Fast, Tasty, Healthy, Cooking Recipes:
A typical healthy dinner consists of 6 oz of lean protein, some tasty vegetables, lots of gravy and plenty of complex carbohydrates. Fillets of chicken, salmon, lobster, tuna, pork, steak, and duck provide variety. Potatoes, rice, pasta and brown bread have been portrayed as bad foods by some diet programs. Many folks have construed these foods to be unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Potatoes and rice are the foundation of most meals around the world. They are very low in fat, sodium and processed sugar, which are the real enemies. Their starches are gradually broken down to sugar. This maintains even blood sugars, which kills off snack cravings.
Condiments and dressings compliment fish, burgers, rolls and salads. We really need lots of gravy or sauce to enjoy healthy meals that incorporate lean meat and veggies. The soft mushy texture of greasy food makes it easy to chew and swallow. Healthy food tends to be dryer and firmer; gravy compliments natural flavor but also helps to turn the food to mush as we chew it. Our stomachs are optimized for meals with the consistency of baby food. There is more surface area for stomach acids to process. This results in mushy, non-greasy meals remaining longer in the stomach. The bottom line is using lots of gravy makes dining more pleasurable and will leave us satisfied for longer. Present an untried gravy or sauce in a small dipping bowl. This lets you still enjoy your meal even if that particular sauce is not to your liking.
In terms of effort, cooking is 90% preparation, essentially washing, pealing, trimming, cutting, slicing and chopping the various ingredients. Most meals described hear will have a preparation time of 15 minutes or less. After that, it's just a case of monitoring the cooking process, which usually takes 30 minutes or less. Use pop chips, instant mash or boiled baby potatoes to eliminate pealing or chopping potatoes. Minced onions and baby cut carrots also require no pealing or chopping.
Roast dinners: Happy days.
The first dinner I want to show you is the traditional family roast. It's great for getting everyone around the table and making memories. The only cooking is to steam some vegetables like baby cut carrots, green beans, celery or pak choi. Carrots require 15 minutes, green beans and celery require 3 to 5 minutes. Steam them in one tier and stagger the loading. This style of dinner is easy to expand by adding more vegetables like mashed turnip, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, roast potatoes, boiled baby potatoes and boiled rooster potatoes.
Mashed potatoes and gravy are essential. Instant mash and gravy had something of a stigma but have advanced to the degree that it's difficult to distinguish instant from home made. Unlike home made gravy, instant is usually cholesterol free. It's certainly hard to argue with the convenience. Just pour the gravy mix or potato flakes into a saucepan, add boiling water and stir on an oven hob with a low heat setting. Both mixtures will thicken in a few minutes.
Roasting a whole joint of meat is economical but can be tricky, often leaving an excess that needs to be used up. An easier option is to pick up some slices of roasted turkey, beef, lamb or pork sandwich meat in the supermarket chiller section. Place a few slices on a plate and heat them in the oven. Slices of red meat have less volume than a fillet; eating two roast diners and a steak fillet each week can be considered healthy. Probably the most attractive feature of a Mediterranean style diet is the encouragement to eat potatoes. If three slices of meat isn't satisfying, eat more spuds.
Curry dinners: Cooking on auto-pilot.
If there is one meal format that develops a trim body, it's lean poultry and rice. Chicken curry is one of the easiest dinners to prepare. That makes it a good place to start, if you're new to cooking. It also helps motivate if you're exhausted after the daily grind. Bypass processing chicken breasts by picking up some roast turkey slices from the sandwich meat section. Turkey has better flavor and has a better shelf life than chicken. Break the slices into bite size strips, using the natural grain of the meat.
Pour a ready-made sauce into a saucepan, drop in the pieces and heat until warm. Packaged Turkey slices may be frozen to extend shelf life. Grilled chicken strips are another healthy option. They need to be heated from frozen then mixed with the sauce. Alternatively, buy some raw chicken breast, trim the fat, skin and grizzle and cut into bite sized chunks. This stage can be done in batches on the weekend, saving time and effort on the weekdays. Freeze the raw chicken chunks in a freezer bag until needed. Let them defrost before cooking.
