The power of snacks
If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s the power of snacks. Whether we’re setting out on an eight-hour car ride or just heading to the grocery store, you’re likely to find an assortment of half-crushed granola bars, peppermints and fruit snacks on my person at all times. For myself, you know — not my toddler. His stash is an entirely different animal.
I’m pretty militant about this, especially while pregnant. There are times the nausea hits so swiftly that a Fiber One bar is my only savior. When I need to eat? I need to eat. It’s not an issue of being bratty or high maintenance; I mean, everyone knows not to mess with a pregnant lady’s meals. Unless you’re prepared to stop for a milkshake pronto.
At 17 weeks pregnant, I feel like my entire day revolves around food. Where to find it, when to eat it, which options are healthiest, what I’m going to do if I finish this bag of potato chips before I actually finish my ride home . . . you know: the usual.
Coming into the office each morning, I look like I’ve packed for a weeks-long summit up Mount Everest. My lunch bag — more of a duffel, really — overflows with string cheese, granola bars, yogurt and leftovers. Last week I had a large container of chili for breakfast, which I chased with reheated enchiladas and a side of coleslaw. I call this “cleaning out the fridge,” whereby “cleaning out” means stuffing my face. Bonus: it’s also economical.
I rarely leave Southern Maryland these days. Attending a cousin’s bridal shower near Gaithersburg on Sunday confirmed that I’ve lost any remaining love for the Beltway. I commuted to the University of Maryland in College Park from Waldorf for three years, and . . . you know, that was fine. I survived. It built character. But now? I’m fine with just navigating Route 4, Route 5, Route 231 — any of the many routes connecting us down here, apparently. Far from the maddening crowd.
This Beltway drive was unavoidable, though. My sister, mom and I set out early to be sure we’d get to the shower by noon — not taking Redskins game-day traffic into account. By the time we slowed near Ritchie Marlboro Road, I was digging out a pumpkin bar and stealing some of my mom’s salted peanuts.
You see, I come by this naturally. My mother is a planner and a snacker — necessary for keeping her blood sugar levels up. While many of us enjoy a good treat, making sure to always have food handy is a necessity for her. Katie and I grew up knowing peanut M&Ms, granola bars and raisins were always close at hand, and we took that for granted.
I don’t anymore. When a colleague sent out a party invite last month, I re-read it several times. No mention of the meal situation — only a request to bring a dessert. “This is probably a dumb question, but will lunch be offered?” I replied. “Just want to plan accordingly, given I’m eating for two.”
That saying isn’t true, I know — not in a literal sense, at least. I’m not eating for two full-grown adults, and I know I need to watch my weight (go up! Watch it go up! . . . Just kidding, Doc). I am taking in more calories to combat everything this child is taking, though, and that means four dill pickle spears instead of three. Another scoop of ice cream. A third slice of pizza. Something like that.
When we arrived at the bridal shower, I had to resist pushing people out of my way in pursuit of the appetizers. Women are expected to mix and mingle and not immediately chow down at these gatherings, but I’d spent an hour and a half in the car and those peanuts were nothing but a salty memory.
If there’s one reason to attend a shower (aside from, you know, wishing the guest of honor health and happiness), it’s for the food. I expect my family to turn out at these things. We don’t do cheese and crackers. I’m talking a full-blown vegetable platter, breads, dips, even pre-lunch cookies — ’cause that’s totally a thing. Don’t they say that life is short and we should all just eat dessert first?
I took one of those dainty plates that looks like it should be served at a doll’s tea party
and filled it with grilled eggplant, red peppers and mushrooms, then slathered it all with hummus. Potato chips went on the side. Shrimp cocktail took up any remaining real estate. I planted myself near my grandmother, content to have her carry the conversation, and dug in.
I would normally feel self-conscious about my overflowing plate when a series of beautiful, reed-thin women stood empty-handed nearby, but I’m too old and definitely too pregnant to care about that now.
And the hour-long opening gifts portion of the shower? It’s a rite of passage, and I love it . . . but don’t forget to pass the peanuts.