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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Candy Man, Salty Dog

I'm on my 2 week holiday from school...yay! September 7th is the first day of my third term of school, I'm glad to have the break as I feel like my brain has turned to mush. I gave another fitness seminar for the corporate fitness company I'm working for yesterday. It seemed to go well but seeing as it took 4 hours out of my day (2 to drive there and back because it was in Mississauga), it's not exactly lucrative for $100. I think if I get too busy once my research project starts, this will be the first thing to go.

Just 3 days into my diet cleanse and I can actually already notice a difference! Here is the low-down:

Energy - Excellent, but no different from before
Taste bud satisfaction - Confirmed, only one exception described below
Appetite satisfaction - Confirmed, although no surprise because I didn't really change my energy intake
Bloating - Much better!
Digestion - Better!!
Weight loss - 2 lbs of water already!

I am surprised how little I missed the sodium in most of the meals I've been eating. Only one was really amiss. The scrambled eggs with guacamole that I made for lunch yesterday was surprisingly a dud. I eat this meal a lot and never add salt, actually, but flavour the guacamole with red onion, garlic, cumin, jalapeno, and lime juice. However, yesterday I ate it on grilled fresh corn tortillas and that made the difference. Two corn tortillas have 104 cals and only 25 mg of sodium. Normally I eat my eggs and guac on my favorite whole grain pitas that have...ugh, 290 mg of sodium. Obviously that makes the difference because the whole thing is so much more flavourful with the pita. On the tortilla, even with all the seasonings I had in the guac, it still tasted like it needed salt. So I'm going to be sticking to my pita.

Everything else has been really very good. I'm keeping the power porridge for breakfast. Switching from my sucralose-sweetened, fruit flavoured yogurt to plain, Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries was a pleasant surprise. The Greek yogurt wasn't as sour as most plain yogurts and it was delicious with the blueberries. I might stick with that change as well. Now I finally understand why all the hard-core fitness folks and body builders eat this stuff - Greek yogurt has like 20 grams of protein per serving!

I was even surprised by how good the bean and quinoa dish was that I made last night. Adam, who was rather dubious when I described it to him ended up really enjoying it too. Usually starchy things like beans and grains call out to me for extra salt, but the lemon, garlic and oregano proved to be enough.

While I don't think I'll be eating this virtuously forever (I need more variety!), I am committed to sticking with a few of the positive changes to my diet that I tried and I think I am going to attempt to limit the amount of soy meats and deli meat (I usually allow myself one nitrite-free turkey sandwich a week, maybe I'll cut that back even more) I eat and replace it with more fish, eggs and beans, prepared without any high sodium ingredients. I'm also going to make sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes (which I always add salt to!) more often. It's not that I didn't know they were healthier, I just didn't bother to find a way to make the sweet potatoes that I really enjoy. I LOVE them made with the Chinese five spice powder!

It's actually been quite frightening to closely monitor the sodium in the foods we eat. It's everywhere, even in places you wouldn't necessarily expect (like pita!).

Mediterranean Bean and Quinoa Pilaf

2 cups organic quinoa, cooked according to package instructions

1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas or fava beans (I used a can that had both mixed), drained and rinsed well
1 500gm package frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp hot chili flakes (optional)

In large skillet cook garlic in oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer until tomatoes have cooked down, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingrdients and turn heat down to low, simmering another few minutes. Add quinoa to skillet and combine, stirring until all liquid is absorbed by the grains. Serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as a side dish. If you aren't concerned about sodium, this would be great with the addition of calamata olives and/or some feta cheese.

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