Posted by: Hil | September 29, 2008

Add More Butter: An Interview with Blueberry Sis

From time to time, I like to spotlight people and resources that have had a significant impact on my food philosophy.  Today is exciting for me, because today is the first time that I will be covering a person who I know personally.  Please give a warm welcome to Blueberry Sis!  I grew up in a family of people who loved good food, and Blueberry Sis puts us all to shame.  I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who eats with as much gusto and pleasure as Blueberry Sis does.  Blueberry Sis has become quite the accomplished cook in recent years, spending two terms conducting independent study projects on French desserts and Indian cuisine.  In spite of her extremely busy schedule as a full-time student at a top music conservatory (including four hours of practicing her instrument every day), she always seems to make eating wonderful food a top priority.  We don’t see eye to eye on everything–she is still trying to convince me that butter counts as a whole food because it is unprocessed–but when I set about learning to listen to my body and eat what I truly wanted, her example may have been the most helpful resource I had at my disposal. 

It took me quite awhile to realize how much I could learn from my sister.  Blueberry Sis hit the genetic lottery in terms of her body type.  She inherited my father’s very small, lean, fine-boned build and my Hispanic mother’s curves.  I always struggled with my weight as a teenager, and I was (understandably, I think) somewhat bitter that while I was constantly watching my diet, this tiny person living with me was joyfully devouring red meat, potatoes and ice cream and expressing deep distress if I ever attempted to excise these items from our fridge. 

What it took me awhile to realize was that while Blueberry Sis has a naturally tiny build, she also has an amazing natural knack for intuitive eating.  She always listens to her body and never, ever overeats.  She has no problems ordering a huge rib-eye steak and eating a quarter of it…the leftovers would make a wonderful breakfast, she would say.  While I may never be able to eat what she eats (I am far too sensitive to processed carbs, for example), looking at how she eats has taught me so much.  I have learned from her to honor my personal food quirks and always to find food that is worth relishing.

Blueberry Sis has kindly agreed to let me interview her for this post.  I hope that this interview will give you a glimpse into her unique outlook on food and eating.

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Q:. Briefly describe your food philosophy.

A:  My food philosophy can basically be summed up by the following:

  • I always love the food I eat. There’s this awesome quote from the movie Ratatouille: “I don’t like food – I love it. And if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” If there’s a food I don’t like, or if I’m just neutral to, I won’t eat it. I only make things that make me happy.
  • I eat when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m full. This means I often eat snacks all throughout the day, but then again I usually have pretty small portions at meal times.
  • I don’t eat anything that makes me feel sick. For example, bread and pasta just don’t sit well with me, so I won’t eat them. Likewise, I try really hard not to overeat—not because I’m worried about calories, but because I don’t want to make myself feel sick (a side note on avoiding overeating: if you know you’re going to have another snack again in two or three hours, it’s a lot easier to stop eating when your stomach is just perfectly full)
  • I drink lots of water and fruits and veggies (or I try to, anyway).
  • I try to avoid chemically processed foods (I’m usually allergic to it anyway).

Q. You have done two independent study projects on cooking. Can you tell us about them?

A. I did one on French desserts (basically, you can make any French dessert by dumping large quantities of butter and heavy whipping cream and eggs and chocolate into a bowl and adding a tiny bit of flour to make it all stick together), and I did the other on Indian Food (basically, you just cook up a bunch of veggies and meat and dump tons of spices in).

Q. What is your all-time favorite cooking tip/trick?

A. Add more butter to whatever you’re making. It’ll make it taste better, and it’ll be more satisfying so you’ll be able to eat a smaller amount.

Q. What are your favorite foods?

A. Indian Food and Mexican food! I love anything spicy and unusual, especially if there’s a lot of meat in it. I also love cheesecake and chocolate mousse.

Q. Are there any foods that you dislike or won’t eat?

A. Yup! I hate bread (unless it’s really sugary or buttery, like Mexican sweet bread or croissants), and I don’t really do pasta. I also don’t like beets.

Q. Why no bread or pasta?  We know you aren’t avoiding carbs since you like potatoes, white rice and ice cream.

A. I don’t completely know. Bread doesn’t really sit well with me, and I don’t think it tastes very good. It doesn’t make me very happy to eat it, and I like to only eat things that make me happy.

Q. What is your philosophy about desserts?

A. Make them as indulgent as possible (i.e. tons of fat) and then savor them with a cup of coffee (and only eat just enough to satisfy you, since getting sick on your awesome dessert would spoil the whole experience).

