Southern Nights

May 7, 2009

I was sort of hungry all afternoon, but also still stuffed with that salad. It didn’t sit that well with me for some reason (you know I can eat 2 pounds of salad!), so I didn’t want a snack until around 5:45 when we needed to start thinking about dinner. Oh well. I had a few sips of this delightful drink while we cooked, and that was a perfect snack!

We actually had a box of mac n cheese on the counter to make for dinner, but plans changed at the last minute. I didn’t make a meal plan for this week – I just bought a bunch of produce to spark creativity. But when you’re hungry, it’s hard to put effort into recipes that might take 30-45 minutes to make. Tonight’s ingredient craving included OKRA, so we were going to do okra mac. But at the last minute I decided I was craving our oven-fried okra and the whole meal changed into a delicious Southern feast!

I made a recipe page for the “Better-Than-Fried” Okra.

It was awesome!! Our best yet.

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Served with ketchup –

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The other half of dinner involved an equally Southern ingredient: collard greens. I love all kinds of greens! I used to hate them too – imagine that 😉

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For the entree we cooked 2 slices of bacon, 3 chopped dates, the collard greens, about 2 tbsp mustard-style BBQ sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup along with a drained can of kidney beans to produce this nice mixture:

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Last but not least, some sun-dried tomato bread from Great Harvest.

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(Yes, I was very nervous eating in the garden with Gilbert nearby…)

You know what I realized tonight: I have truly learned to “eat normally.” I didn’t think about the calories in this meal for a moment because I knew everything that went in it was healthy (or at least used just slightly like the bacon :) ) and I could just sense that it was probably about 400-600 calories, which is my target for each meal if I’m eating about 1700-1800 calories per day and dividing my day up equally (sometimes meals are smaller and I have snacks, other times I just have 3 meals, so that’s a guess as to how they come out).

I remember the days when I used to weigh EVERY ingredient on the scale and would probably have counted the okra on my plate to get the “right” portion. But now I just eyeball it and choose what feels right. I took more okra tonight because I knew it would be my favorite on the plate and less bread and collard mixture because I knew if I had large portions of everything it would probably be more than I need (although I could still have fit large portions of everything in my stomach, so this was a mental decision).

I still don’t know the answer> to the question: “Could you have lost weight without counting everything?” Obviously the answer> is yes, but I almost feel like that experience has made me appreciate normal eating more and also instilled a sense/instinct about what a “right” portion is for me.

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After dinner I was craving something sweet so I decided to try one of the Luna cookies I was sent to sample. The Chocolate Mint seemed to fit the bill.

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I had half of that along with a little bar of dark chocolate. I liked the cookie a lot!! It was a lot like a Z-bar in texture with a minty essence and nice chew. It’s certainly healthy for a “cookie” and a great option for an after-dinner snack.

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Hoping to do some reading and TV watching tonight. I spent the afternoon organizing the cereal cabinet and doing some internet work. I have so much blog reading to do. My Google Reader has 668 new posts!! I’m sorry if I haven’t been commenting very much on your blogs, but I do read TONS of them and enjoy seeing all of your food and activities!!


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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 WEEKLY BITE May 7, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Congrats on “normal eating” :)

It feels good to eat healthy without having obsessed over every calorie!

Have a great evening :)


2 Erika May 7, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I’m still working on Normal eating myself (withougt counting calories) and it certainly takes a lot of practice – but it’s so freeing! Thanks for this beautiful reminder!

That okra looks fabulous! I’ll definitely be checkin out the recipe! Have a great night!



3 Run Sarah May 7, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Great post! I think eyeballing has worked a lot better for me than counting calories, etc.


4 weight and meditate May 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

I hope I can develop the kinds of eating habits you have…where you choose what you know you’ll really like and don’t worry about every little thing. I’ve read some of the beginnings of your blog and I can see how far you’ve come, go you!


5 Lisa May 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I really enjoyed reading this post. I’m struggling to know what “normal” eating is, and Kath, I don’t know if you know how encouraging your blog can be.


6 Sharon May 7, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Mmmmm, delicious delicious. Thanks for sharing about your insight in regards to normal eating.


7 Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) May 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I hear ya on normal eating! I go back and forth but feel like for the most part I trust my “intuition” and know exactly what my body needs! I enjoyed reading your insight.

Love the southern meal. YUM!


8 biz May 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Great job on the normal eating! If I wasn’t insulin dependent diabetic, I’d do the same thing, but I have better control of my blood sugars when I weigh my food.

Love the fried okra!


9 Micks May 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Your collard greens look delicious! I’ve read about them a few times on your blog, so I had to try them a few weeks ago. DELICIOUS. But, being up north, I’ve only had the canned or frozen variety. I’d love to try them fresh!


