Today, we have kind of a fun one. It’s a guest writer, but … the writer in question is … MY MOM!
Just short of 4 years ago, I stood well over 300 lbs. and was living in a town called San Jose del Cabo, at the tip of Baja California, Mexico. It’s not as easy to get certain things down there. Tortillas and tacos? Sure! A scale that works for a man over 300 lbs? Not so much!
It’s a bit complicated to explain, but … because things are a little tougher to find, and I was living near an hour away from Cabo San Lucas (where the big stores are), it’s not uncommon for someone in the neighborhood to ask, “Hey, I’m heading to Cabo … ya need anything?”
I’d just catered one of my last events down in Mexico. An upscale event, it required me to wear my Chef’s jacket for the first time in a year or two. When I put that jacket on, I was hit, with FULL force, how much weight I’d gained in the previous year. I’d gone from an overweight guy, to being a TRULY fat man, with serious health issues. I wanted to fix it, but I also needed to know how bad it had gone. When my mother called and asked, “Hey, I’m heading to Cabo … ya need anything?” … feeling all hurt from the jacket experience, I blubbered that I needed a scale, but … it needed to be a scale that could go over 300 lbs!
The second time I was hit with FULL force, how much weight I’d gained … was when I set eyes on the scale my parents had picked up for me in Cabo. It shattered me to see, but … perhaps I needed a sight like that to get me to take it all seriously …
Without further adieu … I wanted to hear my mother’s thoughts on that little assignment and asked her if she’d be willing to throw a few words into her word processor. She agreed. Give it a read … it gets REALLY good! It near brought a tear to my eye!
From Mama Foodie
Note: Not the actual scale, but this is VERY close to what mine looked like, in terms of … size and “scale”.
My son, DJ, in a surprise request, asked me to write a guest blog post for him about the day, three or four years ago, when his dad and I bought him a huge, heavy-duty, platform scale from an Ace Hardware store in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in order to weigh himself. Odd, you might think. Why did we do such a potentially embarrassing thing to our son? Were we trying put him down? Insult him? Are we mean, terrible parents? Well – sometimes the simple act of buying a bathroom scale can be more difficult that it might seem – especially if you are doing it in Mexico.
My husband, Ken, and I have a home in Cabo San Lucas where we have wintered for fourteen years. About ten years ago, DJ decided that it would be great to live in Cabo (sun and fun and all of that, you know). His dad and I are retired and can manage it, but DJ, as a young guy, had to find work in order to be able to live there and pay his bills. Unfortunately, he found that it’s very difficult for a non-Mexican citizen to find work in Mexico. He struggled through, however – and really did love living there. Over time, though, the struggle for income became more difficult than he had predicted and DJ fell into the bad habit of overeating. Which is not hard when you live in a place filled with tacos, enchiladas, burritos and the ever-present chips and guacamole! Even Mexicans have a difficult time controlling their appetites; the latest obesity statistics is that Mexico has now passed the U.S. as the #1 country in the world with the most obese people. Not by much, though!
What does this, though, have to do with the fact that DJ’s dad and I went out and bought him a giant, mercantile scale on which to weigh himself. What were we thinking? It started like this: DJ was beginning to feel, well…very fat. And he was obese, no question about it. As all parents know, we agonize when we see that our children are suffering; all we want is for them to be happy, healthy and loved. DJ was loved, all right, but he was not happy, and he was definitely not healthy. He was becoming very obese and it was obvious that his health was starting to suffer as a result. He was sweaty much of the time, his face was often red and appeared swollen, he panted when doing even minor exertions, he started wearing the same ‘tent-like’ shirt and pants most of the time and lost interest in his appearance. He was depressed about it, of course, but didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to talk about it. We, as his parents – and especially, I, as his mom — tried to bring it up from time to time, but what you learn when dealing with someone with an addiction (be it eating, drinking, smoking or whatever) is that the person, him or herself, must want to change. Well, apparently something happened with DJ and suddenly, out of the blue, he asked me to get him a scale so that he knew how much he weighed. But, he stated that he had to know exactly how much he weighed before he could even begin the process of losing weight. He needed to know!
