A couple of recent events and activities have made me give some serious thought to what I eat: books I’ve been reading about the impact of food on environment, and the current obesity epidemic, and the fact that my doctor has said that I DO need to lose weight, a lot of weight–at least I think that 25 or 30 pounds is a lot. Obviously I have to find a way to do it as pleasurably as possible since I readily admit to being a hedonist.
All this has led me to look at what I have been eating–not that it’s exactly unhealthy or junk food, by any means; but it would seem that the weight loss is likely to be abetted by adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. So, I’m going to try to do better what I’m sort of do already.
One of the things that I’m going to try to do is eat more salads. Now I’ve already complained about the waste when I clean out the refrigerator and find all the slimy veggies that did not make it into the salads. This is going to be interesting–I truly dislike having to throw out food, especially after reading some statistics on the amount of energy that goes into producing the food that gets thrown away. The challenge is going to be keeping the salads interesting enough that I will actually eat them every day. If I can achieve that, I’ll likely not be throwing away so many veggies.
Another decision that I’ve reached (after reading the label on the salad dressing bottle) is that I have to re-think salad dressings. I don’t like the list of ingredients on “low-fat” or “no-fat”, or really, any mass-produced dressing.
My first solution to that was with my salad this evening; I started with mesclun, added some fresh herb leaves (from my deck) which made the taste very complex. Then I added veggies that I had brought home–ones that I think (hope) will find multiple uses: celery, cucumbers, cherry/grape tomatoes, onions as salad material and as snacks. I had some black table grapes in the fridge, so I threw some of those into my single-serving salad bowl. Now to dress my salad.
It’s easy to make a vinaigrette dressing, but being in a hurry and lazy this evening, I opted for the simplest thing that I could think of: extra-virgin olive oil and an acid. I did not want anything as tart as wine vinegar, so I added a squeeze of lemon juice. With the sweetness of the grapes, spiciness of the radishes, and the fresh herbs it was great–and so simple, and so healthy. In retrospect, I suspect that some nuts would have added some texture and different flavor to the salad too, but I did not think about that at the time. (After all that extra-virgin olive oil provides some of those monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that are supposed to be so good for us, and according to some studies–more on that later–and even help in losing belly fat! Pleasant thought that something that tasted that good could actually be good for me! I’m sure that I’ll be trying out other citrus juices in combination with the oil for my dressing! I’m sure that I’ll also get around to actually emulsifying the oil and the acid to make a good vinaigrette too, eventually.
Next project: getting more whole grains into my diet. Accompanying me home from the grocery store this evening in anticipation of that first goal was a multi-grain cereal. I’m going to make a serious effort to eat breakfast as I’m told that is helpful in losing weight too. My problem with that is that I do not actually like food early in the morning. I love hot cereals like steel-cut oats, multi-grain cereals; just not at the time I need to eat them before I go to work–and it’s not the cooking time that makes me not like them. I can figure out lots of ways to have long-cooking cereal without spending time cooking it in the morning. It’s more basic–I don’t like early-morning food. I can’t take it to work with me to eat at my desk later, because “work” is delivering a lecture, so I’ll have to find some other way to do this–without getting up too much earlier!
The last, but not least, goal of this project is reducing my (already pretty low) meat consumption. I’ve posted references to some of the books that I’ve been reading lately on the bibliography page. The information on energy consumption related to meat (term used loosely to include poultry) production is–not sure what adjectives to use to describe some of that data–thought-provoking to say the least. I’m reducing consumption, not giving up meat totally, nor am I giving up milk, eggs, cheese, or other animal products. As much as I like meat this is going to be an interesting time for me.
I always liked grains and pulses (beans, lentils, peas and such) so that’s part should not be too difficult (famous last words?). I expect I’ll be using some new grains and pulses now, so it will be a learning experience. I’ll be finding out how to cook and use these in small quantities, or single-serving amounts. I was pleased to see that my supermarket had teff, spelt, and quinoa available as will as the more usual bulghur, kasha and brown rice of different varieties.
If I can get add some regular exercise, as well as eating food early in the morning, I might actually get to like this regimen, and succeed in doing what I need to do, and keep the weight off as well.
Now…let me go peruse a cookbook or two in search of recipe ideas that I can adapt for a single-serving.