Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflections on Dessert and a Savory Recipe

Well, I did it! 30 days without sweets and I lived to tell the tale. Since falling back off the wagon last Friday, I've had dessert quite a few times. I spent the weekend mindlessly munching on handfuls of candy and bowls of ice cream until last night, when I finally took note of how I was feeling. I realized (drum roll, please) that all that sugar simply didn't taste as good. My body wasn't used to its intensity and I was eating dessert because I could, not because I wanted to. Even crazier - after a month walking through the "chocolate covered everything" aisle at Trader Joe's and lusting after its contents, I was finally allowed to purchase something and I came home empty handed. Who am I? Major revelations happening over here! Going forward, I'm going to listen to my body and enjoy the treats that I crave, when I crave them. It has been a very interesting, challenging experience, but I'm so glad I stuck with it and gained some new insight.

Here are a few things that I learned from 30 days without dessert:
1. Cutting out dessert is the same as quitting or starting anything - it takes time. It takes your body two weeks to crave exercise, or two weeks to stop craving cigarettes. It took over a week for me to not think about the dessert I would have been eating after my meals.
2. When you don't have something, you learn not to miss it - after the initial period, I didn't want or need the sweets I was so used to eating. I made an effort to replace them with similarly yummy, but healthier treats.
3. I felt lighter - I didn't weigh myself before or after this experiment and I ate plenty to make up for the missing dessert calories, but I felt healthier and more fit and I craved less heavy food in general.
4. Sugar tasted sweeter - because I only cut out things that I consider to be dessert, I was still eating fruit, cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal. These things tasted so much sweeter when I wasn't eating candy and they actually felt like a special treat.
5. I'm capable - it might sound silly, but this was a big deal for me. I'm so used to my routines and eating patterns, and dessert has played a big part in my life. Not having it, and knowing that I could challenge myself to stick to my guns, was a huge accomplishment.

And now, a Vietnamese Pork and Noodle Bowl because it's delicious.

Recipe, adapted from Hungry Huy:
(Serves 6)

For the pork:
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1.5 pounds pork shoulder, cut into small pieces

For the fish sauce:
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (1 lime)
2 tablespoons sugar
3+ tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other chili paste

12 ounces rice noodles
3 cups cucumber, chopped
3 cups carrot, shredded
6 cups mixed greens
6 cups steamed broccoli

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add pork and marinate for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes, then broil for 5-7 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add noodles, remove from heat, and cook noodles for 8 minutes or until al dente.
Mix all of the ingredients together for the fish sauce.
To assemble your bowl, put 1 cup of mixed greens on the bottom, followed by a scoop of noodles, a scoop of pork, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 cup of cucumber, 1 cup of broccoli, and 1/4 of the fish sauce. Garnish with additional lime juice, crushed peanuts, and Sriracha. 



  1. Hey Zoe, 30 days without dessert sounds harsh! I'm glad you made it :)

    It's great to see you made use of my recipe, I hope it you enjoyed it! How's the Vietnamese food scene out in Atlanta?

    1. It was delicious! I've been meaning to make it again and slicing the pork thinner this time.

      I live in Boise, and we have a few good Vietnamese restaurants...but having never been to Vietnam I'm not sure how authentic they are! Any must eats for next time?


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