When he said that to me, it was like music to my ears! I had been waiting to hear him say that he wanted to change direction in his life, especially as regarded his weight. I asked him how much he thought that he weighed. DJ answered that he didn’t know, but knew that it was “something over 300 pounds.” Therefore, we had to find a bathroom scale that would weigh a person of more than 300 pounds. Sounds easy enough! I figured the bathroom scale that we had in our house. It only went to 300, though. Not enough. So, Ken and I went on a quest around Cabo San Lucas searching for a bathroom scale that would fit the bill. We went to Costco, Mega, City Club, Walmart and Sam’s Club. You would think that we would have found a bathroom scale in one of those big stores that would measure someone who weighed over 300 pounds. But, no – they were all like the bathroom scale that we possessed: all went to about 300 pounds and no more.
We were beginning to lose heart. Sometimes you have to catch a person ‘in the moment.’ This was the moment; we felt it! For us, as DJ’s parents, it was as if we would lose this opportunity and DJ would just continue his bad eating habits and we could potentially lose him to diabetes or, even worse, a heart attack. We had gone to all of the major stores where one would expect to buy a bathroom scale. We had one more place to try: the Ace Hardware store. We entered the store with low expectations and found the obligatory bathroom scale. Yes, it was the same as all of the others: 300 pounds and no more. (Remember this is Mexico, and there aren’t as many choices as there are in cities in the U.S.) We felt bad and knew that we had to go back to DJ empty-handed and tell him that we had failed. The golden moment would be lost — and that would be that.
Suddenly, I saw a beat-up, heavy-duty, used mercantile scale that the hardware store had probably used for years to weigh their heavy inventory. It was sitting there in the aisle – and it had a sign on it that said $50.00! I looked it over and knew that it would definitely weigh someone over 300 pounds. Way over 300 pounds! A crazy idea shot into my head. I called to Ken who was standing in another aisle. He came and looked at the thing and his eyes lit up. So did mine! Ken said, “Should we buy it? It’s old and beat-up, but it would certainly do the trick.” Well, at a time like that, what would any parent do? We bought it, of course – but did feel a might guilty as we brought it to DJ’s house in the back of our SUV. We didn’t know how he would take it — and did think that he could be angry with us — but we didn’t want to come back empty-handed. Sometimes, you’ll just do what it takes to save your kid – and that’s certainly what we thought that we were doing!
We pulled up in his driveway and hauled the heavy thing out of the back of the car and the two of us carried it to his front door. Tentatively, we rang the bell. He answered. He gulped when he saw the monstrous scale and uttered things like, “Well, what is this? What should I do with it? Why would you bring this?” But he allowed us entrance and we put the huge scale in his guest bedroom. Then we waited for him to step on it and weigh himself. Of course we were curious and, I think, we also had convinced ourselves that he would be pleased that we had been able to find a scale that could weigh him. Well, I’ll tell you right now that we weren’t going to get that satisfaction – not right then, anyway. He declined to step on it, saying that he “didn’t know if he would or not.” He kind of stammered that he had to get back to work on his computer and pretty much indicated that we should go.
We didn’t find out until maybe a week later that DJ did, indeed, weigh himself and, apparently, the embarrassment of having to use this gigantic, commercial scale in order to accomplish it, was the final, crushing straw that broke the camel’s back. I think it was at that moment, of stepping on those scales, that changed him. Had we brought him a measly, little bathroom scale that everyone has in their home, it might not have made as much of an impression, and he might not have made the change. And change he did! He became a different person almost overnight and the weight began to melt off of him. In fact, it seemed that every time we saw DJ, he was thinner! After only about 6 months, he was almost a shadow of his former self – and much, much happier!
Bottom line: we didn’t set out to embarrass or insult our son. Just the opposite; we were desperate to help him — and that ugly, big, commercial scale that we bought at an Ace Hardware store in Mexico shone to us like a beacon: it was a sign. Sometimes things are just meant to be – and that huge mercantile scale was right where it needed to be when it was most needed.
