Friday, February 27, 2009
Originally, this was supposed to be Southwestern Pasta, as seen in the picture here. My mother found the recipe in another of my most-used cookbooks, The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet, which is a great cookbooks for herbivores and omnivores alike. I have found that many healthy recipes using unusual ingredients hide in vegetarian cookbooks and never see the light of day in cookbooks too focused on meat or fish. Because the meals in this book only contain five ingredients, at the most, you can easily add to and embellish the recipes. A lot of the dishes work well as side dishes and you could simply add fish, chicken, or another meat.
The original recipe calls for:
1 can black beans (drained)
Fresh corn (from two ears) or 1 cup frozen
3 scallions, chopped
1 jar salsa
1/2 cup olives
1 tomato, diced
In these quantities, it would probably feed 3 people, but I scaled it back just to feed me.
Put your pasta on to boil. When it boils, dump in the pasta and start cooking the rest.
First saute the seafood medley and the frozen corn in a pan until defrosted and they begin to cook. When the shrimp are pinkish, add the black beans, onions, olives and tomato and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the salsa and stir gently - you don't want to mush up the beans too much.
Serve over the pasta.
This was how I had it the first night. Feel free to try it this way, but I think it goes much better with bulghar wheat, which is also much quicker to make. Brown rice, or wild rice medley would also work well for this dish. You could also experiment with polenta and make a southwestern seafood grits dish. Oooh, I will have to try that!
Trader Joe's Mini Shredded Wheats with 3/4 cup milk
Snack: Cafe Americano with 1 tsp real cream (I know, very naughty)
Lunch: Southwestern medley with bulghar wheat (1/2 cup bulghar, 1 cup mixture shrimp/bay scallops and shrimp, 1/2 cup corn, 1 tomato, 2 green onions, about 6 olives, mixed with 1/2 cup salsa).
1 square dark chocolate
Dinner: Stir fry (about two cups vegetables with two ounces spaghetti noodles and 1 serving baked tofu, plus about 3/4 cup beansprouts)
And I had better add about 3 teaspoons olive and sesame oils in there for lunch and dinner to be fair.
And no booze!
1. Baked Tofu: I am totally useless at cooking tofu. I have tried many times and by several different methods, but it always comes out burnt on the outside and mushy and gross in the middle, so pre-baked, seasoned tofu is a godsend for me. It's also a great way to rustle something up quick. Throw it in a stir-fry or slice it and put it in a wrap or sandwich. I like Trader Joe's Savory Baked Tofu, but I believe many supermarkets have their own brands, and there are some national organic brands too.
2. Tempeh: What a great substitute for meat! It doesn't matter if you're not a vegetarian, apparently they still let you buy this stuff. It has a meaty texture and absorbs seasonings well, yet is less bland than unseasoned tofu. It's also ridiculously filling. I have also used this in sandwiches and stir-fries, but there are myriad ways you could prepare it.
3. Turbot: Like the oh-so-trendy tilapia in that it is a flaky white fish, but one with a little more meatiness and flavour. I buy mine preseasoned at Trader Joe's in the freezer section. It's fabulous lightly dredged with flour and sauteed, but it would be just as great to add your own seasonings.
4. Almond Butter: Not a fan of peanut butter? Me neither, but I do love almond butter. Still contains the benefits of peanut butter - it's loaded with good fats - but has different benefits too.
5. Whole Wheat Lavash: A giant wrap-type bread from Persia and surrounding areas, much like an enormous rectangular tortilla. I have used the whole wheat kind, available from Whole Foods, to make wraps stuffed with cups and cups of vegetables. These are excellent if you're really hungry and want a large vehicle for conveying huge amounts of sandwich stuffings into your mouth.
6. Bulghar Wheat: This is the grainy stuff in tabouli, but the grains on their own are fantastically versatile and super-quick to cook. You can even wet them and soak them for 30 minutes to make a salad. Eat these hot or cold, or make hot and eat cold for leftovers. Add vegetables, seafood, spices, herbs, whatever. Quick, cheap, easy, filling, versatile. If you can't find a box of it, find a grocery/natural foods store with bulk bins. You will often find it there.
7. Sesame Oil: Go easy on this stuff because a little goes a long way! Add it to stir-fry or fried rice for an extra nutty tang. It also just smells fabulous when cooking and you will impress your friends with the exotic smells eminating from your kitchen. Add it to Asian salads too for an extra kick.
8. Blood Oranges: I like these to eat, but they also make an excellent mimosa! I even had a blood orange and basil sorbet last summer. They are not as sweet as regular oranges and somehow seem more filling too.
9. Smoked Mackerel: I'm cheating here a little bit, because I have eaten this for years, but this year marks the first time I have found it available in my neck of the woods. It's a very strong flavoured smoked fish with an oily texture. I like the peppered kind the best. It's yummy for snacking with crackers and other goodies, or on little pieces of toast in the morning (although you probably will smell like it all day). It mixes will with sliced tomato, cucumber, arugula, or watercress. A little of this also goes a long way because of its strong and distinctive taste, but I find it kind of addictive (I am a flavour junkie!).
10. Greek Yogurt: I tried these first almost a year ago. They are a thick, creamy yogurt with a consistency close to soft cheesecake (but better for you). You can buy them plain, with fruit or honey, and in no, low, and full-fat versions. What I like about them is that I feel like I'm eating a piece of cheesecake, especially when I eat the full-fat version with strawberries, and this indulgence is still better than actually eating the cheesecake!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wish me luck. This will be difficult.
