Adopting a low carb lifestyle hasn’t been easy. Especially since I love food more than I love almost anything on the planet. If it were up to me, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat just to hang out in the kitchen all day long. I would eat only the most delicious foods and create the most complex meals. Of course, I’d also be able to eat whatever I wanted without feeling like human garbage in this magical, fictional scenario.
And I do realize this is possibly the most unrealistic thing anyone has ever wanted.
One of the more frustrating things about having to eat this way (other than my aching heart for mashed potatoes on rice topped with potato chips and a side of spaghetti) to maintain weight and general well-being is that I find myself constantly having to say, “I can’t have that”. I hate the sound of those words coming out of my mouth; it’s awful and snobby and it makes me feel so anxious.
I hate having to refuse things offered to me (and I know this feeling well; I was a vegetarian for 4 years), but the anxiety of losing self-control again and feeling shitty trumps food-refusal anxiety almost every time.
Then there are times when I pull out the “I can’t have that” card, and some people just outright refuse to leave me be, making my anxiety much, much worse.
I’ve experienced different degrees of pushiness from these people. I’ve had a coworker react angrily and tell me that I didn’t need to be dieting when I told her I couldn’t eat half of a sandwich she brought for me because I was off bread. She gave me a firm “No” and briskly walked away, leaving the sandwich with me even after I explained to her my reasoning. So, there I sat, sadly eating the contents of the sandwich with a fork after tossing the bread away.
On another occasion, one of my bosses brought some leftover soup he had made to work for me that I hadn’t asked for. Another incredibly kind gesture, right? I asked him if he had used any carby ingredients and he said “only a potato and some apples”. I told him, “Sorry, I can’t have either of those things” but he continued to reassure me that it wasn’t enough to do anything, as if I had no idea what worked for my body and what didn’t. I continued to express my hesitance. It went completely ignored and he said, “Eat some and I’ll finish what you don’t have”. I sighed and knew what I had to do.
I waited for him to leave the room and went into the kitchen. I poured exactly half of the container into a bowl, heated it in the microwave, and promptly dumped my half down the drain. I even brought the empty bowl to my desk before washing it to give my work area that soupy smell.
“Thanks for the soup! It was great. I loved the addition of curry powder; it works so well with squash. I left about half for you.”
“Oh, is that what I smell? Great! I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
What I did was a disgusting waste of food, I know. I felt terrible.
So, I went home and made this soup for dinner and I felt much better.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 6 jalapeños minced
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 bulb garlic, minced
- 500 g smoked bacon, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups smoked cheddar, grated
- 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
- 5 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 big handfuls cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Steam the cauliflower ahead of time and blend in a couple batches with two cups of the chicken stock. One cup per batch. Set aside.
Cook the bacon on medium-low in a large stock pot until crispy and set aside. Leave half of the grease in the pot and cook onions seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red and green pepper, jalapeños, cumin, and paprika once the onions have softened, and cook another 5 minutes until fragrant.
Add the blended cauliflower and stock mixture, the remaining 3 cups of stock, and the softened cream cheese, bring the heat up to a boil and back down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the bacon back to the pot and stir the grated cheese in a few batches at a time to let it melt. Once the cheese is completely incorporated, add the cilantro in at the end and serve.
Garnish with a bit of cilantro and grated cheddar.
Serves 4 – 6.