Help feed my boyfriend. It's like cooking for a toddler.
So I apologize in advance that this is so long. I moved in with my boyfriend a couple months ago. We both promised ourselves before moving that we were going to start eating better and cooking more for ourselves at home. I've started, but he's not exactly jumping on board. I wouldn't call him fat, but he's carrying some extra pounds, and his family has a history of diabetes. Plus he smokes. I would like all of this to concern him, but it doesn't because he argues that he's not technically "fat." He eats tons of fried and spicy foods and has stomach problems like every other day. I try sneaking fruits and vegetables into the things that I make, but he professes his hatred for both.
He likes Asian stir-fries, mexican food, and pizza. And it's not easy for me to want to eat healthy when I have cookies, chips, and snack cakes staring back at me when I open the pantry. So I'm looking for ways to give him what he likes AND to keep it healthy. I'd really appreciate some suggestions for lighter fare from each of these categories, or for ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into our meals without him catching on. I'd love recipes for low-fat cookies and baked goods as well!
I used to have a guy like that. It can be tough.
One thing that helps considerably is, if he only wants pizza, mexican, and spicy food, make them at home. It will always be considerably healthier if made by you. You can make easy pizzas on whole wheat pitas, or make your own whole wheat pizza crust. If you want him to eat more veggies on his pizza, try cooking them in some way first so they're not so obvious and also putting them under the cheese(roasted red peppers rather than raw, caramelized onions instead of uncooked, etc). Mexican food can be made healthy pretty easily. Fajitas are a great example. Just go easy on the tortillas and skip the cheese. For spicy try veggie laden curries or cajun spiced seafood both of which are pretty easy and healthful. Get in as many whole grains with dinner as possible to help fill you up and prevent snacking later.
As far as snacks, I've had great success with baked sweet potato chips as a sub. for crackers/conventional chips. Make the chips using a veggie peeler so they're super thin then toss with a smidge of EVOO and S&P before baking. For dessert baked apples are great and can be served with a scoop of non-fat vanilla ice-cream or fro-yo to fill a pie craving.
It's a shame he won't take more responsibility for his health, but he's lucky to have someone loking out for him. I'd also try having a heart to heart with him and explaining he may not be too concerned with his own weight, but in support of you it'd be very helpful and nice if he'd keep the junk in the house to a minimum.
Thanks! I have one question about the sweet potato chips though. I LOVE them, and I used to make them a bunch back in college (I put them on a cookie sheet greased with cooking spray), but they either came out burnt or undercooked, and then after they cooled off, they just got kinda soggy. Is there some secret to making them that I'm overlooking? Perhaps because I never seasoned them with any salt and pepper?
They can be tricky, and I stil under/over cook them on occasion. Just try to make sure they're in a single layer, the slicing is as uniform as possible, and not at too high a temperature. I cook mine at 300 degrees and start checking them at about 17 minutes or so. It also helps to mix them around the pan so there aren't any stuck in hot spots. I also let mine cool in the oven with the door cracked so they continue to dry out a bit. Hope that helps!
Oh, and I don't always use S&P, I actually prefer them plain, so I don't think that makes much of a difference.
"I used to have a guy like that. It can be tough."
Did you break up over food preferences?
Gosh, Al Pal it sounds like you are going to be a great parent. But are you sure you want to adopt and baby an adult? This sounds like it could grow into a relationship issue so you might want to set some boundaries early. Suggest that he have his snacks/junk food outside the home (at work, etc) and not bring them into the house. Offer healthy snacks as suggested here (my fav is nuked popcorn with spices and a mist of hot chili olive oil - you can micro old-fashioned popcorn in a paper bag) and continue to cook balanced meals. Unfortunately, you can't make him actually eat it, since unlike a 7 year old, it's up to him. You could trick him into healthy food (a la Seinfield's cookbook and some of the sneaky suggestions here) but again, he needs to make the choice. He's an adult just like you.
I'm interested in ArikaDawn's answer - it might help you.
It certainly was part of the reason. About 3 years ago I started getting in shape and all told have lost around 45 lbs. It really is a commitment and a lifestyle and if your partner lives in a way that opposes that it can be tough. Also, I am big into food and trying new things and felt hindered and uninspired cooking for a picky eater. It wasn't the WHOLE reason for the breakup(huge age difference, different goals etc.), but it didn't help at all.
I've got to say it's not a good idea to trick your partner into eating certain foods because if they find out (which is inevitable) they tend to distrust everything you cook thereafter. I tried it once by sneaking anchovies into pasta sauce - he kept saying how the sauce tasted 'funky' (it was delicious) and when he opened the fridge later and saw the jar of anchovies well for several months after that whenever I made pasta he would smell it suspiciously and then go check the level in the anchovy jar! (Actually i thought it was funny but if every meal had become a battle like that... ).