Boil raw chicken in the curry sauce under a low hob setting, occasionally stirring. Technically, we are supposed to fry the chicken on a pan and then pour in the sauce. I find the boiling requires less attention. The chicken is cooked when the sauce starts bubbling. Double check by pressing the spoon into the chicken to verify it's firm. Heat some cooked white rice, pour it onto a warm plate. Push the rice out to the sides to form a well. Pour the curry into the well. I use original popchips as a healthy alternative to fried chips or poppadoms. Wholewheat bread is good for dipping too.
You don't have to be a lover of hot spices to enjoy a curry. Korma and tikka masala are two mild Indian dishes. Thai yellow, green, and red currys are more about flavor than heat. Yellow and green will also make a good gravy for fish dinners. The Thai curries come in a paste to be mixed with coconut milk, adjust the flavor strength to your liking. The five previous curries won't work with red meat but madras and vindaloo will. Spaghetti bolonaise has a similar cooking process, fry the meat in a pan and pour in a tomato based sauce. This dish suits meat alternatives because you can't taste the minced beef anyway. Serve in a well of light pasta.
Seafood dinners: Low fat, low hassle.
Seafood and chicken meals will dominate the dinner menu of a healthy diet because they are a great source of protein without the animal fat associated with red meat. Grilling is an option but I prefer to steam cook fish and lobster for superior retention of nutrients and flavor. There is very little clean up required. Lobster tails, salmon fillets and tuna fillets require very little preparation before cooking, just a rinse under the tap.
A simple one piece vegetable steamer is all that's required, if cooking for two. A family meal may require a multi tier configuration. Either way, the equipment is economical. Boil a kettle of water pour it into a saucepan. The water should be a minimum of 1" deep. You want enough water not to run dry, which could destroy the saucepan and hob. Place the saucepan on a warm hob. Bring the water to the boil with high heat then reduce to medium. A tall saucepan prevents water bubbling into the steamer.
Let the fish thaw naturally, if frozen. Dry any excess oil or moisture with a paper kitchen towel. Salmon fillets and tuna steaks need to be wrapped in a loose parcel of aluminum foil. Otherwise, they will disintegrate when removed with thongs. The parcel retains the fish's oil, which is healthy and should be consumed. Sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on the salmon if you wish.
There is no need to mess around with white wine, coriander, lemon grass, dill, fennel or rosemary. We will be using a sauce or dressing to add flavor when the fish is cooked. Chopping lots of herbs looks good on TV but is too time consuming for everyday cooking. There is no need to add oil or butter to these fish; they cook in their own oil. Salmon and tuna will take 6 to 8 minutes to steam cook. The flesh will be firm when cooked. The side will flake when rubbed with a fork.
Typically, thawed lobster found in most stores is previously frozen. If so, don't refreeze it. It will affect the flavor. Frozen is the most practical, unless you are grocery shopping every day. Let the tail thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Use kitchen shears to cut the top of the lobster shell from front to back. Pry the shell open to expose the flesh. Steam for approximately 1.5 minute per oz. When cooked, the shell will turn red and the flesh will change from translucent grey to opaque white. Run under cold water to prevent the flesh continuing to cook.
Baby new potatoes, baby cut carrots and snap beans beans compliment all three dishes and require no preparation. Ideally all three could be steamed together. In reality, baby potatoes need to be closely monitored. If ignored, you will return to a pile of useless mush. I find the best way to cook baby potatoes is to place them in a saucepan. Boil a kettle of water and pour it in. Use a moderate heat, do not force the water to a boil. The water will turn to a rolling boil, a couple of minutes before the spuds are cooked. This is the when to start checking with a sharp pointed knife. The spuds are cooked when the knife penetrates with little resistance and the potato falls off when the knife is raised. A saucepan with transparent lid makes monitoring significantly easier. The lids are made of polycarbonate and quite durable.
