Wednesday...chilly in Chicago.. quintessential! Woke up happy...and actually audibly whispered to myself, "I'm glad to be alive." Maybe it was seeing the sun return to the early morning sky and the sun that poked its head out today. And then, the mental exercise, "What was good about yesterday?" So much..got a lot done, enjoyed seeing Jo-Jo and his new purple collar that Elizabeth worries might make him look like a girl, ate great, time with friend James in the evening - haven't seen much of him lately, he's been working a lot, and then very late tea with tenant Mark. All that and a good book on a frosty evening. 'Twas good. Tonight piano bar with Adrienne. I won't sulk if I'm not called up to sing as often as some of the old timers.
I've been getting questions and inquiries about what I eat now that I've given up most dairy, sugar and wheat. What DOES that leave? Friend Sue is on board with the no wheat thing, having read Wheat Belly at my suggestion. And really, once you read that book, there's really no turning back. Tenant Mark turned me on to the book. I ordered it and read it over the course of a few days. When we visited next, he asked me, "So, are you going to do it? Give up wheat? I was surprised at the question because was there really much of a choice? Once you're presented with the evidence, there is only one course of action. Back to Sue. Now that she embraces the science, she wonders, "What do I feed myself and my family? Other people find it incredulous that I don't eat cheese, sugar, wheat or most wheat substitutes (common mistake is substituting wheat with other high glycemic substances like potato, rice, tapioca flour - the idea is to stabilize your blood sugar and be healthier).
So, here is a glimpse of what I typically eat these days with some practical suggestions sprinkled in. Keep in mind, I'm also eating for weight loss so if you're not trying to reduce, you would eat a lot more!
- Gluten-free steel cut oats - 1/2 c. with berries or other fruit and coconut creamer and a cup of coffee Tips:
- Get the oats at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's - Bob's Red Mill. These are not the quick cooking or rolled oats and they do specify gluten-free which means there is no wheat contamination in them. Bring 3 c. of salted water to a boil and whisk in 1 c. of the oats. Bring back to the boil and then turn down to lowest setting and cook for about 1/2 hour stirring frequently until desired thickness. This will make several servings, making the rest of the week easier - the leftover oats warms easily in the microwave.
- Enjoy a mix of fruit like raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, fresh pineapple, ripe pear, pomegranate seeds. Put a combo of fruit on the oats (fresh fruit is something you should absolutely splurge on and not penny-pinch). I use coconut coffee lightener (creamer) - a brand called "So Delicious" found in the refrigerator section of Whole Foods. Warm about 1/4 c. and pour on top of the oats and fruit.
- 2% Fage Greek Yogurt - 1/2 c. with same types of fruit listed above and 1/2 TBS of honey (the only sweetener I allow myself and in tiny quantities). Greek yogurt and on special occasions a bit of goat cheese is the only dairy I eat these days (no butter, cow-milk cheese, sour cream, milk, cream)
- Veggie Scramble - Finely dice vegetables like carrots, onion, red and green peppers, even asparagus and sauteed until soft and lightly brown in a skillet sprayed with Coconut Spray (Whole Foods - a more healthy alternative to Pam). Add lightly whisked eggs, S&P and a tsp of olive oil and cook until scrambled.
- Salad - I don't have to tell you how to make a salad, right?
- Wrap - I'm loving Rudi's Spinach tortillas that I find at Whole Foods. They're large, nice and soft (especially if you wrap them in a slightly damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds). The grains in Rudy's tortillas are healthful: sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, etc. I fill the wrap with whatever I have handy: chicken salad that I make from rotisserie chicken (dice chicken, add halved grapes and finely chopped celery - season with garlic powder, cinnamon, Jane's salt and coarse pepper. Add a dash of lemon juice and Miracle Whip Light to moisten); organic turkey from the deli, avocado, large butter lettuce leaves, leftover sauteed vegetables, mango salsa (Whole Foods), tunafish, etc. Sometimes I'll cook a veggie burger and slice it into fingers and use those in the wrap, adding almond cheese (it's really good!), etc.
- Soup - this time of year there should always be a pot of soup simmering on your stove!
- Cherry tomatoes on the side - Cherry tomatoes are my new potato chip!
- Amy's frozen meal like the Tamale with Roasted Vegetables and a side of black beans (dairy free, gluten free)
- Eating out is tricky. I tend to find one thing that works for me at each of the venues I haunt. If it's Maggiano's they have a salmon salad on a bed of mixed greens. I ask for dressing on the side and use it judiciously. I remove the little crunchy wheat things from the top and I send back the bread basket when it comes. That, and a glass of wine or Pellegrino is, on most days, satisfying. I remind myself that I can always eat something when I get home if I'm still hungry. At the Asian place, I'll order lettuce wraps, at Schaller's I order nothing because it's all unhealthy (I eat first).
- Dinner at home might be an AmyLu's chicken sausage (Whole Foods) browned and served alongside some roasted and pureed butternut squash and 1/2 c. of brown or wild rice. (To make heavenly squash, get a large Butternut, cut it lengthwise and remove the seeds. Put the two halves in a roasting pan and brush with 1 TBS of olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with Jane's Salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg. Cook at 375 for the better part of an hour until it is slightly over-roasted. When cool enough to work with, scoop the flesh and puree in the food processor, adjusting the seasonings as needed. If the squash lacks sweetness you can add a bit of maple syrup or honey (not much!). And don't be afraid of making rice - it's easy. Use a size appropriate pan and bring to a boil, 2 c. water, 1 tsp salt and 1 c. brown rice. Reduce heat to very very low, stir and cover and then don't fuss with it. When you think it might be done, part the kernels to check for unabsorbed liquid - cook more if necessary. When the liquid is fully absorbed, fluff the rise with a fork, turn heat off, cover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Make a batch of rice and eat on it the entire week!
- Mustard Tarragon Chicken Breasts (you'll love this recipe that you can prep in less than five minutes!) Put several boneless chicken breasts on a plastic cutting board (creeps me out to use wood - I worry that the chicken bacteria will take up permanent residence in the wood grain), cover with plastic wrap and pound them until they are twice their original size. In a baking dish put some olive oil and then dredge the breasts in the oil (that means flip them around to coat them in the oil - both sides). Dollop a heaping tsp of good mustard (Grey Poupon or the Pommery I just wrote about is best) and spread with the back of the spoon being careful not to return the chicken spoon back into the mustard container!. Sprinkle with dried tarragon that you crush between your fingers, Jane's salt and coarse pepper. Put in a preheated 400 oven for about 15 minutes, checking frequently. The key to this recipe is not overcooking the chicken - cook ONLY until it is no longer mushy when pressed with your finger! Serve with rice and a vegetable, etc.
Was this at all helpful? Did you get good ideas? It's one thing to get clarity on what you should and should not be eating but harder to put a new way of eating into practice! In addition to the above, I snack on fruits and vegetables: a sliced apple sprinkled with Saigon cinnamon at 4PM most days, clementines when I feel like grazing, a banana or pear whenever, and if I have the points I might even indulge in 1 oz of tortilla chips and some mango salsa. Almonds are also a go-to snack (carefully apportioned) and those little massageable packets of almond butter are fun when squeezed on apple slices! I drink only coffee, tea and water when at home.
Challenge today. If you're of a mind to change how you eat, how about doing a purge of your kitchen cabinets, getting rid of anything that doesn't support your new initiative and then stocking up with the foods that DO support health!