Q. What are your go-to convenient snack items?

A. Banana chips are a current favorite. I also like Fritos a lot when I’m traveling, since they’re widely available wherever you go.  [Note from HilFritos, despite being fried and salty, have a very short ingredients list and don’t include partially hydrogenated soybean oil or strange mystery additives.  So if you are a fan of unprocessed food, they are a pretty good way to indulge a chip craving.]

Q: How do you decide what you are going to eat at a given meal? Do you plan ahead, or do you go with what you feel like at the moment?

A: I ask myself what I feel like eating, and usually I can come up with a very satisfactory answer. So, if I’m hungry, I might think for a bit, and decide I want something really fatty and salty. So, I’ll slice up an avocado and a tomato and drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season it.

Q: How do you decide how much you will eat at a given meal? Do you purposely practice portion control?

A.  As I’ve said before, I eat exactly the amount that makes me full – no more and no less. Although I do occasionally eat more than I need (like if I’m at a restaurant where the food is absolutely out of this world), I usually regret it, because then I get a horrible stomach ache for the next half hour, and that really takes the joy out of eating for me.

Q:  I’ve noticed that you place a very high value on eating what you want, even if it is less than traditional (e.g. tacos for breakfast) or requires significant effort on your part to prepare (e.g. chocolate layer cake with ganache frosting). What are your thoughts on this?

A:  Well, I’m the type of person that usually knows what she wants, and if it’s at all possible to get what I want (and it’s not going to be detrimental to myself or others), I go for it.

Q: What are your thoughts on eating food that you don’t like or want due to time constraints, what other people are serving you, etc?

A:  Basically, if I don’t want it I don’t eat it (again, see my Ratatouille quote!), although if there’s absolutely nothing else and I’m dying of hunger, of course I’ll eat something I don’t care for as a last alternative. And I try to eat what other people serve me, but if it’s a food I really don’t like or want, I usually try to get out of it somehow (my boyfriend will usually eat it for me, so that helps).

Q: Have you ever gained weight that you did not want to gain? Do you consciously monitor or manage your weight now?

A:  I gained a little bit of weight at summer camp once, when I was eating chemically processed food in the dining halls. And then the food was really awful, so I was eating lot of junk food from care packages to supplement my diet. But then I lost it without thinking about it when I got back home and started eating normally again. I don’t monitor my weight now; I just follow my guidelines above. I try to exercise when I have time, but that doesn’t always happen.

Q: What is your exercise routine like?

A: Oh dear… Well, I do crunches. And I walk a lot (to classes and just around campus for fun). I try to run for a mile five days a week, but it’s easier for me to do that in summers than during the school year. And I want to start lifting weights again, but I haven’t quite gotten around to that yet… I’m thinking about starting up again in January, because I won’t have any classes and I’ll have more free time.

Q. Do people ever comment about your weight or eating habits? How do you handle it when they do?

A.  I’ve always been small, and people comment on it a lot. If I’m particularly hungry and eat “a lot” when I’m at someone’s house, people say “How do you eat so much and stay thin?” But then if I don’t eat “very much” (like if I had a hearty snack the hour before), people comment. I haven’t thought of a good response yet; if anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Q: You suffer from a pretty wide range of food allergies. What advice would you offer to people who feel constrained and bored avoiding items they are allergic to? How do you keep things interesting and get all of the nutrients that you need?

A:  Add spices!!! And use whole seeds instead of the ground stuff; the flavors will be stronger. Also, I love going to fun stores with organic items (Trader Joes, Whole Foods, random local places); they can be pricey, but they usually have unusual stuff that’s really fun to try. 

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To summarize, Blueberry Sis eats rich, flavorful, unprocessed food in moderate portions, doesn’t eat things that she doesn’t like regardless of how common they are, and never overeats.  She doesn’t stress about weight or calories and genuinely savors everything that she eats.  Not a bad way to live!

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Responses

  1. Great tips from Blueberry Sis!

  2. Great interview!!

    Love her dessert philosophy, especially 🙂

  3. I love everything about your sisters food philosophy. I hope to undo all of the damage I have done to my metabolism, my self esteem and my relationship with food one day. My goal would be to live JUST as your sister said.

  4. Oh Blueberry Sis, you sounds like that girl I’ve always wanted to be. Kudos to you for having such a wonderfully healthy and balanced relationship with food! Hil, your entire family is an inspiration 🙂

  5. I love Blueberry Sis’s eating philosophy. All women should eat like that in an ideal world. Too bad that doesn’t really happen.

    Great interview. 🙂


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