Juggling too many tasks is where new chefs go wrong. To make things simple, cook the potatoes first. Drain the boiling water into your steamer pan and place it on the hob you used to boil the spuds. Pick the potatoes out of the saucepan and place them in a bowl. Keep the potatoes and dinner plates in a lukewarm oven until needed. Start steaming the baby cut carrots. Place the sugar snap peas and fish in the steamer 7 minutes after the carrots. Continue steaming for 8 more minutes, upon which all contents should be equally cooked. Serve the fish and steamed veggies on the warm dinner plate with the spuds as a side order.
Tuna, salmon and lobster have natural healthy oils and are less dependant on gravy or sauce. They remain soft and moist if steam cooked. Hot sauces are unnecessary with fine cuts of seafood. Marinades and dressings can be applied to seafood or vegtables after cooking. Unlike sauces or gravy, they require no mixing, heating or stirring. Teriyaki gives a sweet oriental flavor with no heat. Mango coconut gives a sweet spicy tropical flavor with medium heat. Mojo criollo imparts a tangy citrus flavor with little heat. This one works best if the fish is marinated for 30 minutes. All three will also compliment shrimp, chicken and pork. Thai green or yellow currys work as a spicy fish gravy with medium heat. The extra liquid should be sopped up with slices of whole grain bread. Generally, dressings and sauces developed for white meat will clash with red meat. Don't use any of the above with beef, venison or lamb.
Steak dinners: Man food.
Nothing says man food like steak. A 2" thick lean fillet with a little marbling is delicious. I prefer broiling to grilling or broiling. It gives me maximum control. Keeping the meat several inches away fro the heat element prevents the meat burning on the outside. I generally broil steak 10 minutes on one side and five on the other. I also pinch the sides meat with metal thongs to gauge how well its cooked. The less the steak flexes, the less rare the meat is. It's common to get side tracked with other dishes and overcook the meat. Give deliberate priority to your meat. If something has to burn let it be the veg or sauce. They can be replaced relatively quickly and economically. A premium fillet of beef cannot.
Several potato dishes work with steak, potato waffles, baked potatoes, boiled new potatoes, potato wedges and instant mash being a few. I prefer roast potatoes for their balance of crisp skin and deep flavor. I use Rooster potatoes for their versatility but washed Russet potatoes can be roasted with their skins. Cooking is easy. Set your oven to 390 F. Peal the spuds if desired. Line a metal baking tray with aluminum foil and spray it with fry light. Place the tray in the oven for 1 minute to liquefy the spray. Use an oven glove or cloth to remove the tray. Place the potatoes in the tray and spray them with fry light. Roast them for 35 minutes. Serve them in a side bowl. Do a test run with one potato to adjust the roasting time to suit your oven, mine is fan assisted, which speeds cooking. The result is extremely repeatable, once you establish the exact duration.
My current preferred veggies are stir-fried strips of celery and mushrooms. Just drop the in the pan and fry for five minutes. Celery gives a refreshing taste and crunch that perfectly compliments steak. Mushrooms are a staple accoutrement of steak. Taste test after five minutes of frying and shake some Maggi mix over the veg. Start gingerly and progress until the desired flavor strength is achieved. Add a little water to form a tasty gravy. Serve them on the same plate as the steak. Mushroom soup, dedicated mushroom sauce and Oyster sauce make handy gravy options too. Just pour them into the wok or pan and mix until warm.
The maggi mix is optimal for exclusively frying onions rather than complete vegetable mix. It also makes a good Au Jus. A little presentation adds to the meal, particularly if cooking for company. Add a leaf of pak choi or lettuce with two slices of tomato on top. Sprinkle some parsley over the steak. Red wine Jus is a gravy based on wine and beef stock. It's time consuming to make but appropriate if serving beef steak at dinner parties.
