Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How I Serve My Family Dessert Every Night (and Not Gain Weight)

When I tell people that I do, indeed, make dessert just like my grandma did for years for my family I'll get a baffled look in my general direction and the remark, "But, how do you stay thin doing that?"

I will let you in on the secret, well really the non-secret.

I used to be one of those people who thought dessert and sweets were evil because as soon as I'd actually eat them it seemed like it went straight to my thighs and waistline.  The easiest way to stop this, so I thought, was to just not eat dessert.

Turns out what I really needed to do was just rethink the way I cooked.

See, when I first started my fascination with WWII and rationing it quickly led me into looking into how my grandmother's generation did...well everything.  I really admired the women's ability of that generation to keep clothes done, their house clean and food on the table when they didn't have the time saving devices we have today.  On top of the fact that most families only had one car!

One thing I learned very quickly when I started looking at VINTAGE recipes, not recipes redone to modern ways of doing things, was that the portions back in my grandma's generation?  They were MUCH smaller.  A typical cake was NOT a 9x13 pan of cake, but instead an 8" cake and a single layer cake at that.  And recipes for dinner, for instance, if it called for a dinner to serve four people, there was only four of say, potatoes, that you'd cook.

Basically, they made enough to feed people one portion per meal.  There wasn't going back for seconds.  If you were still hungry after eating dinner than you went with a piece of fruit or other snack or you ate dessert.  That is how it was done.

Which really, if you think of the lack of refrigeration through a good portion of those people's lives, this made sense.  Why would you make enough for leftovers if the leftovers would go bad before you had a chance to eat them?

I figured this way of thinking could definitely translate to our modern world.  Our portions now a days are ridiculously huge and we waste a lot of food because of it.  I mean how many times per week do you go through your fridge and end up throwing out some leftover something or other that you'd forgotten about and was resembling a life form from another planet?

 So, I started cooking less.  If I'm making, say chicken thighs, I make enough that I know my family will eat at THAT meal.  I assume that one portion will be enough to feed each person (I figure portions based on what we typically eat at one meal).  Period.  If there is something left over now, it's not much, and I consider it a bonus for me to eat for lunch the next day.  And, since kids are always hungry, I started making dessert so they'd have a little extra something to help fill them up if they are still hungry after dinner. 

And, it works.  By doing this we waste less food to the point we usually have to go to the dump once a month anymore (and honestly, if my son was off nighttime diapers and would drink something other than soda, I think we'd have to go a lot less than that).  It has also helped to shave a bit off of my grocery bill since I'm cooking less meat at one time now.  And I notice I'm more aware of what is actually left over at the end of a meal (say, canned vegetables) and I figure how another meal we can use the leftovers in so they don't go to waste.

And now I can eat dessert when I want because I know I didn't just consume my day's worth of calories at one meal.

It might not be a system for everyone, but for my family, it works.  And, so far anyway, I'm not gaining weight cooking this way.

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