But, there's a special treat at the end for me because Easter Sunday (the end of Lent) is on my birthday this year. What a blowout I shall have!
Alright, carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, as do proteins. Fats have a whopping 9 calories per gram, which is why to lose weight, its best to cut fat grams as well. So where does alcohol fit into this mix? A gram of alcohol is 7 calories, almost as much as a gram of fat!! Shocking, I know, and very disheartening for those of us who enjoy a night cap or 5 ;)
Here's one of many sites that brings to light just how many calories that super fun night out with the girls contributed: http://www.ivillage.co.uk/dietandfitness/alcoholcaloriecounter/
So I decided to look into some of my favorite libations: a pint of Blue Moon = 228 calories. I must say, this is a damn shame, because one measly pint of my favorite brew is twice as much as a glass of white wine and almost as much as a WHOLE BOTTLE of sauv. blanc! Speaking of wine... I found another interesting site: http://www.myfoodbuddy.com/alcohol_calorie_counter.htm where you can calculate how many glasses of wine (or other beverage) you drink and see how many calories this adds up to over the course of a year and what that translates into pounds. Scary right?! So apparently drinking a wimpy 3 7oz glasses of wine a week = 24000 calories a year, which could be 7# of weight gain a year if I don't compensate for these calories. Yikes!
I wouldn't dream of telling anyone I know to stop consuming alcoholic beverages, so it's got to be a matter of evening things out. For example, I know I'm going to have some Blue Moon's one evening, so I try to leave myself some wiggle room to fit them into my overall caloric plan. Don't get me wrong, I do NOT go around calculating my calories all day, but I do make one choice over another when I know that I'll be treating myself later. After all, we still have to enjoy life right, and not just obsess over calories.
This makes 2 servings. You can freeze one for another beach-wishin' day.
1 large Mango
1 large Banana
1 banana or vanilla flavoured yogurt (I used 4 oz Trader Joe's Bananas and Cream)
Put all ingredients into a blender and zap until smooth. Yummy.
Monday, February 23, 2009
One of my favourite blogs, Weighty Matters, had an interesting post today about motivation and inspiration. The brainchild of two Yale professors who discovered people are, guess what, motivated by money, (duh, right?), StickK.com is a motivation bookie. You set your goal, give it a timeframe, and essentially bet on whether you'll succeed. You can collect the money at the end, give it to charity, or my personal pet choice, give it to an anti-charity, somewhere you would hate to see the money go if you lose.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
A few days ago I mentioned a recipe from the French cookbook I had acquired and promised I'd tell you how it worked out. I list the recipe below (it's super-simple) and tell you that if you've never considered cooking a cucumber before, you should try it. They turn out kind of like zucchini, but lighter and more refreshing. This is a delightful dish.
You will need:
4 oz seabass per person
1/2 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
Flour to dredge (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cucumber (I used English, but that's not necessary) per person
1 tomato per person
A few slices polenta per person
First, cut your cucumber up into segments about 3 inches long. Then take an apple corer and core out the seeds. Chop the cucumber into rings (see picture). In a colander, generously douse cucumber in salt. Leave to drain for 15 minutes. Then rinse the cucumbers well with cold water and pat them dry really well.
At this stage, start grilling your polenta slices on high. Spritz them with olive oil and seasoning if desired.
In a large saute pan, put the 1/2 teaspoon oil and butter into the pan and cook the cucumbers on high for two minutes. Turn the cucumbers, attach a tight fitting lid, turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook for nine minutes.
Take the cukes out of the pan and keep warm. Add the rest of the oil and allow it to get hot. Lightly dredge the seabass fillets in flour and drop them into the pan. Sear them on each side for about four minutes. Be careful when turning, as the fish will flake.
Lay out your polenta slices, top with the seabass. Arrange the sauteed cucumbers around both, and top with the diced tomato.
I'm just beginning with meal planning with her, and I'm already throwing my hands up. If you aren't willing to stretch your comfort zone, try new things, and make a damn effort, then it will never work. It ticks me off that people think that they can eat the way they always have and see any kind of success. You've got to be open minded at the least.
So, at the present time, I'm trying to plan a menu for someone who: doesn't like salad (its a texture thing), doesn't like soup, rice, or any vegetables other than corn, green beans, peas, and carrots, unless they're fried of course! This is a super challenge, even for me :(
Friday, February 20, 2009
Yesterday was a challenging day hunger-wise. My cold has me hungrier than usual so I really felt like stuffing my face all day. I left the house to go to work (only for a few hours though) without bringing the snacks I had laid out for myself, so by the time I finished work at 6:30, I was out in the suburbs and starving. My mind started wandering to all the places around Donelson in which stuffing my face was possible. If you know the area, you know that finding quick healthy food options is a challenge.