Hamurger dinners: What guys want.
A well crafted burger is a hell of a thing. I make my own pattys with a mix of round beef mince, diced mushrooms, chopped scallions, Chef tomato ketchup, HP sauce, Basil and lastly flower to bind it all together. Add the flower last. Keep adding it until the mixture binds to the degree it can barely be mixed with a bowl and wooden spoon. Scoop out a handful press it into a patty with both hands, then press it down on a flat dinner plate with one hand. It's very convenient to make a large batch and freeze them for periodic use. A quarter inch still tastes great but only takes six minutes to cook on a frying pan. I grill or broil commercially processed beef and chicken burgers.
Resembling a hand grenade, Gem lettuce is ideally sized for burgers. It doesn't get slimy like larger lettuce heads. I remove the seeds from tomato slices to removing excess moisture. Use a format of three mild condiments and large seeded buns for professional effect. Heels of wholewheat bread will serve as a substitute, if you have a craving and are out of buns. Lightly toast the buns or heels on the grill preventing sogginess. Spread tomato ketchup on the bottom bun. Spread Heinz 57 varieties burger sauce on the top bun.
Place patty on the bottom bun and spread a dollop of burger sauce over it. Place a tomato slice on top and secure it with a cocktail stick through the center. Interweave four layers of lettuce and three more tomato slices. Cover a middle tomato layer with mustard. The condiments shouldn't mix until in the mouth. Put the top bun in position. Place in an oven under low heat for one minute. Warming the lettuce, tomato and bun gives the final professional touch. Your kitchen will smell like a burger joint when the oven door is opened. Heating for too long or using too much heat will turn the lettuce limp. Transport your masterpiece to the table, remove the cocktail stick and eat.
Healthy fries: The holy grail.
Currently, a healthy French fry option doesn't exist; roast potato wedges are as close as we can get. Set your oven to 390 F. Wash some Russet or Rooster potatoes and cut them into quarters. Line a metal baking tray with aluminum foil and spray it with fry light. Place in the oven for 1 minute to liquefy to the spray. Use an oven glove or cloth to remove the tray. Place the wedges lying flat in the tray and spray them with fry light. Roast them for 25 minutes.
Open the oven and stand back to avoid the steam cloud. Use an oven glove or cloth to remove the tray. Shake some sea salt or black pepper over the wedges before serving them in a bowl. Russets come out golden brown as pictured above. Roosters are more like the roast potatoes pictured earlier. Do a test run with one potato to adjust the roasting time to suit your oven. I'm using a fan assist, which speeds cooking by 10 minutes. The result is extremely repeatable, once you establish the exact duration and time it to 1 minute precision.
A serving of pop chips around the burger, is even less work than cooking potato wedges, especially if entertaining a crowd. The mild original flavor works well with a spicy dip. Some beverage options would be a sugar free cola, milk shake or water. Coke Zero and Pepsi Max are sugar free colas developed for men, which don't display the term diet. This stops guys getting razzed by their buddies for being vain. Sans Sucre produce sugar free, low fat pudding. These also work as milk shakes if you reduce the chill time. Water flavorings have been popular for years, Torani's sugar free syrups are delicious and work with liquid egg white too.
Stir-fry dinners: Make those veggies taste good!
Stir-fries make a great side dish to fillets of chicken, steak, pork, duck, tuna, salmon or lobster tail. They can also make a tasty meal by cooking with strips of chicken, pork or beef and adding a side order of white rice. One of the drawbacks of stir-frying is that it requires two tablespoons of oil to stop the ingredients from sticking to the pan. This can leave an unpleasant aftertaste and cause problems for the health conscious. Fry light is an amazing frying spray that works with any kind of frying. Just spray a thin film on the wok and the ingredients don't stick or burn. It's one calorie per spray.
