Monday, August 13, 2012

Creamy Zucchini Soup with Spinach and Corn

I made this outstanding soup the other day and raved about it on Facebook.  But then the great blogger and photographer Wendy at Healthy Girl's Kitchen did a post about it today.  Here's hers.

I would note that I substituted soaked almonds for the cashews and was thrilled to have fresh from our garden (and the farmer neighbor's corn patch) all the corn, zucchini, basil, thyme, and oregano.  What a treat!

The Bad News, But Not Hopeless

Dr. Arya Sharma has a brief post today about "Why Diet and Exercise is Not a Treatment for Obesity."  In brief, heavy people who lose weight must work much harder to keep it off than do those who are naturally the lower weight.

It's true for me that I have to eat like a person who weighs dozens and dozens of pounds less than I do to maintain my current weight at nearly 15% below my highest weight.  And I still have a long way to go.  But I'm not giving up: although I'm currently eating about 1200 calories and losing nicely, I'm much more satisfied with those calories as nutrient-dense foods than I could ever be with that number of calories in Special K, aspartame-sweetened yogurt, Lean Cuisine, and Slim Fast.

My typical day looks like this:

Breakfast -- 1/3 cup (dry) oatmeal made with one piece of fruit and 1/2 oz nuts

Lunch -- giant salad of mixed greens and other veggies with 1/2-1 cup beans, 1/2 oz nuts, and one fruit

Supper -- different cooked veggies, usually one serving of starchy vegetable or rice, either beans alone or 1-3 oz of fish/poultry/meat, a fruit

Snack or Dessert (sometimes) -- a couple of fruits in a smoothie with flax and kale, or a slice of Ezekiel bread toast with peanut butter and a little homemade jam, or just some fruit

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Falafel Salad

Faced with a burgeoning crop of elderberries and blackberries, especially, with tomatoes yet to come, hubby decided we needed a chest freezer in addition to our two side-by-side refrigerators, and I have to say I'm glad I didn't have to beg him. As I write he and youngest son are fetching it from the local Sears store.

But as I have tried to reduce bulk in the other freezers, I discovered a quart freezer bag with the "dough" for a recipe I made probably a year ago, Baked Falafel, from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction, pp. 121-122.

I remember being a bit disappointed the first time around that the patties didn't firm up and tended to stick to the pan, and when I made some up last night they still had a bit of that trouble, but nothing a little more experimentation can't fix. They're pleasantly mild, but I will make them with higher onion, garlic, and spice content next time.  Here's another blogger's sharing of Isa's recipe, with a photo.

For supper last night I served this with raita and diced tomatoes, and it was very nice.  For today's salad I realized the falafel, being almost entirely chickpeas, would be great for my bean content.  So this is what I did:

Falafel Salad

Several baked falafel patties, toasted if not freshly made (Appetite for Reduction, pp. 121-122)
Mixed dark salad greens (I included some broccoli slaw in mine)
1/2 small green pepper, diced
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 small onion, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 oz. pepitas (or sunflower seeds), toasted

Assemble veggies and top with crumbled falafel, raisins, and pepitas, then dress with raita (I used about 1/3 cup) and toss.


1/2 cucumber, mostly peeled and diced
1 cup yogurt (soy is fine)
2 T. minced mint leaves
1 tsp. honey (I had to substitute 2 tsp. lemon curd, and it was pretty good!)

Combine ingredients and let sit for at least thirty minutes before serving, to meld flavors

Verdict:  Very Good.  I really like this change from my usual greens-and-beans, fruit-and-nut lunchtime salads.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Refreshing Approach to Weight Loss

I have always appreciated the work of Arya Sharma and Yoni Freedhoff, two family physicians who really "get" the challenges of obesity management and educate the public through their blogs.  The Canadian Obesity Network, of which they are both members, has developed a great tool for physicians, and I wanted to note it here for my own reference as well as for others.

In particular, the "tool" of the 5As of Obesity Management recognizes the difference between ideal weight--what the charts call for--and "best weight"--what a person can sustain while still enjoying life.  The tool notes that 5%-10% weight reduction can make major differences in quality of life, shows the difference between classes and stages of obesity, and ultimately makes me feel more a success than a failure.  I've sustained a 10%-20% weight loss for the last five years, and though I still have a long way to go, with ongoing diligence on many fronts and course correction as needed, the work of these physicians gives me contentment with what I have accomplished even as I work for more.

Thanks, guys.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vacation Inspiration

I enjoyed a combination science conference and anniversary celebration trip with my husband last week in the San Diego area.  On our last day, just before we went to the airport, we had lunch at the famous Prado Restaurant in Balboa Park.  I was delighted to be able to get what they call the "Market Salad," teasingly pictured below behind my husband's paella. The salad was a gorgeous creation of plain but beautifully arranged golden and ruby beets, diced tomato, diced avocado, green beans, and fresh-cut sweet corn atop mixed baby greens.

A View from Our Table, Part II

These were dressed very lightly with a dressing that could have been improved--it seemed more straight olive oil than the "cracked coriander vinaigrette" the menu promised.  But it inspired me for my latest batch of nut-based creamy salad dressing.

Creamy Almond-Coriander Dressing

3 oz. lightly toasted almonds
Juice and flesh and a little zest from one lime
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. coriander, freshly-ground and sifted, if possible
1 slice candied ginger (fresh would be fine, but you might want to add a date for a touch of sweetness)
water to make 24 oz.

Combine all in blender and whirl until smooth and creamy.

Verdict: Very Good.  This is a very mild dressing, and I think it could use more ginger and more coriander, to really bring out that exotic flavor. The great thing is that 1/4 cup dressing is just 1/4 oz. nuts.