10 Nicole May 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Mmm, I’ve got to try that okra! I’ve never had it before, and that just seems very tasty.


11 sonia May 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I am going back to counting calories for a while since I put on some weight beginning of this year but your post is very encouraging. I am hoping to let go of this by 4 weeks (or sooner) when I am more intuitive about my eating but for now I need to do this to gain some confidence.


12 Bec May 7, 2009 at 8:34 pm

What an interesting meal, the oven fried okra looks amazing!


13 Snake May 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm


Looks great, I love dates. Guess who’s coming to visit me tomorrow? Henny! Yep, she will graduate from med school next week and do pediatrics residency at MUSC in Charleston.

I didn’t really like the texture of the Greek and the flavor was a bit off from what I prefer. I eat loads and loads of Wegmans Super Yogurt with some granola in it. I also add it to your oat recipe. My favorite bowl of oats is: dark chocolate chips, sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon, raspberries and yogurt. LOTS of sugar to get my engine running before a long bike ride (60 – 80 miles).

Snake (I’ll scold Gilbert at the next family reunion)


14 scoop May 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Good to hear that you’ve reached this epiphany! I’m still struggling with portion control and find it difficult to listen to my stomach when it’s full. I’m hopeful my day will come soon. Your blog is inspiring and fun.


15 Mara @ What's For Dinner? May 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Normal eating is something I truly strive for!
the collards look fab :)


16 Lauren May 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Thats awesome that you feel that you have reached a happy balance with food and apprecaite it for its taste, texture, smell, and apperance rather than the numbers. I think it’s good to be mindful, but always thinking of those stats can drive one crazy. It does tend to take away from the pleasure of enjoying the actual food when your mind is consumed on how many calories it cosumers rather than focusing on the taste and feel.

Quick question about tempeh. I have never tried this but I am planning to buy some this weekend. I love tofu so much and figure I will like this as well, but I was just wondering what you like better? Does it taste much different? Also, do you cook it or eat it raw?

Thanks for your wonderful posts as always.


17 Angie May 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Kath- first of all, beautiful meal.

Secondly, I love your post. As a dietitian working in weight management over the last nearly 10 years – I have come to believe that in order to truly be successful with weight loss and weight maintenance long term, you must learn to “eat normally” as you say. However, we are so “brainwashed” with a “diet mentality” that ‘eating normally’ can be very difficult for most people to do. It sounds like you did the right thing by counting and measuring for a while and then the important part for weight Maintenance is transitioning from counting into learning to trust your knowledge and experience with portions and calories, but most importantly, your intuition.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post. Good night!


18 Christina May 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

It’s really good to hear about the normal eating. I still struggle with not counting calories and measuring everything out. I’m glad to see you were in the same place once!


19 Shelby May 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm

I need to find Okra!!!


20 Marisa (trim the fat) May 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Great post, Kath! I’m so looking forward to the day that I feel comfortable enough to NOT weigh every morsel on my food scale!

I really like those LUNA cookies, too!


21 Michelle Hisae May 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm

That’s great that you’ve found your comfort spot. It’s when we all know ourselves enough to do so. Keep it up!


22 Jess May 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Thanks for sharing your eating thought with all of us!!

Please check out our new blog Kath and Kath’s awesome readers!!


23 Heather May 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I totally admire how far you’ve come in your healthy lifestyle. I feel the same way… I used to focus so much on calories, content, etc., but now I feel like I have such a good grasp on what’s healthy and a good quantity/quality without having to focus on calories and specifics of the food. It is such an amazing feeling to have that ability, and I’m sure you understand what I mean! Congrats on getting to this point in your healthy lifestyle! 😀


24 Shannon (The Daily BalanceO May 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

DELICIOUS looking dinner! the okra looks fantastic!


25 Emily May 7, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I love GH bread. They sponsored our nutrition club’s 5k last month, and I got a free leftover loaf of wheat..very delicious! :-)


26 Elizabeth May 7, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Yay Kath! Eating “normally” is a struggle for so many – myself included – and it’s wonderful to hear someone CAN learn to do it.

I lost a bunch of weight on WW – but have taken a more intuitive approach to maintainence… so far so good…. but it’s only been 3 months. Work in progess 😉


27 Melissa @ For the Love of Health May 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm

What a great looking meal!
This weekend I plan to pick up some “not the usual” veggies and cook with them.

Great comments on eating “normal”. I am currently going through the same type of faze. I lost around 30 pounds about a year ago now following the Weight Watchers Point System- I recently converted to choosing wholesome foods while eyeing portion sizes instead of counting points. It works perfectly! It just laid the foundation for me.

