No Shame in Your Game

Sorry about posting like NOTHING last week. I was reeeeeallly busy.

And uninspired.

And lazy.

IMG_6449Even as I sit here writing this now (in the middle of another busy week), I’m trying to recover from all of those feelings. Writing is tough. I do it all day every day and sometimes I just need a break — a writing fast, if you will.

Busy and resistant as I was, I still got in a fasting day last week and this week, too. I was super lazy about them — a banana for breakfast and some scrambled eggs for dinner.

No fast-day ramen, or pretty salads, or hipster avocado toast.

Smart OnesWhen I have weeks like this, I try to make my most difficult tasks as easy as possible. Sometimes, that means eating really boring food or using frozen diet dinners. I used to feel like this was cheating. I used to worry about missing out on protein and nutrients and fiber and doing more harm than good for my body.

Calming the mind is the biggest challenge I face when fasting. If I’m not worried about eating too little, I’m worried about not eating the right things. Now I know all of that worrying was for nothing because here I am, 3 years later and I’m healthy and fine.

Sometimes, as I’m scrambling my dinner eggs or ripping open the box of 240 calorie fettuccine alfredo, I stand there all alone in my kitchen and say out lout “no shame in your game”.

If this is what I have to do to get my fasting day in, then there’s nothing wrong with it. Could I be eating something better? Sure, but isn’t that really true of every meal? If I asked myself that before I sat down to eat, I would have to replace most of my meals with salad.

Now that I don’t feel guilty about eating lame food on my fasting days, I can go back to feeling guilty about not updating my blog often enough — and we all know that’s really where I need to kick myself in the butt.

Recipe: Strawberry Lentil Salad

img_6845.jpgI’m not one for salads.

I don’t mind getting a salad on the side of a real dish like chicken parm or a brunch fritata, but I hate eating a salad as a whole meal. They rarely fill me up unless they contain not-salad ingredients like Chipotle’s barbacoa. Getting them to taste good usually means dressing them with a fattening olive oil concoction that adds back in all of the calories you’re trying to save by eating a salad in the first place.

But I don’t write this blog for me and I’m sure some of you like a salad every now and then, if for no other reason than to psychologically feel better about eating a burger or a piece of cake later in the week. After fasting for 3 years, I feel no such guilt and consider it one of the many benefits of my choice of diet.

I saw a salad recipe in a magazine a while back that actually sounded like it could be filling and tasty. I never thought about adding lentils to a salad, but I like lentils so I thought it was worth a try. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar is always a winning combination in my book, but usually for dessert. Here’s how I recreated that magazine salad I loosely remember:

img_6852.jpgStrawberry Lentil Salad w/ Balsamic Dressing
1/2 cup canned lentils 70 calories
1/4 cup goat cheese 80 calories
150 grams strawberries 42 calories
100 grams arugula 24 calories
1/2 tsp olive oil 20 calories
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 calorie

Total calories: 237

I realize the oil to vinegar ratio is out of whack compared to a normal vinaigrette, but considering the vinegar has 1 calorie/tablespoon and the oil has 120 calories/tablespoon it was really the best move. I probably didn’t need the oil at all. I barely tasted it and the balsamic wasn’t overpowering. I admit to adding a little more balsamic vinegar at the end, but it wasn’t a full tablespoon so I didn’t feel the need to add the extra calorie to the recipe.

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100 grams is a lot of arugula. My medium sized mixing bowl was full before I added in all the good stuff. That’s one good thing about eating a salad on a fasting day:  you can have huge portion of raw greens for very little calories.

I originally thought about cutting the goat cheese portion in half because it seemed a little indulgent to eat more calories in cheese than protein, but when I added everything together and it came to less than 250 calories, I decided to get down with my bad self and go for the full serving of cheese (according to the packaged serving size).

img_6854.jpgThe final verdict: this salad was delicious, low-calorie, filling, and pretty (bonus). Now that summer has arrived with a vengeance, I’m not going to be “cooking” as much as I usually do, so there may be more salads to come. It’s funny that I’m finally starting to come around to salads after I’ve figured out a way to be thin without them.

Recipe: Egg Salad Sandwich

Check the nutrition facts on your groceries. You’ll be surprised.

Mayonnaise isn’t something I would think I could use on a fasting day because it’s essentially just eggs ad oil, but I got this “mayo” for a different recipe and realized it only had 35 calories in a tablespoon. So I knew I could make some kind of sandwich with it. The fridge was a little empty the week I made this, but I always have eggs. So, behold, my barebones, fasting-worthy, super simple egg salad sandwich.

I won’t even insult your intelligence by giving you instructions on how to put it together, but I did the calorie math at the end just to show you it works out to a low-calorie meal.

Enjoy!

