Happy Thursday, Readers!
Now that I'm not doing Top Chef recaps, I have no idea what week this is. I'm guessing Week 16? It's July, which is a long way away from mid-March, when this all started, and there's no end in sight. If there's a light at the end of the tunnel (as one of my friends tried to convince me some weeks ago), we still have miles to go. It's like we've only just left Folkestone and there's another 50km to Coquelles*. States have been opening prematurely, and cases are spiking. In fact, the number of cases posted yesterday was about 14k people higher than the previously highest number from April. Go USA! We're Number One! :::raising giant foam middle finger and waving it madly::::
Meanwhile, at Minxeats HQ, we're staying home until there's a vaccine. No, I mean it. We've already been invited to the opening of a new burger joint in Baltimore County and to the anniversary of a Ramen restaurant in Bethesda. Um, thanks, but no thanks. If I had been offered carry-out from the burger place, then I'd have gone for it. But ain't no way I'm going to dine indoors with a bunch of yahoos with their masks off, spittle flying as they hoot and holler over absolutely nothing important. I don't even want to dine outdoors with other people. In fact the only people with whom hubby and I have broken bread over the past three months are my hermit brother, and friends Dara, Cyrus (both at the same socially-distanced lawn party) and Jeremy. Yes, I know we're food writers, and that part of our bread and butter, so to speak, is dining in restaurants, but we want to stay safe. My life is far more important than a free meal, don't you think? In any case, it's not like we're eating poorly. We get carry-out at least once a week, ordering enough food to last us at least a few meals. The rest of the time we're eating leftovers or something I've concocted. The grocery store that we visit every two weeks has had all of the necessities (well, not toilet paper until recently) and I can get fancier produce delivered from Washington's Green Grocer.
I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, though I am not anywhere near a vegetarian. Some days I'm doing the whole Mark Bittman "Vegan Before 6" thing, not eating any meat until dinnertime. Other times--more rarely--I have meat for lunch (it depends on what leftovers need to be eaten soonest). I have been doing my own version of Whole30 for the last year now, and it's a lifestyle that works for me. I'm going to call it WholeMinx.
The basis of Whole30 is to eat only whole foods and to give up processed ones. Also, one must give up grains, sugars, alcohol, dairy, and legumes. It's pretty strict about what one cannot eat, but it does allow fruits, veg, meats and fats. It's not a weight loss diet, but one intended to "reset" eating habits from crappy to healthy. Still, I've lost 43 lbs so far. I've always had trouble losing weight. The last time I did significant dieting, I ate 700 calories per day and exercised like a fiend. Those calories weren't always nutritious...I went more for filling. In other words, I ingested terrible low-calorie bread that was probably more cardboard than wheat, low-fat cheese slices, and "diet' salad dressings and such that are more poison than food. I'd eat cans of zucchini in tomato sauce (about 120 calories) for dinner. Yes, I felt light-headed frequently. But the weight fell off me, and, for a few years, I was slim (ish) and cute (er). But that kind of eating is not at all sustainable, so I fell back to old habits and gained all of the weight back, and more, rapidly.
That was dumb. And unhealthy. Now I know better.
After a few weeks of doing Whole30, I decided that wheat was probably my downfall. Bread and pizza are my favorite foods, and I can't say no to cookies, cake, pie, or donuts. If I eat any of those things and count calories, I don't lose weight. But if I don't eat any of that stuff, and don't count calories, I do lose weight. If I add a little sugar to my diet, but stay off the grains, I continue to lose weight. Adding beans and corn (which they count as a grain, but I count as a vegetable) to my diet does not affect the weight loss. Dairy doesn't, either. In other words, I found that if I eat a balanced diet of everything but grains, I can lose weight. Not just like that, of course, I have to exercise, too, and reduce my portion sizes, but considering I can eat just about anything I want, that part is fairly easy.
I'm going to tell you about my typical eating day, and you're going to say it sounds like a punishment diet. But it really isn't. These days, eating is one of the few things I look forward to, and I make sure to create meals that I really enjoy. (I am fortunate to like pretty much all fruits and veg, which makes things so much easier. YMMV.)
