Diet: Week 2, or Stone Cold Sober Book Club

I survived week one of my competitive diet, although I have the sad distinction of earning the lowest number of points on my team, and my team has the sad distinction of being in last place — probably entirely due to me. Sorry, Team 3! Not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but I HATE LOSING. The really sad part is I was quite pleased with my performance until I saw the scores. I didn’t realize I’d be competing with perfect people who earned perfect scores. The poor sport in me wants to call them all liars with dicey accounting practices, but the lady in me just says, “Nice work!”

In any event, I need to up my game. As we’ve established, alcohol is only permitted one day a week, and this week, I’ve decided to choose alcohol on Saturday for a variety of reasons not just because my mother is visiting for a few days. That meant that last night I got to experience book club in a new and exciting way for the first time ever. I believe the word I’m looking for is “sobriety.” It was so weird, like I was in another country and couldn’t quite grasp the nuances of the foreign language they were speaking. I could understand everyone, but I couldn’t really understand everyone, if you know what I’m saying. But fortunately for me, my book club is comprised of smart, funny, interesting women who don’t require the consumption of alcohol in order to be appreciated…although I won’t lie — everything is more fun after a few glasses of wine.

I did, however, use my weekly allotted “meal off” so I could enjoy all the fabulous food. And enjoy it I did! My friend Amy always goes above and beyond in providing book club goodies, and there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on that. I was so excited that she made our friend Lauren’s famous spinach and artichoke dip. I secretly suspect that Lauren is a Helllmann’s mayonnaise heiress, because whenever you ask her about her recipes, she insists that you only make it with real Hellmann’s mayonnaise. The only change I made was using fresh baby spinach instead of frozen spinach (too mushy and too hard to fully drain, in my opinion) because I think that works out better. Yes, I realize artichoke dips are a dime a dozen, especially at book clubs, but this the best one I ever had.

Lauren’s Famous Artichoke Dip

1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp Tabasco
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
2 cups Hellmann’s mayo
1/2 bag of baby spinach, chopped
1 can artichoke drained and “mushed”

Mix. Bake at 350 for 45 min

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Resentment Smoothie

I have a confession to make. Last week, I joined a competitive dieting team. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I am wondering what possessed me. Of course, all it takes is me walking into my closet to recall the answer. One good thing I will say about myself, however, is that when I make a commitment to other people, I always follow through, come hell or high water. It is only a four week program and week one ends tomorrow.

This is not a Biggest Loser style free for all. There are rules here — many, many, many rules, and lots of points to add and subtract. And spreadsheets. I would explain it, but if you’re truly interested, it’s probably easier to read the book: The Game On Diet by Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson. At its heart, it’s a very sensible eating program. Very balanced, very reasonable, but a lot of thinking about food and careful planning of FIVE perfectly balanced meals a day is involved. Oh, and 3 liters of water a day. And alcohol only one day a week. Aren’t you all dying to try it now?

Not thinking about food is what got me here in the first place, so I am hoping four weeks of hyper vigilance helps me adopt some good lifelong habits. I definitely feel better, even if the scale isn’t exactly moving as enthusiastically as I’d have hoped. But I do have that virtuous self righteousness that comes from eating enough vegetables, and that has to count for something. I also have one full day off a week and one full meal off a week, so no worries, I will still be cooking and sharing some old and new favorites. Having a food blog and dieting are somewhat incompatible, so I apologize in advance if the next few weeks here are boring/grumpy/uninspired.

My loyal readers will know that I had high hopes for my Vita-Mix blender. Sadly, it has been in hibernation for quite a while, but this game has given me a new appreciation for my Rolls Royce of blenders. I have yet to get to a point where smoothies taste like anything other than slightly pleasant flavored medicine to me, but I am all for the efficiency of cramming all of my dietary requirements into one puke green colored concoction and drinking it down like a good little soldier.

If any of you have any favorite smoothie recipes which are low in fat, low in sugar, high in fiber, high in protein, and contain at least one serving of vegetables (preferably leafy greens), I hope you will share them with me. I’ve never come across one that I can declare anything other than “healthy” or “edible,” but I am ever the optimist.