I had only had some Weetabix and milk, and orange, a slice of bread, and some lentil and carrot soup (140 calories), which usually would suffice, but I think the combination of my cold, the temperature outside, and the stress of the day combined to make me ravenous. I called up a friend (who is very anti-blog, so I know she won't read this) and suggested we meet at the Chili's out there. I thought perhaps Chili's might have some healthy options, and vaguely remembered something about a Guiltless Grill, but I thought, well, there's over 1000 calories left to this day, so big deal if it's not as "good" as homemade. Here are a couple of things I learned about Chili's. They do indeed have a Guiltless Grill. On the menu it says that these selections are guaranteed under 800 calories and 25 grams of fat (still sounds like a lot to me!), but it doesn't give the menu reader specific counts for each item on this guiltless menu. In fact, some of the items almost hit the maximum calories, and some, like the grilled tilapia, contain about 200 calories. That's a whopping difference. Knowing this would have made my choice much easier and I probably could have ordered a much more filling meal had Chili's armed me with this information. Also, some items that qualify for the Guiltless Grill criteria are not listed as such and just appear on the regular menu, like the Spicy Garlic and Lime Grilled Shrimp Salad. Unmodified, it undercuts the maximum calories by almost 200 (and without cheese, it comes in at way under and qualifies for the maximum fat gram allowance). I ordered it without cheese, dressing on the side, and picked out the tortilla strips. While this fastidiousness allowed me some extra leeway for the beers I chugged down to accompany the salad, it wasn't strictly necessary. The salad was actually delicious without both. Chili's had Happy Hour going on, so I ordered two beers (four really).
My friend pointed out that Chili's posts their nutritional content on their website, for which I applaud them, but what good does that do the customer stuck sitting at their bar, miles away from home and internet connection, starving, and trying to make intelligent food choices? Think it through, Chili's, and take my very logical suggestions. Put all the items that belong on the Guiltless Grill on it (have a version of the grilled shrimp salad without the cheese and with just a sprinkling of crunch tortilla strips) and give nutritional information for everything on this section of the menu. Help a girl out!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The ridiculousness of this arrested me and stopped me in my tracks. How had I got to this point in only two weeks? It's a question of extremes. I've gone from stuffing everything down my neck without any heed to its caloric content to monitoring every little morsel. Extremes like this will drive a person crazy, I thought.
It's difficult to maintain a balance mentally with food. When you are driven to extreme lifestyle changes physically, it naturally follows that your thought patterns will mimic these changes. As I continued to run, I decided to consciously monitor the balance I keep between my former throw all caloric cares to the wind-approach and my new awareness of the food and drink I intake. I can't become either too carefree or too critical. Being careless about eating has made me unhappy, but being uptight and overly critical of my eating habits will do the same.
By the time I huffed and puffed my way back into the house, I had made peace with the impending confrontation with the scale and woke up this morning ready to face the music.
I lost 3 more pounds.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Here's my goal. Let's see if you can help me. I want to be able to run to 51st St, and run back to my house. Right now, I can get to 51st, but I get winded and have to walk back. Cheer me on folks. I don't know how far it is to 51st St. and back to my house, but I'm guessing about 2.5 miles, almost a 5K, so put in your support, even if I run like a very large cross between a donkey and an octopus.
Monday, February 16, 2009
So, how many calories to eat?? This is very individualized, but here's a general rule to go by:
Take what weight you want to be, and multiply by 10. So say you want to get down to 130 pounds...you should shoot for 1300 calories. It may not be a great idea to go straight from 2000-3000 calories per day to 1300, but you can work your way down. Plus, if you start getting more active, this whole process is a lot easier.
The "reasonable" goal is 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. To begin, many people lose more than this, and that's a great boost to the motivation. But when it drops to just 1-2 pounds a week, that is still excellent progress. So you may say, "1-2 pounds a week is too damned slow!" but I say, hold on a minute Miss Impatient. By losing weight in the "slow and steady" manner, you're body is less likely to gain weight back, the ever-dreaded Yo-Yo effect. Think of it like this, if you starve yourself, that is exactly how your body will react accordingly. Your body will say, "Holy crap, I'm not getting much energy (aka calories), so maybe I should slow down my metabolism and conserve what energy I am getting." Your body conserving energy = calories stored as fat rather than being burned for energy. Think of a hibernating bear and you'll be on the right track. So you may lose decent weight initially, but you won't be able to maintain it. Depressing right? Well not if you remember: slow and steady wins the race. :)
Today I suffer from a general lack of motivation, a Monday malaise perhaps. I have not gone for my usual walk (yet - the guilt may get me soon), haven't cleaned or vacuumed, washed the dishes, or done the laundry. It's just one of those days. To accompany the malaise, there's a side-dish of ravenous hunger. Nothing but hunger all day, since getting out of bed this morning. There was the usual Weetabix and milk for breakfast, a cuppa tea, then a smoked mackerel and cucumber sandwich for lunch, followed by an apple, a spoon of almond butter, and then a pear, and then dinner. Dinner was ahi tuna with the rest of my Trader Joe's stir fry, some beansprouts, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, and 1/2 cup egg fried rice, harriedly thrown together as soon as I entered the house, famished. Delicious, but still there's an unsatisfied little demon inside. I'm not even sure what he wants: wine perhaps? chocolate? surely not more fruit? I'm going to ignore him and go wash the dishes. I hate getting in this snacky mood, because I'm generally so not a snacker that I'm afraid I'll just eat all day.
Oh well, here's a picture of my sloppy stir-fry for your enjoyment.