Also usually when your sneaking fruit and vegetables into meals your defeating the objective on three fronts a. the whole distrust problem when they find out, b. much of the nutritional value is lost when vegetables are sneaked into a meal and c. your partner will never develop acquire and acceptance of fruit and vege's as part of his diet.
I had a similar problem with my partner but I eventually realised that the problem was that I was (as the predominant cook) always asking what he wanted for dinner, or making suggestions for dinner which he would then reject because as something not exactly familiar and, therefore, it didn't sound appealing.
Anyway the the point is I realised that I'm the cook and he'll just bl##dy well eat what I cook for him - he isn't as fussy as I think it's just when given an option he likes the familiar over the unfamiliar. With this approach I've (and he as well) since discovered that he loves pumpkin and chickpea curry, loves a genuine napoleatana (with chickpeas - although he doesn't ask and I don't tell, although I would if he did) and chicken tangine etc.
Also with the fruit thing of his own volition he won't pick up an orange and eat it but, to my eternal frustration, if I peel and orange, quarter an apple etc for myself he wants half of it!
Ultimately, as the more mature and healthier individual (who presumably is also the main cook) you've just got to cook for your own nutritional needs and tastes and eventually (hopefully) your partner will come around, particularly if he gets tired of the expense of feeding his own 'likes'. Similarly, If you do the shopping don't buy the snacks that he lives off but are too tempting for you, buy for your needs.
It's a slow road to progress (my partner also has a family history of type II diabetes) and at times can be very frustrating, particularly as whenever I bring up the diabetes risk thing he feels like I'm attacking him, but I'm just worried and wish he would worry a bit more too.
You've got a good grounding with stir-fry (I'm assuming it contains vegetables) because it such a flexible dish. This is one of the most nutritious was to eat vegetables.
I recommend the following:
Stir fry (in peanut or vegetable oil - approx 1 tbs) chicken breast (cut into 1 inch strips) with garlic, ginger, sesame oil and a pinch of white pepper (or cracked black pepper) when cooked remove from wok.
Add more oil to wok, toss in more garlic and ginger, along with some rinsed bok choy, carrot (cut if you have the patience into double thickness matchstick, 2 inch long sized pieces), sliced mushroom (shitake if you think you can get away with it) and capsicum.
Stir fry until bok choy leaves wilt then add 1 tbs oyster sauce, 1/2 tbs Shaoh hsing wine (chinese rice wine) and 1/2 tbs soy sauce then reduce heat to med-low, cover wok with lid and let sit for a 3-5 minutes.
Serve on rice or rice noodles, or hokkien noodles, of egg noodles, or udon noodles etc.
Obviously there are no hard and fast rules - this dish can be modified in what ever way you see fit except by adding one of those packet sauces - particularly the dry ones where you add water first. Stir fry is so quick and simple that it really doesn't require those sorts of short cuts.
re: c oliver
It's not that I flat-out refuse to eat stir-fry. I'm just not good at preparing it, which leaves it up to him. I'm trying to watch my caloric intake, and he's not at all calorie-conscious. If he's not going to try to use less oil and less of the ingredients that I find objectionable, I just can't eat it.
Stir fry doesn't take much oil at all. Ask him to cut back 1/4 to begin with and then more as he realizes how little he needs. What are the ingredients you find objectionable? I can't think of anything I've ever used is unhealthy or is it that you don't like certain of the things. The breadth of ingredients for stir-fry is so HUGE, I can't imagine that y'all can't find lots of common ground there. And served with steamed rice, you can eat as little as you want. And, if the fella likes spicy, you can really lay it on there :)
You can add veggies to anything--I've made mac and cheese with pureed butternut squash added to the cheese sauce and no one was the wiser. Carrots can be added as well.
If you want him to actually try eating veggies though, as opposed to just hiding them in his food, try making homemade salsa with garden tomatoes and serve it with baked tortilla chips (homemade or from the store) Fresh salsa is amazing, easy, and adds a fair amount of nutrients to any dish. I put it on scrambled eggs, burgers, sometimes on a grilled steak.
You can make fresh tomato pasta sauce as well.
Or what about chili? Ground turkey, beans, tomatoes, as spicy as he wants, and if you use low fat cheese and sour cream as toppings, it should be relatively healthy.
hummus and pita instead of chips and dip. And make the hummus with Greek yogurt instead of oil--it's great and significantly less fattening.