Have a great evening!


28 sj May 7, 2009 at 9:49 pm

that is pretty crazy that that is what you call eating normally! to me eating normally is just eating without giving it any other sort of thought other than how to get it from the plate to your mouth.


29 Kara May 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm

I did a backtrack on that chocolate pic. Mmmmm.


30 Lauren May 7, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I really have a hard time remembering how to eat normally. And maybe that’s because I need to start being more strict and counting every calorie and measuring everything I eat. Thanks for the reminder! :)


31 Rachel May 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

It’s really neat to see how far you’ve come with healthy intuitive eating. I can really see a difference between what you wrote today and what you wrote in your entry you linked about making okra back a couple years ago! Very inspiring, something I strive for too :)


32 Katie May 7, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I just wanted to say how much I loved your post tonight. It is weird when someone says exactly what you are thinking out loud haha. I was an avid counter of calories for the year before I got married and I am still having a hard time not counting because I relied on it for so long. But I will say it is really nice not to have to think about it and just enjoy planning meals for my husband and I. Not to mention I have begun to really think about the things I am eating and instead of just counting anything I eat, I am actually considering what I am eating now.


P.S. My biggest stuggle is alcohol…how do you have fun with your friends and not feel the pressure to go overboard?


33 Hallie May 7, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Great post. “Normal eating” is definitely a struggle for me. I’m trying to work on balance right now, like if I have a sweet snack in the afternoon, I’ll have a smaller dinner or something. Thanks for setting a great example of someone “doing it right!”


34 Sarah (lovINmytummy) May 7, 2009 at 11:42 pm

I LOVE that you are freeing yourself from food rules, measuring, weighing, calorie counting. I too have thrown my measuring cups and spoons to the wind and am following my head and my gut, and it is TOTALLY liberating! The key is to be able to maintain this, while maintaining a stable and healthy weight.

I’m optimistic that WE can do it!


35 Caroline May 7, 2009 at 11:50 pm

I’ve been craving Southern food like crazy lately: greens, grits, the works! Your okra looks fab:)


36 sue May 8, 2009 at 12:22 am

i loved reading your thoughts on healthy eating. i’m trying to lose weight, and i’m still trying to figure out if i can do it without counting calories. i’ve never tried okra before…but it sure does look yummy in the pics!


37 Leah @ Simply Fabulous Now May 8, 2009 at 1:37 am

GREAT post tonight Kath. I think it’s so important to show your readers how you can eat normally without counting every morsel that goes into our mouths. It can take a lot of practice and self reassurance.

I counted the ingredients that went into my smoothie this morning (just for the sake of readers who were curious) and I can’t imagine doing that for every meal, snack etc.


38 janetha May 8, 2009 at 2:33 am

wow and i thought my google reader was full!

i have never tried okra or collard greens, thanks for sharing your experience with them. i am trying to go beyond my comfort zone with foods.. i will throw these on the list!


39 Lara (Thinspired) May 8, 2009 at 3:01 am

Hey Kath, I remember the post when you announced that you were going to stop counting, but I forget if you went cold-turkey or if you kind of phased it out? What was the process for you? I’m having a hard time finding the balance betwen counting or going crazy. I just started “Intuitive Eating,” so I am hoping that will help!


40 Beadie @ What I Ate Yesterday May 8, 2009 at 5:50 am

I love fried okra! I should try your recipe, I have never oven fried it before.

Glad you are feeling like a normal eater. I really admire you for that.

And Holy Google Reader, batman. I feel overwhelmed when I have 30!


41 Lauren May 8, 2009 at 6:47 am

Lovely Southern meal :) I haven’t been able to find the Luna cookies! Looks like a yummy dessert.


42 JENNA May 8, 2009 at 7:20 am

this looks like such a comforting meal! I really enjoyed your take on “normal” eating.

That luna cookie likes yummy!!


43 K May 8, 2009 at 7:38 am

What a great dinner! I love the sounds of it! I’ve never tried okra so maybe this will be the recipe that makes me test it out :)


44 RK May 8, 2009 at 7:47 am

It is so great to hear that you have learned how to eat “normally” and don’t obsess about calories and portions. You are such a great example of how to eat all things in moderation, live a balanced lifestyle, and listen to your body.
Your dinner looks so yummy and it is great that you picked it based on what you truly WANTED to eat. I am still trying to learn how to listen to my body, trust myself with food, and live balanced. Thank you so much for your wonderful example and blogging about your life/choices.
I am SO envious that you have Luna cookies to try. I have been looking everywhere for them and can’t find them. I love luna bars, so I am sure I would really like these and they would definitely satisfy my sweet tooth 😉


45 Lauren May 8, 2009 at 7:56 am

Hi Kath,

I’ve definitely noticed the evolution in your eating practices over the course of this blog. It’s very inspiring! I think that, initially, weighing your food and counting calories can be very beneficial, because it provides you with the right foundation for healthy, informed, and mindful eating. As you move forward in your new lifestyle, not only does it make sense for you to gradually ease up on the more structured regimen, it is a very healthy transition! You’ve really seem to embody the idea of enjoying everything in moderation, and honoring your body’s needs and cravings. Keep up the great work!


