I scream; you scream…for sherbet?

IMG_20140803_201606430One food I added to my diet recently was bananas for their nutritional value. I’ve seen many people use them to make smoothies, but I had another plan using a frozen banana. I ended up with a nice cold treat to relax with. It is sort of a strawberry banana sherbet.

Ingredients (understand that unless baking, I don’t measure):

1 frozen banana, peeled and chopped into chunks

About 1 tablespoon of Walden Farms Strawberry Fruit Spread

About ½ cup of crushed ice

About a ¼ cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk

 

Blend together; enjoy.

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Burger Option

IMG_20140801_173823059My last experiment in using portabella mushroom caps as pizza crust was delicious. After posting it, a friend pointed out that they make a great bread replacement for open faced sandwiches, which gave me an idea. Last night for supper I grilled burgers for the family and decided to make a version that I could have.

Ingredients:

  • Portabella mushroom caps, large enough for hamburger patty
  • Hamburger patty (as lean as you choose to use)
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Goat cheese
  • Tomato
  • Condiment of choice (I used Dijon mustard)

 

Procedure:

  • Remove stem and scrape gills from mushroom caps (a spoon works well for this)
  • Brush olive oil into caps, then salt and pepper
  • Grill burger patties and mushrooms
  • Add goat cheese to top of patty and allow to soften
  • Place patty on mushroom (after removing from grill, of course)
  • Add leaf lettuce, tomato (I grilled mine) and condiments
  • Final step: enjoy!

Pizza!!!!

IMG_20140729_115802This week I experienced a strong case of lust that was just driving me crazy. No. I was not lusting after another woman (or any other person, for that matter). This lust is far harder to resist. It shames me to admit I have been seriously lusting after pizza. I know. I can feel your judging eyes on me. I can hear the talking behind my back, “He’s the one with an unnatural attraction to pizza!” I feel such shame, such guilt.

Not really. But I do have to admit I truly love pizza. Think about it. Put together bread, sauce, meat, cheese, veggies (if you must, gag!) into a big circle; cook it; slice it, and pick up a portion to walk along eating happily. If there is any food that must have been invented by angels it has to be pizza. Of course, if you eat too much of it you will meet the angels far earlier than otherwise. It isn’t exactly health food.

I decided to find a way to scratch this itch before it drove me nuts. Most of the things I would want on the pizza would be fine. The two problem areas were the sauce (usually full of sugar—at least if made right) and the crust (a major carbohydrate bomb—primed for a glorious carb explosion). Since I’ve been forced to change my program around a bit, I’m getting more creative. However, I have to be careful to not carelessly introduce foods that will throw me off course. Once I reach my goal weight you can believe I’ll have the occasional slice of really good pizza (pardon me while I close my eyes and dream of that day for a moment or three). Right now, it’s just not an option—or is it?

I am familiar with cauliflower pizza, but must admit when it comes to food I suffer from what my mom used to call “lazy butt” syndrome. It just seems like too much work. I wanted pizza. I wanted it now! I did some research and found a great recipe for a pizza using a large portobello mushroom cap for a crust.

Here’s what I did:

  • Large Portobello Mushroom cap, cleaned, stem removed and gills scraped out with a spoon
  • Place the cap on a baking pan; brush on some olive oil, then salt and pepper
  • Roast the caps at 425 degrees for 10-20 minutes depending on the size
  • Remove from oven
  • Brush in Walden Farms pasta sauce
  • I added a couple slices of pepperoni to each and some sliced olives
  • Cover with Mozzarella cheese
  • Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly

I have made these on two different occasions. I love it because it is like having a pizza with extra mushrooms (a sign of really good pizza).

I could eat these every day. I have satisfied my burning desire for pizza. Mine doesn’t look nearly as pretty as the original site’s pictures, but it looks a lot worse now. I can guarantee that!

Mongolian Grill at Home

IMG_20140707_114006Today I tried a new idea—sort of a new idea for me. I love Mongolian grill. I love the fresh vegetables and meats with sauces cooked on a rocket hot surface. I decided to try a version of it at home for my Lean & Green meal today. It turned out so good, I wanted to share it. I am definitely going to make it again and make it often.

Such cooking takes a hot surface that can spread the heat. To do this in many pans is difficult because they will have one area that is far hotter than the others. I have an old Wok we bought my wife years ago, but it is not really that good, since the metal is far thinner than it should be. I decided for my experiment to use a large cast iron skillet—one that I have owned and used for years.

For the green portion of my meal—three servings—I used one serving each of mushrooms, red sweet pepper (both sliced in thin strips), and broccoli. For the lean portion, I used 6 ounces of chicken breast cut into ¼ inch thick strips.

Once everything was prepared, I heated the skillet until it was hot. With such cooking I start with a hot pan before adding the oil. I wanted to cook the broccoli to soften and have plenty of time to get some good searing/crust, so I added some oil to the pan and after a moment to spread it around the surface I added the broccoli (with chicken I am allowed an additional fat and this oil was part of it. Use oil with a reasonably high smoke point. I used Canola). The broccoli cooked by itself for a few minutes then, I lowered the heat a bit and added the rest of the vegetable portions. While these cooked (stirring regularly), I added a bit of salt and Asian sesame oil to the chicken (my wife is Korean so we have this by the gallon). Once the vegetables had cooked for a few minutes I added the chicken breast to the pan and cooked everything together. Once the chicken was seared a bit on all sides, I added Walden Farms’ Asian sauce to the pan and let it continue to cook—stirring often.