Does he like fruit desserts? Apple crisp, heavy on the apples, light on the crisp, is pretty healthy, and if you use whole grain flour, oatmeal and nuts, can actually be a decent winter breakfast.
How about banana bread? You control the amount of oil etc, and if you toss in some chocolate chips, it usually goes over.
Cooking at home is the key to a lot of this. I subscribe to Cooking Light, which usually has at least a couple recipes a month that would fit your needs. Or check out the cookbook aisle at the bookstore.
Eating healthy isn't a program, it's a lifestyle. It's not something that you can jump into and out of. He's a grown person, it's either something he wants to do or not. You can't eat healthy today and go out and get a double whopper with cheese tomorrow. I would recommend a book, "The Sonoma Diet" by Connie Gutterson. It answers lots of the issues that you have. Check it out at www.sonomadiet,com . A Mediterranean diet is not only healthy but can be spiced up and taste out of this world.
Judging from the foods you've mentioned, it sounds like he likes bold flavors, learn to cook those types of dishes but using healthier ingredients, One of the easiest ways to loose weight and get healthier is with portion control. If you eat less you can control your weight, 2 pieces of pizza is better than 4. Instead of chips and stuff to snack on, switch to un-salted light butter popcorn, filling but low calorie, change from high test cokes to diet ones. Sorry but the snack cakes and junk has to go. Make cookies with Splenda, I make Choc, Chip Cookies with Splenda sugars and carob chips, hard to tell the difference. Sugars and salts are way too high these days, in most foods. Sugars will really put the pounds on, if you cut back it should help with diabetes control. When you shop, do it together, and don't buy snacks, if he wants them make him put them in his basket.
A few suggestions...
- rice and beans (maybe with some cumin added) should be similar enough to the mexican that he likes so much. I often added some salsa to the beans for taste.
- i made some zucchini muffins that i thought were great, bf couldn't really get past the fact that there was succhini in them. banana muffins went over really well. maybe play around with some lowfat recipes. we had them for breakfast and snacks.
- i made a roasted veggie soup and added some sriracha to kick up the heat. something like that might appeal to his spicy side. or maybe a roasted tomato soup with some lowfat mozzarella cheese on top. add some crusty bread and it's almost like pizza!
- when I make chili i sneak in all kinds of veggies...a can of pumpkin, some sweet potatoes...maybe you could roast some veggies, puree them and add them to chili?
- would he eat quiche? i've had ones with breakfast sausage, cheese, o'brien potatoes and salsa that were quite tasty. maybe you could sneak in low fat or turket sausage...
I agree with mostly all of the posts on here. I have gotten my boyfriend addicted to Glenny's soychips (lots of flavors) and also make popcorn with a air popper and a touch of salt and butter spray which is a great snack. For dessert I have taken frozen peaches and add cinnamon and microwave as this can be poured over vanilla frozen yogurt or angel food cake. Miso glazed bass is easy as well as a turkey chili or lasagna. As for stir fry, I would add chicken and shrimp with veggies and a very light sauce without the oil. Best of luck!!!!
I hate to say it, but knowing someone in a similar position, means I watched what happens...and here's my opinion. Stop wasting your time. Your boyfriend needs to make the decision on his own. But, here's what you do. Cook healthfully, and let him do what he wants. Eat things that you enjoy (but that are healthy), and especially make healthy versions of his favorite foods (for example, white pizza, or a tofu stir fry, or a fish taco), and eat them in front of him. If he asks for some, say sure, but it's got veggies in it. Then, make sure you throw in how good it is a few times. Make him want it:) He will probably come around eventually, but you just can't force it!
I'm 100% with milkyway! I did that to my fiance, he wasn't so much picky as inexperienced... After about a year of me cooking for myself and our 'I'll try everything" roommate, he got curious and now is on the 'healthy' kick like you wouldn't believe. Actually, its kind of annoying now...he makes me feel guilty!
This may sound harsh, but if he eats like a toddler and acts like one around food, then you can just treat him like one. Cook the balanced, healthy meals that you enjoy (with some efforts to include a healthy dish that you know he'll probably like), put it on the table, and eat your meal. If he doesn't like it, he has the option to not eat it. But I wouldn't construct an entire meal around the unreasonable desires of one individual.
As with a toddler, you can only make so many concessions to their enjoyment before you are just giving in to their whims.
