As you know if you’ve hung in there with me all this time, I started Weight Watchers last February. I stopped it this summer, hoping to “enjoy my time off” with the boys, but still made a conscious effort to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and to not snack in front of the TV every night. But this fall I started graduate school, and all my healthy eating habits went out the window. I just feel like I can’t have too many limits, or things I have to control, in my life. I knew I’d have to keep myself to a strict schedule to get my schoolwork done, and I didn’t think I could handle that plus a strict diet. Besides, it was really important for me to get my winter layer of fat on so I wasn’t freezing my ass off everywhere I went. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
All told, I lost 17 lbs on Weight Watchers in about four months. Enough for me to go down a size in both my jeans and my tops. I have since gained back about 4 lbs. Which actually doesn’t feel too bad, considering I went from a pretty regimented diet to eating cookie dough out of the bowl at least four nights a week. (Just kidding. Sort of.) My winter layer has settled itself directly around my middle, and I have a bit of a muffin top in my smaller-sized jeans, but nothing a shapeless cardigan can’t handle. I’m in my second semester of school and now that I’ve got my routine down, am strongly considering joining WW again. This is nothing new, but when I eat better, I feel better. Lately I’ve been getting migraines more often, and have been more tired than usual. And though I know in my head more vegetables leads to less overall discomfort with my body, I also know that sweets bring me a feeling of coziness and contentment, and that instinct is as old as the day my mother handed me my first bowl of cookie dough.
So for now, I eat my chicken pot pie with a side of extra celery. My morning granola with a healthy dose of strawberries. I allow myself brief jaunts into the past when I eat ramen at lunch (so comforting, so reminiscent of my college days, when I’d eat the noodly soup out of my oversized Friends mug). And I eat sweets in the evenings. I know that the sooner I change my habits, the healthier I’ll feel. But trying to say adios to my sweet tooth after 35 years is a lot harder than I thought.
I wanted to share a recipe that I kind of made up myself. You probably make some version of this too, but if not, I highly recommend it. It’s warm, hearty, and satisfying on a cold winter night.
Pasta with broccoli and sausage
Prep time: 30 minutes. Serves 6.
2 broccoli crowns (or more, depending on your preference)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb bow tie pasta (any short pasta you like is fine)
1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage
4 oz Pecorino, Asiago, Parmesan, or other hard Italian cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with hands, coating evenly. Place into preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until slightly brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile meanwhile, remove sausage from casing, if any, and brown in a frying pan, breaking up sausage into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
To assemble, place roasted broccoli, cooked pasta, cooked sausage, and grated cheese into a large bowl. Toss to combine, adding more cheese to taste. Plate and serve.
I make this kid-friendly by keeping the ingredients separate. My kids don’t like roasted broccoli (even though it takes like French fries, hello!) so they get pasta with butter, raw broccoli, and a serving of sausage. They really like this meal and sometimes even ask for seconds! I hope you and your family enjoy it too.