After months of working on a book about comfort food I have reached breaking point – or rather my jeans have! I want to be able to be comfortable in my clothes again and not have to spend hours layering and covering up all the tell tale signs of excessive eating on top of hours, days and months sitting at my desk with no exercise.
Whoever said writing a book results in putting on 10lbs plus was right. Enough I say – be gone!
I have made a pledge to myself to eat a lot less, exercise a lot more and obsess over healthy slimming food for the next 30 days.
Doesn’t it take 28 days (four weeks) to break a habit? Well in 30 days time I’m hoping I will love my new scaled down me and feeling a lot stronger, energized and ready for Europe. Yikes, swimsuits and sundresses are only weeks away and right now I’ll be packing a burka for Provence. So that’s my plan.
Today is day 1 of “Get Lean.” My reasoning goes something like this: I have photographed, recipe tested and eaten in the name of Made in America more heavy rich delicious comfort food than is good for anyone in six months and now it’s time to go the other way – I shall be photographing, recipe ‘testing,’ writing about what I am eating, sharing tips for infusing more flavor and yes, eating in the name of getting thin! The more I share, hopefully the more I will stay true to my goals. If I eat something I have to write it down and photograph it. I will also make time to exercise like a crazy woman – in the hope that things change for the better.
I’ve thought long and hard about what ‘diet,’ fad or meal plan to follow – Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers – they all made the short list. And then I’ve weighed up my options re exercise – walking in the canyon, running, pilates, yoga, boxing, cardio barre – they all look mighty tempting but I thought I’d take a look at Tracy Anderson and her 30-Day Method. It’s all there written out in her book, recipes and all – along with a DVD for the muscle work and cardio – so let’s put it to the test and see if it works. Lucy and Tracy a la Julie and Julia – or rather Lean with Anderson? or even Lean on Anderson…
For breakfast I made the children pancakes – they love them, me not so much. So it was easy to resist eating up any leftovers. Instead I turned my attention to the first meal of the new plan and making it look as pretty and delicious as I possibly could. I’m sorry but you can’t go wrong with a cup full of sweet, juicy and flavorful Harry’s Berries – it was one of the most delicious breakfasts I’ve had in ages, plus it didn’t leave me feeling lethargic – rather I was smug in my good eating habits. 1 meal down 119 to go!
Strawberry Mint Salad
1 cup sliced Harry’s Berries strawberries (Gaviota or Seascape)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 scant teaspoon agave syrup (I didn’t have agave so I used maple)
Makes 1 serving
1. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently mix together.
2. Serve in a pretty glass bowl and enjoy every bite.
Once I had dropped the children off at camp it was time to shop for all the ingredients I would need for today’s meals. This regime is not cheap and so far it’s been very time consuming – but then I may as well buy the best if I’m only eating a little bit and I may as well devote my time to this project.
At the fish counter I asked the fishmonger for his best, freshest ‘white’ fish – meaning cod, halibut, tilapia or other similar fillets. The line caught halibut from the Pacific was the best – and the most expensive – four 6 ounce fillets came to over $40 – still it’s cheaper than eating out and they were amazing.
I made the snack in the morning so it would have time to set and then ate it at 4pm – which is the worst time for me. I usually get home and hit the cupboard – cookies, nuts, popcorn, crackers and hummus – a little snack to tide me over – this eating habit alone is probably my biggest downfall.
Let’s just say this chocolate pudding is DELICIOUS! I can’t believe I can eat this and lose weight – the 4oz serving was so rich I felt a little sick after it – seriously. It’s heavier than the Chocolate Panna Cotta from Michael Mina in Made in America – and yet it doesn’t have the cream. Just lots of chocolate! If I made this again I would cut the quantity of chocolate chips in the recipe from ½ cup to ¼ cup and I would use a really good quality bitter chocolate rather than semisweet Anderson suggests – but it’s definitely a keeper. I’m also thinking it would make a great popsicle. Oh and you should also know that I can’t stand chestnuts – hubby loves them – so my heart sank when I read the recipe. Never fear – there’s none of that usual chalky texture in this dessert/snack – they chestnuts are lost in the decadent creamy chocolate creation… more of this please!