I'm not the only one who cooks. He'll cook occasionally, but when he does, it's stuff like tacos and stir fries, which he knows I won't eat. We even made pizza together a couple weeks ago - made honey whole wheat dough from scratch, and while I put olive oil, spinach, shrimp, and a little mozzarella on mine, he loaded his with jalepenos, salami, pepperoni, and sausage. NOT exactly the healthy home-made alternative I had in mind.
definitely don't sneak anything in a-la-seinfeld. he's an adult, and he shouldn't be tricked. he's got to actually want it and like it on his own for the desire to eat healthfully to stick.
stir fries - make them with lots of veggies (go heavy on the ones he really likes) and a little lean meat if you're inclined. serve with brown rice.
pizza - make the dough at home, with half whole wheat flour (it won't make the texture too tough). make the sauce yourself too - a little splash of olive oil, some garlic, a can of crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper - easy. top with a little good cheese (you don't need much) and whatever veggies you like.
mexican - chili is a great idea. you can even make it totally veg, with lots of beans, carrots, peppers. baked chiles rellenos, light on the cheese, with brown rice and beans is a great dinner.
you said he likes spicy - is he into indian? curries and such can be really healthy if you go light on the oil/ghee.
you also might want to talk with him about banning processed yucky junk food in the house. if it's there, you'll eat it constantly. and if you eat it out once in a while, that's not so bad.
good luck!! i think you will get there!!
I had the same problem. My husband loves pizza, stir fries, and cookies.
Slowly, I started cooking healthier. I added more vegetables to stir fries and made my own stir fry sauces instead of buying the bottled stuff. Invest in some basics like seasoned rice vineagars, hoisin sauce, chile sauce, and toasted sesame oil. DIfferent combos of these ingredients with or without cornstarch added in makes every stir fry a little bit different.
Another great thing to keep on hand is homemade roasted garlic. I usually roast about 10 heads at a time, and squeeze out the paste into a small tupperware, and pour a few drops of olive oil on top to preserve it in the fridge. It adds so much flavor to soups, sauces, stir fries, or basically anywhere you would use regular garlic.
Also, keep balls of pizza dough in the freezer. I usually get the whole whear ones from Trader Joe's- they're only $1, so it's a cheap meal too. I leave it out in a bowl all day to defrost and rise, and stretch it onto a cookie sheet or into a pyrex right before baking. I always use different toppings, and at least one 'special' item to make it different than pizza shop pizza. I love sauteed wild mushroom, spinach, tomatoes, roasted eggplant, or ricotta with fresh herbs.
If you don't mind cooking and experimenting with favorite stand-bys, you'll be able to come up with healthy (and yummy) recipes in no time.
re: Chew on That
my husband and I have different opinions on healthy. I would not call him unhealthy, but he could do more. However, I have chosen not to try and change his eating habits (anymore).
when I do the cooking we try more interesting health options like quinoa & buckwheat. I have replaced all the white products with whole wheat alternative grains. He cooks basic, I always add a salad to his meals. There are some vegetables that he does not like, but he likes enough to be okay.
I do most of the grocery shopping, so I do not buy 'junk food', unless we are both indulging (which we do). I do not ask what he ate for lunch anymore, and he has chosen on his own that he feels better when he eats breakfast (awesome!).
what I am trying to say is the old adage "BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE".
If you really want to change it up a bit, would he be into smoothies or juicing? the problem with 'hiding' fruits & vegetables is that the more you cook them the more nutrition that they lose. you can make a lovely smoothie with plain low fat yogurt, fruit (fresh or frozen) a bit of juice, flax or oat bran, then if you get him eating that, throw some spinach in (raw), just a handful, but you cannot taste it.
for juicing, carrot, apple, pear, ginger & beet is my favorite concoction.
another option is adding a 'greens' product. these can be by pill, powder or liquid. they are packed full of concentrated fruits, veg, and other greens. they are great, you just need to find one that suits your taste. you can add it to a smoothie or juice, or just slam it back. this may help bridge the gap a bit.
I make a tacos/burrito healthier by adding brown rice to the meat, use low fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream and use a sprouted whole grain tortilla (from the grocer), and easy on the cheese. Sometimes we will make this into a taco salad with a few taco chips (organic is better for corn chips) and heavy on the salad part.
For pizza maybe using a small amount of boccocini instead of loading up on the mozza, and procuitto or capacolla can be a leaner option than pepperoni, get them sliced really thin, so it looks like more than it is. throw fresh tomatoes on close to the end of cooking.
For cookies, make your own at home. cut the sugar in the recipes in half, use whole wheat pastry flour, dried fruit and nuts, oatmeal instead of chocolate chips, or cut back on the amount of chocolate chips.