How much did DJ weigh then, you may wonder? I will have him answer that question…if he so wishes.
Love you, DJ!!!
Roberta (Mom to DJ)
I hated that scale!
Oh, how I hated that scale! It was ludicrously old. It was massive and ugly and it only worked in kilograms! To answer my mother’s question … when I stepped on that infernal contraption, it slowly and lazily read “159 kilos”. I was constantly having to convert kilos to lbs, but … it worked.
As much as I hated that scale and was thrilled to be rid of it … it very possibly does stand as one of the most influential items in my life.
Love you, too, Mom! Thank you for sharing your side of this story! I think it carries a bit of extra weight coming from … a mother.
Now … on to today’s recipes! They’re all interesting and fun. Check ’em out!
Living down in Mexico for as long as I did, I ran across a million varieties of something called “Agua Fresca” (Fresh Water). In essence, they are a fruit, or a mixture of fruit, which are mashed, soaked, chopped, and/or pureed then mixed with LOTS of water and sugar. Some also use nuts, grains and spices, but most are just a mixture of fruit, water and sugar. For all tends and purposes, “Lemonade” is an “Agua Fresca”!
See, sugar, much like salt, as a flavor enhancer. It tends to take the flavors and aromas from an ingredient and STRETCH IT! This is how a watermelon, mixed with gallons of water and some sugar, can bring cool refreshment to a large body of people! It’s inexpensive, fun, tasty and brings a smile to many more faces than just the lone watermelon ever could!
The same exact idea and method applies here! By taking a fruit and mixing it with your favorite sweetener, then stretching with water (cream or yoghurt, and a bit of salt), you can freeze yummy little frozen snacky sticks of goodness! The stretch-ability of the sweetener and salt has a fantastic little side effect for us low-carbers. It dilutes the carbs naturally found in the fruits, allowing us to eat full flavored popsicles made from actual fruits! Through this method, you can eat a wider variety of fruits than you might ordinary eat while staying low-carb. I can envision a mellow pineapple pop. Can’t you?!
In addition to being cool on a hot day, inexpensive fun for the whole family, a great way to tickle the taste buds with the forbidden fruit and being a fun way to play with foods … popsicles also have two other FANTASTIC benefits. By nature, they are rooted in “portion control”. It’s not like a bottomless barrel of ice cream. It’s just a single ice-olated pop! Finally … popsicles last! You can make a big batch and stash them in the freezer where they’ll live for weeks and months! They don’t go bad in a day or two. This means you can make a variety of flavors and save them up … for a bright and sunny day!
Note: The mold used for these popsicles is the Tovolo Star Ice Pop Mold.
Crepe Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Pesto
Pasta! Ahhhh … pasta. I don’t know about you, but for me … pasta. PASTA! Pasta was probably one of my personal biggest downfalls. It’s easy to make, it lives in boxes in the cupboard … seemingly forever, it’s filling, comforting and delicious. It seems like the perfect food! Too bad it’s got virtually no nutritional value and almost killed me!
Ahhhhh … pasta.
I can’t be alone in my relationship with pasta. Pasta would trump a sweet treat any day. Internally, it’s all more or less doing the same thing … insulin runs rampant telling my body to save all that glucose for the day that I awake in a land without food. It’s a survival mechanism. Thanks for watching my back, extra glucose!
Mmmmm … pasta.
I’m often asked about pasta. Sure there are “low-carb” pastas on the market, which are tasty, quick and easy, just like the real thing. Unfortunately, they are almost TOO close to the real thing and tend to cause nasty cravings and brain fog. There are also Miracle Noodles and Kelp Noodles, which are both great and absolutely perfect for a low-carb lifestyle, but … they don’t quite carry that same allure. They’re both texturally different, require a bit of extra fanoodling and neither are terribly yum with a European style preparation. I just can’t imagine crunchy seaweed noodles with a meaty Bolognese. *shudder*
These little crepe noodles come about as close as I’ve come to a noodle which pulls from the flavors you give it. They have a wonderful texture (not as slide-y as a good noodle, but still quite nice!). They hold up well on the end of a fork, they can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes, they’re super low-carb, and are just flat out delicious! Do they hit the same spot as a box of delicious horror? Nope! Not quite, but … SOOOOO close!
