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Time Restricted Eating

You might not expect to see this kind of post on a food blog, however, since many of us who are interested in food, have been, on occasion, a bit too interested in food, we wind up spending quite a bit of time and angst trying to get back to our svelte selves again. Well, I’m not there yet, but I am making progress, and this is the only thing I’ve done that has yielded results. Slow, but steady results.

Now, I am not a weight control professional nor am a doctor or nurse or anything like that. I am not giving advice, but I am sharing my experience in the hopes that it may help others.  That having been said, this is what I did.

In March, I began researching fasting and discovered quite a few articles about intermittent fasting. We experimented with some of them, specifically the 16/8 plan and the 5/2 plan. It was a very stressful spring and summer with a serious illness and then a death in the family and it wasn’t always possible to adhere to either plan. Back in July we recommitted to the 16/8 plan, as that is easiest for us and fits our lifestyle better. The 5/2 plan means that one eats normally five days and then fasts, eating only 500 calories or so on the two fasting days. The 16/8 plan requires one to eat within an eight hour time period and fast the remaining sixteen hours. For us, we get up and have black coffee and water and nothing else until 1 PM when we have lunch. We eat only from about 1 PM to 9 PM. Purists would encourage the fasting period to be essentially from mid-afternoon or late afternoon until breakfast, but we have a really active social life and that wouldn’t fit our lives. For lunch we have salads, healthy ones and I make sure to add some nuts, fish, chicken or garbanzos. For dinner we try to have something reasonable, and again, if at home, I make sure that we have plenty of steamed, roasted, or raw vegetables.

Results have been encouraging. I have lost 13-14 pounds. I do exercise four or five times a week. I ride my bike approximately 10 miles outdoors, row on my indoor rowing machine about 3 miles, swim 1/2 mile worth of laps, and do strength exercises. So, I am getting decent workouts. Of course, I have been exercising like that for many years, so it is definitely not the exercise that has prompted the weight loss. We try to eat healthy food, but we have not eliminated any particular food category from our diets. I can now get in clothing I haven’t been able to wear for years. We allow ourselves to have one cheat day a week, usually on Sundays. The last cheat day I realized that I had eaten too much food that day and I just didn’t feel that well. I have felt great, for the most part, although I did have a major arthritis flare-up but was still able to maintain this.

For me, one of the biggest advantages to this is that I don’t feel deprived. At all. I think the fact that I go without food for 16 hours has made me feel truly hungry at times and has contributed to my stomach getting smaller. There are a number of articles out that indicate there may be some health advantages to this type of eating plan, since the body gets a break from constantly eating and digesting. There is quite a bit of research, so you can look that up if interested.

Eating like this lets me try different foods and not feel limited. Many times I have tried to lose weight by following other approaches. I have done the food diary, have counted calories, etc., and while it may help many people, it did not help me. We will see if I can lose another 6 or 7 pounds by the end of the year.

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Not Just Meatless Monday Quesadillas

These are so good, you are going to want to make them regardless of whether it is Meatless Monday or not. They are very quick to put together, nutritious, and filling. Here’s how:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans (or see Bean Filling below)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt to taste.
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (American, Mexican)
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • butter for greasing skillet

Heat a skillet or cast iron griddle to medium. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. Heat the corn and the refried beans (or bean filling) for a minute or two in the microwave. Peel and seed the avocados in a small to medium sized bowl. Add in the lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until it is kind of a chunky guacamole. Assemble the quesadillas. Lay the tortillas on the counter in a row. Spread a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture on each tortilla. I like to cover about half the tortilla. Next, spread about 1/4 of the guacamole. Then, sprinkle 1/4 of the corn, and 1/3 cup of cheese on each tortilla. Lastly sprinkle the top with the salsa. Carefully fold in half. Quickly grease the griddle or skillet. Lay the quesadillas on the griddle and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Turn over and move to a serving plate. Repeat until all are cooked. Enjoy!

Delish Quick Main dish with Tri-Color Veggie Rotini

I have tried enough dishes calling for tri-color pasta to be dubious. I have found the flavors don’t always mix well with other ingredients or I undercook the pasta- it seems to take a bit longer to cook than non-veggie pasta. I don’t know, it just has not been a very positive taste experience. This one, however, is. It is an adaptation of a recipe in my cookbook, Turkish Family Favorites, which is available from Amazon.com (hint, hint). It sounds like a ho-hum recipe, but trust me: follow the directions exactly and be sure to use the yogurt sauce. That makes the dish.

  • 1 6 oz. package tri-color veggie rotini
  • Salt for cooking pasta and for seasoning meat
  • 2 generous soupspoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably lean*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 tsp. (or more or less to taste) hot pepper
  • water if needed for meat and for cooking pasta

Yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup plain, low-fat or whole yogurt (do NOT use fat-free)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed

Mix the salt, yogurt, and garlic together in a small bowl. Set aside to use when serving. This is one of the most delicious combinations ever, although when I first heard of it, I thought it sounded vile. But it is so yummy and elevates this simple dish to hard-core comfort food.

Cook the rotini in a generous amount of salted water until done. It will take about 11 minutes, but test it and be sure. Drain and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion until it softens and starts to brown. Stir in the ground beef, break up, and continue cooking until there is no more pink left. Drain the oil from the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, hot pepper (I like Indian chile pepper but cayenne is also fine. Red pepper flakes are also good.) Add salt to taste. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup of water, but this part of the dish will be fairly dry, not soupy like spaghetti sauce.