First, a disclaimer. I'm a guy. I love stir-fries, Mexican food, and pizza. My lovely wife was raised to regard food as something necessary to keep body and soul together, and the enjoyment of food as something vaguely sinful. She would cheerfully eat nothing but brown rice and steamed veggies. If she decided that it was her job to feed me I'd either be thinner, single, or homicidal. But that's not an issue since I do all the cooking. So take what I say with a grain of salt.
In the first place, none of the things your boyfriend likes is inherently unhealthy. A good Pizza Margherita has a fair amount of bread, a little tomato, some basil, and a smidgen of cheese. Just because the corner Tex-Mex place has a 3,500 calorie combo plate that has enough grease and salt to blow an entire family's diet for a day doesn't mean that all Mexican food is unhealthy. And stir-fry - it's a cooking technique, and one that can showcase some of the healthiest and tastiest food out there.
You're definitely on the right track cooking more at home. Most restaurant meals compensate for the fact that the food isn't very good by delivering a dauntingly large portion loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium. But if what's cooked at home is a reaction to that unhealthiness - if the pendulum swings too far back - home-cooked food will seem like a penance. It should be a pleasure.
Which leads me to my main suggestion. Learn to make tasty food at home. Don't worry so much if it contains ingredients that seem "unhealthy," so long as the quantities are moderate. Meat has its place. Salt isn't a problem for most people. And fat is your friend (okay, now, in your best Forrest Gump voice: "butter, lard, bacon fat, chicken fat, duck fat, goose fat, heavy cream, light cream, whipping cream, half and half...).
Seriously, whatever you cook at home is almost guaranteed to be healthier than most things you can get at a restaurant. So the next thing to focus on is flavor. Especially of things like fruits and vegetables, which your significant other apparently has decided he doesn't like.
Okay, creamed spinach isn't exactly diet food, but if he likes it he might try spinach braised in chicken stock with a touch of cream. And maybe you can eventually eliminate the cream. Similarly, if he likes stir-fries, focus on the veggies he'll eat in them. Beef and bok choy stir-fried with oyster sauce is pretty accessible. And if he figures out that he likes the bok choy, you may eventually be able to omit the beef altogether (although why you would want to is a mystery to me). These are just a couple of examples, of course. Every veggie can be highlighted in many ways.
One important thing, though, is to use good ingredients, especially veggies. It's my opinion that one of the reasons people think they don't like Food X is that they've only had Food X bought from the lowest bidder and prepared in a school cafeteria. Or picked green and shipped across the country. Or defrosted and boiled to within an inch of its life. Or otherwise abused in a manner that masks or obliterates the flavor convinced our our ancestors that the stuff was worthy of consumption. Think local and seasonal. It just tastes better.
Long and short: if you're the one doing the cooking, I'd advise you to steer clear of "low-fat" and "healthy" alternatives to the food he likes. They're a recipe for toddler-like reactions. Instead, focus on quality. Really good food not only tends to be reasonably healthy, it also tastes better, plain and simple.
I don't know why people think it's such a bad thing to hide some veggies. If somebody grew up in a home where they weren't eaten, or with a parent who didn't make them eat their veggies, they're not going to change their ways without some time and flexibility. My husband probably wasn't as bad as your boyfriend when I met him, but he was pretty limited in what he would eat. I would make a pasta salad with chicken and veggies, and he'd eat it but leave all the veggies in the bowl.
Some of my more successful veggie hiding techniques were finely diced bell peppers under the cheese and pepperoni on pizza, and using a food processor to mince zucchinni, onion, carrot, and celery that finds its way into my thick and meaty spaghetti sauce. I slowly added more veggies to his food, hiding them less and less, sometimes telling him he ate them after he told me how much he loved something I'd made, sometimes not, and it worked.
My reason for doing this was purely selfish; it broke my heart that the man I planned to marry wouldn't want to eat any of the special dishes I enjoy preparing.
re: Chile Pepper
Thank you! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels a little saddened when someone I care about won't eat what I've put time and effort into preparing and what I get excited about. I love breakfast foods, and I love making breakfast on the weekend. Last week I made a FANTASTIC egg-beater omelet with diced tomatoes, fresh spinach, feta, and a little mozzarella. It was one of the best omelets I've ever made, and he wouldn't even try a bite. Instead, he had frozen hashbrowns with sausage links. WTF.