Yesterday I helped my mother sort out her books. She's following my lead and taking the ones she doesn't want to a used bookstore to sell. This is surprisingly profitable, as I learnt last week. In the process of sorting out her cookbooks, I found two or three she didn't want. I would like to highlight one gem that has sat inconspicuously on her shelf for years, unbeknownst to me. The French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking contains many delicious-looking recipes with a wide range of ingredients and difficulty levels. It is a healthy cookbook that has real food, classy dishes, and comfort cooking as well as truly healthy vegetarian-friendly whole grain-using dishes. For those relatively new to cooking, or those who wish to increase their skill level, there is a section of basic recipes (stocks, sauces, vinegarettes) and basic techniques. A quick browse through this section alone should sharpen up anyone's repetoire of kitchen skills. I am looking forward to making the Sea Bass with Sauteed Cucumbers. I'll let you know how it goes. The book is available used in hardback from Amazon.com for $1.99 plus shipping, so it's a true bargain.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I won. I neglected to mention this in my food journal yesterday, but I was craving vegetables so I washed and munched my way through an entire cauliflower. I devoured the delicious cruciferous. Did you know that cruciferous vegetables are actually named after the crucifix because they have four equal petals arranged crosswise?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Pumpernickel bread with 2 0z smoked mackerel
Coffee with 1 tsp real cream
1 slice multigrain bread (60 cal) with Heinz Baked Beans (90 cal) (Beans on Toast)
1 cup raw cauliflower
1/2 last night's leftover pizza
I anticipate some wine-drinkage to come.
Happy Valentine's Day
Friday, February 13, 2009
I have not posted a list of what I've eaten for a couple of days, although I have kept up with my food log on Fitday.com, so I'm fully aware of my caloric intake, well as much as I can guess with my limited dietary calculating skills. If you haven't checked out Fitday yet, I urge you to. I keep playing around with the features, which include an activity log, a food log, various graphs and charts, body measurement statistics over time, and a weight goal tracker. It's everything you would pay WeightWatchers for for free!
So I thought I would list my foods for today so you can get a continued idea of what I'm eating. Today has been an o.k. day, although I have not eaten as much fruits and veggies as I would have liked to, and I'm too full to eat any now.
German Pumpernickel Bread (120 cal, 6 grams fiber)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp homemade blueberry jam
1/2 cup milk
1 Whole Foods Whole Wheat Lavash Wrap (220 calories)
8 thin slices Tempeh
About 1 cup raw spinach
2 thin slices avocado
1/2 cup beansprouts
a few roasted peppers
1/2 cup cucumber
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
1 tbsp Trader Joe's Soyaki
1/2 Pizza (with the same crust recipe) I worked out the crust to have about 250 calories per half pizza, plus 1 oz mozerella and assorted veggies. Veggies included spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped garlic, red onions, and mushrooms.
1 piece dark chocolate (70 calories)
1 very small glass white wine
Resist the Resistance, or Let Me Do Something Good
You can't please people. This is something I have learnt. No matter what you do, someone will always have a way you could be doing it better, differently, or not at all. With diets, as with so many other things, people are always willing to put in their two cents, or cash out your two cents.
Over the past week, I've experienced something different from all the other times I have tried to lose weight. Even in the hopeful honeymoon stage that begins every diet, my mind is usually preoccupied with all the things I can't have. I dream about meatballs and cream cakes, bacon-wrapped stuffing, and flaky pastry, and wonder when I will be able to devour large servings ot these things again. In short, my usual rationale is: how can I get skinny so I can start stuffing my face again?
The problem is entitlement. It's the silver, sugar-dipped spoon in the mouth attitude. I thought somehow that I was entitled to eat whatever I wanted and it was "unfair" and "not my fault" that I put weight on. This week I told myself to grow up. I'm thirty years old now and it's about time I did. It's about time I took some accountablility for what I put in my mouth and learn to recognize that every choice has consequences. Perhaps it isn't fair, or perhaps I do have insulin resistance or a slow metabolism, or I'm really a 6 foot 4 svelt blond Swedish guy who was unfairly dumped into a 5 foot 2 woman's body. Whatever the case may be, I still can't eat whatever I want and be a healthy weight. No ifs, ands, or buts. And no excuses.
That's what I can't do, but what's the other side of the coin? What I can do, right? I can learn how to live a healthy, fit life. I can learn which choices make me feel good, full, energetic, clear-thinking and positive. I stopped smoking a few weeks ago, and I've been criticized for trying to start to lose weight. "It's too soon," they say, or "You're trying to do too much at once," or "You'll fail because your expectations are too high." Perhaps they are right and I should just give up. I should say, "Screw real lifestyle change. I'll just fudge through this. I'll just substitute low-fat versions of the foods I'm used to. I'll eat processed imitations. I won't try anything that might change my body chemistry and my outlook. I'll find ways to cheat around having my 4 cups of fruit and vegetables every day. I'll drink diet sodas because they have no calories. I won't exercise because that's just too hard for me. I'll just diet instead of try to become healthy."
