Tag Archives: Nutella

NOTELLA: How I Gave Up Nutella (In Honor of World Nutella Day)

5 Feb

Man eats entire jar of Nutella in one setting.

For those friends who read about my life on Facebook, I think it is clearly that I have had a longstanding Nutella addiction. They may be shocked to know that it has been almost two months since I have touched this ambrosial treat and that it is going to be a long time before I get near it again. In fact, I had just bought five jars (five!) before I quit, and I gave them all away. What happened?

The addiction started so innocently . .. when we went on a trip to Italy a few years ago, we stopped in a beautiful airport in Germany. As we passed the duty-free shop, we saw a jar of Nutella bigger than an overstuffed pocketbook. In American it would be maybe a gallon or two. In Foreign, it would be “a bunch of litres” or something (when will they EVER get that right?) It was an AMAZINGLY big jar of nutella. One you could easily stick your entire head in.

I had never been OVERLY attracted to Nutella. I could not quite understand the charm of putting peanut-butter-like chocolate on toast. I liked in crepes with bananas, oui. But otherwise, it was a take-it-or-leave-it food item. I’d buy it and forget about it, just the way I occasionally have to buy maple sugar candy and never eat it (reminds me of childhood) and lemon curd (reminds me of my friend Ceci, who Makes. Her. Own.) However, I guess you can say that advertising works, because the image of this six gallon container of Nutella suddenly went back into my brainstem and signaled my lizard brain to be primed for Nutella.

When I got home from vacation, Nutella was with me. And so it was every day for more than a year. Unless someone rudely cooked me pancakes or eggs, I had Nutella, fruit, and bread every single day. I tried to keep it to the recommended two tablespoon serving size (200 calories) and have three pieces of fruit (point-free on the new improved Weight Watchers) and a piece of bread. But over time, somehow the proportions weren’t right. I was still hungry after one piece of bread, so I needed one and a HALF pieces of bread. And then I’d need a little more Nutella to go ON the bread. And my weight was going up. Mostly from some of the nasty meds I’m taking, mind you, but the Nutella obsession wasn’t helping. It also wasn’t helping that I wasn’t getting any protein in the morning. Although I usually eat very little in the day, often I would find myself having an afternoon snack of more bread, Nutella, and fruit. It’s basically all I WANTED to eat, though I would make and eat a proper dinner every day. I figured, so I’m getting at least four or five pieces of fruit, PLUS at least two vegetables at dinner, so that’s a pretty healthy diet, right?

One day I was at Weight Watchers when this very thin and VERY pleased woman who has lost something like 50 pounds in 8 months, talked about a product she had discovered at the local supermarket called PB2. PB2 is dried peanut butter. Don’t gag! Two tablespoons have pretty much all the same nutrition values as regular peanut butter, but instead of 200 calories for two Tbsp., it has 40. You just mix it with water and it has pretty much the same consistency (though a little more granular) as regular peanut butter. I bought a jar (expensive—about $5.50, but that’s okay) of this miracle product and tried it. Then I got a brilliant idea: What if I added some PB2 to my Nutella and cut the number of calories it would have.? So I did. I added a little—fine. More—fine. More—suddenly, the Nutella didn’t taste that good anymore. It tasted kind of salty. Not terrible, but just not like pure magic.

And that is the last time I ate Nutella. Eating it with PB2 broke the spell. I thought, “There are other things I could eat in the morning. Savory things. I have to think savory, not sweet. I have to think of protein.” I don’t know about you guys, but I can go on long food jags where I am obsessed with one food or another and eat it day after day. So I decided to go back and try some different things before I settled on what I really wanted for breakfast. At first, it was what we call Granddaddy Frank Eggs, which for you civilians means cut up pieces of buttered toast in a bowl with soft-boiled eggs cracked into it. Delicious. I tried oatmeal with apples cooked into it. Also delicious. But I think I have found my new go-to-breakfast: The Steamer Delight. Here’s what I do: I take a bag of those steamer vegetables—broccoli, mixed veg, whatever, and cook it. While it’s cooking, I heat up the frying pan and spray some Pam into it. Then I hunt around and see if there are any bits of leftovers I want to throw in (onions? Vegetables? Bits of potato?) and toss them in the frying pan. The microwave dings, I cut open my steamers into the pan with some vegetable oil spray until they are a little more dried out and possibly slightly browned. I add an egg, a little bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and voila. Breakfast. It makes a lot of food—about three cups of deliciousness—and if I don’t feel like eating it all in one sitting, I can snack out of the pan all morning. And it’s really quite nutritious. An egg, of course, has protein and all kinds of good things, and today’s bag of Steamers(Italian blend—carrots, broccoli, zucchini, lima beans, green beans, cauliflower and red peppers), had for one serving (and there were 4.5 in the bag, so you math geniuses can figure it out) 30 calories, 8 percent of vitamin A, 25 percent of Vitamin C, 2 percent of Calcium, 2 percent of iron, 8 percent of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. So, for example, for 135 calories I got almost half of the ten servings of fruits and vegetables I aspire to, more than 100 percent of the vitamin C, about 40 percent of my daily fiber, 8 percent of my iron (plus the egg gave me 12 percent more protein, four percent more iron, 10 percent Vitamin D, zinc, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamins B 5 and 12. .. Oh my god, I think I can officially kick butt now with that power breakfast. Watch out, world!

