This is the story of how a foodie fell in love with a fitness fanatic. Well, okay let's be real. We met on the internet and fell in love shortly thereafter. So really, it's more like the story of how a foodie and a fitness fanatic coexist in harmony.
I love food. I love cooking and experimenting with new ingredients and flavors. Making someone I love a really delicious, labor-intensive meal is one of my most joyful activities, and one of the truest expressions of my love. So imagine my surprise when I fell in love with someone who cares more about macros than macaroons.
If it were up to my fiance, he'd eat a balanced diet of steamed broccoli, scrambled egg whites (no salt), and baked salmon. He loves to eat, don't get me wrong. He just prefers to prioritize the nutritional content over flavor. Meanwhile, I'm looking across the table like "So... does this mean you don't want to split the lobster mac and cheese?" For this union to remain harmonious, I knew I'd have to get creative with my cooking.
So, how do we find the balance between indulgence and restriction? Here are a few of the ways we make it work.
Set the non-negotiables
There are bound to be a few small things on either side that will make a big difference. For example, I know JC doesn't want a lot of salt in his food, so I agree to omit it when cooking most of the time, and add it only to my own dish afterwards. But every rule has its exceptions. I will always add salt to potatoes, a tough cut of meat, or cook with it as I normally would when we host guests for dinner. The rest of the time, I agree to set the shaker aside. We also use cooking oil sparingly (about 1/2 TBS for every pound of meat), and I always always measure all the ingredients so that he knows exactly what the nutritional breakdown is of every meal. Once you have your rules established, you can start to experiment within your parameters, which is where the fun begins.
Try different cooking techniques
I don't know about you, but I can only eat the same grilled chicken and steamed veggies so many times. For this reason, I have a lot of cooking gadgets, and I use all of them. Instead of eating steamed broccoli, sometimes I'll toss it in just a little olive oil and lightly char them in a pan. Sometimes you can even find a way to make the same meal two ways using different methods of cooking, and it can give you an entirely different spin. For example, recently I made grilled mojo pork chops and we loved them. A couple weeks later when we had friends over and I needed to feed a crowd, I made the same meal, but used a pork tenderloin in the crock pot, but used all the same marinade ingredients. After cooking all day, I shredded it up before serving, and we had a meal that felt really different even though the ingredients were exactly the same.
Try recipes from all over the world
The wonderful thing about spices is that as long as you aren't using blends that already contain salt, there is no caloric intake. New spices alone can make a plain chicken breast taste completely different! If I'm getting bored of the meals we have in rotation, I'll look for recipes from a different part of the world. And, as an added bonus, it usually strikes up a conversation about travel (a passion we both share).
In the future I think I'll share some of the healthy recipes we come up with that satisfy my fascination for food and my fiance's nutritional goals. How do you cook healthy meals that pack a lot of flavor?