If you have a friend who is trying to make real change in her (or his) life, please try to applaud those changes, even if they seem out of character, and even if you feel threatened by them. This is a difficult journey, even harder than breaking up with a bad boyfriend or quitting smoking or drinking. You don't have to see the boyfriend, and cigarettes and alcohol are not necessary to existance, but you can't go cold turkey on food. You have to learn to control what you eat. As Ms. RD said in one of her comments, everyone is different, and some people are more extreme than others. I think there is no absolute right way. Please be supportive. Don't try to sabotage our efforts, we beg you.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I lost six pounds this week! Yea me. I realize that this won't happen every week and it's probably my body going into shock, so I have to remind myself not to be disappointed when that doesn't happen next week. I'm feeling a little better already. I mentioned my energy level, but my mood is also elevated. I'm feeling happy about things overall, even though I have no reason to be particularly optimistic, after all, I'm under-employed, the bills are mounting, and I'm stressed out about it, but since I started eating this way, I can't seem to feel depressed or as stressed. It's only been just over a week, so its early days yet, but I can feel definite and quite drastic improvements in my mental state and general energy level and motivation.
I promised pizza recipes a few days ago, and a couple of days ago, I finally made a pizza. A friend gave me a pizza crust recipe last year and I had only made it with white flour up until Tuesday. I merely substituted whole wheat flour into the usual recipe and cut the salt and sugar. Wheat flour, I discovered, acts differently, and there's still some tweaking to be done, but I'll give you my recipe in progress below:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 3/4 cup warm water
1 package or about 1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp olive oil
(makes TWO nine inch round pizza crusts)
I make this using a Kitchenaid Mixer, but you could also do it in a food processor, or if you're really talented, by hand.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Pour in the flour and salt and mix around with your fingers. Into the approximately 3/4 cup warm water, pour the yeast and the sugar. Stir well, and leave to froth for about 15 minutes. When the water is good and frothy, pour it and the olive oil into the mixer and start the kneading with the dough hook. You may need to occasionally wipe flour off the sides of the bowl by hand. You'll know when it's ready. Adjust the water as necessary for the dough to come together.
Put a kitchen towel over the mixer bowl and place the bowl in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes. When the dough has risen to about twice it's original size, it's ready.
Here's something optional but yummy. While the dough is rising, roast some garlic cloves in the oven. Let them cool down while you knead the dough. To knead the dough, you can do it with your hands or roll it out. I try and do it hand-tossed style.
When you have a pizza shape, spread your roasted garlic over the crust before you spread on the sauce. The easiest way to distribute sauce is with the back-side of a spoon. Then add your toppings. I used 2 oz fresh mozzarella (for the whole pizza), spinach, roasted eggplant, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes and a host of other things I can't remember. The important thing is to use lots of veggies and less cheese.
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
This is the first day I've spent on "the diet" not actually actively thinking about it. I got up, felt full of energy, took my ipod and went for a walk, not really because I had to, but because I had energy, because it was a beautiful day, and because I wanted to. I had a great time too. It's good to have time to yourself that's not spent sitting on the couch and wallowing. Having oxygen flowing through your brain is helpful and makes you feel like you can conquer the world, even though you may be underemployed, bills overdue, and stressed out.
I have felt for the past few months, like everything is an effort: getting out of bed, having a shower, making food, eating, watching TV, taking care of the cats, cleaning, washing laundry. Everything.
Yet in the past few days, since I started changing my diet, I have felt much more equipped to deal with the world. I have energy and have completed more in these days than I have in the past two months. It's a good feeling, and I think it is too big a coincidence not to be related to what I have eaten. My energy is sky high.
Here's what I've eaten today:
Pumpernickel bread (see yesterday)
1 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. Jam (all natural, local blueberry, from Franklin, TN)
2 oz Turkey
2 thin slices avocado
Pico de Gallo
Spritz of olive oil
A couple of segments of a blood orange
A French Truffle from Trader Joe's (dark chocolate)
4 oz Mahi Mahi (pre-marinated, seemed like the sauce had some oil in it)
1/2 cup brown rice/barley/wheatberry medley
1 cup zucchini/squash
1/2 cup eggplant
Spritz olive oil
3 1/2 glasses white wine plus good company (Carrie)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Today's problem was a welcome one: I couldn't eat enough calories. I have topped out at approximately 950 calories and can eat no more. Who would have imagined? It's unbelievable.
Here's a run-down of the foods I ate, with a little recipe fun too!
German Pumpernickel Bread (I slice 120 calories, 1g fat, 6g fibre)
1 tsp. butter
Approx. 1/2 cup cucumbers thinly sliced on the bread, topped with salt and pepper. What a yummy and unusual breakfast, accompanied by tea, of course.
My friend W.B. and I went walking this morning on the Nashville Greenway. It was such a beautiful day that we walked for about an hour an a half and explored some new pathways on it. I was bubbling with energy.
He wanted to go out for lunch but I dissuaded him and made a gourmet lunch for both of us.
This is phenomenal and very filling for two people:
Asian Ahi Tuna Tacos
4 oz Ahi Tuna Steak
Sesame Seeds (optional)
Asian Marinade or Dressing
Sesame Oil (optional)
Take 4 oz Ahi Tuna and marinate in Trader Joe's Soyaki (about 1 tablespoon will do) or other fairly low-calorie Asian-inspired sauce or salad dressing, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dice some cucumber, shred some carrot, and thinly slice about 1/3 of an avocado. Mist a non-stick pan with olive oil. Let the oil start to smoke slightly and place the tuna in the pan. Cook at medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your tuna steak (hint: watch the sides of the tuna to see how far through it is cooking). Don't worry that the tuna will burn a little on the outside; you want that to happen. Meanwhile in a large pan, toast your (whole wheat) tortillas slightly and if you like, toast some sesame seeds along with them (I have a really big pan). When the tuna is done, let it sit for a minute and then slice with a sharp knife into as thin slices as you can manage. Layer the tuna on the tortillas and top with 1 tsp. mayonnaise if desired. Then layer a couple of avocado slices and the other vegetables and add some alfalfa sprouts. Drizzle the taco with a few drops of sesame oil and shake on the toasted sesame seeds. This is easiest to eat if you wrap one end in foil to prevent the juicy tuna juice running down your arms!
