Yum Yum 002: Confessions of a Food Obsessionist or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loathe the Carb

Confession time:  I have a history of failed eating ideals (that’s right eating ideals—I don’t believe in dieting) and I’ve spent the majority (ok, almost ALL) of my twenties overweight.  I don’t believe in dieting because I have an aversion to temporary approaches to nutrition in order to lose or maintain weight.  I don’t think a healthy lifestyle can be built on a foundation of The Hollywood Diet, The 10 Slices-of-Bread-a-Day Diet, The Baby Food Diet, The Tapeworm Diet...the list goes on and on.  While these examples may be Fad diets, the word “diet” will always bear a negative connotation to me. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I feel like I let myself gain weight and I need to pay my dues in order to lose it.  No short cuts, no quick fixes, just healthy eating and working out.

While I haven’t done any crazy fad diets, I am (was) a ritual calorie-counter.  At one point I was eating 950 net calories per day, which is effective but unhealthy. Most of the time I capped out at 1250 calories a day.  Paired with working out, this method worked.  But there were major pitfalls.  Counting calories made me obsess about food.  All I could think about was food—but not in a good, healthy way. I thought in calories; I can divide like a champ since I spent a lot of time calculating fractions of portions so they would be an “acceptable” number of calories.  I found myself doing things like cutting 1/6 of a cake donut to eat (ridiculous), eating ice cream out of a 1/8 measuring cup (think taste bud blue balls), eating 1/3 cup of rice (this is miserable for an Asian mutt like me).  I don’t know about you, but that’s tantamount to torture in my book.  While I was eating a low calorie diet, I was still trying to eat like a fat kid—a sadistic, twisted, anguished fat kid. While I did eat vegetables, fresh fruit and lean meat, most of my free time was spent dreaming of naughty food.  I would salivate at the idea of eating cheesecake and indulge in a nearly transparent, paper-thin slice.  Misery.

Because of the constant misery, it was difficult to be a hardcore calorie counter for more than a few months at a time.  I thought calorie counting would be my best bet because I could eat anything, just less of it.  After a while, it becomes unbearable.  What good is pasta if you can only eat a ¼ cup of it?

I’ve moved on to something new. It may be premature to share, but what the hell: I’ve gone low-carb and I’m digging it.  Call it Paleo, call it Atkins, call it whatever--I'm on the train.

Here’s why:

  1. NO CALORIE COUNTING!  Halle-effing-lujah! I feel so liberated!
  2. My OCD counting problem has been reduced (and fulfilled) to simple carb counting = less neurotic me.
  3. I’m eating healthier things by default—greens, some fruits, and proteins are low or no carb.
  4. I’m cooking more creatively (my creativity comes in the form of problem-solving).  I’m having zucchini pasta, cauliflower “rice” risotto, parmesan chips, avocado shakes, and they all taste DELICIOUS.  It feels like I’m being naughty, but I’m not.
  5. I’m less hungry.  Less obsessive about food. More energetic. I’m also losing weight AND inches*.  You know, no big deal. (*I do have a fairly regular work-out routine, too)

Right now I’m trying to eat 20 grams net carbs per day.  Seems like a low number, but it’s not hard to stay in that realm.  Sure, a Cappuccino Blast sounds amazing but at 97 g of carbs, it’s not really worth it.  Instead I’ll drink a Chai Tea with Almond milk and satisfy the same craving.  The really crazy part for me is that I’m actually still staying within 1250-1300 calories per day (I know I said I wasn’t counting calories, but the easiest way to keep a track of carbs is to use a site like Livestrong.com, so I get a calorie count by default--don't judge! I'm in the recovery stage of calorie counting). So far, so good—and I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

I can say for certain my inner fat kid does a little dance every time I eat.  Donuts may be out of the picture, but I’ll take a creative, healthy, delectable low carb meal over them any day. Well, today at least and hopefully tomorrow and loooong into the future. I'll be damned if I spend my thirties rotund!

So far, here are a few of my favorite recipes:

 Zucchini Pasta

 

Cauliflower Risotto

 

And my favorite salad:

 

For an intense Foodgasm (yeah, I said it), combine:

-2 Cups Organic Arugula

-1 oz Cubed Pancetta

-1 T Light Champagne Vinaigrette (Trader Joes has a good one)

-½ Avocado, Diced

-2 Six-Minute Free Range Eggs (How to here: Eggcellence! P.S.  If you can't appreciate a runny egg yolk, our friendship is on the line.)

Cheese Crisp Garnish (How to here: Cheese Chip from joyfulabode.com. You'll never want croutons again!)

Now put it in your food hole and gobble it up. Delicious and 3 Net Carbs.

Here’s to eating well and being healthy!

Yum. Yum. 001: Wonton Lasagna.

I love cooking, but on work nights I don't want to be too fussy.  Cooking can sometimes get a little complicated in my house due to the fact that my husband is mostly carnivorous (and picky) and while I do eat meat, I like vegetables and most importantly I like variety. This difference can create tension. Serious tension. Enter Wonton Lasagna. I've decided this recipe has saved my sanity and perhaps my relationship.  You can make some vegetarian.  You can make some meat-tastic.  You can make some with both. Most importantly, you can keep the peace at home. And it's easy to make too.

You'll notice that this recipe is free-form and doesn't include measurements.  Use your tastebuds and don't stress over precision.  Taste matters most.

What you need:

Wonton or Gyoza Wrappers (from the Frozen Section of your local grocery store)

Red Sauce (Homemade or Store Bought, whatever you prefer)

Ricotta Cheese

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

Italian Seasonings of your choosing (think Basil, Marjoram, Parsley, etc.  Fresh is always better!)

Vegetables of your choosing (optional, think eggplant, zucchini, spinach,etc.) + minced garlic, diced onion

Ground meat of your choosing (optional) +minced garlic, diced onion

Olive Oil

Ramekins

Cook the Veggies/Meat:

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic + onion and cook until translucent.  If using veggies, shred or cut to 1/4 thickness. Season veggies/meat with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Add veggies or meat (if both, do separately!) to hot pan.  Cook vegetables until slightly browned and softened.  Cook meat through.  Set aside.

Season the Ricotta:

Salt. Pepper. Italian Seasonings. Parmesan Cheese.  To taste.

Assemble lasagnas:

Place wonton wrapper at base of ramekin.  Add spoonful of sauce.  Add layer of ricotta.  Add veggies or meat.  Sprinkle some mozzarella.  Repeat until ramekin is filled with several layers. Final layer should be wrapper, sauce, ricotta and mozzarella.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until top is bubbly and slightly browned.

Ta-Da!:

Happy Eating!