I won’t apologize. I won’t. Ah…..ah-pawl……I’M SORRY!! I’m SO sorry! Were you my children and I your mother, I would be arrested and cited for neglect. No. Negligent homicide. BECAUSE YOU’D ALL BE DEAD!!
That’s right! Baked in the back of a rusty minivan with manual windows that wouldn’t go down anywya because they’ve been broken for years! Piles of skin and bones in the basement that has no way out except a rotting staircase ridden with roaches! Frozen and rigormortis behind a dumpster in the frigid cold after having died of exposure in search of morsels to eat that the rats haven’t already gotten to because they have better survival skills than you!
Could you ever forgive me?
I shan’t list the excuses…..well….okay. I wouldn’t be much of a lawyer if I didn’t at least try and argue for life, rather than a needle. Guardian ad Litem, clerking, school, an irrational fear of not keeping up with my sister in grades, so staying late everyday to study that much harder and absorb that much more. Family’s Christmas presents that I’m making myself–that I know once exams come around, I’ll not have any time to do so.
But, I’m sorry dear friends. Now, I shall share with you what I’ve discovered.
So many people nowadays are looking for cake and they want to eat it too. That is, they want to lose weight while not depriving themselves…at least more than is absolutely necessary. Sorry. There is no way to replicate the greasy umami goodness of bacon, or the way the full fat richness of heavy cream and Gloucester coat your tongue while your teeth sink into the slight chew of perfectly cooked elbow macaroni. But! It’s not all carrot sticks and cucumber. Although carrot sticks are delicious and I don’t understand anyone who think eating them is burdensome.
So. I set out to make low calorie foods. The first step was to identify what, exactly in the food pyramid (which is bullshit, by the way. I’ll explain later) contributed the most amount of calories. Well. Fat. Duh. But noooot so, my friend. Unless you stuff your gullet with suet three times a day, with a side of fired duck skin and chased with a shot of mayonnaise, chances are you probably don’t eat enough fat in a day to contribute significantly to the percentage of calories you DO eat. You know where most of your calories come from? Grains. Carbs. Carbs from grains. If you look at the pyramid, the evidence is staring you right in the eyeball. Consequently, grains contain a good amount of sugar (the refined grains)-a stigmatized accessory to the ruination of diets along with fat-AND grains just happen to be perfect conduits of fats and sugars: alfredo sauce, cheese, butter, jam, mayo, ketchup, oil, etc. Grains also have a high calorie count in and of themselves. Double whammie. Ready for the killer? The carbohydrates contained in refined grains are the most readily-available energy source for your body.
This means that they are metabolized first and the most efficiently. Think about it this way. Say you’re nomming a delicious bowl of chicken alfredo. The fat in the sauce is stored as fat (triglycerides broken down into smaller chains via bile. Enzymes secreted by the pancreas then break the molecules down further into fatty acids and cholesterol. Bile then combines with the smaller fats and helps deliver them into cells called mucosa. The smaller fats then recombine to form larger fats that are then transported to the blood stream, where they are carried throughout the body). So. Fat goes in, fat results. Mucosa never go away, but shrink or grow depending upon the amount of fat that you ingest and is used for oxidation or that is stored for later use. Fat is metabolized the slowest of the macronutrients.
Carohydrates, on the other hand, are metabolzed and used as fuel after only a few hours of entering the body. Glucose is what the body uses: it’s a sugar found in carbs. Other sugars, fructose and galactose are converted into glucose. Once ingested, glucose-through a number of chemical reactions and pathways-balances blood sugars, restores depleted glycogen stores and is used to fuel basic bodily functions. When glucose is no longer needed for fuel, it is converted into glycogen (stored in the muscles) and…wait for it…..fat. That’s right. Unused carbs are stored as fat. Seems unfair, yes? Deal with it.
Atkins had an idea and he ran with it. Over a cliff, but still the idea was based on the science of the body. So. here’s the thing. Not only to grains contain higher calorie counts than, say, vegetables…but they also make up the bulk of the diet for most people.
Back to the low-calorie: how do you start? By eliminating, or decreasing the amount of the type of food in your diet that contributes the most in calories and bulk. Besides new studies are coming out showing that genetically-modified wheat products in particular are contributing to more cases of diabetes and obesity. But. One does not simply remove close to 50% of one’s diet without going mad. You have to replace it.
I started with wheat.
