The Soapbox: Eat My Chenopod

Hilly: Have you lost your mind?  Minny: No, Ma’am, but you ‘bout to…
–The Help

Dear Reader, last month I made a promise to you not to write about chocolate and menopause, rather, the eternal things like true love straight from the words of the God who invented it; this, while being stuck in an elevator for about forty-five minutes on my way up to my office to peck out last month’s column.

My plans to write some Valentine’s Day romance for lovers based on the sentiments of classic chick flicks like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail were obviously circumvented as I pondered my life’s accomplishments in what seemed like an eternity with inhaler held tightly in my right hand.  The girl in the elevator asked some difficult questions of herself as she patiently waited to give herself permission to participate in a full-blown panic attack.  Had she really loved others well?  As we left things last month—she really got under my skin. 

After that episode, I thought about scratching petty topics like estrogen dominance completely off of my writer’s repertoire list, but I just can’t.  It’s too good.  It’s too funny.  If we women weren’t laughing at our hormonal shifts, we’d be crying.  Oh wait.

As women on a warpath to trump estrogen, the things we do to battle the natural process of aging and keep ourselves active and healthy are both plentiful and varied.  Drink red wine for the resveratrol.  No, don’t drink it, causes breast cancer.  Eat more spinach.  Did you have 2–3 servings of fatty-fish this week for heart health?  Have you remembered to remember the reasons we plank and studied all the muscle groups that benefit from planking?  The list goes on ad nauseam with certain “C” words like carbs, cross-fit, cardio, and carpool floating around in the female brain as we attempt to avoid multitasking ourselves into oblivion.  

Admittedly, there are days in the midst of multitasking through the “C” words that I wish it were 1950 and some of these words had never entered my vocabulary.  I daydream about my daydreams, as I imagine myself adorned in some yellow hand-sewn dress while scooping a heaping helping of homemade mashed potatoes right onto my son’s plate.  Of course, those mashed potatoes are paired up with meatloaf chased by a glass of whole milk and, undoubtedly, chocolate cake from scratch.  In my dreams, I long for simpler times in which workouts stemmed from clotheslines and carpool hadn’t yet been invented.  Instead, we ladies take on cortisol daily with our cell phones, computers, cars, and careers!  We strive to do better, be more, give more, learn more, and take care of all that God gave us.

Having said that, my story begins here.  In an effort to beat estrogen with a race against the biological clock, I’m currently on a health kick that is rooted in taking in a diet of female-friendly foods and, believe you me, I’m not afraid to dissect the food chemistry to my family as we all enjoy them.  Well, okay, there’s only one of us actually enjoying them.  That goes for the food itself AND the naming of its molecular structure.  This inevitably initiates a time of laughter followed by mocking and scoffing from my family whom obviously has no appreciation for my culinary guardianship of everyone’s health.  Let’s face it.  Where they are concerned, pork grease is traditionally considered a household staple.

One day, I decided that I would have the last laugh.  I came up with an ingenious plan to gain a little respect for my foods, for my femininity, for the women of the world, menopause, and dark chocolate, in general.  Darn you, estrogen.  Darn, blasted pork grease.  Darn, forty something.  Red dress state of mind, my eye!!  The girl in the elevator crossed her arms and shook her head as I crafted a plan to teach my family a lesson they would never forget.  Brandi, Brandi, Brandi.

One morning, I nonchalantly prepared quinoa for breakfast.  Party of one.  Though I explained to my family that quinoa is not only the supergrain of the future and the first cousin of spinach, but also the world’s healthiest food handed down to us from the ancient Incas, they continued right along the path of powdered donuts, fried eggs, bacon, and cheese.  I couldn’t spawn any interest whatsoever in my buttered chenopods, no matter how much cinnamon I used as an enticement.  That’s okay, I thought.  Go right along laughing. 

By 10 a.m., when breakfast and the quinoa was long-forgotten I whipped up a special batch of chocolate brownies that I introduced as a treat for our 2 p.m. coffee time.  When I pulled out the chocolate treats, their eyes grew with excitement since I rarely prepare dessert.   They felt so esteemed, and rightly so, that I had prepared for them these tailor-made confections.

I watched their little chocolate-eating grins as they lapped up the brownies, while poking fun at all the health nuts of the world.  “Hey, you gonna eat that?” I heard them say, as they reached for seconds and then thirds and praised the cook for the best brownies they had ever eaten, all the while heaping well-intentioned inside jokes on my head about the quinoa I had eaten for breakfast.  Unlike the girl in the elevator who was giving me non-verbal cues of her obvious disapproval inside my head, I relished in my little inside joke and continued to nod and smile as they heartily ate my health food. 

What they didn’t know was how my leftover breakfast quinoa was tucked, undetected, inside that brownie batter.  Funny thing, quinoa really helps everything to get moving the morning after, so the next day I was still suppressing giggles when I heard the reports of how good everyone felt.  The quinoa had performed wonders!!  Though my feat was not nearly as vile, I felt every bit as vindicated as Octavia Spencer’s Miss Minny who won herself an Oscar for a special pie of her own in the 2011 film The Help.  I SO wanted to say something like eat my chenopod.

Oh girl in the elevator I will make this up to you, you noble little creature, but for now let me have my fun.  I’m sorry for annoying my family with talk of phytochemicals and lignans.  I’m sorry if for one brief moment I’ve relapsed and failed at loving others well.  Would you believe me if I blamed it on the estrogen?  I sat back and replayed the memory of my big reveal to the mockers after feeling safe enough to do so on about the third day afterwards, then popped one of those special chenopod brownies in my mouth and had myself a good laugh when I said it again…eat my chenopod!!  Hell hath no fury like a woman informed.


Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper. Follow Brandi on Twitter @BrandiChambless


Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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