If parallel worlds exist — and they do in science fiction — perhaps cheeseburgers, beer and chocolate milk have zero calories there.
Science fact on our version of planet Earth says there are calories aplenty in all three. I’m trying to ditch a bunch of them.
Losing calories means losing weight. My doctor — George — has requested I drop 15 pounds. I’ve been working on the project since mid-April.
More exercise is part of the plan, and I’ve added martial arts lessons to a regimen that already includes running and cycling. Some foods are no longer on my shopping list. I’ve eliminated those fabulous fat-free chocolate milks that taste like liquid fudge. This is a significant subtraction because I can drink the stuff like a vampire. My favorite brand packs 160 calories into every eight-ounce serving. When I was knocking off a quart a night — kind of like Ray Milland in “Lost Weekend” — I was putting 640 extra calories in play.
So while I am no longer enslaved by the chocolate cow, I’m trying to keep beer and cheeseburgers in my routine. These are weekend distractions only, and with summer weather just about here, more potent Sam Adams bottles are out and more diet-friendly Coors Light and Michelob Ultra are in.
Dr. George has convinced me to avoid bread and grains. I have reduced my temptations during Saturday and Sunday cookouts by going green, and it’s all about lettuce.
Only a bachelor might be able to get away with this, but I’ve been assembling my cheeseburgers on wide leaves of romaine or Boston red lettuce. I put two leaves on the bottom of my plate and add the beef, pickles, onions, tomatoes and ketchup. Two more leaves of lettuce cover the works.
This culinary move may sound as crazy as Ralph Kramden’s no-cal pizza or dog food appetizer — watch “The Honeymooners,” kids — but I think all chefs of the future will be using my idea. I’ve found the romaine leaves provide a sturdier foundation. The softer Boston red is the tastier choice. Don’t use iceberg — it’s too flimsy.
Big napkins or a bunch of paper towels are also part of the recipe, because “lettuce burgers” can be a little sloppy when lifting and biting. The inconvenience is worth it to add more nutrition to dinner and keep two rolls off the menu.
Because cold cuts have been a lunch staple since my high school days at stately Aquinas Institute, I will include them in chef salads. I’ve been using the lettuce trick with honey ham and smoked turkey, too. It’s simple enough to put cold slices — along with thin slices of onions and pickles — onto Romaine and wrap them up into a cool column that you can eat.
I don’t have to worry about soda, as I prefer ice water with lemon or lime juice to bottles of Orange Crush, Wink or 7-Up. I’m trying to reduce candy, too, although an editor who keeps a bowl full of Hershey’s miniatures and foil-wrapped kisses on her desk is not helping this drive to decency.
I kind of wish she’d bring in some lettuce to work.