a peek inside the fishbowl

17 Jul, 2016

Reframing treats

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

Although I don’t like to use the word diet, sometimes it’s the only way to describe the actions that follow when someone realizes her pants are a little snug and she’s feeling kinda bloated and yucky. It means that it’s time pull back on a few things for a little while, so if we need to call it a diet, let’s call it that. So, for the next couple of weeks, I’m seriously limiting sugar and processed flour products (read: bread, pasta, crackers) and eliminating beer. This might seem like a big deal, but I’ve been at it almost a week and it’s been manageable… pleasurable, even.

I was sitting on the back steps snacking on some fresh peas when I got thinking about how utterly delicious these little things were. Part of it, perhaps, is the act of cracking that pea pod open and seeing what’s inside (big peas? little peas? no peas?) and then popping the contents in my mouth. It’s childhood ritual being revisited. It certainly helped that the sun was shining and I wasn’t in a rush to shell a few hundred peas for dinner. It was a peaceful and reflective moment, but truly, those peas were delicious.

My, I thought. Isn’t this a treat.

Bag o' fresh peas

And then I got thinking about the other things I would normally consider a treat: ice cream, cookies, one of my mother-in-law’s butter tarts (there is no other!), a cold glass of beer, toasted sourdough with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Couldn’t I replace some of these things for the next while with other treats – healthier ones – so I don’t feel so deprived? The answer is a no-brainer. OF COURSE I CAN DO THIS.

So I’ve been eating well these past few days. I treated myself to pre-peeled beets and a fabulous goat cheese so I could make this salad:

Beet salad

I bought some Farm Boy gazpacho and have been enjoying it at various times of the day, mostly as a pre-dinner snack. Seriously, I never even liked gazpacho before this (cold soup? what’s the point?!?) but this stuff is a PARTY IN MY MOUTH. I have also been dipping tortilla chips in it. (I have decided this is allowed.)

I bought cheese and guacamole and fresh salsa and arugula for a lovely salad at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I treated myself to a salmon steak and had it for dinner with more of that arugula. I treated myself to ripe tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I bought some sparkly water to replace the beer (it’s sadly gone now, I will replenish!) and have been adding black raspberries to my granola.

Morning ritual

Whenever I’ve eaten any of these things it’s brought me happiness. So many of my treats (er, maybe not the cheese) are grown and produced with care on a local farm. I’m eating SUNSHINE, PEOPLE. It’s a geedee miracle when you think about it.

More often than not – say after an afternoon snack of gazpacho with a side of tortilla chips – I realize that I’m full and that I’ve forgotten about this thing called a diet.

What’s it called when you’re bingeing on seasonal produce? ;)

I’ve drastically reduced sugar in my daily diet but haven’t eliminated it altogether. I still choose the pub mustard and the goat cheese that is lightly sweetened with honey because they are both so delicious, but I’ve been skipping desserts and saying “see ya later” to those amazing ginger cookies at Bridgehead when I’m buying my coffee beans.

Interestingly, I have learned that when I remove the most heavily sugared foods from my life, the sweetness will reassert itself in other places. Those blackberries in my cereal, those fresh peas, even the foam on my latte, have a degree of sweetness that often went unnoticed in the past.

For the next while I will continue being more mindful of the things I eat, choosing delicious and healthy over the alternative. It doesn’t feel like a diet to me, but I suppose it is.

2 Responses to "Reframing treats"

1 | Lisa from Iroquois

July 17th, 2016 at 2:24 pm


That’s some kinda diet, sounds yummy. Lately I’ve been keeping tomato juice in the fridge to sip when I come in from the garden, instead of reaching for the coke bottle. Every fall we make 40-50 quarts of tomato juice which I use up through the winter in soups, slower cooker recipes and pasta dishes. I had completely forgotten it makes a perfectly yummy cold drink too, until my mom reminded me that that is what she saves the juice I give her at Christmas for.

2 | andrea tomkins

July 18th, 2016 at 9:20 am


Funny! Some habits aren’t that hard to alter, are they? Reaching for tomato juice is a 1000% better than grabbing a Coke!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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