Home cooked stir-fries are one of the easiest healthy meals to prepare. You can buy roast chicken slices from a deli and vegetable mixes ready to drop in the wok but expect to pay for the convenience. Roast chicken slices should be added when the vegetables are almost cooked, otherwise they will burn. To cook the vegetables, spray the wok with fry light frying spray and set your hob to a medium heat. Drop the vegetables in after a one minute pause; stir until cooked.
At some point, you will want to start putting your own vegetable mixes together. The secret is to get all of the washing, pealing and chopping completed before any cooking takes place. This permits us to apply full attention when cooking and assure nothing gets burned. I use a basic mix of 1 red pepper, 2 large carrots, 5 large open cup mushrooms, 5 green beans and 4 stems of pak choi per person. Preparation time is 15 minutes or less. If you're going to add a potato side dish, I suggest instant mash or boiled baby potatoes to retain a low preparation time.
Pak Choi, also known as Chinese cabbage is the easiest to prepare. Break off each stem, rinse under the tap, tear off the leaf and tear the stem into vertical strips. Shred the leaves into strips of garnish. Next, twist off and discard the stems of the cup mushroom. If possible, peal the mushroom skins off. Leaving the mushrooms in the refrigerator for a couple of days helps to loosen the skin and develop flavor. Break the skinned mushroom in half.
Washed carrots have a slightly shorter shelf life but are a lot easier to prepare. Rinse them under the tap and cut out any black marks. Cut off and discard the top and bottom. Cut each carrot in halves and then quarters. Cut each quarter into strips similar to thin French fries. One serving should cover a quarter of a dinner plate, which translates to one or two carrots depending on size. Baby cut carrots come pre-chopped and require no preparation except for a rinse under the tap. The same goes for green beans.
Red bell peppers can take a long time to process if done incorrectly. Rinse under the tap and dry. Insert a long sharp knife into the top edge of the pepper and push the blade to almost full depth. Apply a saw action to cut the top off as if it were a pumpkin lantern. Remove the knife and twist the stalk. Pull the top and discard. Invert the pepper over your bin and smack the bottom to remove any loose seeds. Cut the pepper in half. Remove any remaining seeds and trim white flesh. Cut into strips the size of a French fry. Yellow peppers add some variety and do have their own taste.
The cooking process is staggered. Spray fry light onto the wok. Use a low to medium heat setting. You are using to much heat if any of the veggies char. Raw steak or chicken strips are entered first. They will take 1 to 2 minutes to seal on each side. Seal one side the flip it over. Strips of chicken turn from pink to white when sealed. From this point, stir all wok contents frequently for the duration of cooking.
The carrot strips are next in, give them 3 minutes cooking time, then drop in the pepper strips. Give the pepper strips 3 minutes cooking, then drop in the mushrooms and green beans. Keep stirring all contents until juice appears from the mushrooms. Taste test the carrots and peppers; they should be soft and easy to chew. If they are still hard, keep cooking and taste test at 2 minute intervals. Drop in the pak choi strips when the carrots and peppers pass the taste test. Cook the pak choi for 1 minute. Pour in some teriyaki or sweet and sour sauce, remove the wok from the hob and stir the contents in the sauce until everything is coated. Serve with a side dish of white rice. rice. Oyster sauce, Huy Fong sauce, kung pao and sweet and sour sauce are some alternatives to Teriyaki. Sweet and sour is particularly good with stir-fried pork. Most Chinese sauces are sweet, curry sauces also work with stir-fries but are savory or spicy.
Desserts: A little taste of luxury.