When rotini is done and has been drained, empty into a serving bowl. Top off with the meat mixture and stir well. Serve and pass the yogurt sauce around so each person can put a dollop of yogurt sauce on their rotini. Excellent. 4-6 servings. Takes all of about 15-20 minutes and you control what’s in there. Beats takeout or packaged macaroni any time.

* There are several possible substitutions here. I think this would work well with soy protein, ground chicken, or ground turkey. I personally prefer the ground beef, but the others would work and would be very tasty.

 

Farro and Veggies for Meatless Monday

I’m a pretty big supporter of Meatless Monday. Recently I was reading an article by Joel Fuhrman, MD. He seemed to advocate of diet of very nutrientious food in moderate portions as a means of weight control.  I like to look at calories similarly to the way I look at space. There are places in my house that are very convenient and easy to reach. Those are the high-rent spaces and so I store items there that are worth taking up “high-rent” space. Similarly, since I’m trying to drop some pounds, really all the calories I consume should be “high-rent” calories: nutrient dense, healthy, and none of the empty calories. I was thinking about this at lunchtime and decided to cook farro along with some stir fried veggies for lunch. So, I did and it was delicious. Here’s how I made it:

For Farro Pilav:

  • 1 c. farro, rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2/3 c. chopped onion

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute onions in the oil for a minute or 2. Stir in the rinsed farro and saute another couple of minutes. Then stir in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Simmer on low heat,covered for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

For Stir-Fry

  • 1T. avocado oil
  • 3-4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 3-4 inch lengths
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1 1/2 cup cauliflower flowerets
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 T. hoisin sauce
  • soy sauce to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 T. dry sherry or wine or water

In wok or skillet, heat avocado oil. When hot, stir in the onions, cauliflower flowerets, carrot and garlic slices. Cook, stirring occasionally about five minutes. Add the sauces and seasoning along with the sherry, wine, or water. Cover and cook covered about two minutes. Enjoy.

It is very tasty and quick. If you have adopted the vegetable saving method I discussed in an earlier post, it takes very little time to prepare. This would be easy to prepare ahead and take to work for an easy lunch. It is perfect for Meatless Monday. If I’d had mushrooms, I would have used them for a bit more protein.

Fast and Delicious Tomato Soup

 I have been making quite a bit of lentil soup lately. People I know have been sick or hospitalized and one of the things I can do is bring them soup. It can be frozen so it doesn’t force them to eat right away. Soup is easy to make and nutritious. But I have made three of four batches of lentil soup lately. I was craving soup for lunch yesterday. I normally would just make a double batch of whatever the soup was that I was taking to a friend, but this time I wanted something different!

I try to limit the times I go to a grocery store in a given week, so I was determined to make do with whatever I had on hand. So I made a creamy tomato soup. It was so delicious and here’s how I did it.

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 generous tablespoon chicken soup base
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup cream (could substitute water)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed hot pepper
  • 1 generous spoonful of dried basil (if you have the fresh, add to taste)
  • salt as needed
  • 1-2 T. oil
  • 1 smallish onion, diced
  • 3 T. orzo

Heat the oil in a stockpot. Throw in the onion and saute lightly for about five minutes. Add in the tomatoes, the soup base, the water, the orzo and the spices. Stir well and let simmer 10 minutes or so. Turn off or leave on very, very low heat. Add a few spoonfuls of the soup mixture to the cream, and stir well. Then add to the soup. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Make sure it is heated through and serve. Delish!!!!!

Adaptation of Amanda Hesser’s Spicy Orange Salad

No wonder this recipe appealed to me- it seems that my taste buds may be similar to Amanda Hesser’s. I looked for orange salads, but something with a bit of pizzazz. Amanda’s recipe is on the NYT cooking blog website. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013107-spicy-orange-salad-moroccan-style

It is also the fact of this time of year and all of the political unrest all over the world. I am so unsettled and the grayness and cold, although the sun is making kind of a feeble attempt to show her face today. So, we are having friends over tonight for a Turkish meat and bean stew, some pilav, some dessert, crusty bread, etc. and we needed an interesting salad.

My husband will probably protest the sweetness of the oranges being in the salad. ( Did you know that sweetness is only for dessert?) No, I didn’t either. But the combination of flavors in this salad, as Amanda Hesser of Food52 created it, is delightful, interesting, and delicious. I’m going to add in some spinach, some toasted pinenuts, and if I had a pomegranate, I would add in some of those beautiful red jewels. I know there is a special name, arils, but I like red jewels better. If I had some parmesan I might consider adding a few shavings. But regardless, you need to try Amanda’s recipe. Add the spinach or baby kale if you want more greens. Jazz it up however you want. Or not. I never would have put oranges and olives together, but they are made for each other.

Do yourself a favor. Go to the recipe on the NYT page. Also, check out Amanda’s blog ( https://food52.com/) and consider following her.

A New Era Begins

It is a new year. Well into it, as a matter of fact. The world swirls around us, so much concern and worry throughout the world including the US. My coping strategy is to try to stay and be peaceful, focus on good, clean food, and to be mindful. There is so much I cannot change, but I can change my approach to it. That being said, we had a delightful dinner at Village Tavern Hanes Mall last night with some dear friends. Village Tavern is a fun place and the food is very good. Last night was 1/2 price wine night, which I love because it gives me the opportunity to try wines I might not try otherwise. Well, I decided to try Rickety Bridge Pinotage, which was excellent!!!! I wound up having two glasses as I did share sips with two others at the table.  Love that wine. Very interesting red from a grape native to South Africa. I liked it so much that I researched where to buy it and now have a case being earmarked for me. Once spring arrives, we will grill some meat and/or fish and enjoy this wine! It was all in all a moment of delicious relaxation in our very troubled world.