Weight loss program: Helper not master

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy ongoing hunt for the elusive enjoyable veggie has taken some interesting turns. I ordered several Walden Farms dressings online. These are so low in carbs, sugars and fat to be not only acceptable on my program but are also considered a condiment. While I have to admit, no connoisseur would be greatly impressed. If you expect these to have the taste or consistency of a full fat, high carb dressing you will be mistaken. However, if you have realistic expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised that they are surpassed. Then when you consider the Bacon Ranch dressing actually tastes like bacon any deficiencies are quickly made up for. Does this help with making my veggies more palatable? Well, for me anything becomes tasty if dressed in bacon. And I do mean anything.

Another useful dressing is their Honey Dijon. I’ve used this for preparing a pork roast. I coat the roast with Honey Dijon dressing, sprinkle with a mixture of garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper and paprika. Roast in the oven, and portion out for several days’ meals. The roast comes out tasty and juicy. I put the portions into Ziploc bags and refrigerate. They are so good there is no need to heat them up to eat—they are great cold. It’s not as good as cold fried chicken—but is anything?

Besides the new dressings to improve other veggies, there was another veggie discovery. In the past I’ve tried zucchini and only liked it in bread. Today my wife decided to help by preparing my lean and green portions for me. She sliced zucchini thin (about ¼ inch thick) and grilled it on my cast iron grill plate. It was surprisingly delicious. I will definitely be having this again. Grilled zucchini and asparagus with Bacon Ranch dressing was a great combination.

The biggest concerns from this weekend are small, but possibly important. One is the question of my wife’s Korean bean sprouts. They are so good and, fortunately, I found bean sprouts on the guide of what is allowed. I’ve had a small amount of these in a couple meals—I’m always careful to limit the amount. However, the list shows Mung bean sprouts, but when asked, my wife said these were Soybean. The species may make little difference, but I need to make sure.

The second question involves my job and church, which for me are identical. I found myself wondering how much impact the elements of Communion might have. For those who don’t know, for us, this involves once a month taking a small piece of cracker and a small cup of juice. As the officiating pastor abstaining would not really be appropriate. I found myself momentarily worrying if this small amount of each would be enough to bounce me out of fat burn and stall my weight loss.

I concluded after a short consideration that my diet is to serve me and my needs. One of my needs is to be able to partake of Recieving Communion #2Communion. If my diet were so fragile that the miniscule elements of Communion, taken once a month, undid everything then the diet would not be workable for me. An important consideration when deciding on a weight loss program is how much of one’s life it should change and how much should not. A weight program that requires long term unworkable changes lifestyle changes will not last. Of course some changes are essential. Even something as minor as changing the amount eaten or the frequency of meals is a life change. The important consideration is what changes should be made permanent, what changes should be made short term and what changes are just too far. When you look at a program that requires laughable changes that are impossible to maintain long term then move along. With the Take Shape for Life program I’ve made some huge changes. My meal sizes are cut down, my meals are on a strict schedule, and eating out is pretty much off limits. Neither can I have bacon, bread, pasta or tortillas—my previous four food groups. While making these limitations into unwavering, unbreakable absolutes for the rest of my life is not really workable, they are short time changes I am willing to make. They will also help me to lay a ground work for transitioning back into a normal, but healthy lifestyle.

ball-and-chain-shacklesKeep in mind when looking for a weight loss program that such programs are to put you back in control of your life. Most of us with serious weight related health issues have been controlled by our food. We stopped eating to live and instead lived to eat. Exchanging one master (Food) for another master (Diet) is still to be enslaved by what you eat. My diet is to be my helper and guide, not my master.

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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.