It’s funny how your imagination or your taste buds or SOMETHING can suddenly make you change a behavior you’ve had for a long time without regret. I loved my year of Nutella (okay, year and a half) of Nutella. I just had enough. I didn’t force myself to quit. I just preferred to try something different.

Writing Prompt: Have you ever had the experience of giving up something that you formerly loved suddenly and without regret?

July is Journaling Month 6: Your Favorite Place

11 Jul


“Spinning class, brought to you by Citi Bike!” (courtesy of the talented Maria Chang)

Nobody should be dressed in the full white plastic body armor of a Federation stormtrooper on a steamy July day. After all, It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.  but there he was, leaning against a garbage can on 42nd street , shoulders slumped. He looked too tired for the indignity of begging tourists to take photos with him and give him a tip. What a painful way of making a living, I thought. But then I think the same of all the Elmos, Minnie Mouses, gold-painted Statues of Liberty, Spidermen, the Naked Cowboy and his new competitor, the Naked Indian, and other characters who roam Times Square, hoping for a buck or two from the one out of 100 or more who pass by with indifference or mild curiosity, jostling with the vast crowds that pour through the area. I feel poignant wonder at what leads a person to that kind of thankless, excruciating job. I wonder—what is that man’s story? And that is why I love New York. Because it is filled with wonder and stories and questions. That very plump family sitting next to me at Mickie D’s where I’m having a very large and icy diet Coke and finishing my$%@#$  captions for my bee book  sounds as if they’re speaking French, but it’s not really French—is it even Indo-European? Are the two black men who have their arms around each others’ shoulders brothers or lovers? What is the story of the large statue at a park on 33rd Street of Minerva presiding over two bell ringers and a massive bell that says “New York.”  (I read on—the statue once actually worked like a clock on the New York Herald Building back in the day, the two brawny bronze workers actually hammering the giant bell once an hour). Now, the park is guarded by fierce owl statues on pedestals, symbols of Minerva).  Why Minerva? I can’t remember what she has to do with bell ringing. I see rows of Citibikes, my husband’ s new passion, and see Citibike riders in the new bike lanes of the much-improved city since the dark days of the 80s. Everywhere, busy walkers weave up and down the streets, creating new tableaus of color and expression.

I had gotten to Penn Station at 12:44 and started walking east from 7th Ave. Old men talk with big hand gestures by the side of the road, next to rusty chained up bikes, with those ubiquitous old man flat caps. A monk in a long white robe and short white cape struggles along with his cape, long string of rosary beads dangling from his belt and carrying a small black  pocketbook, or, I guess the kindest thing I can call it is a Murse. Where is he going? How does he keep that robe so white? I’d have Nutella stains on it in two seconds.

“Que calor!,” says one middle-aged woman to another, fanning her face with her hand. A guy has cut his hair so the top looks like a pencil eraser. A Korean guy wear a button down shirt in an eye-popping tangerine.Has he been in this country long? I have seen so many young Korean immigrant men slowly change their bright, imaginative wardrobes to the duller, more subdued American style of dressing. It seems a pity, as if we clip the wings of their creativity so they can fit in.

“Job jobs jobs, 10 to eighteen dollars an hour” calls one man.

A tour guide tries to yell over him, “Affordable prices, guys, check it out. Affordable prices.”