"saddened when someone I care about won't eat what I've put time and effort into preparing and what I get excited about. "
So maybe a teensy bit of the problem is your hurt feelings. Maybe you had expectations about the moving in together that hasn't exactly panned out? I agree with the posters who've said MYOB (pretty much!). This isn't your responsibility. And when you DO cook, I don't think it has to be SO black and white, i.e., Eggbeaters with spinach, tomatoes, feta and mozzarella. I know plenty of people - healthy eaters also - who just wouldn't consider those flavors to be "breakfast food." How about ditching the Eggbeaters entirely and substituting some of the whole eggs for whites only? What about turkey bacon and reduced fat breakfast meats? What's wrong with a taco? I buy the uncooked flour tortillas at Costco. Each one is really big but paper thin. They have about 140 calories but low everything else. A soft taco can have a seemingly lot in it but if you look at what you put in, it's not much actually. I also use a microplane for the cheese so it LOOKS like a lot but isn't. A little black beans, a little rice, some fresh salsa, grated lettuce if you want. As to your not being willing to eat stir-fry, why not? What is in stir-fry that doesn't suit? I eat a lot of stir fry in both restaurants and at home and find little else to be as fresh and healthy. And as a final comment, do you know what his doctor says about his health? What exactly are his blood chemistries? We have a close friend who eats just incredible amounts of food with plenty of it being unhealthy fast food. He is absolutely pencil thin (that dirty dog) and all of his health monitors (BP, cholesterol, glucose, etc) are disgustingly good :) I WOULD have a problem resisting those snack foods of his in the pantry. Maybe make a big joke out of it and find a lockable box for them and only he has the key. Finally, maybe give some thought to what an equal partnership means to you. For me, it doesn't mean that one person gets to be in charge of anything. If you two can't agree on food, then you either have to do your own thing, compromise or stop living together. I reread this and it sounds judgmental in parts. That's not my intention but sometimes we can all be too close to something. This is all just IMHO :)
re: c oliver
It's not necessarily that I'm trying to control what he eats. There are plenty of times we can't agree on a meal, so we end up each making our own separate dishes. The part that bothers me the most is that his health is at stake, he's acknowledged in the past that he needs to start making healthier choices, but there hasn't been much effort to move in that direction.
There's nothing inherently wrong with anything he likes. The issue arises in the preparation of what he likes - lots of butter and oil where cooking spray will do, too much sugary sauce or an overuse of dressing on salads, and high-fat ingredients that are not used in moderation. If much of the point of our cooking at home is to eat healthier, the purpose is totally defeated when you pile cheese and high-calorie sauces on top of otherwise healthy dishes.
On a much more optimistic note, we went grocery shopping today, and I was SO proud of him. I'm beginning to realize that a lot of the problem is more the result of ignorance than knowing disregard. I grew up with a health-nut mother, and although his father is a fantastic cook, he just grew up in a household that was less calorie-conscious. I'm learning that some things I feel should be completely obvious just aren't. I went to grab cooking spray at the store, and he said we didn't need it because we had oil at home. When I told him there were no calories in cooking spray but TONS in oil, he was genuinely shocked. But he made some great choices today. He's been buying frozen ice cream drumsticks but opted for frozen italian ice this time around. And he automatically sought out the leanest ground beef. And he made a spinach, grape, and feta salad with chicken and white balsamic for lunch. I think he's starting to realize that just because something's healthy and good for you doesn't mean that it has no flavor.
Al_Pal, I'm sorry to say that you may have to let it go. You can't change someone else's eating habits just because you're concerned. If you can live with making separate dishes, you may just have to keep doing it until one of you (he) relents, or gradually realizes that he likes the good healthy food you make.
It sounds like he's wising up, which is good. But I would only mention that high fat and calories aren't the end of the world. Butter isn't evil. Neither is oil. I'd rather use either than cooking spray (though I've thought about those olive oil misters you can buy). Of course, moderation is key, and it shouldn't be too difficult to show him that you can get by with a lot less, in most cases, with very little detrimental effect on flavor.
You seem like a sweet person, and your goals are laudable. My sense is that part of the reason you are so concerned is that you see some sort of longterm future with this person, is that correct? If so, I'd say you need to then readjust your thinking to see this as a longterm process (i.e. years, not weeks or months). Change will come, at least to a moderate degree, if you keep modelling good eating habits and providing healthy yummy foods.
At the same time, maybe you can try to see what you can 'learn' from his eating habits - we all have something we can learn from others (even if the lesson is that sometimes it's damn fun to suspend all healthy eating rules and just eat pure junk), and he may be even more open to your ideas if he senses that you are open to his. I don't want to moralize, but I know from experience (including the experience of often forgetting these things) that the spirit of mutual enlightenment, appreciation, and compromise are magic in a relationship.
And frankly, the smoking would be more of a concern for me than the food.
Wow. You make me feel blessed to live with a boyfriend who enjoys my cooking, especially when it involves tons of veggies!
