Make Improving Diet Fun

Recently, with the beginning of Spring, I have been trying to consume less and change some eating habits. The winter has let me indulge long enough. So after my week of excluding cheese and carbs (which was torture), I am now practicing moderation. Measuring portions is a big one. I tend to eat everything on my plate, but if you have a coffee mug full of chicken fried rice, it’s not so bad. Getting to my point… It is necessary to eat food that is either boring or we simply don’t like. So let’s make food healthier, but still giving it some taste, for the love of God! The only way to do that is introduce things that could make it unhealthy if you went overboard.

I start with fresh vegetables. Raw, they are filled with good stuff. Cooked they are still good, but not as nutritious.  Find easy ways to prepare broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, etc. Raw veggies have less clean up.

Throw it all in a bowl. House Salad: Chop lettuce, dice tomatoes, gate carrots. Easy Salad: House salad and add broccoli, diced bell pepper, red onion. I also like to add a small amount of Chinese noodles for some crunch. Add some diced grilled chicken. You could pan fry it in some oil too, possibly with some teriyaki sauce… hmmmm. Throw some spices on that chicken breast with all the fat cut off. Just used the Foreman Grill last night. Super! Cucumber Salad: chop some partially skinned cucumbers died in to half moon slices, dice tomatoes, sliced avocado. 3 ingredients. Oh yeah! Salad dressing is the thing to make it interesting. I like Italian dressing, but use whatever is tasty to you, doesn’t matter if it’s fatty. Make sure to do it at the time of the meal. Doesn’t keep. Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, cover it and shake it up and down and in a swooping motion. Covers all the salad, so you get maximum flavor. Throw it in the fridge for 15 minutes and serve, or just eat it.

The flavor is more important than eliminating everything that tastes good. It is easier to anticipate the enjoyment  of a cheeseburger and fries, while a salad may feel dull. I would rather eat the healthy option and make it more palatable. Man, I will also shred some cheese on the mother lover. It may eventually convert you to eating rabbit food. Other stuff like carrots and celery dipped in ranch, perhaps with a little hot sauce mixed in. Portion it by filling up half a coffee mug. Oh yeah, wash all the veggies well and dry them, which should go with out saying. Spreading peanut butter or cream cheese in the trough of celery chutes or rice cakes. My favorite breakfast and desert… low fat vanilla yogurt & granola/grape nuts. It is so tasty and a great alternative to sugary cereals or ice cream.

So find a half way point. Don’t get discouraged. Just do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up for indulging. Just make that indulgence the lesser of 2 evils.

No Carb or Cheese Week

I realized my diet consists of mostly carbohydrates, followed closely by cheese. With Spring on the way (at least I hope it is), I am inspired to change my eating habits rather than do a crash diet to shed the winter weight. I noticed my portions have become larger and meals more frequent. I knew what I had to do… shrink my stomach. I have used this tactic before in conjunction with exercise. It also alleviates the feeling of being a stuffed Thanksgiving turkey, with all the fixings. This is about practicing discipline.

No carbs or cheese for a week. I came up with this challenge to see if I could do it and introduce more raw vegetables in my diet, and cut down on the pizza slices. Cheap food is not the healthiest food. Always thought it should be the other way around. It should be a luxury to eat like shit. Quality of life people.

To compensate for the void left, and the needing to eat, I tried to make something I would be excited about. Slow-cooked pulled pork shoulder. It was a lot of fun. I never made pulled pork before. Did a dry-rub of chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt, cinnamon and cilantro. I laid the pork shoulder over a bed of garlic cloves, 3 onions, chicken broth & red wine. I left it in the crock pot over night. 8 hours or so. All the juice soaked through it and the fat dripped off. Better than Christmas morning. Put it in the fridge because I had to go to work. That night, I pulled the meat off the bone, set in a deep pan and set the oven to 500 degrees for about 10 minutes, stir up then another 10. I drained the juice and pulled the pieces of pork into smaller pieces. I stirred in bbq sauce with my hands. I then broiled on high 5 minutes, stirred in more bbq sauce and broiled until lightly crisp. I shredded the meat with 2 forks poured on some more sauce. Had trouble restraining myself from eating the whole thing.

So wish me luck. I just had veggie omelette with 2 sausage patties. Salad with grilled chicken on deck. It’s not so bad. Just need to make the meals exciting so you have more faith in the cause.

Lasagna in a Crock Pot

The winter has forced me to gain some winter weight in order to stay warm. I live in New York City, where you must be out in the elements in negative 9 degrees. This year’s winter weather is especially arctic. I walk a lot and eat a lot, so hopefully that balances out, but it really doesn’t. We experience the fullness of the season whipping past our faces, to remind us that we are nothing but a small part of the circle of life. So we must nourish our existence with passion. Such as a passion to consume fuel that excites us upon anticipation, and ecstasy in the moment that the fragrant perfumes come steaming off the plate. I’m hardly able to wait for the lasagna to cool, often time so impatient, I burn the roof of my mouth. But it just tastes better that way.

This colorful analogy has been inspired by making Lasagna in a Crock Pot this past weekend. I had been meaning to get out the crock pot and try some new recipes and I am Italian, so this jumped out as the first I must try. The ingredients are inexpensive and it is so much easier than baking, even though it takes slightly longer. Low and Slow!  Maximum customization! We can build it faster, stronger and with more layers… can’t forget the massive amount of cheese. Thinking of Garfield, the cat I can now identify with, wanting to eat the entire thing, but unable to physically do so… in one sitting. I waited to digest a full belly of layered pasta, cheese, sauce and meat 3 stories tall. I left the crock pot temperature on low, so after I could feel some space let up, I could eat another helping proportionate to the space available, still hot and gooey!

1. Brown meat and diced onion, drain, add tomato sauce. Mix mozzarella, cottage cheese and Parmesan in a bowl. 2. Spray PAM lightly in crock pot. 3. Layer meat sauce evenly on bottom, followed by broken, uncooked lasagna noodles, and then spoon over with cheese mixture. 4. Repeat layering 3 times, add sauce to the top, then drizzle extra cheese. 5. Leave on LOW for 4-5 hours!

I should stress that it is unhealthy to eat this by yourself, so invite some friends or bring it to a gathering. It is sure to be an instant classic. They will never know how easy it was… unless you tell them!