After everything is properly cooked, pour into a plate and enjoy.

A Great Meal

IMG_20140622_092121This past week I tried something new that I wanted to share. I’m not much of a cook—other than what I can pull out of a smoker or off of a grill—but really enjoyed this very simple Lean & Green meal. That is the keyword for anything I cook: simple. The more complex it is, the less it interests me. This applies to both cooking the food and eating it. I prefer things as close to their natural form as possible. I don’t want a lot of things between me and my food. This caused some interesting conversations with my wife when we first got married. She is Korean, and their cultural cuisine includes powerful marinades for all kinds of meat. One day she asked if I wanted a steak for dinner. Of course I wanted steak. Is there any other food if steak is available? Being a new bride she gladly fixed and brought me my steak. It was OK. She had covered the steak with an assortment of Korean oils and spices. I love those spices and Korean flavors…on Korean food. However, they just weren’t right on this Texas boy’s steak. I told her she did a great job and was a wonderful cook, but that I liked to taste the actual meat. She looked at me like I had two heads. She just couldn’t understand that.

This meal is simple, though it has some great flavor. I put together something another person told me about with a new marinade purchased from Walden Farms—their Asian sauce. These sauces and marinades are great. They are zero sugar, zero carbs, zero fat etc. I know you are thinking, “And zero flavor.” As I’ve said before they are quite good—but not exactly like the full fat, sugar and carb versions. However, I get good flavor and my program counts them as condiments they can go with anything.

I started by thinly slicing three servings of assorted peppers: red, yellow and orange (one serving of each). These I grilled. I topped this with a grilled chicken breast (seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, and powdered garlic). Finally a small addition of the Walden Farms Asian Sauce and toss everything together. It was quite tasty. It stayed within the limits of my plan. It gives me another way to enjoy a healthy meal.

Hunting the Elusive Tasty Vegetable Dish

I have found I can have a vegetable dish that I have long loved, but thought might be forbidden. The nice thing about the Take Shape for Life program is that besides my coach I can also call a Nutrition Support line to ask questions of a dietician. That has saved my bacon on several occasions—except they still won’t let me have bacon!

My wife makes a vegetable dish that I could eat daily, and fortunately she makes it in large quantities. We usually have several large jars of Kimchi around the house. For those of you who don’t know, Kimchi is a heavenly concoction that improves any meal. It is also quite versatile and doesn’t feel out of place in fusion cuisines.

I know. Some are going to think of weird and disgusting ingredients they’ve heard were used in Kimchi. There are two points to remember: (1) most of those stories are xenophobic lies from those claiming they heard it from a friend whose brother’s sister’s cousin’s husband was there and saw it; (2) there are over 350 varieties of Kimchi. So even if one has things you find offensive there are plenty of other that will not.

Some are going to say: “But they let it rot!” Actually they allow it to ferment. Shock! Horror! Fermented cabbage? You just described Sauer Kraut. Make your favorite German Kraut, use Chinese cabbage, and add a bunch of garlic and red pepper and you just made Kimchi! Besides, not all Kimchi is fermented.

Oh, of course some will say, “But they bury that stuff!” Well they only do that with winter Kimchi and that gives you the reason. Koreans traditionally make Kimchi in huge ceramic and stone vats that are stored outside. In a cold climate, like Korea, traditionally the best way to keep something accessible outside without freezing solid has been to place it below ground with a heavy cover for access (our own ancestors did this with various foods up to a century ago). Because this Kimchi is stored for months while waiting to be consumed it ferments longer, taking on a stronger lactic quality. It is not rotten! It is almost incapable of rotting with all the salt, red pepper and garlic!

The ingredients of the one she most often makes are Chinese cabbage, sea salt, red pepper powder, garlic, and small minced shrimp and oysters for flavor. She also adds Splenda instead of sugar (a habit she picked up years ago working as a cook in a Nursing Home).

The dietician says I can have a half cup as a serving of vegetables for my Lean & Green meals. However, because of the sodium I can’t have it every day. This will make my meals a bit less drab, allowing me more variety.

Now to keep hunting the ever elusive vegetable—I guess it will be a slow hunt for such a slow moving prey.

A Nice Surprise

scaleToday I decided to cook an elk roast given to us by a friend a while back. My plan was to finish it and then portion it out to package for my meals over the next few days. When I opened the package I discovered that it was not a roast, but was four nice elk steaks. Once cooked they were each already small enough to serve as proper portions for my program.

In case you are wondering how I cooked them, I grilled them over coals. Yes, I posted yesterday about the cast-iron grill plate I use on the stove. However, nice elk deserves to be treated with time and a kiss of smoke. For flavor I added a couple of chunks of hickory to the coals.

I thought my wife would join me, but she didn’t want the elk, so that just means more for me. I have three elk steaks in the fridge to 2014-04-21 14.03.44get me through a few meals.

Today is my fifth day on the program. I no longer feel tired and weak. I no longer feel hungry, other than the occasional small hunger pangs when it is almost time for my next meal.

On my first morning on the program I weighed myself at 384 pounds. Later that day a trip to the doctor confirmed that weight. Today I weigh 370 pounds. I doubt I’ve lost 14 pounds of fat in five days, but have probably lost excess fluids as inflammation is relieved. I am noticing a change and so are others.