I’m scheduled to go into work late this afternoon after a day and a half of snow break, so I cooked a solid one-pan brunch for myself and aimed for flavor and a good balance of fruit and vegetable, protein, and grains.

Taking inspiration from shakshuka (worth looking up if you’ve never had it), I sweated green onions and garlic with a bit of cubed low-sodium ham. I added sliced black olives and mushrooms and allowed that to simmer until all the bits were cooked then added a half can of diced tomatoes with no added salt, seasoned lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander and stirred everything together and allowed it to simmer uncovered for a few minutes until much of the liquid had evaporated.

Finally, I hollowed out three divots and cracked a fresh egg into each divot, covered the whole thing in a layer of fresh spinach leaves, and covered. That cooked for maybe four minutes or long enough for the egg whites to set then slid the whole mess into a rimmed plate (ok, it was a Pyrex pie plate) and served with thinly sliced dry toast.

All-in-all, I had an orange-sized eighth-inch thick slice of ham, three eggs, a couple of portabella mushroom caps, three scallions, half a clove of minced garlic, a tablespoon or two of olives, the equivalent of a whole large tomato, a good double handful of spinach, roughly a quarter teaspoon each of salt, canola oil, cumin, and coriander and easily a half teaspoon of black pepper. Add two thinly sliced toasted bits of my own fresh homemade white bread. And black coffee. I’m very full but not uncomfortable, and I can’t imagine needing to eat again before dinner this evening.

Ramping up fruit and veg isn’t easy for me. It isn’t that I dislike either, but I’ve been largely a meat and dairy guy for a long time, cutting out as many carbs as possible. I am neither a nutritionist nor a dietician, but I have consulted both though neither suggested this particular recipe (especially since this was a brunch whim). This is about having a conversation around food. And it’s about being transparent about how I’m eating.

In case you don’t know, I’m forty-nine years old and counting, and I’m extremely overweight. I’ve probably tried as many diet plans as any sane person should with varying results. Weight has been an issue for me since grade school, and I refuse to subsist on rocks and tree bark. I love food. I love cooking it, and I love sharing it. I’m not a fan of preservatives or added salt or sugar. I prefer foods in relatively raw states when I begin working with them, in large part because I simply don’t trust industrialized food processors. My health is not their goal.

Nor is being a fitness model my goal. I’m interested in feeling better and living longer. Yes, I’d be happier when I look in the mirror to have a smaller belly, but that’s essentially cosmetic. What I want is to be able to go more and do more. Fifty is literally just around the corner, and I’ve never felt more impetus to make a change before a milestone birthday. I’m not in a panic, but I’m very aware of my age, my weight, and the challenges that someone with both issues faces in a world that largely ignores both unless there’s money to be made in making those people feel shifty about themselves.

Mainly, I don’t want to feel shitty. And I don’t want you to feel shitty. This is about feeling good, having fun, and connecting not only to those around us but also to the food that we must consume every day to survive and thrive. And it’s about finding what works for me. Your results may be different because your body and it’s metabolism are different. Think about what’s going onto your plate and into your mouth. Consider how various foods and meals make you feel. And perhaps most importantly, play with your food.

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