Even before the anti-wheat movement had begun, I started to acknowledge that my own body’s digestive system felt better, and more importantly, functioned better when I ate less wheat.
A member of this family is on a specialized diet. Most of what we are already cooking and eating can continue, but there are a few items on the approved list that not everyone necessarily likes.
Swiss chard is one of those items. I for one love it steamed with onions and lemon juice, or mixed in with any tomato based recipe. Swiss chard, the red, white, or yellow stemmed ones, are not only lovely in your garden, they are packed with nutrients like most dark green vegetables are. Iron, which is always good for women, is one of those nutrients, so I tend to reach for Swiss chard regularly, especially when making tomato sauce for a pasta dinner. Just chop really small and cook with the sauce, in the crock pot or on the stove top.
The other ingredient we’re experimenting with is black-eyed peas. These little legumes look more like beans than peas, and since most family members in this household do not like beans at all, I don’t cook them often. I do cook them for myself, though, and with the aid of a digestive enzyme I have never experienced any digestive disruption. In fact, I eat beans regularly enough that I often forget to take an enzyme all together and don’t have any problems at all. This must mean that I have a diet high enough in fiber that my digestive system is able to handle beans in medium-sized quantities.
But back to the black-eyed peas. I decided to make a salad out of them and use some steamed, slightly wilted Swiss chard leaves along with it. Onion, feta cheese and a nice olive oil and lemon juice dressing to round it out, and the end result was simply delicious.
The kids wouldn’t eat it, but the adults enjoyed it. The versatility of such a salad is endless:
- spoon it on top of a mixed green, or spinach salad
- stuff it into a pita pocket to make a sandwich
- roll it into a whole wheat tortilla
- add or subtract other vegetables (yellow or red pepper, cherry tomatos)
Although it’s February and cold-ish (this is one of the warmest winters I’ve ever experienced living in Toronto in many years), these types of salads have helped keep that afternoon slump at bay, increased our nutrients in our bodies, and added a bit of variety to an otherwise rather repetitive Canadian winter diet.
That is the question. Isn’t it.
We all know that the human body needs carbs for energy. The tricky part is to choose complex carbs over simple carbs. So, whole grain, fresh fruits and veggies, those are part of what is considered “good carbs” since they take longer to convert to sugar (=energy) in the body than something like a refined product made with white flour, white sugar, and is otherwise heavily processed.
Choosing whole foods that are complex carbs isn’t that difficult if you shop right. The hardest part for me was to overcome the cravings for starchy, sweet foods. Particularly when the fatigue hit. And living in a cold climate hasn’t helped either. There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta with melted cheese on top when you’re freezing your butt off. Or a nice cup of tea or three, along with a yummy cookie, or a slice of cake. Or two.
And don’t get me started on the chocolate.
Then one day I realized that although my clothes still fit, I don’t feel so healthy. I feel heavy and uncomfortable. And while feeling tired and bored and fed up with the weather, all of which has contributed to a more sedative lifestyle than I would prefer, the last thing I wanted to do was go on a diet.
You know, a traditional diet. Or a fad diet.
Oh no. I can’t do that. Frankly, I need my indulgences, at least for a little while longer.
But I can do something about the amount of carbs I’ve been ingesting, whole grain and all. I realized that I don’t need to have so many carbs in the form of bread, pasta or related product. Instead, I could reach for something other than carbs.
Like fennel. I LOVE fennel. It’s so sweet and crunchy, I can eat the entire bulb by myself. (My 3yo loves it too, and the toddler enjoys sucking on it). So, instead of buying a fennel here and there, I’ve been buying them in twos and threes, ignoring the fact that cheap this is not…
And you know what? Although the first day of less carbs was hard, and the cravings were distracting, I managed to do just fine by the following few days. The body really does adjust.
Next, out came the navy beans which I made into a little salad, dressed with a bit of mustard and white wine vinegar, and stuffed into a whole wheat tortilla roll (they’re so thin, yet still a complex carb) and voila. Craving subsided.