I think I will experiment more with this recipe, perhaps adding roasted peppers or basil in future. This is just a starting point.
I found the taco rather filling, and my friend, W.B., didn't think so at first, but after we sat and chatted for a while, he said he was quite full.
In the afternoon, I merely snacked on an orange. I wasn't all that hungry and didn't start cooking dinner until about 7:30 this evening. Here's a picture and another recipe for you to try, copy, modify, or whatever you like. This one is so super easy, even a caveman could do it.
1 Tilapia Filet
1 Cup Zucchini
1 Cup Yellow Squash
Brown Rice (or other whole grain).
Pico de Gallo
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, cook your accompanying grains. I did brown rice, but I think bulgar wheat would probably go extremely well with this dish.
Take a large piece of foil, perhaps about 3ft. long and fold over into an 18inch piece (you might also experiment with using parchment paper here for a nifty guest-pleasing presentation). Lay the tilapia on the foil lenthwise, so you will have room to put the vegetables beside it and still fold it over. Sprinkle the tilapia with the seasoning of your choice. Try to use one with easily-recognizable ingredients and no MSG. I used Emeril's Essence, but I also like Prudhomme's Blackened Seafood Magic. How much you use is up to you. I sprinkled both sides of the fish pretty liberally. I then squeezed half a lemon over the fish (only the fish). Next lay the vegetables next to the fish and mist the whole thing with olive oil. If you don't have a Misto, get one, they are fabulous. Fold over the pouch, crunkle the edges so it's airtight, place on a cookie sheet, and cook for about 35 minutes. Lay all ingredients on a plate and liberally cover the fish with Pico de Gallo.
Don't take my word for it. Make this dish yourself and see how good it is. I was completely blown away by the delicate tastiness of it. This would be a great dinner to make for guests, especially because the cleanup is so easy and you can make each guest an individual pounch. Don't tell them it's healthy and they won't even guess.
I finished off the meal with a banana and was so nicely satisfied.
The list is as follows:
High School Years: I swam everyday, which gave me some latitude to eat. However, I mostly starved myself, ate Ramen noodles, pretzels, and Carnation Instant Breakfast. The results were successful, but I think I can still feel the effects on my health.
1996, Jenny Craig: If you're not familiar with this diet, the premise is that the less control you personally have over your eating habits, the better. They provide you with three pre-packaged and/or frozen meals a day. All you have to do is add in the extras like salads, olives, milk etc. You have to go back to them every week. They weigh you, take measurements, and you purchase more food. Jenny Craig is fine when you first start it. You don't have to think too much, you just eat what is on your weekly plan. There are, however, only a finite amount of Jenny Craig packaged foods, so if you have a lot of weight to lose, you can quickly become very sick of their offerings. The foods are mostly frozen, although some are freeze-dried or vacuum-packed. They are all similarly laden with preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. There's also another downside to this diet: what if you like to cook? To me, Jenny Craig teaches you that eating is dreary, automatic, and non-participatory. This first time though, I did lose weight, but calling Jenny Craig a lifestyle change is a joke.
1997, Larry North Diet: Referred to by my family (we all did it together) as "The Larry Diet," it espoused an extremely low fat, lean meats, lots of vegetables approach. Larry was a big fan of snacking, so it did feel like I ate constantly, but I never really felt satisfied. I don't remember the exact tenets of this diet too well, so I might be doing him a disservice when I say there was not an emphasis on whole grains. I do remember that it was ok to substitute Slim Fasts for meals (yuck) and I did this often. The main thing I remember was "No Fat." However, I did the diet, lost 30 pounds and kept it off for about a year and a half.
1999, Atkins Diet, Attempt No. 1: You probably all know about the Atkins diet, maybe you've even tried it. It does work, in the short term, and it's so much fun to eat all that bacon and cheese. When I moved away to college in 1999, my roommate and I were both doing this diet (and also ritually doing Billy Blanks's Tae Bo, remember that?). We ate mounds of bacon, chicken wings, cheese, salami, sausage and deprived ourselves of sugars, breads, lots of fruits, some vegetables and grains. I lost weight, but I didn't feel all that great doing it. The way Dr. Atkins explains the diet in the book, you are supposed to lose the weight and then start adding in whole grains and fruits for maintenance. This didn't happen with me. I would get these MONSTER sugar cravings. Once I bought an entire white baguette, ate it, the whole thing, smothered in butter, and then cried because I had ruined my diet. I think though, that a diet this unbalanced sets up an unachievable standard because our bodies are not wired that way, and it's so difficult to use a vast amount of willpower to rewire your biology.