Breakfast: a smoothie. I've never been a smoothie person; the ones from juice bars are crazy expensive and full of sugar. But I got a bag of Bob's Red Mill Vanilla Protein Powder as part of my ongoing promotion with them and figured I had to use it. I put a single scoop (using the scoop that comes in the bag, a serving size is 2 scoops) in a blender with a whole banana (frozen, if possible), a cup of hemp milk (use the milk of your choice), and various goodies like chia seeds, golden flax meal, matcha, gotu kola, collagen, and cacao nibs, plus some water to top it off. (I bought some reusable smoothie straws to make drinking easier.) The protein powder has monkfruit extract, cornstarch, and a tiny bit of sugar, so it's definitely not Whole30 compliant, but it fits fine with WholeMinx. I also drink at least one cup of coffee and have a bowl of assorted berries and pineapple.
Breakfast is preceded by a half hour video workout of some sort. My favorite is Jessica Smith's Walk On series of low-impact walking cardio, but I also do Nia, Pilates, and just plain walking around the neighborhood. This might sound horrible to some of you, but I have to admit that my mornings have become my favorite part of the day.
(Who am I? and what did I do with Kathy?)
Lunch is often a cold cooked beet dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and topped with crumbled feta, bleu, or goat cheese and some walnut pieces. Sometimes I make some non-garbanzo bean hummus (they give me stomach cramps) and eat it with the beets, or roasted carrots, a sweet potato, or winter squash. For crunch, I'll eat some Simple Mills almond flour crackers (which are super yummy). Today, however, I have some leftover carry-out chicken wings. Mmm!
Dinner is whatever we feel like eating. Except pizza. If hubby wants pasta, he has pasta and I eat zucchini noodles. If we get carry-out Chinese or Indian or Thai or Vietnamese food, I don't eat the rice. I've had burgers in bowls from Five Guys and wrapped in lettuce from Red Robin (damn, I miss the buns though), super fatty pork belly from Red Pepper in Towson, and Korean BBQ fries from The Local Fry. Pretty much anything goes.
I do have a late snack most nights, either dried or fresh fruit or a few nuts.
Breakfast one day is sunny-side-up eggs, which I eat with Utz plain potato chips instead of toast, plus fruit and coffee. The other day is occasionally a grain-free porridge made with stuff like coconut flour and hazelnut meal, or oatmeal for Mr Minx and a sweet potato or leftovers or an RX Bar for me.
No lunch normally. Maybe a handful of potato chips.
Dinner is whatever I feel like eating that doesn't involve wheat or other grains. Last week it was pork chops with sauteed grapes and leeks. This week we'll be celebrating the 4th with various grilled meats and corn on the cob.
So not torture! I am eating so well and feeling good these days. I did have a plateau earlier in the year that lasted a few frustrating months. In May I allowed myself pizza and pie and other wheat-y stuff, which made me feel like crap but reset whatever it is in the brain that decided I had lost enough weight. I lost 4.5 lbs in June, and if I keep up that pace, I should reach my 2020 goal by mid-fall.
If you've read this far down the post, you probably deserve a medal or something. At least a fun new recipe. And I promise you'll get one, just not today. I really wanted to re-set this blog, which has felt neglected recently (by me and by you!) and hope to feature more nutritious food in the future. That is not to say "diet" food - I won't be trying to sell you on anything with that word on the label. But I will promote more products that fit in my new eating lifestyle, and hopefully in yours, too.
I predict the pandemic will be with us well into 2021. This is as good a time as any to start taking better care of yourself. Stop using being stuck at home as an excuse for constant baking and binge eating. Use the extra time--if you have it--to start a new exercise routine. No need to go crazy, just take a walk around the neighborhood every day rather than turning on the TV. Exercise is just as good for the mind as it is for the body, and we all could use a mental pick-me-up right now.
*The start and end points for the Chunnel that runs under the English Channel between Great Britain and France.
**Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.
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