It might help if you took his eating preferences less personally -- don't let it hurt your feelings when he doesn't want to try healthy things you make for yourself. It's not YOU, obviously -- he's interested in you enough to want to live together. People with different interests get along just fine all the time, and it's important not to read his rejecting your food as rejecting you personally.
With that said, I fully agree with all the other posters' suggestions on creating healthier versions of pizza, tacos, and stir-fries. Even if he won't eat tacos with veggies, at least your beans won't be full of lard, you can choose lean meat, etc. Spice up lean ground beef with enough cumin, chili pepper, onions and garlic, and it shouldn't be bland or boring.
I agree with ArikaDawn's suggestion of cooking vegetables before you put them on the pizza, and then putting them under the cheese. It's a brilliant way to get more veggies in, plus pizzas made this way are much less likely to get water-logged in your home oven. Less water in the veggies, less water in your final product. I find the usual 450F temperature suggestion on prepackaged pizza dough to be too high if you're using a lot of vegetables -- 400F works a lot better.
When I take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to temperature, I thinly slice and sauté vegetables to spread over the pizza sauce. You'll want to do this over medium heat, so the onions have a chance to caramelize and you cook a fair amount of water out. I use onions, red peppers, mushrooms, fennel, zucchini . . . whatever's in your produce drawer will usually work.
When/if you put fattier toppings on your pizza, it's easy to only buy enough for there to be a sparse amount. A deli can measure out a 1/3 pound of sausage, or cut your pepperoni paper thin.
Trying not to be let down when he doesn't want to eat your food is one thing, but resisting junk food around the house is a whole other animal. If you talk to him about it, maybe he can only buy single servings, and not keep them around where they're tempting you.
Good luck, Al_Pal. I'm curious to know if any member suggestions work out for you!
Maybe try shopping with him at an organic market or farmer's market. I know when I take my DH to Shop & Stop, he runs for the closest exit, but at Fairway or Whole Foods, he loves looking at everything in every aisle. If you're in a 'fancier' place, maybe he'll pick something up or look curious about something.
Another recommendation is to ask the butcher or produce guy (not stocker, but the manager or buyer) how to cook something. I've gotten some great recipes (spinach chicken burgers, veggie spaghetti sauce) from the specialty employees at higher-end markets. If your boyfriend is with you, maybe he'll seem interested.
I've been married 18 years to a wonderful man, a man whose eating habits couldn't be more different than mine. I love to cook, can be a very good and creative cook. But he prefers plain food, nothing particularly ethnic (some american-chinese), no gravy or sauces, little in the way of spices, dry salads, no tomatoes - it goes on and on. And while he has expanded his horizons a teeeeennnny bit., he still refuses to eat many things. And yes my feelings have been and can still be hurt, but I ask myself - why am I cooking something I know he won't like ? Who am I to decide what he should or shouldn't eat ? I came to realize that I can't let his preferences dictate my worth as a cook. If I cook what he likes and I cook it well and he's pleased - that's great. If I cook what he doesn't like - and I cook it well, and he doesn't like it - and I do - that's great too ! We can't change someone, only our own attitudes toward them.
The first thing he can do is eat smaller portions. I know you said you want to work on that after he moves onto eating better foods, but eating less of what he likes will show immediate results. If you stop arguing with him about meals and prepare the bulk of them yourself, you can make sure the portions are smaller and contain less of the high-fat ingredients he so loves. It just seems like whatever you're making now has so much less fat/calories that even if he does eat it, he's just adding everything back by seasoning it with tons of salad dressing, oil, or cheese.
If he likes snack food, introduce him to the 100-calorie packs or other low-fat/low-cal options. One of the biggest problems with snack food is that you just keep eating it without any idea how much you're taking in and at least that way he can eat 100 calories and be done with it.
Everyone's already given you a ton of great advice, so I'll just add a couple of ideas...
For Mexican food, try making breakfast burritos, but do so w/ whole wheat tortillas, egg whites (maybe one yolk if necessary), cooked grated cauliflower (to simulate the texture of rice), salsa, a little healthy avocado, and onions if you like
If you make mashed potatoes, do so w/ half potato half cauliflower... keep increasing the ratio of cauliflower to potato.
Make potato chips by slicing white potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, purple potatoes, parsnips thin (on a mandoline if you've got it); sprinkle with seasoning, and bake on an ungreased baking sheet til cooked and crisp... great for snacks
Make zucchini muffins... most people don't even know, and you can add fibrous ingredients like wheat bran and/or flax seed, though i personally find flax tastes very strong.
I betcha if you keep a bowl of cut up fruit salad, drizzled with lime juice for preservation in the fridge, and a bowl of pre-cut veggies, when he heads into the fridge looking for a snack, he'll delve into these.
