Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trying for the Sake of Trying

Does anyone else ever find herself caught up in the whirlwind of a new fad? Well, I'll go first.
Hi, my name is A.K., and I bought almond butter and almond milk on Tuesday for no particular reason.
Sometimes I find myself writing down atypical grocery items on my list (e.g., soups containing barley, lactose-free milk, coconut oil, Smart Water, natural peanut butter, Fage yogurt) simply for the sake of trying something new. But am I really buying these items to try new foods? Or am I buying them because other bloggers, Tweeters, healthy-living pursuers, or friends mention something in passing that I just can't get out of my head?
I'll give you a prime personal example. About a year ago, I found myself in a meal rut; I was making the same 4-5 recipes repeatedly, and I was starting to seriously feel the need to branch out. I decided I could start by replacing some of the less healthy ingredients in these recipes (cough, mayonnaise, cough) with healthy substitutes. I replaced the heavy mayonnaise base in my godmother's chicken casserole recipe with plain Chobani Greek yogurt. I continually read about people extolling the virtues of Chobani as a substitute for different creamy bases, so I said, why not? 
I'm not an experienced enough domestic goddess to know which substitutions are actually feasible, so I didn't anticipate that I would sacrifice the creaminess and hint of sweetness of the mayo for the chalkiness and bitterness of the yogurt. The casserole turned out terribly, and I ruined two nights' worth of dinners.
Naturally, I had to stop and ask myself: would I have been better off to suck it up and use a more caloric base, or ruin dinner for several nights and waste a ton of fresh ingredients? Since then, by the way, I use olive oil-based mayonnaise when I absolutely need it. It's one of those condiments that really kind of grosses me out, since it's essentially lard... but that's beyond the point.
I had also read many bloggers' posts about replacing sour cream with plain Greek yogurt. I was a little wiser this time around, so I did my homework before I automatically became a drone, mindlessly replacing foods I enjoy with foods I have to choke down in the name of "health."
Since I purchase store-brand fat-free sour cream, I'm consuming 10 calories per tbsp. If I were to substitute the dollop or two of sour cream I enjoy atop my favorite vegetarian chili with plain Chobani, I'd be consuming 15-20 calories per tbsp. But I count more than just calories; the nutritional values are actually comparable (with the exception of protein). In this case, making such a switch is a personal preference, as there is no alarming difference I can see between using fat-free sour cream and plain yogurt.
(Mind you, I'm pretty sure I keep the Cho section of my local Kroger in business, but I'm just making my point.)
Back to the almonds...
I've tried almond butter before, and I wasn't impressed. As much as I love whole, unsalted almonds, I think I expected almond butter to be sweeter and creamier, like the peanut butter I'm accustomed to buying. Probably because so many of the well-known varieties are chock-full of sugar and preservatives... Oh, right, it's not time for a soapbox spiel. In any event, I'm really enjoying my almond butter. I had to stop myself the other day from eating it by the spoonful. Surprisingly, I like that it's drier than PB and equally as easily spread. I can't say I'm thrilled about 190 cals per serving, but the protein content and the heart-healthy endorsement put me a little more at ease.
I really don't know what compelled me to purchase lactose-free milk. I agonized in the Natural Foods section for a solid ten minutes before finally selecting vanilla-flavored Silk Pure Almond. I hesitantly tried it yesterday morning with my beloved Kashi Honey Puffs. I dabbled with it later in a cup of Joe, but I can't say it was as great in coffee as it was in cereal. At more than twice the cost of skim milk for half of the quantity, I'm questioning my M.O. on this one more than the others.
In the end, I'm not always sure why I make some of the purchases I do, particularly ones of which I might've initially been skeptical.
Why have I suddenly changed my mind?
Am I becoming a so-called follower? Or worse, the old insult, a copycat?
Nah. I think I'm just curious. Whatever the reason, I'm learning a hell of a lot more by experimenting than I ever did simply reading about other people's exploits or sticking with my same-old-same. For me, that's what this has all been about.
P.S. Back to my question: do you ever find yourself getting sucked into "fad foods" or trendy new diet options?

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