46 Amanda @ Cakes and Ale May 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

I remember feeling so good too when I started to “eat normally”. I hating counting calories and measuring portions, but you kind of have to do it in order to train yourself what a portion really is! I mean, I used to count out grapes and stuff… craziness! I’m so glad I can just judge it now…


47 Rose May 8, 2009 at 9:17 am

I love what you said about eating normally. I’m striving to get to that place myself. It’s been difficult – counting helps me but at the same time drives me crazy. But if I don’t track somehow, I’m never quite sure of measurements or what I’m putting in my body. It’s an ongoing battle – to count to lose weight or not. I am hoping to eventually just achieve a place (through reading blogs and learning) where I’ll be able to know what’s good and bad.


48 Sarah May 8, 2009 at 9:53 am

Hey Kath!

As a person who counted calories and everything for weight loss, I’m just now starting to learn how to eat normally without counting or using food groups, etc. Its inspiring to see that you’ve been able to do this just judging by what feels right.

I’m on my fifth day of no counting anything and it feels great and very freeing!


49 Erin May 8, 2009 at 10:12 am

being a Louisiana native that meals looks amazing, I am going to recreate it soon!


50 Kristilyn (The Food Journey) May 8, 2009 at 10:40 am

Your dinner looks great! I have never tried Okra before and I’m not even sure if my grocery store carries it. What did you coat it with?

I’ve recently been trying to not focus on calories and measuring, but eating portions that are right for me. Listening to my body for those hunger signals and eating accordingly. In truth, I haven’t weighed myself in 5 days! And I used to do that every day.

It’s nice to know that I’m eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full and NOT going overboard.

Thanks for the inspiration!


PS – That Luna cookie looks delicious! I wish we had more of that in Canada. :-(


51 Lara May 8, 2009 at 11:12 am

Are you focusing on maintaining your weight now or trying to lose a few? I recall a while ago you mentioned you had gained a few but wasn’t sure where you were with regards to that. Or if i am mixing you up wiht another blogger who mentioned she had gained I aplogize :)


52 Jess May 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Just out of curiosity (feel free to ignore if this is rude), but are those 1700-1800 cals/day for weight loss or maintenance?

As someone who read your blog back when you counted every calorie and listed net cals, etc, I’m really happy that you’re more relaxed about food now. However, calorie counting certainly helped you meet your goal.


53 Kath May 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Fun Snake!! Tell her I said hello :)

Lauren ,
I like tofu better because it has a neutral taste and versatile texture depending on what you do to it. Tempeh has a pretty unique taste (fermented) so you might not love it at first, but def. give it a try.

Angie ,
Thanks for your comment!

Katie ,
It’s taken me a while to “get over” alcohol. Drinking virgin drinks really helps, but I think the biggest part was realizing how horrible I feel the next day if I have 1 too many. It’s taken practice, but I’m finally able to enjoy myself fully without getting drunk.

Lara (Thinspired),
I phased out – first counting in my head meal by meal, then ballparking, then just kind of letting go with time. Cold turkey is too hard for such a common habit. Good luck!

Lara ,
Still working on losing a few – just trying to keep alcohol, desserts, snacks and large portions on the back burner.

Jess ,
Well that depends on my activity, but since I usually burn 400-500 calories per day, they would technically be weight loss. But as you’ve seen in the past few weeks, they are balanced with gain days too, so I’m not losing rapidly or anything.



54 The Duo Dishes May 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

We love us some fried okra. This is a nice twist on that.


55 emmy May 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

that is my favorite way to eat okra!


56 Erin May 8, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Hey. I have the green comma plate. :)

Good job on eating intuitively. It’s a big accomplishment. I used to be a points counter too. It’s bad for the brain, in the long run.

Good job.


57 Cat May 9, 2009 at 9:10 pm

I thought I had grabbed the Luna tea cakes at the store this morning, but after reading your post I went to make sure because the wrapper looked familiar… I got the cookies! Now I’m excited for my Luna snack. ; )


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