2000, WeightWatchers, Attempt No. 1: Weight-Watchers has a good diet, and it's easy to follow. The program is easy enough and there are a lot of support systems and tools, such as recipes, online chats, points-tracking programs, and the meetings. Now what I'm about to say might make me sound like a horrible person, but I f**king hated those meetings. I hated the weigh-ins and I hated the meetings. I have attended three different WeightWatchers branches in two different states, and all seemed the same. No one is friendly, even when they sign you up. It has a very punitive vibe. They take your money, give you your materials, explain the program and you attend a meeting. You get a little card, which you have to take back every week when you get weighed, and they stamp it and write your weight on it with a plus or minus sign indicating whether you lost weight or gained it. The weigh-ins are just weird: little cubicles with a scales, which you inhabit briefly with an inevitably middle-aged to older lady in frumpy clothes with a dour expression. She will snatch your card from you like she owns it, and instruct you to get on the scale. Even if you lose, say, six pounds, I doubt she will crack a smile. Then you go to the meetings. Saying I felt like a fish out of water is an understatement. The meetings are 30 minutes long, have a "theme" and are led by a "lifetime member," someone who has lost all their weight and kept it off. The leader gives out little stars to people who have lost certain increments of weight, and everybody claps. Yea! They then spend thirty minutes talking about which high salt, high sugar, low-fat processed foods they can substitute for all their fat faves, and how many points these foods are. Again, no one is under fifty-five or male. There was a big hush in the room when I asked how many points there were in a margarita. How dare I mention that I might want to waste my points on alcohol instead of preservative-infested WeightWatchers frozen fudge brownie sundaes? There are some rather lame attempts to tell you that you should eat your veggies, and that's what the diet is supposed to be about, but trust me, go to a meeting and you'll see it's not. I'm sure WeightWatchers means well, and it's been around for years, and it truly is the best commercial diet I've tried, but it just doesn't work for me.
2000-2004, A combination of any and all of these diets: I tried Jenny Craig again, tried smoking myself thin, breaking up with boys-myself thin, WeightWatchers, Atkins, the not-diet, going to the Rec Center, Curves, and Dieting With the Duchess, in various rotations with varied effects.
2004-2008, The French Diet: Eat like the French do. Have butter, cream, coffee, pastry, eggs, sauces, wine, but have them in small portions and eat slowly. This might work if I lived in France, but I don't. I can't walk everywhere here, and mealtimes are a rushed affair, especially lunch, and portions are massive. Nice to think it could work, but it didn't for me.
I also gave up a lot during this time and decided to be happier with my weight. Now I say "screw that, back to reality."
Here's my day:
Weetabix and milk (same as usual).
Wrap (chicken from Tossed) with healthy modifications and according to their website: 500 calories (I opted out of dressing, tortilla chips and told them to put in less chicken, but I did have some fat with the avocado).
Stir Fry (I know, again, right). My friend Brett made it. I made him use minimal oil (3 tsp for 3 people) and 3 times as much veggies as meat (there was a plentitude of veggies, multi-colour peppers, snow peas, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and much more), plus brown rice. I think the total meal was around 4 to 500 calories, and I'm probably over-estimating.
Here's the bad bit. Wine.
4 x 5oz glasses of Savignon Blanc. Now Sav. Blancs are the best for caloric content as far as wine goes, which is a surpise to me because usually I like the most fattening of everything, but Sav. Blanc has a lovely crispness that makes it my absolute favourite. I estimated this must mean about 500 calories, or perhaps a little more.
I did my analysis on FitDay, which is marvellous, by the way, and it came up with about 1700 calories for me for the day, including the wine, and I tried to report everything. That still seems low to me, so I'm going to assume I ate and drank more, and try and go for better as I go along. I was thinking I must have consumed at least 2000.
And I didn't tell you the best part. I went walking for an hour yesterday, and .... today too at Radnor Lake.
I also forgot to mention that my mood and energy level has been better than in a long time. I initiated the walking at Radnor today. I felt restless and full of energy and the need to exercise. I thought this was a good sign, and a sign of my return to my former, more active self. We'll see how it goes, but I definitely felt more like myself today and I would like to continue to try and exercise everyday or as much as is possible.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Here's my food for today though:
Weetabix and milk, as before
Lentil soup (140 calories) Trader Joe's brand
Yogurt 4 oz 140 Cal. 6g Fat
Asian Ahi Tuna Salad - Perhaps 500 calories
4 beers - I'm guessing about 600 calories
1 Port 100 calories
A couple of bites of choc. cake 200 calories.
Not the best day ever, but not the worst either, especially considering I went out for dinner and drank a bunch of beer. Better than I usually do. Baby steps to "the dress." I will post a picture of the dress soon. It is my inspiration.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Weetabix and milk (again) btw I'm only having b/t 1/2 and 3/4 cup whole milk with it.
Wrap (see yesterday, essentially exactly the same)
More water than yesterday. Yeah! Working on that too.
Same stir fry as yesterday. Except substitute tuna for 1 egg and about 2 tsp more oil.
Have to admit to 5 glasses of wine (4 oz) Yeah, just had to get tipsy tonight - worked with high school students who can't read - have to usually get tipsy on Thursdays.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I started my day again with the Weetabix and milk with a cup of tea. I meant to have an orange, but I forgot because I was actually full at that point.
I made a wrap again, actually more like a giant taco with the same tortilla wraps, 4oz of the leftover chicken, about 1/4 cup of beans and tomatoes, about 1/2 cup leftover peppers and eggplant, and about 1/4 cup of sprouts, at least, plus I ate about half of the package of sprouts while toasting the tortillas. I like to snack on raw veggies. I added 1/2 teaspoon canola mayonnaise too.
I then had an orange.
