You may be thinking “Why on earth would Sweetie Pie put a picture of cottage cheese on the top of her page? Is she mad? ” I promise you, I’m not… well, I might be a little bit mad– but only in a good way.
My thinking as to what constitutes a “treat” has gone through a transformation. I used to automatically think that a treat was something that I shouldn’t be eating. It was probably a cupcake or a milkshake or some other form of sugary goodness. Even though I really like the way I eat now, I still think treats are necessary to stave off feelings of deprivation. Sometimes I do have treats of the cupcake/milkshake variety. Cupcakes and milkshakes are yummy, and it is possible to fit them into my style of eating on occasion. Now that I’ve changed my eating habits, however, I sometimes find treats in unexpected places.
I take the metro to work every day. I start off on the orange line and ride into the District. I then have to switch to the red line and go two additional stops to get to my office. Sometimes after work, if the weather is nice, I like to walk the red line portion of the trip. It only takes about 20 minutes, and I figure the more steps I take in a day the better. The other evening, there was a problem on the red line. It was quite chilly, so the weather did not meet my “nice” criteria, but I decided to walk anyway. Walking in the cold seemed like a much better alternative than standing around indefinitely on the crowded metro platform and getting closely acquainted with a lot of other grumpy commuters who just wanted to go home.
The walk to the orange line takes me past one of my very favorite shops in D.C.: The Cowgirl Creamery. This is a lovely store full of beautiful displays of wine, amazing cases of cheese, and shiny bottles, jars and tins of things to go along with them. When you walk past the store, the smell of the cheese sort of drifts out the door and beckons you to come inside. I love cheese! When cheese invites me somewhere, I go.
The Cowgirl Creamery sells many of their own products, and an extensive array of cheeses made by other dairies as well. As much as I love their aged cheeses, I have to say that my favorite thing to pick up at the Cowgirl is their clabbered cottage cheese. The taste and the texture amaze me. Cottage cheese? A treat? You bet!
I used to hate cottage cheese unless it was in some sort of fluffy salad at Christmastime. At some point, I decided to give it another shot, and I tried the Breakstone cottage doubles. The little packages basically just contain cottage cheese and jam. While I like them just fine, they seem a bit overpriced to me for what you get. I can get a lot more by buying a big carton of cottage cheese and a jar of jam and just making my own. For a treat, I’d rather buy my “special” cottage cheese and some fancy jam.
Interesting jams and jellies also qualify as treats in my book– although admittedly less virtuous from a nutrition standpoint than the cottage cheese. I like to stir them into my hot cereals in the morning, smear them on a piece of high fiber bread with a little bit of peanut butter as a snack, add them to plain fat free Greek yogurt, and, yes, put them in my cottage cheese. If I carefully measure out 1/2 of a Tablespoon (most jams and jellies seem to declare a Tablespoon to be a serving, but I scoff at that. Also, you can tell from the picture that I would rather weigh my 1/2 a T using grams than dirty up a measuring spoon), the points damage is minimal, but the enjoyment value is high. What’s more, there are usually lots of interesting varieties available. I think I’m on a quest to try them all! I just opened a jar of Dalmatia fig and orange spread the other day, and that is what I decided to add to my cottage cheese. The combination was definitely a treat!
In case you are thinking: “So, Sweetie Pie, what is your point? Are you saying that we should all eat cottage cheese and jam in place of cupcakes when we want a treat?” The answer is: of course not. My point is simply that finding treats that are better for you– often special versions of a food that you normally eat anyway– make it easier to treat yourself on a daily basis without derailing healthy eating habits. Other things in this category for me are fresh pineapple (not the canned stuff), pomegranates, honeycrisp apples, Medjool dates, cocoa roasted almonds… the list goes on. By buying some “special” foods that are still pretty healthy or, at the very least, satisfying in smaller amounts, I’m able to treat myself often, and I’m convinced that this will help to sustain the joy I have in my new healthy eating habits for a long time to come.
Do you have a favorite unexpected treat? I’d love to hear about it!