Worth the effort. I promise you!
Note: The crepe recipe is a fantastic recipe. For a good year, I’d make a batch or two at the beginning of the week and just use the sheets for wraps, pasta, casseroles and desserts. I can’t stress enough how versatile and awesome these crepes really are.
Chicken Noodles with Asparagus, Artichokes and Pine Nuts
A little while back, I was sent a huge number of links to a video with Rocco DiSpirito on a Rachel Ray show. He’d apparently invented something akin to the cure for cancer or … time travel. He’d come up with a way to make pasta … out of chicken! (cue the dramatic music!)
The big question repeatedly sent to me was … “WHA?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?!”
To decode that inquisitive exclamation, people wanted to know if that was possible. Could pasta really be made out of chicken? When I saw the video, I was intrigued! I knew what it was and what was happening, and definitely agreed that it was clever, but … how would it taste?
First of all, let’s take a look at the original video:
What we have here is a chicken emulsion. I’m a big fan of emulsions and use them regularly, as seen in this Crab Cake Recipe, or this Béarnaise Sauce. It’s actually not entirely unlike a very long and thin chicken sausage. Imagine a hot dog, but much much thinner, much much longer and without a casing to hold it all together. That is essentially what this “pasta” is! A really really really really long chicken weiner!
At first, I was a bit skeptical. I knew it would work, but often times these kinds of recipes only really work under a series of magical circumstances (like being on a big sound stage in front of a live studio audience). Whatever was in that squirt bottle had been tested and tweaked and tested again. I would’ve been FAR more impressed had they used the stuff they actually blended onstage. However, there is a recipe on the page, so … I tried it. IT WORKED!
Take a look at the world’s worst YouTube video. I never meant for this video to be recorded, but … as I was swirling the squirt bottle in spirals, an iPhone was pointed at me … and the following footage was recorded:
As I said … worst video, evah! (it’s a start, though … I can really only go UP from here!)
The proof, as they say, is in the weird chicken emulsion. It does work! It makes long strands of noodle-like pasta-y stuff! How does it taste? (cue the dramatic music!)
It kind of tastes like a cross between something related to a chicken sausage, somehow, and … a Styrofoam cup. Sure, it’s long noodles and is a bit deceptive to the eyes, but … IT AIN’T PASTA. It may look like a pasta and quack like a pasta, but … it ain’t a pasta. However … it wasn’t totally awful, either. I did my best to turn it into something kind of light and springy. The end result was kind of cool! It was an interesting dish, in that these are ingredients that would taste awesome over a chicken scallopini, for example. In fact, that’s sort of what it is, except that … the chicken looks like pasta. In the end, I was quite pleased with it. It looked good and tasted great, but … the next time I’m craving pasta … it won’t be a craving for this, sad-to-say.
Notey Notes: The little hole in my squirt bottle was a bit too large. A smaller hole would’ve produced thinner strands, which likely would’ve given a better mouth feel. Also, there is a reason they were looking for the blender stick in the original video. The stuff is like sticky glue and you need to keep pushing it into the blades to get it silky smooth. I have an old beat up blender I picked up at a garage sale. New, it was probably worth about $5.99. Let’s just say that this concoction put my blender to a smokey test. It worked, but my blender was none too thrilled with me! Finally, I recommend drying the noodles on a paper towel before tossing into a sauce. They aren’t terribly flavorful. So, any extra water you might be throwing in will only just dilute things further. Finally, I think that adding a small amount of raw bacon (about 1 oz), in place of 1 oz of chicken, will do wonders for this pasta! It will add a bit of fat and give it a bit more salt and character. Plus … it’s BACON!!!
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