If you're doing pasta, try using a whole wheat, or even better do half whole wheat, half spaghetti squash
If you're going to bake or have cookies, try lighter ones like meringues; another great food my parents used when they lost a lot of weight / were trying to eat healthier was to make skim sugar-free pudding... it upped their milk/calcium intake as well.
Try making fried rice, using half brown rice (who knows the difference when you're adding soy sauce anyways) and half cauliflower, then mince broccoli and carrots finely so it's hard to even pick them out. Scramble in egg whites, and some lean chicken breast, and voila healthier Chinese food. Serve with some Egg White Drop Soup with spinach.
I simply could not resist adding my two cents. With four kids and two cooks leading the house, here is my advise:
TOUGH LOVE: Your boyfriend (whatever his other good traits) has a child like, undeveloped palate. I would cook what YOU like and let him try it or cook something himself. If he acts like a child, treat him as such (with love of course!). We have trained our kids and with time and patience they have developed thier palates. For example, my eldest says she hated fish and most if not all seafood. She struggled anytime we made that for supper. Over time she found one dish she liked, then another and another. Now she loves many fish dishes. It took time and persistance, but it worked. The "this is not a restaurant" approach worked. He may work around eating your food for a while, but laziness, inertia should lead to a nibble here and a bite there. This will lead to interest and even, if you are lucky, enthusiasm.
LESS TOUGH LOVE: I never let my kids say "I don't like X". It is fine to say "I don't like X they way I have it prepared". Heck, I used to say "I don't like beets" and "I don't like cooked carrots". What I learned (with my wife at the helm of this issue) is that I had not found how I DID like them. Now, beets remain amongst my least favourite foods, BUT there are several ways I do like them. So try different approaches to the items you want him to eat (as others have suggested). I do not prefer this approach, but with a few tough sells, it can work.
Remember: you might have a lifetime with this guy. The notion that you can't change him does not apply to food (IMHO). Good luck!
Thank you ALL for the fantastic advice!!! I definitely didn't anticipate receiving so many wonderful responses.
Do you and your boyfriend exercise together? My husband and I started biking together 2 years ago and it has made a huge difference in our overall health and our diets. We're so much more conscious about eating to fuel our bodies for long rides and for recovery and about making better choices so that we feel better. And we stop at our local greenmarket every Saturday after a ride which has been really fun. Good luck!
Weight loss is not about diet. it's diet and exercise together. One won't work withouyt the other.
I'm a Personal Chef, so I've cooked for "Jack Sprat" and his wife<grin>. "Mexican food" is NOT inherently fat/bad for you. Make it at home; it's the commercial stuff that's crap. Make "mashed beans" from whole canned beans, don't buy "re-fried beans" full of fat. Use real shredded beef and pork trimmed of fat and braised in your own oven, not ground beef and pork. Use more chicken. Make your own colorado and verde sauces they taste better and are cheaper and healthier. Check out The Essential Mexican Kitchen by Rick Baylesss, the best Mexican chef north of the Border.
Likewise pizza. Make your own simple sauce for both pizza and pasta dishes. 90/10 ground beef not fatty Italian sausage. Easy thin or regular crust doughs with minimal oil. Cut out sausage and pepperoni (or at least reduce the amounts drastically ) and add mushrooms, peppers, etc.
Spicy is good; not bad. It's not spices that are giving him stomach problems, it's bad oils.
"Asian Stir Fries" are inherently healthy. They are not just meat dishes. They almost always have vegetables associated with them. DO NOT use more than 1 tablespoon of oil to stir fry with. Cook HOT and fast. Do not use commercial stir fry sauces. Make your own from rice wine vinegar, soy, etc. Use reduced sodium soy, serve on brown rice. Use lean cuts of beef and pork and limit the amounts of meat relative to the amounts of vegetables. .
As a guy, let me say this. Never "sneak" things into our food. That's a quick way to earn our distrust. I wouldn't do that to you; don't do it to me.
Be up front about cooking healthy for both of you. If he doesn't like it, tell him cook his own meals. If your healthy meals look, smell and taste appealing - he'll eat them. If he doesn't want to compromise on this issue, there are other things you may ultimately need to re-consider.
I think it would be nice to read some compromise on the part of OP. Also I think saying "I'm so proud of him" almost sounds like we're potty training :) :) How about "honey, I think it's great that you're expanding your horizons regarding food." Yes, it's semantics but perception by the listener is important. Someone mentioning that this has turned rather Dr. Phil-ish and I agree. But, hey, it got brought up here....