The Hatch-Palucks, Week 20: Back on Track

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge



I haven't always been on speaking terms with domesticity.

As a young adult, my goal in life was to live in a big-city apartment and have a cool job as a magazine writer, with just a cat depending on me for sustenance.

Fast-forward 20 years, and now I'm cooking for a crowd. Not only am I an unskilled chef, I'm also a reluctant one. My idea of the perfect meal is pasta with tomato sauce and a salad, which I could eat for the rest of my natural life.

No muss, no fuss.

So, what did I do? I went and married a guy who loves meat with a side of meat. Then I birthed one child who fears food and another who could survive just fine on blackberries and red peppers.

I've chronicled my struggles with cooking here before, and how I like to do it up old-school, with plenty of butter. My star dish, the recipe I'm most well-known for, is homemade macaroni and cheese, which features two heaping cups of cheese and whole milk. Don't forget the crushed potato chips on top!

Cooking once for two meals makes dinnertime a lot easier in the long term, even if it's more work in the short term. Credit: Amy Hatch

Recently, however, my entire family came down with the flu, and we didn't eat anything but crackers and ginger ale for almost 10 days. In a way, it was kind of a palate cleanser -- now, anything that smacks of too much fat or too many carbs makes us feel queasy and over-full.

I took advantage of that when we went grocery shopping, and made some changes.

Sunday is our grocery-shopping day (we go in the morning, as a family, and it's actually one of the highlights of our week), and I decided to take the afternoon to cook for the week.

One thing I've been craving since we got sick is oranges. Several weeks ago, nutritionist Melissa Smith asked me if I liked fruit, and while the answer was yes, I often fail to eat it. I just don't think about it when it's time for snacking -- until now. Now, I could eat a vat of oranges (vitamin C deficiency, anyone?).

So, I loaded up on citrus fruits, and tossed some berries and apples into the cart for good measure. Channing requested grapes, and Emmie asked for bananas. I also bought lots of different colored peppers (we had to prevent Henry from eating them whole right there in the grocery store) and cucumbers.

When we got home, I spent several hours making homemade applesauce, hummus and some cookies. At least I know what's in them, and the ingredients I used did not include high-fructose corn syrup.

Another trick I learned from a friend is to peel, slice and chop all your fresh veggies right when you get home from shopping. That way, when you need a quick snack, your veggies are ready to eat. I sliced up three peppers (red, yellow and orange, yum!), washed the grapes and set them out in a bowl, and peeled and sliced three cucumbers.

I made pork tenderloin medallions with mashed potatoes for dinner, knowing that Sunday's meal would make plenty of leftovers for Monday. I planned to poach some chicken using a recipe I found in an old Cooking Light magazine, but was thwarted when Emmie came down with yet another fever early in the week.

I'm feeling optimistic, though, that we can build on the unexpected weight loss Channing and I had after the flu. He lost 12 pounds and I lost seven -- the scale says I'm 136 pounds now, just six pounds shy of my goal weight.

I feel like I have my feet under me in the kitchen, now that I've set Sundays aside for food shopping, meal planning and cooking for the week. Last Tuesday saw Channing and I back at the ARC, and, as I stepped on the treadmill, I was struck by the metaphor of it all.

So many times in life we're knocked on our behinds, by circumstances we can't control.

I've had plenty of setbacks in the last decade. I watched my father suffer through a terrible illness and, finally, pass away from cancer. I lost all my hair. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I had terrible gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Henry, and he and I almost died when I had an allergic reaction to a treatment for severe anemia when he was still in utero.

But every time, I got back up.

If I can get back up after all of that, I can absolutely get myself and my family back on track for a healthy lifestyle.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.