Eggs  Eggs and Mayo  Egg Salad

Fast Egg Salad Sandwich:

2 hard boiled eggs: 180 calories
1 tbsp Chipolte Mayo: 35 calories
2 slices 40 cal. bread: 80 calories

Total: 295 calories

Fast Day Ramen!

img_6538.jpgWelcome to all my new readers!! Great news: I can have noodles on fasting days now!

I was watching an episode of the Dr. Oz show about “Zero Calorie Foods”. While most of the stuff they showed was pre-packaged, chemical-laden crap that the doc and his health expert guest denounced, but they did recommend one zero-calorie food. Behold: shiratake noodles.

I never heard of them before, but I found them on Fresh Direct (and Amazon if you don’t live in a FD area). They only have 10 calories per serving!

I love ramen, but the fat content of just one bowl will put me over a normal day’s recommended calorie intake, so I can forget about visiting a ramen shop on a Monday. Here’s what happened when I tried to fashion my own bowl of low-calorie ramen for a fasting day…

img_6542.jpgIngredients: (Makes  2 servings)
Shiratake noodles, 1 package: 20 calories
Vegetable stock, 3 cups: 75 calories
Bok choy, 100 grams: 15 calories
Mushrooms (I used baby portobellos), 100 grams: 13 calories
Garlic, 1 clove: n/a
Eggs, 2: 180 calories

The noodles were easy to prepare. The directions say to rinse, then boil them for 2 minutes to get rid of the “authentic aroma”. That’s just a gentle way of saying that they smell awful, but boiling did the trick. I let them dry for a while and then started to make the broth.

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I brought the stock, 1 cup of water, and a crushed garlic clove to a boil in a pot. Then I added the chopped vegetables and let them cook while I prepared the egg. I watched a video about how to make the perfect soft boiled egg and it said to bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil, drop in the egg and cook for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The white inside wasn’t completely set, as I like it. I will let it cook for another minute next time. When time was up, I ran the egg under cool water so it would be easier to handle.

img_6550.jpgWhile the egg was cooling, I put the noodles in the broth and turned the heat off. I stirred to incorporate them and marinate a little while I peeled the egg.

Ramen…assemble! I discarded the garlic clove, poured half of the soup pot into a bowl, cut the egg in half and voila: homemade, fasting day-worthy ramen! Total for this bowl: 152 calories!

img_6558.jpgThe noodles didn’t have a discernible taste and were chewier than real pasta. They also don’t have much to offer in nutritional value, so the egg and veggies give the dish some needed protein and fiber. I saved half the soup for my next fasting day. 152 calories is light even for a fast day dinner. I could have added more veggies or even some chicken…or cooked up that second egg and ate the whole pot of soup! 304 calories is reasonable on a Monday.

The taste? Not as great as the bowl of authentic ramen I had last week, but that’s not fair. Pork makes everything taste better.

Fast Recipe: Soup & Sandwich!

IMG_1060I LOVE SOUP!!! I could eat it every day. It’s comforting, filling, and usually very low in calories if it’s water or broth-based. Unless you add bacon and/or heavy cream, it’s hard to make it fattening — in which case it should just be called what it really is: chowder.

I came up with this soup & sandwich combo using ingredients I had at home already. The soup is very simple: frozen peas, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. It came out sweet and delicious, but if peas weren’t available they could have been switched out for another vegetable in the freezer.

The “sandwich” is really a quesadilla, but it’s a great substitute in this low-calorie meal. It’s a cheesy compliment to the soup and almost made me feel like I was cheating on my diet. Until I wanted to make a second one. Then reality set in. It has just 2 ingredients: tortilla & cheese. It could only have been easier if someone made it for me.

IMG_1061Simple pea soup

Frozen Peas, 285 grams: 148.5 calories
Vegetable Broth, 1 cup: 15 calories
Salt & pepper to taste: 0 calories
Squeeze of Lemon, About 1 tbsp: 3 calories
Total Calories: 166.5

I brought all of the soup ingredients to a boil in a pot. I then transferred them to a blender and liquified for a minute or 2. I poured the soup back in the pot and kept it under a low flame while I made the “sandwich”.

Simple Cheese Sandwich

Trader Joe’s Wheat Corn Tortilla, 1: 90 calories
Shredded Mozzarella, 1/4 cup: 80 calories
Total Calories: 170

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I put the cheese on half of the tortilla and folded it over. I heated it in a non-stick pan for 2 minutes on each side until the cheese melted.

Total calories for this meal: 336.5

Other notes:
I used Pam to keep the tortilla from sticking to the pan. A simple spray to coat the pan has no calories. Score!

I do rely on the nutrition information on the packaged ingredients I use. They’re pretty accurate, but what’s most important is to check the calories against the serving size! In this case, only 1/4 cup of cheese had 80 calories. 1/3 of a cup might have put me over my limit.

This is something I would eat on a non-fasting day, although probably in a bigger portion. Recipes like this make fasting so much easier. I almost feel like I’m getting to eat whatever I want 7 days/week…almost.