I pass through the garment district and its wholesale clothes— “Al por Mayor.” Affair Lady Evening Gowns, Fashion 5, Alamoda, Janique—sparkly gowns, ridiculous hats with gauze and feathers, “fascinators” with stiff spiral ribbon-covered whirls—who buys that stuff? And who thought “Affair Lady Evening Gowns” was a good name? Not a native speaker, I’m guessing. And the furs!! I am dripping with sweat and my feet burn. The air feels thick enough to eat with a spoon.

“Anywhere special you want to go?” asks tourist Mom.

“The Diamond District!” says teen daughter. I wonder what they’ll think of the street of sparkling gems and the little shops of Chasidim and Indian merchants–merchants from everywhere.

Old and new buildings mix together. The details on Art Deco buildings are full of symbolic meaning. One I love is a doorway framed with elegantly carved peacocks, and one stern word carved in Roman style capitals. “FREIGHT” it says—from a time when work and workers were honored. . .

Oh, so much more to say about New York City, its secrets and its iconic places. Everyone knows what New York is like, but it never runs out of surprises. It is unoriginal to love it, and yet it is filled with such originality.  It is so sad, so sweet. And being there feels like a fresh breeze on your back, even on a day hot and moist enough to stew your flesh.

Writing Prompt #6: What’s a place you love? What does it feel like to be there?

What I Learn from Eating With Mi Won.

30 May

I wanted to share a little bit more about why I felt so deeply affected by the LIRR massacre that I was sobbing and holding on tight to Mi Kyung’s, and now Mi Won’s friend Juey at last night’s movie viewing. Mi Kyung Kim was one of the six who were murdered on the 5:33 train, and I was Mi Won’s boss. I watched this young woman, tiny and beautiful, become as strong as steel while at the same time, searching for the joy in life. Yesterday, for example, she insisted that we try some of the delicacies at the Madison Square food festival and have little bits of this and that. We sat at a table under large umbrellas where we ate treats such as curried chicken empanadas and a dessert she specifically wanted me to try–an, I hope I remember correctly, arrancini? It was an Italian-style rice ball, but this one was filled with Nutella and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Delicious. Of course. Rain was pouring down, but we didn’t care–we talked and talked. And then, there was another unusual market she’d heard about in Tribeca, so we hopped on the subway and dashed downtown before the movie premier, drank tea, and met up with her friend Juey. I love going out with Mi Won because she loves adventures and sometimes eating a single meal can involve going to four places, each for something different–maybe soup dumplings, or rice pudding, or to Beecher’s Cheese on 20th Street where they make their own cheese in plain view of the customers in large metal vats. “You command, I obey,” I tell her when we go on these outings. They are never disappointing. As I sat near her yesterday, and saw her eyes glittering with tears (feeling faintly jealous because I never saw anyone cry so beautifully–no red cheeks, runny nose, or any of that nonsesnse) on film, a thought came to my mind, one that I haven’t yet asked her. I wondered if a little taste of every delicious experience she has is dedicated to Mi Kyung, if there isn’t a little part of her that isn’t offering up the gift of joyful life, a life that must not be wasted, to her sister. I must confess that I feel a little bit of that toward Mi Kyung, and also toward the thousands of people whose ashes were scattered in our hair when we worked downtown after 9/11, as the fires burned for months. When I am with Mi Won, I sometimes feel not just alive, but FIERCELY alive. Watching her suffer was–has been–still is–terrible, and yet her incredible strength of character, her will, her courage, make me think I am blessed to have such a friend, to remind me of the beauty in our problematic, difficult, unsafe and fragile world.


September Statistics, Part 2

2 Oct

–lesson I failed to learn once again: bananas and pocketbooks don’t mix.

–most distressing thing I can’t find at the moment: 8-CD library book

–Crops that are finally starting to come in: raspberries, sugar snap peas, green beans, purple beans, wax beans, tomatoes (mostly Brandywine), raspberries, baby bok choy, collard greens, pattypan squash, broccoli florets.

–times sister has called me: 12

–percentage of phone calls by sister that started with a song: 100%

–number of miles ridden by the Mr. this month on his bike: 489

–Number ridden Sunday on Pumpkin Patch Pedal: 100.

–Pieces of pumpkin pie eaten by husband at 80 mile mark: 2

–Days on which I consumed more than 5 pieces of fruit: 30

–Weight lost: 0 pounds.

–Nutella consumed: no comment

–Most recent question asked by husband: “Why do they call something with chorizo a side dish?”

–What he’s teaching right now: The Upanishads and Wuthering Heights

–Very happy occasion: My mother’s birthday.

Free prompt! What makes your mother amazing?