Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dine in tonight

To keep me civil while operating heavy machinery on the commute home from work, I usually snack on something like almonds and a piece of fruit. The effect typically wears off right about the time I arrive at my house, so to avoid eating the first thing I see I have developed a few quick-but-healthy meals. One favorite is a combination of roasted vegetables, roasted chicken thighs, and brown rice or quinoa. To keep it interesting I vary the protein or grain that I serve with vegetables, such as black beans and quinoa one night and steak and brown rice on another. On certain evenings there is nothing better than a couple of fried eggs with a slice of toasted Breadzilla (p. 252 Good Food, Great Medicine 3rd edition), sharp cheddar cheese, and some vegetables on the side. It’s amazing how many combinations you can make with this formula. Meal planning does take preparation, but it saves me time in the long run and helps me to make good choices on a daily basis.

My Mediterranean meal with lamb, feta, and roasted vegetables.
Most vegetables are delicious when roasted – carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, onions, potatoes, fennel, zucchini, to name a few. I usually include three or four of the following in one batch: Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes (or yams), beets, cauliflower, parsnips, squash, or eggplant. Ask my roommates – there is nothing better than the smell of roasting Brussels sprouts in the air. And don't knock a parsnip till you try it! Vegetables that I might find unappealing when prepared any other way are delicious after the insides soften and the outsides crisp and caramelize in the oven. (Look at pages 169-174 GFGM for roasting instructions).

This is one of my favorite combinations of vegetables to roast.
I toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them
 at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes. 
 A pan of roasted chicken thighs is one of the easiest chicken dishes a person can make. This recipe takes almost no prep work and provides a delightful lunch or dinner for several days afterwards. In the past I shied away from this part of the chicken, and mainly ate boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Now I find I really enjoy the taste of chicken thighs with crispy flavorful skin, and the good fat and protein keep me pleasantly full. If you don’t like the texture of the skin, it is easy to substitute skinless chicken thighs or just remove the skin after it’s cooked. I season the chicken with my favorite spice combinations, stick them in the oven at 400 degrees for 50 minutes, then pull them out when they are brown and the meat is tender. I eat them with roasted vegetables, in a salad, on an open-faced Breadzilla sandwich (p. 105), or even alone when I need a quick snack. Or if you’d like to tackle a whole chicken, try Just Plain Old Roast Chicken (p. 221).

Here is a picture of the roasted chicken thighs
 (p.220 GFGM 3rd edition) with the skin but no bone.
You might also want to try the very delicious honey mustard variation
 mentioned in the note on page 220. 

For me, the key is to not let myself get too hungry in between meals. I always make sure to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack with good fat, fiber, and protein (pp. 77-79), like the aforementioned handful of almonds with an apple, banana, or any fruit in season. The almonds are easy to store in my purse or lunch bag for any outing. I also like a cup of plain full-fat yogurt (Nancy’s or Brown Cow), with a sliced banana, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey for sweetening. Cottage cheese is another option that tastes great with a banana or fresh nectarine. To hit my vegetable quota for the day, I snack on carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli and bell peppers with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese.  If you like to dip your vegetables, some tasty choices are hummus (p.148), homemade ranch dressing (p. 145), or nut butter (p. 149).

Need more variety in your meals? Take a look at pages 96-108 of GFGM. Whether you are searching for side dishes, vegetarian options, meat dishes, or snacking suggestions, this is a good resource to keep in mind.

Now let's start cookin'!


Miles’ Postscript: The importance of the combination of protein, good fat and fiber.
Including protein, good fat, and whole food fiber in every meal or snack is a key to eating well without feeling deprived, and is a particularly valuable tool for anyone wanting to lose weight, reverse type two diabetes, or beat food addictions. This combination:

·        Lowers the rise of blood sugar and insulin
·        Improves the sense of satisfaction
·        Takes longer to digest
·        Delays the return of hunger
·        Suppresses sugar cravings

This leads to better blood sugar control, lower heart disease risk factors, and weight loss with minimal deprivation. Calorie for calorie, protein and fat satisfy the appetite more than carbohydrates, so you will feel more “full” with a serving of protein rich food than with the same amount of calories in carbohydrate form. A higher-fat whole food Mediterranean-style diet is associated with better weight control and less diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia, and depression. The naturally-occurring fat that has historically been part of the food we eat makes it more satisfying, improves flavor, reduces carbohydrate cravings, slows the rise of blood sugar after eating – and, like protein and fiber, delays hunger.  Finally, fiber from whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains is associated with reduced cancers and infections, as well as reduced heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cholesterol. (See pp 77-79 in GFGM 3e)