About 4, I was peckish, so I had a tablespoon of Almond Butter, no sugar, (100 calories), which has sufficed to fill me up until now at 6:27 pm, when I'm getting ready to eat dinner after I fetch myself a bottle of wine. I am a little hungry, but not starving at all.
Tonight I am making a stir fry from a mixed vegetable stir fry mix bought at Trader Joe's (In case you haven't noticed, I am a big big fan of our new grocery store). They are fresh vegetables, not frozen. I plan to make the stir fry with a little olive oil, perhaps just misted, some brown rice, some soy sauce, and I'm going to add in an egg, just to give it some umph. I had planned to make it with ahi tuna, but with my house being so cold, it has refused to defrost in time!
If I'm still hungry, I may have an orange and/or some yogurt.
I'll let you know if all goes to plan, but I don't see right now why it wouldn't. Famous last words, right? And I haven't forgotten that I promised you pizza recipes. It may be tomorrow when I actually make pizza. Until then, I'm looking for a good, not too sugary, whole-wheat crust.
Ok, dinner update.
1/2 cup brown rice.
2 cups stir fry vegetables.
4 oz. Ahi Tuna (It was defrosted after all)
2 tablespoons Soyaki sauce (Trader Joe's 80 calories).
12 oz Red Wine (I did measure :-))
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ok, here I go with the food(b)log:
Weetabix with 3/4 cup milk (sorry Ms RD, it wasn't low-fat)
An orange (actually eaten a couple of hours later)
Wrap containing 2oz turkey, red and yellow peppers with lettuce, spritz from Misto of olive oil, vinegar. Wrap was whole wheat (110 calories).
4 oz pollo asado, grilled
1/2 cup black beans and tomatoes
1/2 cup brown rice medley
Roasted red peppers and eggplant with misted olive oil
That's all folks.
Now, how do I feel about it?
Well my feelings are mixed, and at one point today I have to admit to being mad with Ms. RD because I was hungry, and I'm a baby, and I don't like being hungry. However, after having dinner and talking to her, I felt better (more full) and like I won't have to go through that again tomorrow.
I felt fine after breakfast. I'm not used to eating a big breakfast anyway, although I usually do have something to eat. At lunch, I was hungry, but not ravenous. I ate lunch, but still felt hungry, even after waiting about 20 minutes and eating an apple. I toyed with putting mayo on my sandwich, but didn't, or even a bit of cheese. I should have done something like that to guard against the voracious hunger that surfaced around 4 pm. I talked to Ms. RD and she okayed the adding of something hearty to lunch. We bandied around suggestions and came up with canola mayo, a little cheese (I think less than 1 oz), nuts, nut-butter, or hummus. She can correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.
I also asked her today about beans. I wanted to add some beans to my dinner, and a strict interpretation of the guidelines she gave me didn't allow for this, but I know, somewhere in my gut that beans are good, so I started cooking them anyway, and added some tomatoes for good measure. Worried though, I e-mailed her and asked about them. She replied, "Beans are great!" She explained that they are a very low-fat, high fibre protein, so they're just plain good for you and a great addition to a meal. Plus, they fill you up. Good to know, eh?
I am having a hard time thinking what to eat for lunch. I always find lunch the hardest meal. Dinner and breakfast are so clearly defined in my mind, but lunch to me always tends towards the sandwich, and I have to get out of that mode of thinking. She e-mailed me with suggestions and a link, both of which I shall post below:
OK, how bout some lunch ideas:
1) Homemade chicken salad sandwich (made with 2 tsp canola mayo)on rye bread w/ a cup of fruit mixed with a cup of yogurt (add some nuts into the fruit and yogurt too)
2) Spinach salad with mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, red onions, oil and vinegar topped with 4 oz of grilled chicken or fish
3) Tabouli salad stuffed into a tomato, cup of lentil soup, piece of fruit and a handful of nuts
4)Whole wheat pita or spinach wrap stuffed with loads of veggies: tomato, cucumber, onion, sprouts with 3 Tbsp of hummus as a spread. Add a piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt or a handful of nuts
I love the magazine Eating Well for great nutrient rich, yet healthy recipes. You can search their website for more lunchy ideas :)
You may be wondering why, if I was hungry in-between lunch and dinner, I didn't have a snack. I'm just not a snacker, never really have been. I like my three meals a day and that's it. I don't really like to think about having to snack and it seems that it just makes me hungrier because I want to make every snack into a meal. But Ms. RD likes snacks and she's just humouring this idiocyncracy of mine.
Tomorrow, we'll talk pizza recipes. Stay posted!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Here's what I've eaten in the past couple of days, just so you get an idea of the extent of my gorginess.
Saturday: A Krispy Kreme donut, Four chicken fingers, fries and three cokes.
Sunday: 2 slices of toast with butter, Indian buffet, 10 potstickers, 3 crackers with cheese and 3 beers, oh and two vitamin waters.
Monday: Still open, but so far: A Krispy Kreme donut, 2 slices of toast with butter, a thai chicken wrap from Trader Joes, a sample of a muffin, a vitamin water, a bag of chips. I plan to drink some wine later too.
But I did go to Trader Joe's today and buy good food, so tomorrow, we start. I will be publishing what I eat on this blog, so you can read along with me, analyse my failures (and hopefully some triumphs) and give me ideas for yummy food.
I'll keep you posted!