I break desserts into two groups, everyday fruit servings and the richer pastry dishes that complete a three course meal. Fruit is surprisingly high in sugar. It's best to eat it during lunch or after dinner as it's absorbed gradually, keeping blood sugar levels stable. Fresh fruit like raspberries, strawberries or banana served with a sugar free pudding is easy to prepare, satisfying and full of vitamins. Mix the pudding powder with milk, hand whisk, pour into an individual container and chill for 5 minutes. Sans Sucre, Better Bowls and Jello offer vanilla, strawberry, banana, lemon, chocolate and many other flavors. Jello uses aspartame, the others Splenda. For a posh effect, serve in Waterford crystal goblets. Coconut milk is healthier for adults than cow's milk. Boost your calcium intake with some chewable tablets taken after meals.
Pour warm Bird's custard over buns, swiss roll or B&M bread to deliver a hearty rustic dessert. It works well with stewed apples or fresh banana too. Vanilla pudding makes a good alternative to whipped cream when serving apple pie. Most folks aren't crazy about French cuisine but their desserts are ideal for dinner parties. A small portion of full fat, luxury vanilla ice cream, creme brulee, chocolate cake, apple tartlets or lemon tart is appropriate when entertaining company. Serve ice cream and lemon tart with a coulis made from sugar free raspberry syrup, water and lemon juice. Garnish with some whole fresh strawberries.
Party food: Get the party rolling.
Chicken nuggets are a guaranteed hit with kids or guys over for a poker game. Unfortunately, they are loaded with fat. Tyson's grilled chicken strips deliver the same experience without the fat, sodium or preservatives. There is no suspicious grizzle typical of fast food nuggets. Heat the strips per packaging instructions. Line a warm dish or bowl with lettuce or pak choi leaves. Place the strips and some half moon slices of tomato and cucumber on top of the bed of leaves. Raw baby carrots and cellery sticks are another garnish option. Place the bowl on a dinner plate next to some pop chips or potato wedges.
The fun part is dipping the chicken strips in various individual cups of sauce. Plumb sauce is a firm favorite with kids. McDonalds sells individual cups of sweet curry sauce, sweet and sour sauce and BBQ sauce, which go down well too. Picking up a few of these probably makes more sense than buying bulk packs of 100 cups. Dips for an adult palette would include hoy fung chili, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, warm chicken gravy and mango coconut sauce. Serve them in shot glasses on a side plate. Each individual gets their own set of dips.
Lunch: Expanding the liquid meal.
Egg white omelettes are a good lunch option for the weekend or working from home. If you are on the road or have minimal facilities, soup and a store bought sandwich is more practical. Liquid meals like soup and curry withstand extended storage in a food flask. Baby potatoes or wedges will fit in a wide mouth flask but have an unpleasant rubber texture by serving time. Add some variety with a kidney bean currry, chick pea curry or bean chili, served with brown rice. I avoid soups and ready meals that contain mystery meat.
Soup from a can is simple to prepare, just heat it up in a sauce pan and pour it into a flask. The main complaint soup is the lack of bulk. Adding some vegetable mix, light pasta and cooked chicken boosts flavor, texture and nutrition. Curry is just as simple to prepare as soup, use a pre-made sauce, pre-cooked rice and break up some roast chicken slices into bite sized pieces. The rice can be heated in a microwave at lunchtime. Alternatively, mix it with the curry and store in the flask to avoid the microwave queue. Popchips, crackers, celery sticks, salads and fruit are a few more ways to expand liquid meals. The dinner section has more instructions on curry.
Breakfast: The most important meal.
They say skipping a proper breakfast is a major cause of weight gain. The logic being we will end up eating a series of sugary and fatty snacks before lunch. Mornings are pretty frenetic for most of us. Breakfasts need to be quick to make, light enough to eat, yet substantial enough to keep us satisfied. Portability is desirable, many of us will eat during the commute. Chicken wraps have become popular for lunch but meet all of our breakfast needs too.
