John and I decided to treat ourselves to a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese over some healthy dish we concocted - I can't remember what it was, but I remember the cheese. I looked up the caloric and fat content of a tablespoon of Parmesan and found that it contains only 22 calories and 1.4g fat (.9g saturated fat). We were stoked. Dairy is not normally part of our diet, and I'm lactose intolerant; however, a small amount of Parmesan won't hurt.
On the day of our Parmesan-dusted dinner, I came home to find my beloved mid-preparation for our meal (is there anything sweeter?). Spying what looked like a small pile of dust on a plate, I asked, "What is that?"
Our cheese, he said.
That's a tablespoon each, he said.
And here is an area where he and I differ. A tablespoon to him means a level tablespoon, just like your home economics teacher taught you as she scraped the spoon level with the flat side of a butter knife to measure EXACTLY one tablespoon. (Do they teach home ec anymore?)
A tablespoon to me means as much as you can heap onto the spoon without spilling as you go from cheese container to bowl. THAT'S a tablespoon. Half the time, I don't even use a tablespoon; I eyeball it. (One tablespoon of olive oil equals a one-one-thousand count, right?)
I know what you're thinking: "Are you kidding me? Twenty-two calories?"
No, I'm not kidding. I quickly outgrew my super-fast metabolism that carried me through the first 17 years of my skinny life. As soon as adulthood hit, my waist, bust, face and arms started carrying a nice layer of fat that expanded and contracted with every diet and exercise routine I'd pick up between stints of eating Wendy's Big Classics, smoking Marlboros and hitting happy hours. Then I had my son, shed my post-baby weight, became a stay-at-home mom, took gourmet cooking classes and put it right back on. It's been up and down since.
I try to look at frittering away calories like I do frittering away money. That change that accumulates in the bottom of my purse? It can add up to a nice lunch out. Without cheese, sugar and sour-dough rolls smothered in butter, of course.