Chocolate Chestnut and Coconut Pudding
1/2 cup semisweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips
2 tablespoons peeled and cooked chestnuts (I used canned from France)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 whole pitted dates (I used local California Deglet Noor dates)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (I used Bob’s Mill)
Makes 2 servings (4 ounces each)
1. Melt the chocolate chips on the defrost setting in the microwave or over a double boiler. Set aside.
2. Place the chestnuts, cocoa powder, dates and coconut flakes in the blender and pulse to blend.
3. Add the melted chocolate and pulse to combine.
4. Add ½ cup of water to make a thick soupy consistency.
5. Transfer to 2 glass 4 oz dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so that it sets and is ready to eat
I’m a big fan of soup – and it’s an easy way of getting the children to eat up more vegetables – so this recipe was another winner. I used a lot more cayenne pepper than the original recipe suggested to spice things up – and I resisted reaching for my immersion blender and was glad I did. Filling and satisfying.
Tomato Minestrone Soup
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/8 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled and diced sweet potato
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I like Pomi – no hidden salt, sugar or additives)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 cup steamed fresh spinach
1 cup chopped and steamed kale
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Makes 2 generous servings of 8 ounces each
1. Place ¼ cup vegetable broth in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the broth starts to boil add the onion, celery and sweet potatoes and sweat from about 8 minutes.
2. When the stock has almost disappeared and the vegetables are beginning to brown add the tomatoes and the remaining stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until vegetables are soft.
3. Season with black pepper and cayenne pepper.
4. Add the basil, parsley, chives, spinach and kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Measure out the 8 ounce portions and serve in large white soup bowls.
Poached Line Caught Pacific Halibut with Roasted Asparagus
So this was an expensive dinner because of the fish I chose – but you could use a much cheaper fillet of fish – tilapia would work although I’m a little fearful of farm-raised seafood. With cod so over fished I tend to avoid this too. I don’t yet have a spray bottle for my olive oil – something to definitely get tomorrow because I’m convinced I ate more olive oil on the asparagus than Anderson would approve of. But we need some fat – and there’s no better fat than olive oil – is there?
1 bunch of asparagus spears, woody ends cut off
1 cup vegetable stock
1 clove garlic peeled and sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
2 lemons, one quartered and one for serving
4 6-ounce halibut fillets
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a baking dish lightly sprayed with olive oil arrange the asparagus spears, season with black pepper. Roast in the oven for 7 minutes.
3. As the asparagus is cooking place a large shallow saucepan over medium heat and bring the stock to a boil.
4. Add the garlic, onion and lemon quarters. Season with fresh black pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque.
5. Remove the asparagus from the oven and drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside to cool.
6. Divide the asparagus between the four plates and then place a fillet of fish next to it. Serve with a little more lemon juice and black pepper if needed.
One reason why I like the recipes so far is that I can adapt them slightly for the family. Tonight we all sat down for a delicious fish supper. Rémy enthusiastically helped me make baby fried potatoes for him and Minty – an easy version of fish and chips. Boil baby potatoes in lightly salted water until tender to a fork, drain and cut into ¼ inch thick slices. Fry the slices in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil until golden and crispy.
For hubby I made a quick, healthy potato salad by mixing some of the boiled baby potatoes with a tablespoon of some Trader Joe’s tzatziki.
Tip: I cleaned my teeth with the children tonight – this way I wasn’t tempted to raid the snack cupboard after they went to bed – another bad habit I have that I need to break!
Tomorrow I must remember to keep hydrated all day and obsess a little more over the exercise… but it feels good to be going to sleep knowing I stuck to my plan all day.