Monday, April 25, 2011

For Salmon & Avocado Lovers

I am proud to say I am on Day 22 of my new eating lifestyle.
I feel great and have lost 13 pounds so far, a sure sign that things are working. But more importantly, I am replacing old bad habits with good new ones.

I am having fun preparing flavorful meals and have re-discovered so many healthy foods that I love. I have also been trying a few "old diet tricks." Since my portions are smaller, I started using smaller plates so that the food looks abundant. I also pulled some decorative plates out of the cupboard, like the Pottery Barn Tropical Themed Cocktail plate above. Funny, I did not remember there was a recipe for Pina Colada on the back of the plate.

I have also been enjoying reading cookbooks about a Mediterranean lifestyle and even scrounged up some pretty decent "diabetes friendly" cookbooks. On Saturday I found a recipe in one of the cookbooks that included two of my all time healthy favorites: Salmon & Avocado. The picture is not as stellar as it could be as I took this today using the leftovers.

Wild Pacific Salmon with Creamy Avocado Sauce

4 wild Pacific Salmon fillets (5-6 ounces each), about 1" thick
Cooking Spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 large avocado, peeled, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream (I used non-fat Greek Yogurt)
1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste, then coat with vegetable or olive oil spray.

2. Preheat the broiler. Cook the salmon for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.

3. While the fish is cooking, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the avocado, sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Process, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until mixture is smooth.

4. With a spatula, lift each salmon fillet away from the skin (although the skin IS good for you, it has a lot of extra fat) and set on dinner plates. Server a dollop of the sauce with each salmon fillet.

Approx. 275 calories per serving.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Green Split Pea Soup

One of my favorite vegetarian meals... I LOVE split pea soup!!!

1 T Canola Oil
1/2 cup chopped turnip or parsnip (or both)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 pound green split peas
8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Hot Pepper Sauce, to taste (I added about 1 T)

1. Set a pot over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Heat for 30 seconds. Add the turnip, celery, onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaves. Stir. Cook stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the peas and broth. Bring almost to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover partially and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the peas are very soft. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. If you like your split pea soup thinner and creamier, you can blend in a food processor, blender or immersion blender adding water if desired for consistency. I like mine thick and hearty. I chopped the vegetables pretty small and cooked it for about 3 hours and left it thick. The taste is amazing!

Each cup is low in calories, vegetarian, full of vitamin A and packed with fiber and protein.

Healthier Apple Crisp

2 T Better Butter (Better Butter is 1/3 unsalted butter + 2/3 Canola Oil--the flavor of butter with 1/3 the saturated fat)
1/2 cup rolled oats
4 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1 T Honey
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Cooking Spray
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T Cinnamon

Step 1  Preheat oven to 375
Step 2  Dice apples & put in the bottom of 8x8 baking pan
Step 3  Mix the remaining ingredients, except for honey & cooking spray (fingers or a pastry blender work well)
Step 4 Spread the mixture on top of the apples
Step 5 Spray with cooking spray & drizzle with honey
Step 6 Bake at 375 for 35 mins.

Enjoy! I ate mine in a small portion and savored every bite. Michael and Sammy ate larger portions topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

White Bean & Winter Greens Soup

This is a really simple and hearty soup recipe. First, I took a whole bag of Great Northern White Beans, did a quick soak (instructions on the bag) and set aside. This takes a little over an hour. Or you could use about 4 cans white beans, drained (Great Northern or Cannellini or any other large white bean).

I started the soup with the leek from our farm share.
I chopped it up and tossed it in a stock pot.
(You could also use shallots or onions, about a cup. Carrots are also great in soups. I like to saute them too, with the onions.) I then added a couple cloves of garlic, chopped fine.

I sauteed the leeks and garlic on medium heat in about 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil.
Saute them well to bring out all the great flavor, at least 5 minutes.

I chopped up the Kale and Swiss Chard (at least 1-2 cups of each) then tossed them in on top of the leeks. You could use any greens you like. Spinach is good too.
I sauteed the greens with the leeks for about 2 minutes.
I then seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

I added the white beans, 4 cups low sodium chicken stock and 4 cups water.

Bring the soup to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour or more.
Finally, before serving, salt and pepper to taste.
You could also add a few dashes hot sauce for a great kick.

Each one cup serving includes approx. 9g of fiber, about a third of the recommended daily intake.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The farm is back, and just in time!

I've finally done it.
I have been thinking about this for years. I've always known the answers, I was just too lazy to follow through. Fourteen days ago I really did it. I changed the way I eat... for good. My last trip to the doctor was not a pleasant one. I have been carrying around an extra 50-60 pounds since I had kids (Sammy will turn 18 years old in 2011!) I had made no real progress on my weight loss goal, even with my pre-diabetes diagnosis three years ago. I had not fulfilled my commitment to exercise. I was paying little to no attention to my blood sugars and blood pressure. I was relying on medication to do the work I needed to be doing for myself. I was going to bed every night feeling bloated and downing the antacids. Blaming things on bad genetics and a weak metabolism wasn't getting me anywhere. I could see my future and it wasn't pretty.

When it comes to diets, there are just so many and they do all work if you stick with them, at least temporarily. I have been on many, many diets. What I didn't want to do this time around was start another fad diet or become dependent on food someone else was preparing for me (unless it was my own personal chef... which I cannot afford, of course.)

I decided to lay down 10 basic eating rules to start and stick with them:
1) Keep track of every single thing I eat, every day
2) 8-10 glasses of water a day, without fail
3) Eat a healthy breakfast within 20 minutes of waking up in the morning (this is really important to me as my morning blood sugar readings are the only high ones... meaning my body is not functioning properly during the overnight fasting period, so the quicker I can get the fuel in in the morning, the better)
4) No refined sugars or flours, period. (this is huge for me, huge!)
5) A minimum 30g of fiber every single day
6) A maximum 1200 calories per day until I earn more with proper exercise
7) A maximum 30 fat grams per day
8) A maximum of 1800mg of salt per day
9) No red meat and at least three vegetarian days a week and no eating after dinner (or after 8:30pm)
10) Maximum one weigh-in per week (although weight is important, eating healthy is the most important part of my new lifestyle, so no more obsessing about the scale)

I found a great website called Calorie Count. I add my foods in and it keeps track of the balance of carbs/proteins/fats as well as nutrients & vitamins. I get a letter grade every day representing how well I did. The over achiever in me loves that! So far, straight A's!

Other than having to look the doctor in the face... again... and explain how I had failed miserably since my last blood tests, I really do not know what has come over me. It is like someone whispered in my ear while I was sleeping, you can do it, you can do it, you want to be healthy... it is the most important thing to you. Just do it!

I am really excited about how great I feel. The house is filled with lots of yummy things like Steel Cut Oats, Fiber Cereal, Homemade Split Pea Soup, Black beans soaked and cooked myself with no added salt and just lots of great flavor, fresh organic fruit (unfortunately for now the fruit has to travel from California as the weather in the Pacific NW has been miserable), non-fat greek yogurt, 100% whole grains, broccoli, spinach...

And speaking of dark, leafy greens...
our farm share started up again last weekend. This year we decided to split our share with the Ruby family and so this was our first week back out at the farm.

This week's share includes:
2 heads of Butter Crunch Lettuce, 1 bunch Arugula, 1 bunch Spinach, 1 Leek, 2 Shallots, 1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Swiss Chard and Sprouting Broccoli

I'll keep on sharing yummy recipes. I have a delicious vegetarian cannellini bean soup planned for the leeks and fresh greens.

Soon I will be tackling my exercise demons... wish me luck! I feel great!!!