Weighty issues (oh, and slow cooker thyme pork roast)

Pork

I think I set a record on Sunday.

The very first person — ever, in the history of kitchens — to call out, “Oh, don’t even TELL me we’re out of caraway seed.”

Because … who uses caraway seed? And who uses caraway seed so often that they actually fear running out of it?

(Well, my delightful grandmother, who made the Polish-inspired dishes from her own youth that I devoured in mine. But, you know.)

Never fear: our jar of caraway seed was more than halfway full, so I could stifle the panic building in my chest as I prepared this slow cooker meal for Monday. That’s right, friends: I officially got my act together and prepared a meal a day in advance, refrigerated it and pulled it out Monday morning to simmer for that evening’s dinner. (Just let the crock warm up to room temperature first, of course.)

And it was delicious.

Like, oh, much of the adult population, January finds me thinking about goals and priorities and all that adult-ish stuff. Now that I’m also a mother, a working mother and an often stressed working mother, I really want to get back to writing out a serious meal plan on weekends, sticking to it, grocery shopping on Sunday and placing an emphasis on healthy eats.

Despite my hesitancy in my last post, I went ahead and jumped back into Weight Watchers (affiliate link). It’s been three years since I nervously attended my first meeting and two since I hit my goal weight, dropping 35 pounds, but I’m now — post-Oliver — heavier than I was when I started in 2013.

I just wasn’t sure I was ready for that level of commitment. Last summer, when I was an exhausted new parent who had just returned to work, I got it into my head that I needed to get “me” back. Now. If I let myself slack off with my eating, I thought, I’ll never lose the weight again. I’ll roll right back into old habits. That will be the end of the person I used to know.

Well, I was right — and wrong.

I’m not my pre-baby self again, of course. Everything that happened in 2015 — the beautiful, the scary, the overwhelming, the miraculous — changed me forever. Becoming a parent changes you forever . . . and I’m extremely grateful for that! I mean, it should.

But I did go back to old habits. It’s tough to come out of a pregnancy — unexpectedly early, too — and go right back to tracking every single thing you put in your mouth: something I was not in the habit of doing. Like, at all. For the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I pretty much lived off Chick-Fil-A’s frozen lemonade milkshakes.

When Oliver remained in the hospital for a month, Spencer and I ate whatever was quick and convenient. This translated to many lackluster cafeteria meals a few floors down from his NICU, as well as Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A runs at odd hours driving back from Baltimore.

When he finally came home, it was just about stuffing something in your face between feedings, and diapers, and screeching.

Prepping enough to prepare healthy, quick meals with a newborn in the house? It just didn’t happen. I had grand ambitions of getting freezer meals ready before the baby came, trying to make our lives a little easier, but . . . well. That obviously didn’t happen.

After I went back to work in mid-June, I thought: it’s time. I now have nine uninterrupted hours in which I can focus on my job and control what I’m eating at ye ol’ desk.

That didn’t happen, either.

I was tired. And sick. Our company was sold over the summer and everyone’s duties changed quickly. Many of my friends were laid off, and I was staring down an extreme amount of change in a short time. It was the final straw in a very stressful season.

Quite honestly, I was depressed.

Though I haven’t discussed it publicly, I’ve been struggling with PTSD and postpartum anxiety since last spring — and there are times it was all I could do to get through the day. I finally sought help in the fall and feel about 1,879,986 times better than I did in October. The pressing weight of worry has lifted.

Through all that? I wasn’t obsessing about eating pumpkin pie, I can assure you.

pie

But I’m out of excuses now.

Oliver has been sleeping through the night — with the occasional hiccup, of course — for months . . . which means Spencer and I have, too. That early haze of dead exhaustion, which clouded absolutely everything, is gone.

Work has settled down. I’m happy and excited with my new responsibilities, and enjoying the new challenges. I’m still writing my column, but also working on projects and articles about different, interesting things. It’s really . . . fun. I miss my friends, of course, but we’ve kept in touch through the holidays.

The holidays are over. They were beautiful, but there’s something refreshing about vacuuming up all that rogue tinsel. It was sad hauling out the Christmas tree, but let’s be honest: the holidays have their own pressures that can’t be denied. Choosing perfect gifts, paying for said gifts, trying to see family and friends in a short time, traveling. It’s . . . a lot.

But January is bare. January is clean. January is scrubbed fresh, a calendar waiting to be filled with whatever we choose, and I’m ready again.

So I’m choosing my health.

It’s been a whole four days since I got back on track with Weight Watchers, so the aroma of my enthusiasm is still quite strong, I know! But honestly, there’s comfort in getting back to a familiar program that helped me so much before. It taught me to control my eating — and gave me such confidence — for the first time in my adult life.

Weight Watchers has been revamped for 2016, and I love the changes. LOVE. (They are not paying me to say this, by the way; my subscription is paid for by yours truly, along with generous affiliate referrals.) With their new “Beyond the Scale” approach, there’s a much greater emphasis on physical activity — not just your pants size. Obviously we’re all joining Weight Watchers to learn healthier habits and drop pounds, but everything begins and ends with overall health.

They’ve revamped how points for foods and drinks are calculated, and the new method makes much more sense. Under the old system, fats were fats; it didn’t matter if they were saturated, “bad” fats or good, healthy fats, ones we need and should eat. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter could have the same points value. So what’s the incentive to go with the healthier option?

