of my fridge weeks later with a cursory nod to what could have been. There are really only two exceptions to this rule -- sweet potatoes and spinach, and both of those can be cooked into oblivion in dishes I already know I like, usually something Italian or Indian.

I have tried to side step the death of fresh produce in my fridge by buying frozen, which is said to be just as healthy, but cheaper and longer lasting. This led to the presence of five bags of sugar snap peas in my fridge. Really, if the apocalypse comes, I can make stir fry for everyone. There are also half bags of brussel sprouts and green beans and numerous packages of "steam and eat" mixes. All have freezer fur on them three inches thick. It's gotten to the point where I have to throw something out to put in more Haagen Das. Maybe I just need to get one of those big chest freezers. Then I can store vegetables and ice cream. Or at least more ice cream.

Whole grains have also been a sticking point for me. I am a carb addict, so you would think it would be easy for me to substitute whole grain bread for normal bread, or whole wheat pasta for white. There's only one problem -- that stuff tastes like cardboard. What is the point of substituting high fiber bread for bread I like to eat if I have to slather it with butter, mustard and cheese just to make it palatable? I know, it's more than just a question of calories, but damn. Yet, that hasn't stopped me from buying numerous loafs of bread and boxes of pasta marked "heart healthy" and "high fiber." As I type this there is a loaf of "double fiber" bread on my counter just waiting to be fed to the seagulls at Liberty Park. So, if you're planning to be in that area after Thursday you might want to wait to wash your car.

I have thought of just skipping buying the healthy foods, thereby saving myself money at the store and guilt later on when I throw the stuff out. But I can't! What if I run into someone I know? Or someone who looks like someone I want to know? I can't let them see me with a cart full of nothing but pasta, snack chips and beer! And I feel so good buying the healthy stuff, making up little plays about the person I will morph into once I start eating well. I look so pretty, and wear such stylish clothes. That fantasy has to be worth the extra 20 bucks a month, right? Of course right.

Okay, Ryan is going to be home in a few minutes. I have to go put the cheese powder in and take the tater tots out of the oven. Cooking is hard.


Amanda said...

Real Simple has a great recipe for easy samosas in their new issue.

I have to say that I really like the double fiber bread, but cannot take the high fiber pasta - it is heresy.

Now I have to do something with the asparagus abundance in the fridge.