I’m a snacker. I admit without hesitation that I am a nibbler in the kitchen. If food is in front of me, chances are I’m going to eat it. There is something emotionally satisfying about having the power to taste foods, see foods, and smell foods that you love. I also know how much trouble it can get me into. So you can imagine how difficult cooking for an occassion or group can be while on a diet. But if you put some thought into it, your kitchen doesn’t have to be your enemy. I am going to share with you my secret to preparing a meal without blowing calories on taste testing. Yes, it is possible.
Saturday my friend Kristen and her fiance are coming to my house to celebrate her engagement. I am cooking lunch for us. The menu consists of my famous BBQ sticky chicken with au gratin potatoes, baked beans, Greek cole slaw, orange salad (or fluffy stuff as my brother calls it), garlic and herb parmesan crusted rolls and homemade Oreo cheesecake…none of which are diet approved. I also made a cheese ball and we will have fresh-cut watermelon from mom’s garden.
Last night I made my BBQ sauce, cheese ball, and cheesecake. I like to cook ahead so I’m not bogged down in the kitchen when company arrives. I did not think I would survive not taste testing everything. I was determined, though, that I wasn’t going to eat the entire block of cheese I worked so hard on grating and I certainly wasn’t going to spoon out my own bowl of cheesecake batter as a treat for all my hard work ha! So how did I keep from going crazy in the kitchen? I went in prepared! I made sure I had sugar-free Jello on hand to help keep me on track (I know. I know. Sounds lame but trust me. It worked. Read on). Everytime I wanted to taste test my cheese ball or shove my head in the mixer bowl full of cheesecake batter I stopped, took a second to collect myself and ate a few bites of Jello. It was tangy and fruity so it satisfied my “sweet” craving and kept me from blowing a week’s worth of calories on a few minutes of guilty pleasure. I was also prepared with a box of 94% fat-free popcorn just in case the Jello trick didn’t work. Also, I made sure I ate dinner before I started cooking. That way I wasn’t starving which would have led to me indulging. By the time I was finished, the only thing I taste tested was 1 teaspoon of my BBQ sauce. I just needed to make sure it had the correct blend of flavors.
It is possible to cook a meal that is not diet approved for special occasions–and meals that are healthy– and not blow up like a can of biscuits from tasting everything you make. Having a plan and thinking out my game strategy sealed my survival. If I hadn’t sat the Jello in front of me to eat when I was tempted I would have caved in and blown my calorie count. To be honest, I can’t afford to do that. Was it difficult? Yes and no. It was hard not to want to taste different foods. It was very difficult to not give into that side of me that loves all things dairy but I was determined to not let cooking a meal beat me. I won! And it feels GREAT!
Now, the next question–what will I eat on Saturday considering my menu is not diet friendly? Good question. My plan is to enjoy a few bites of everything, as Saturday is my “cheat” meal day. I don’t plan to over indulge but no one does when they go into it, right? ha! I will certainly have to keep myself in check as it won’t be easy to not dip myself multiple servings. I have to get in the right frame of mind and talk to myself about how much I will eat and what I will eat. Discipline: it is the key to success. I’m hoping Saturday I can collect enough discipline to make it through! 😉