Many things haven’t changed, thankfully: fresh fruits and vegetables are still zero points, so you can — and should! — eat as much as you want. That was my saving grace the first go ’round. If I’d overindulged earlier in the day and was out of points for that after-dinner snack, I could always reach for a clementine and not feel deprived. There was always something to eat — as long as I’d made the effort to stock up on healthy food for the house. (But that’s another post.)

The first time I joined WW, I wanted to feel better: physically, mentally, emotionally. And I absolutely did. But I’ve come back to WW because I want to get my blood pressure down, return to a much healthier relationship with food and start showing my son — right now — that how we treat our bodies matters. And I know WW works.

So: there it is. My current weighty issues. It feels good to just . . . get all that out.

And I swear, this started out as a recipe post!

So, um, did you want to talk about pork tenderloin? Sure. Okay. Let’s do this.

This recipe is a WW recipe, actually: from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, which is ringbound and glossy and pretty. Some of the recipes I’ve made from it have been hits, others misses, but this one? Definite hit.

If you don’t like sauerkraut, you won’t like this. But if you do? You will. So much that you’ll want to make it again immediately. The apples lend a delicious sweetness to the dish, while the sauerkraut, caraway seed and onion — which mellows through slow cooking — give it punch.

It’s the perfect blend of sweet/sour. Dig in!

Pork

Slow cooker pork roast
with sauerkraut and apples

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (1 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of fat
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (2-pound) package of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 large red or white onion, sliced
1 McIntosh or Cortland apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 cup dry white wine
Chopped fresh parsley

1. Sprinkle thyme, pepper and salt over pork. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.

2. Combine sauerkraut, onion, apple and caraway seeds in 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Place pork on top of vegetables; pour wine over. Cover and cook until pork and vegetables are fork-tender, about 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

3. Transfer pork to platter and cut into 6 slices. Spoon sauerkraut mixture around pork and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 6.


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18 thoughts on “Weighty issues (oh, and slow cooker thyme pork roast)

  1. Ahhh that roast looks incredible – my mouth is watering! Loved your honesty about getting back into your healthy lifestyle routine… I have heard great things about weight watchers. I have been following Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and Lauren Glesiberg’s free blog challenges, along with her ebooks that you can buy, and I love how they are usually only about 30 minute workouts but they are so effective. Much like you, I am not affiliated with either program in any way, shape or form but do enjoy the convenience so thought I’d share, if you’re interested 🙂

    • Thanks, Briana! I always appreciate other get-healthy ideas and tips. It’s tough, but we’re worth it! And if you get a chance to try the roast, I wouldn’t hesitate. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kathy! I was a little nervous to publicly share my intentions, but I think that’s part of what will help me stay on track. Like all major changes in life, we all need support — and I know I’ll find it here with such supportive friends!

  2. The roast looks great. That was part of my Christmas Eve dinner. Made by moi. Meg, best of luck with WW and the scales that aren’t always kind. Take it one day and one pound at a time. Small steps will get you there. BTW, nice post. One day its Black holes the next is weight watching. You could write about grass growing and make it intriguing.

    • You are so kind — thank you! I’m looking forward to getting some control back in this formerly out-of-control area of my life. I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to the weight I achieved before pregnancy, but I’ll settle for feeling healthier and happier — no matter the end number.

    • That cassoulet (ooh, sounds so fancy!) looks delicious, Sophie — thank you for sharing! And thanks for the kind words. The slow cooker is the best . . . I’m pretty much obsessed. There’s nothing like coming home from a long work day to find a piping-hot meal waiting for you — especially in winter!

  3. I know how you feel in so many ways! My health and my own self-care went out the window when Caleb was born. Between exhaustion, adjusting to a whole new life, working motherhood, baby blues, etc., health hasn’t been on my mind. I’ve been wishy washy with MyFitnessPal – some days I log my food, some days I find a little time to work out – but it’s all been half hearted since Caleb was born. I’ve lost a good amount of my pregnancy weight but I still have about 30ish to go. It’s frustrating, it’s hard… but it’s important! I really want to get back on track this year too.

    I will be rooting for you and thinking of you as we go along on our similar journeys! We can do it and we have to remember we won’t be perfect… progress is what matters! 🙂 Lots of hugs to you and Ollie from Caleb and me.

    • Steph, we were definitely destined to be friends! I know you understand exactly where I’m coming from, and where I want to go. As new moms, I know we’ve been doing the best we can . . . and we have to give ourselves some grace. But as soon as we feel ready, it’s time to rock it. You know I will be here rooting for you, too! ❤

  4. I was raised on a variation of this roast (Dad used chicken, pork, or sausage), but as a much simpler recipe! He slow-baked the meat with caraway-seeded saur kraut and sliced apples. It melted in our mouths!!

    • This is definitely one to savor, Cordelia! Love the idea of using chicken or sausage, too. I’m sure that would be awesome!

  5. Congratulations on a successful start on your new again journey. It’s hard, but you know you can do it. I’m glad you have a great support group – both in WW and here with your blog. Keep us posted on your progress.

  6. I know I need to get back on the healthy eating regimen. The husband and I started something like that – it’s been a hit or miss so far but we are persisting. But what I most want to do is to get in the habit of meal planning, which I hate, so it’s going to be a challenge. We’ll see. Good luck on your Weight Watcher’s commitment! Someday, I will try that out too.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think it’s brave of you and I look forward to hearing all about your WW journey. Thanks for sharing that recipe too. I love an easy crock pot recipe and this one sounds awesome. Good luck and I applaud you!

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