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Nutrition Monday: Grandmother's Goodies

April 19, 2010

This past weekend was a bit of a nutritional challenge for me, but man was it good.  I went to visit my Grandmother – and being a good Southern family, we call her MaMa instead of Grandma or whatever other more generic grandmotherly names you might imagine.  Though in the South, MaMa is a pretty common term for grandmother.  It’s a little more casual and down home than the more formal “Grandmother” (though my other Grandmother, was always, well, “Grandmother,” and she was the warmest, most casual person you’d ever meet – a far cry from the steely soap opera “Grandmother”), but not straight up country like Mee-Maw.  Please.  We do have a little class.  😉

Anyhow, MaMa is an AMAZING Southern cook.  She measures nothing, even when baking cornbread and biscuits, but everything comes out perfectly.  This woman’s cornbread is to die for.  I actually imagine that when I do die, I’ll pass through the Pearly Gates and someone will hand me a pan of MaMa’s cornbread and tell me the calories no longer matter!  When we used to go visit when I was a kid, MaMa always had a huge meal waiting for us on the kitchen table of the farmhouse she and my PaPa lived in until I was a teenager.  They weren’t actually on a farm, but their property backed up to one, and my summers consisted of feeding the cows next door, helping PaPa in the garden, and helping MaMa shuck peas.  This was quite the adventure for the city kid, and I still long for it every now and then, even though I’m a dyed in the wool East Coast city type.  Anyway, the meal on that farmhouse kitchen table usually had anywhere from 5-7 vegetables, cooked with bacon fat, and always including fried okra, mashed potatoes, biscuits, cornbread, fresh sliced tomatoes, and 1-2 meats (either fried chicken, ham, or roast beef).  Did I mention the woman weighs all of maybe 120 pounds?  Further proof that life is not fair.

Well, MaMa is 84 now, and she doesn’t cook nearly as often as she used to, but when we got there on Friday afternoon, she had the spread waiting.  This time it was roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, pinto beans, creamed corn, and biscuits.  Well, seeing as MaMa doesn’t cook much anymore, and she had gone to all this trouble, there’s no way on God’s green earth I was going to pass up this meal.  But I did portion control pretty well!  I loaded up on green beans and roast beef, had mashed potatoes as my main starch, passed on the corn, and had just a couple of spoonfuls of the pinto beans.  Oh – and I did have biscuit.  an extra starch given what I try to eat normally, but worth every buttery mouthful.  So I navigated that part of the trip pretty well.

That evening I went to the store and bought some deli meat and fruit, as well as my low cal ice cream treats to have at night.  This was my attempt to give myself all the tools I needed to stick to my plan through the weekend in the midst of all this deliciousness.  And I did okay.  I ran every day near the town square and around a pretty little pond uptown, and I stuck to my meal plans.  Until Saturday night.  I was there with family, and MaMa always has the best junk food stash.  Not for her, really, but for grandkids, and more these days – great-grandkids.  Bugles, Fritos, Sugar Cookies…  Mmmm…  Lots of memories of eating all that stuff late at night with PaPa when he was still living.  And I’d had a really stressful couple of weeks, and others started eating the Sugar Cookies, and well…  You see where this is headed…  I started eating the cookies, too.  And the Bugles.  And the Fritos.  Help me Jesus.

The damage wasn’t so bad.  Probably barely enough to gain a fraction of a pound, and probably a fraction of a pound that will easily be erased by next weekend’s weigh in, but old habits that reared their ugly heads nonetheless.  And I let myself enjoy it, like I mentioned in my post on cravings recently.  But I was still mad at myself, because I wasn’t even hungry!  But I was at MaMa’s house – and that’s what we’d always done there…  Oh well, I knew it would be tough, but I caved in more than I had planned.  I had a great time seeing her and my other family that lives in her town, but I’m glad to be home with my normal food, too.

What about you?  Do you fall into old eating habits when you visit family?

  1. April 19, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    p.s. That photo of MaMa and me is from January, I’ve lost about 20-30 additional pounds since then!

  2. April 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    that’s all my family ever did was eat. ha! I find it a lot easier now that I know why I’m not eating certain things, but it’d be hard to turn down a homecooked southern meal!

  3. Erin
    April 20, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Very cool photo of you two. It made my eyes well up! I’m glad you can still enjoy MaMa’s cooking. My Gramma’s been gone 3 1/2 years now and I miss her dearly. And her cooking…well, don’t get me started on her food, cuz I miss it so much! If I could go back in time and have one last meal with Gramma before she passed away, I would chow down like a starving child and beg her for her “recipes!” I can’t be mad at you for chowing down a bit! Savor the time with her, and that includes her food!!!

    Food is still tempting at family events, but portion control is the key. I load up on the relish tray and take small portions of the other stuff.

    • April 20, 2010 at 9:00 PM

      Thanks for that nice comment, Erin. My other Grandmother died eight years ago, and she was a fantastic cook, too. She cooked with more recipes, though, so we have most of her stuff and can replicate it on demand no problem. With MaMa, we’ve had to observe pretty carefully, and we can duplicate some of her signature dishes pretty well, now. For baking, we even had her make cornbread a few years back, and went behind her to measure everything – and the recipe came out perfectly!!! I can make it anytime I want, which is awesome!

      And you’re totally right on portion control! Amen to that one.

    • April 21, 2010 at 1:45 PM

      awww….I love gramma stories.

  4. April 20, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Some success and some stumblings. All-in-all a great weekend from the sounds of it.

    And yeah, it’s hard to stay on point around my family, but I do my best–and they’re even trying to eat better, too! How cool is that?

  5. Meg
    April 20, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I know how that can be, but I try not to get to down on myself when it does. After all, we’re only human and sometimes, **** happens. Especially on vacations. As long as you jump back from it, that’s all that matters, right?

  6. April 20, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    What a nice pic of you and your grandma!

    As I’m sure you’ve read on my blog, my Italian mother-in-law does the whole spread every Friday! I am getting better at navigating these situations. One thing that’s hard is that she keeps making fresh baked chocolate chip cookies every week. It’s torture seeing everyone else eat as many as they can shovel in, while I’m trying to be careful!

    • April 20, 2010 at 8:55 PM

      Oh wow – that would be really tough (and/or really amazing – I’m not quite sure!) to face the spread every week. Fresh baked cookies are freakin’ impossible to pass up. I’m sure there are some inhuman types out there who can go right by them – but not me. I mean, COME ON, fresh baked cookies?!?! You gotta have at least one. Oh damn. I feel a craving coming on now… Good thing I don’t keep cookie dough in the house and I’m too exhausted to bake from scratch tonight!

  7. April 21, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    I definitely know what you mean – my mom is an amazing cook, so anytime we eat over there, it’s tough not to overdo it!

  8. April 21, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    I loved reading about your visit with MaMa…like Erin said, savor every minute…every bite.

    I just loved this post.

  9. Amanda
    April 22, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Great story, great post, great picture. Thanks for sharing! I agree with the others, savor every moment and every bite. I miss my MawMaw’s biscuits, but more than that I miss the love that she dished out every time we came over. I identified so much with this post. Nothing like a true Southern lady or a true Southern meal.

    You’re doing great!

  1. April 20, 2010 at 9:18 PM
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