Out came the quinoa, mixed up into a lovely cucumber-and-dill salad, sprinkled with lemon juice and olive oil, and voila. I felt satisfied and full(er). Quinoa has the added bonus of being a high protein food, which, as we all know, is a good thing. The high protein part, I mean.
We still eat pasta. The kids particularly like it, so I make it for them. These days, access to whole wheat pasta has become norm, and you can always reduce portions too. Like last night: we had whole wheat fresh linguine, mixed with home made tomato sauce (full of onion, leeks and garlic), and on the side I heaped a large pile of rapini tossed and lightly steamed with olive oil, more garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. Yum.
But then, I get a moment of weakness. There is chocolate in the house, and Ben wanted to bake something, and before you know it, the carbs are back. And I’m off the wagon again.
But I will perservere. Because I know I can, and because I know that cheating once in a while is not the end of the world.
And besides, I made the lemon poppy seed cake with 1/2 whole wheat flour…and didn’t make the sugary coating to pour over it….and only had one slice of it yesterday (ok, two, but they were SMALL slices).
Happy less-carb eating!
I’ve decided that I am fat. Even though I still fit into my jeans, I am still fat. I am not happy about my abdominal area (and yes, I realize that many women who have had babies feel the same way).
But I am a hungry unhappy chick. Which is why I’m on this rampage now. Rampage to stock my fridge with precut veggies and bean/pea/lentil type salads. Because they are filling, high in protein, and will satisfy my cravings to some degree.
For instance, I can eat the above pictured chickpea salad as is in a bowl with a spoon, stuff it into a whole wheat pita, roll it into a whole wheat tortilla, or mix it with more greens and make it part of a salad plate. It’s healthy, it’s fairly filling, it’s tasty, and I won’t reach for the other stuff.
Here’s the recipe:
can of chickpeas
handfuls of cut veggies like cucumber, cherry tomatos (you can add peppers if you like)
handful of chopped salad greens (I used romaine hearts, but spinach is just as good)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp of dijon mustard
1 tbsp white whine vinegar
2 tbsp of olive oil
Rinse the chickpeas well under cold water to remove excess salt and place in a bowl.
Add chopped veggies and salad greens.
Mix salt and pepper with the vinegar to disolve the salt, then add the mustard and oil.
Pour dressing over chickpea mixture, stir, and enjoy.
I’m trying something disasterous over on this page. I’m spending so much time running back and forth to this laptop it’s starting to wear on my nerves.
I think I might quit soon….and it’s only been 3 hours…
Edited to add: it’s now WAY beyond 3 hours and I can’t believe myself…is it always like this? Yikes!
Photo courtesy http://www.northrup.org/photos/pig/huge-pig.htm
Houdini – Harry Houdini (1824-1926), magician, escapologist
Escapism - the attempt to divert attention from an unpleasant reality
PPMS – Permanent Pre Menstrual Syndrome (first came across this phenomenon here)
I recently came across an article in a magazine that talks about sugar. The gist: we eat too much, there is too much hidden sugar in our food, and it’s bad for you.
Being Swiss, and more importantly, female, and most importantly a mom of tiny tots, I like sugar. Particularly the type found in chocolate. I have rambled about this here and here and I will likely again soon, I think.
There is a reason why I included definitions at the top of this post. Houdini and escapism are related to one another, as far as the magician Harry Houdini is concerned, but the term kind of leaped into my brain when I thought of a funky title for this post. Because it seems to me that sugar, in its white, refined, granlulated form, has this houdini-like quality to it. Don’t you think? I mean, there is sugar everywhere you look, even if it’s not the white granular stuff (think simple carbs, for example).
The reason I mentioned PPMS up there is because I am just coming out of that state. There was something REALLY wrong with me over the last few weeks because I was unable to stop eating chocolate. I mean, I usually have a little every day, but last week I thought I was going to go into some kind of insulin-resistant shock from all the chocolate I consumed. Disgusting, really. But then, on Saturday morning, I realized that last week I was experiencing PMS (or P-PMS, because it went on and on and on), which, 4 months postpartum, SEEMS a bit early to me, and I forgave myself all this sugar consuming. I mean, I couldn’t HELP myself. But now, I’m feeling better. The cravings have mostly disappeared. Actually, my cravings went houdini on me too because I now crave salt. Like, olives. Or pickles.
