Sometimes I felt like this day would never arrive. After a few years of collecting recipe ideas, the summer of 2015 spent recipe testing, months of writing,...Read More
So Fugging Awesome
Here’s a thing you might not know: This blog used to be called “The Clothes Make The Girl,” and when I started it in 2008—purely to amuse myself during the long afternoons at my corporate job—I thought it was going to be a fashion blog. Seriously! My first post was called Every Day is a Good Excuse to Wear a Costume. Astute readers will notice that a fashion blog without photos (like I was writing) is a pretty major fail.
It wasn’t long—four posts, in fact—before I started posting about my CrossFit workouts and the healthy food I ate. That was a much better fit, and things spun out of control in the very best way possible from there.What was immediately apparent from my failed attempt at a style blog is that writing about fashion and style in a way that’s intelligent and engaging is very, very difficult.
The true masters of the form are Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan of the celebrity-fashion website GoFugYourself.
Gifted writers and searingly insightful, they manage to skewer the fashion without insulting the people, and they do it with humor, panache, pop culture shout outs, and literary references. Not for nothing, they’re also the authors of the thoroughly charming, surprisingly moving, can’t-put-it-down novel The Royal We, a fictional account of the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton, if William was actually named Nicholas and Kate was really a sweet, outspoken American with an irresistible twin sister who woos the prince’s brother who is not named Harry but is called Freddie. I’m not doing it complete justice with that description.
While reading it, I laughed out loud many times, gasped in shock, reached for tissues to blot my teary eyes on several occasions. It’s very sweet and fun and thoughtful and totally immersive. (The Royal We is part of my “Read-Again Faves” category on my Kindle, along with Jane Eyre, The Night Circus, The Historian, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Shadow of the Wind, and Dracula).
In addition to taking me away to England with their novel, the Fug Girls have given me the gifts of laughter and distraction more times than I can count with GoFugYourself, and that’s no small feat. Daily life—corporate or otherwise—can be painfully stressful, and those crucial moments of levity and companionship have often meant the difference between falling face-first into a pile of Reese’s peanut butter cups and opting for a cup of tea and a giggle instead.
I’m delighted and honored that Heather wrote the foreword for Well Fed Weeknights.
Although she’s not a full-time paleo team member, Well Fed and Well Fed 2 are in Heather’s cookbook collection. Take it away, Heather…
Let me begin with a confession: I’m not Paleo. What I am is a creature of habits. Bad ones. No, let’s say … sub-optimally healthy. I get stuck in eating ruts, and they’re usually tied to foods that only involve the word “vegetable” if it’s followed with “oil.”
I used to blame this on working from home. Every day I would park at my computer and type until I was too hungry to breathe, then grab some peanut butter and chips to wolf down at my desk, insisting I had no time for anything better. Right. Let’s be real: My job didn’t cause that. I did.
My permissive laziness made me a prisoner of my own cravings. (But… peanut butter! So sweet, so glorious, so simple, with just enough protein—read: more than zero—to pretend it’s good for me.) After years of making the quick and easy choice, I’d created a culinary monster. I could rationalize any snack. I put my comfort foods on pedestals, which gave them a dysfunctional power over me, like a song that won’t get out of your head until you give in and listen. I’d tell myself, “Not today,” and my cravings responded, “You’re fine! Do better tomorrow.” Lather, rinse, repeat. My stomach is a jerk, and it always won. I woke up one day undeniably heavier and sluggish, and in need of a jolt.
But I’m lousy at elimination diets: besides having two picky kids, a person with habits like I’ve described rarely does well going cold turkey. That’s how you end up weeping into a pile of actual cold turkey, which you are only devouring because you already mowed through everything in the house that’s dusted with artificial cheese powder. Instead, I wanted something I could execute incrementally, one lasting better choice at a time. No big drama; just no more excuses.
Well Fed and Well Fed 2 were my answers. Melissa’s conversational, empathetic style was the partner I needed, and her cook- books treat food like the treasure and pleasure it is. Her recipes aren’t about self-denial or sacrifice. They’re about flavor. They teem with it. They’re meals I want to cook, not as homework, but as hedonism. The Well Fed pad thai is so flavorful that I won’t eat the original anymore; the plantain nachos, a snacker’s and taco lover’s paradise. And what are noodles, really, but handy delivery systems for mouth-water- ing sauces? It’s not the starch, but what you plonk on it. Zucchini spirals can totally hang with a rich Bolognese, without the pants-popping consequences. My stomach still wins; the victory is just sweeter.
Well Fed Weeknights makes those battles even easier to fight. When life gets in the way and I have to whip up dinner fast, it’s too easy to revert to Sandwich Hour.
I need healthy, tempting variety that I can still make even if I only went to the store 15 minutes ago. Melissa to the rescue. Again.
If you’re already Paleo, I admire you. I haven’t gotten there. But if you’re not, these books are still your best weapon. Paleo can be a fantastic lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it’s your lifestyle, and Mel gets that. Instead, start slowly. Pick a Well Fed recipe that makes you salivate—good luck choosing; they all will— and put it in your rotation. Then try one more. And another. Use her protein swaps, her spice blends, her flavor alternatives. It’s all there. Because you want choices that will stick, not fads that will fade. This slow-burn approach taught me I don’t need—or need to crave—my old culinary crutches. I don’t dwell on what isn’t in my dinner because I’m too busy savoring what is. I pick spaghetti squash over actual spaghetti, reach for Well Fed le overs instead of the Jiff jar, and bought a squeeze-bottle for my Kickass Ketchup (Well Fed 2) because I can’t go back to the hard stuff. o I still eat sandwiches? Yeah, but fewer every month. Every change counts, even the small ones, because life is a long game. I’m learning to play it smarter, because I have Mel on my team. Now you do, too.
So go forth and chow down with glee. Your insides will thank you, and hey, maybe your pants will follow.
Well Fed Giveaway
The Fug Girls are hosting a giveaway right now of the Well Fed trilogy: Well Fed Weeknights, Well Fed, and Well Fed 2. I encourage you to read the comments on the giveaway post; they are a true delight. And enter to win!
Heather is basically a professional at having good taste, so when she recommends Well Fed Weeknights, I think you should take her advice! If you’re ready to commit, you can pre-order Well Fed Weeknights at the links below—or help yourself to a free 70-page sampler with 18 recipes you can start cooking right now.