Oats are awesome. Higher in soluble fiber, tastier and in some cases, lower calorie than some wheat products. Oat bran is even awesomer. For every 1/2 cup of oat bran, you get 120 calories and 2 cups of delicious prepared porridge. That’s alot of porridge. More than the measly 2/3 cup you get from those awful(….ly tasty little packets). Another lesson: bulk is good. Eat a lot of fiber-ful, water-ful things and don’t feel hungry. You also get the bonus of not eating a ton of calories.
Not only are oats awesome. So is cauliflower. And carrots. And spaghetti squash and pumpkin. All of these veggies are high in fiber, vitamins and water content, and, accordingly, low in calories. 1 cup of cauliflower has 25 calories and ridiculous amounts of vitamin C. 1/4 cup of uncooked rice (1/2 cup cooked) has 130 calories….and little else. I cup of spaghetti squas has 40 calories, fiber, water and lots of vitamin A. 1 cup (2 oz?) of spaghetti has 220 calories…and…um….a bit of vitamin B? You get my point.
Lettuce is also really cool. But not as filling. On the plus side, I can down an entire Fresh Express bag-o-greens for lunch and have the satisfaction of not having to try and preserve the rest in the torn-open bag, using clips or rubber bands.
Anywho. Veggies in place of grains for a meal or two, and you’re on the right track. Don’t forget the quality protein. Animal proteins take longer to digest, so keep you fuller longer, whereas eggs are easier and are quicker to repair those depleted muscles after you hit the gym. And scrambled eggs with cheese is one of the best combinations since Steve Jobs and generation Y.
So. I’ve been playing around with stuff. And here’s what I’ve come up with:
Pumpkin Pie Crepes
Spaghetti Squash Marinara
Pumkpin Carrot Bake
Pumpkin Pie Crepes
2 egg whites
1/4 cup Almond milk
1 tablespoon Self-rising flour
1/4 cup pumpkin
Stevia to taste
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Nonfat Greek yogurt (a wee bit-o-maple syrup and a dash of salt)
- Combine egg whites and almond milk and whisk to break up the goo of the whites
- Sift in the flour and whisk to incorporate
- Combine the pumpkin, stevia and spices (and a pinch of salt)
- Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and use a paper towel to distribute the non-stick spray you just sprayed on the pan
- Pour in half of the crepe mixture and swirl until it evenly coats the pan.
- Allow to cook for about 2 minutes (so that the top has lost its wet sheen)
- Carefully remove the crepe (I use a piece of parchment, lay it on the top of the crepe in the pan, flip the pan and gently coax it onto the parchment….yes. It’s very hot.)
- Repeat with remaining batter
- Fill each crepe with half of the yogurt and pumpkin
- Eat that goodness
1 cup Cauliflower, processed
2 tablespoons each of diced celery, green pepper and onion
1 egg white (or some other protein if you desire….it may up the calorie count)
1-2 tablespoons Fire-roasted diced tomatoes (use the rest to make salsa)
- *when you process the cauliflower, pulse it in the food processor being careful not to over-process it, or else you’ll get mashed cauliflower….which I guess isn’t a bad thing
- Scramble the egg white in a sprayed pan over high heat
- Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté until slightly browned and tender
Spaghetti Squash Marinara
1 half of a meduim Spaghetti squash
1/2 cup Marinara sauce. What?
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees on convection heat if you have it
- Roast the squash, cut side down for about 30 minutes
- Using a fork, scrape the flesh out, moving from the outer skin towards the center.
- Season with salt and pepper and drench in delicious marinara sauce.
- Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup Shredded carrot
Stevia (to taste…I use two packets)
Pinch of Salt
Pumpkin pie spice to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg white
1 tablespoon Oat bran + 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Water (different 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon Baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees on convection heat if you’ve got it.
- Combine pumpkin, carrot, stevia, salt, spice, vanilla and 2nd ¼ cup of water.
- Combine the oat bran and first ¼ cup of water, and microwave on high for approximately 40 seconds (or until cooked)
- Beat the white until slightly frothy.
- Add the oat bran to the pumpkin mixture and sprinkle over baking powder over the mixture and stir to combine
- Add the egg white and fold to combine
- Oven it for 20 minutes, let cool and dig in with a bit of Cool Whip, maple syrup or both.
Sobe Oat Bran
1/3 cup Oat bran
1 1/3 cups Sobe
Pinch of Salt
Stevia to taste
- Combine oat bran and 1 cup of Sobe
- Microwave on high for 1-minute intervals, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.
- After 1 minute or so, add the remaining 1/3 cup Sobe and microwave for another minute or so until thickened
- Add appropriate toppings (like for Fuji Apple/Pear, add some applesauce, cinnamon and a bit of plain or vanilla yogurt)