But I digress. Back to the sugar.
Frankly, I think there is something wrong with all this promotion to reading labels, counting calories or points, weighing food or measuring inches. I find it, well, unnatural really. If you must diet, then why not just eat food?
And there you have it. Food. Michael Pollan says to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. He is the author of In Defense of Food and he talks about this stuff in plain lingo. He makes a very important distinction, comparing at length whole food with processed, packaged food. Go borrow the book at the library, or buy it at the bookstore. You won’t be sorry.
But this is not a book review post. So I won’t rehash all his points here. What I will do here is list the synonyms for sugar. Just so you can get an idea how the clever marketing people, and food scientists for that matter, manage to hide sugar in our processed, packaged food.
evaporated cane juice
high-fructose corn syrup
This list is far from exhaustive, but it sure gives new meaning to sugar.
Related - Candy Crap
I’m not going to call it a diet.
But that mid-afternoon slump that makes me scarf down chocolate, cookies, or nuts by the handfuls, it’s got to stop. I have to wear a bathing suit in 112 days or so for crying out loud. Or earlier if I take the tot to the indoor pool.
I really shouldn’t complain too much. The weight from the pregnancy practically fell off up to a certain point, but there is that belly area that just won’t flatten. Breastfeeding helps, but being cooped up inside due to crappy weather doesn’t. Heck, I used to take the tot out for two walks a day prior to my pregnancy-induced aches and pains in the last trimester. And after the birth…lugging a newborn around in a stroller on streets that aren’t plowed well hasn’t been too exercise promoting either. And it’s just so friggin cold, you know?
The scar tissue from the c-section sticks out a bit. This is the second time I had a section, so THAT probably doesn’t help make my belly look slim and trim either. I’m just so annoyed. Nothing else seems f.a.t. on me. All my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Except the pants. In the zipper area. Not the rear. Not the legs. Just. The. Stomach.
It’s so annoying.
But can someone tell me please how I’m supposed to get some happy energy around 3 pm when I’m tired enough to fall over? Chocolate, home-made cookies or brownies with lots of nuts, even some cream filled store-bought cannoli is what I REALLY want…and have been consuming like the end of the world is near.
One is never enough.
But I digress. The picture at the top of the post is of a Quinoa salad I made plenty of times last summer. And again recently. I got the idea from here. But I make my own recipe, and each time, I change one, or several ingredients. In the summer, for example, I use whatever fresh herbs I happen to have growing in my own garden, like parsley, chives, even young swiss chard leaves. Recently, I used store-bought fresh dill. My friend next door, the author of the Vegan Visitor, used fennel froths. If you’re really desperate, snip some regular lettuce leaves into it.
Quinoa is a grain that I can obtain from the Bulk Barn for cheap. It’s organic and contains more protein than any other grain. Protein is what I need during my slump, not refined sugar, or carbs.
So my plan is to eat this protein-rich salad more often for lunch, and then maybe forgo the sweets at 3. Or, if I still must have a sweet, STOP at ONE.
Can’t guarantee it’ll work, but I’ll give it a try.
Or crappy candy?
So Valentine’s Day has come and gone. And as usual, Benjamin got all kinds of candy. He got other things too, non-edible items, but there was plenty candy to go around.
I placed it all in a jar and allowed him to choose one candy after lunch. The others I’ll use as incentive to keep the pooping in the toilet momentum. Or until he loses interest in the candy. He doesn’t ask for candy much if he can’t see it, and since we keep little of it in the house, other than good quality, dark chocolate, it’s not a huge problem. And he knows he has to brush his teeth extra-well when he eats sticky candies.
But back to the crappy candy. Benjamin chose a Twizzler today. This one says Strawberry in large letters, and underneath it it says flavoured candy in smaller letters.
Intrigued by the flavoured part, I turned the wrapper around.
Here’s the list of ingredients that make up this candy, in order:
Modified palm oil
So let’s go google some of this stuff: