Balancing Binges - Salsa-Yogurt Tortilla Chips

Craving a carb-filled snack? A fatty burger? Or just a big plate of dripping, 3,000-calorie nachos?

We all have those days.

A balanced diet, though, is more than just maintaining the perfect equilibrium of strong will and some of the most inhumane cravings. Because true balance should take into account physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Sure an apple tastes great after a productive day and a fierce workout, but try your tummy with that same apple on a rainy day after a disappointing performance at work or a hot-blooded argument with a friend and then see what happens.

Most likely, tummy will get upset, and put up defenses, sending you rushing to the toilet faster than you can say "I'm sorry."

To avoid such calamities and keep the peace, it's wise to plan ahead for setbacks - or what we know as binges.

My own back-step came yesterday. After a long, stressful day on the job and a later trying of the self-esteem with dreadful thoughts of wearing a bikini on vacation in October, I got home deflated. The gym wasn't going to cut it tonight, and neither were any friend's soothing words. Instead, I opened the fridge in search of a boost. Even the previous night's delicious couscous didn't make me blink.

But the bottle of spicy salsa did. Not only did I blink, but my eyes opened wide, and before I could change my mind, my fingers were wrapping around the cold bottle. And thanks to some half-eaten bag of tortilla chips in the cupboard, I found my consolation: Chips and salsa combined with reruns of Seinfeld.

Feet up on the coffee table and bag in hand, I started munching thoroughly. My roommate opened his door and walked to the kitchen. At my crunching, he paused midway. "Is that your dinner?" he asked. I looked down at the crumbs on my shirt. "Yes," I answered apathetically as I stuffed another chip in my mouth. "You mind?" I almost added, but decided against it. This wasn't my day and I knew it - no point in taking it out on roomie. Instead, I continued chomping on the tortillas, waging war against the world, in my head, wishing it away. Only my roommate disappeared, a few minutes later though, back to his room, leaving me alone with my pathetic thoughts.

And suddenly, I couldn't take it anymore. "What are you doing, Nat?" I questioned. "Eating, you mind?" my hateful alter ego answered. But even that part of me began to feel empty. As many chips as I tried to cover up my dissatisfaction with, something was still missing.

"Ah! The sour cream," it suddenly remembered. "These chips won't come to life with JUST salsa!"

And as if I had just had a million-dollar idea, I shot up and reached back into the fridge for sour cream. And this is where the balance came in: Because I never buy fatty sour cream, I grabbed the yogurt, did a double take, then shrugged, sat back down and opened the container. And from then on, it was easy. How easy? This much:

Salsa-yogurt Tortilla Chips
1. Grab a chip.
2. Dip in salsa and scoop.
3. Dip in yogurt, careful not to splatter the salsa, and scoop.
4. Eat.
5. Repeat.

Never in my life have I binged on so much calcium. By the end of my dinner, I realized that even old episodes of Seinfeld can be re-watched for the millionth time when good, healthy "unhealthy" tastes are created and consumed in an instant right in your own living room.

And most important, by the time I went to bed, I knew that even on this dreadful day, despite my antics, I had kept the balance. Did I feel like a total pig? Certainly! But I had managed to use my creativity in replacing one horrible ingredient with something more useful, thus soothing my craving and maintaining my desire to stay healthy. Who would have thought that salsa and yogurt would do tortilla chips justice?!

You see, food is not just about eating vitamins and minerals; it's about keeping the mindset light, the ideas flowing. It's about putting your heart into a simple idea, so that it, too, can return the favor and mollify your palate - and your mood.

And after all, tomorrow is another day for apples.

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About The Author, Natalia M
By Natalia M (