Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adding Interest to Weight-Loss Meals


Sara Sullivan is making very public her weight-loss journey on her website SeeSaraShrink.

Having reached the half-way mark, on her way to losing 100 pounds, Sara is determined to lose another 50 pounds.

Several weeks ago, she was frustrated because she'd reached a plateau and wasn't losing weight. Then lo-and-behold, around Thanksgiving, she lost a couple pounds. I didn't ask, but I'm guessing this was a feat of sheer will power.

Losing weight can become an internal battle where the desire to eat the things you love comes up against the desire to refrain from eating the things you love --a battle that causes one to feel constantly in conflict with parts of the self.

One of the things Sara stressed when we grocery-shopped together is the importance of adding interest to her diet.

She wanted me to introduce her to new foods and ways to cook that food which would satiate her love of eating without causing her to feel conflicted about eating.

With that, and her weight-loss goal in mind, we perused fresh produce where I pointed out in-season and abundant produce such as several varieties of organic apples, and deliciously juicy d'Anjou pears. (Soft fruits are out of season and thus very spendy.)

Sara picked a tart variety of apple and we talked about the possibility of her juicing the apples with carrot and celery as a breakfast beverage, followed by avocado or egg on sprouted-grain bread.

A partially raw breakfast of alkaline-rich foods stimulates the digestion, cleanses the liver and blood and boosts one's energy.

Surveying the vegetables, I pointed out kale and eggplant on sale, a good deal on a large bag of organic carrots, conventional red peppers (though I recommend organic bell peppers), mushrooms, organic spaghetti squash, and other seasonal veggies.

Spaghetti squash is a really fun and different vegetable (pic above). I suggested Sara cut it in half, boil it gently for about 15 mins or until the flesh begins to soften and come away from the skin in spaghetti-like shreds. Drain, and then return the squash shreds to the pot with a bit of butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. Its delicious plain or you can add toppings as you would to pasta.

Sara decided to try the spaghetti squash. She picked up an eggplant, though she felt concerned that by the time she cooked it in lots of oil and topped it with tomato and cheese, a la eggplant parmigiana, it'd be too calorie-laden.

Eggplant doesn't need to be cooked in a lot of oil. I proposed shallow-frying cubes in oil on high for a few mins, followed by 30 mins in 350-degree oven.

Other vegetables such as the carrot, bell pepper, even the kale, tossed in a little olive oil and added to baking tray with the eggplant, make for a colorful and tasty baked-vegetable combination.

To add interest, color and convenience, I pointed out Whole Foods 365-brand, Thai frozen vegetables, proposing that a handful tossed in with the spaghetti squash, bell pepper, and seasoned with a dash of Tamari or Soy, topped with sesame seeds or toasted almonds would make for a crunchy, tasty vegetable side.

As I mentioned yesterday, Sara loves fish so she picked up a chunk of Sockeye salmon. I asked how she was going to cook it, and she said she'd probably bake it.

There are many fish recipes on this blog and I reminded Sara of my most recent salmon post, Salmon with Winter Greens, Apple & Leeks.

With the produce she'd collected yesterday, this is a dish she could easily make this week.

I proposed that she could pop a piece of the baked salmon on top of a portion of buttered and seasoned spaghetti squash, then top the lot with Whole Food's green olive, caper and lemon peel tapenade.

Sara was intrigued, so she perused WF's bulk olive bar and collected two small containers, one of the tapenade, and one of a mix of olives, feta and red peppercorns in oil and herbs. Both these bulk-deli items are great for adding flavor and interest to vegetables, fish, and meat dishes.

I also encouraged her to try millet and red quinoa from the bulk dry-goods aisle. She likes quinoa, a high-protein grain, but hadn't tried the red variety.

Not only is quinoa a terrific savory grain, it makes for a delicious breakfast too. I love it hot with grated apple and a little marmalade stirred through, topped with toasted seeds, walnuts or almonds.

Sara is eating lots of salads and getting quite bored with them. I don't blame her; when it's freezing cold outside, as it is right now in Colorado, salads are not exactly enticing.

One of the things I do at this time of the year with salad greens or any leafy green and salad item is wilt them in the skillet, thereby creating a warm salad.

I pointed out that Sara could easily do this with her kale, topping the wilted leaves with sauteed apple, grated raw carrot, perhaps a spoonful of cooked red quinoa, adding light Caesar dressing, since she's also very bored with her home-made olive oil dressing.

A slurp of the Caesar dressing, mixed in a blender with the flesh of the baked eggplant, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice would make for a fun variation on the Middle Eastern dip babaghanoush.

After an hour at Whole Foods, Sara checked out with a cart of mostly fresh produce, two packs of frozen veggies, the salmon, bulk grains, the olive bar bulk items, bottled dressing, and two cartons of a probiotic juice drink.

She spent $67 dollars and bought enough items to create main-meal sides and or lunches this week for herself and the family. Her intention was to source out quality fresh produce, fish, and some different foods to add interest to her weight-loss meals.

Over the next couple of days, I'll expand on the meal ideas above and offer method recipes for Sara, and any other readers interested in creating nutritious and colorful meals on a budget for health and weight loss.

1 comment:

Terri said...

Love this blog. As a fellow "weight loss plateau-er" I'm inspired to shake things up a bit. Thanks.