Essentially an Americanised Burrito, the wrap contains roast chicken or turkey slices, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and rehydrated minced onion. Add either guacamole, mustard, hot chili sauce or secret sauce. Stir fried mushrooms are optional. Just drop in the ingredients, tuck in the bottom and roll it up. Assemble the wrap the night before, store in the fridge and eat them hot or cold. I prefer to wrap mine in foil and heat in the oven for 1 minute. Add a cup of tortilla soup or heat some baked beans for a power breakfast. Uncooked food like wraps or salads can be a source of food poisoning. Wash your hands before handling the ingredients. Store cooked meat above raw meat to protect against drips. Rinse lettuce leaves under the tap. I use dinner plates as my working surfaces for less clean up.
Whole eggs are high in dairy fat with a recommended consumption of one per week. The yolk contains most of it, egg whites are actually very healthy and full of protein. However, separating egg whites is a time consuming and messy process. Pure liquid egg whites are now available. Egg white omelettes make a quick, healthy and tasty breakfast option and a healthy pizza alternative. Preparing the main ingredients only takes a minute. Cut thick tomato slices then cut the into half moons. Rehydrate some minced onion. Open cup mushrooms, cooked bacon, cooked chicken and grated parmesan cheese are optional. Almost anything goes but avoid greasy meats products like sausage.
Spray five applications of fry light onto a frying pan and heat under a low setting for 1 minute. Pour in enough liquid egg white to cover the pan with a quarter inch dept. Sprinkle the ingredients around the pan. Let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. The omelette is cooked when it begins to puff up. Sprinkle some sea salt or black pepper. Remove the pan from the stove and lift the omelette with a wooden or plastic spatula. Place on a pre-heated plate or roll it up, wrap in foil and eat it on the move. Liquid egg whites have the consistency of milk. Add some chocolate syrup to a glass of egg white and eat with sugar free cookies, if you have a sweet tooth.
B&M's raisied brown bread is rich and filling. Heat some B&M beans and pour over two toasted slices for a hearty breakfast. The bread is baked in a can, which gives it a unique flavor. This process happens to give the bread a shelf life of several years. Worth considering, if you're organising some emergency food supplies for a snow in or power outage. The texture is almost like cake, which makes for a handy desert. Serve it with vanilla mousse or byrds custard. Toasted wholewheat bread and baked beans is another tasty breakfast option.
The science of healthy eating.
We live in an age of nanny states pontificating over the most personal aspects of our lives. The right doesn't exactly have clean hands but socialists are the worst offenders, attempting to control consumption through taxation and regulation. I'm a libertarian, when I discuss the science and methods of healthy eating, I'm just sharing what I've learned, rather than lecturing from an ivory tower. I respect your lifestyle rights. However, nobody can deny that maintaining a healthy diet is 60% of getting into shape and a major preventative factor in cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, arthritis and strokes. Ultimately, my approach is about delivering maximum quality of life, which is fundamental to western values.
I don't endorse the concept of dieting, which is more concerned with body image than health. It's impossible to eat junk most of the time and compensate with an extreme short term diet. The excess weight may come off but the internal damage remains. Our bodies respond to starvation by consuming muscle, which reduces calorie burn rate. This muscle tissue isn't replenished when we resume our typical consumption. Food is converted to fat and at a higher rate than before our diet. Ideally, we will maintain a stable body weight by balancing calories consumed to calories burned, using a combination of healthy eating and moderate exercise.
All calories are not equal. Current lifestyle advice strives to minimise the presence of bad cholesterol (LDL) and promote the production of good cholesterol (HDL). Bad cholesterol resembles plaque, sticking to the walls of our arteries, restricting blood flow and causing other mischief. Good cholesterol acts as a scouring agent, scraping bad cholesterol from artery walls and transporting it back to the liver to be disposed. Our livers produce both types depending on diet and lifestyle. Animal fat, dairy fat, saturated fat and trans-fats are converted into bad cholesterol. Seafood fat, nut fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are converted into good cholesterol. The basic strategy is to minimise consumption of foods that have high levels of bad fats and preference foods that are either high in good fats or low in bad fats.
The Mediterranean diet pictured above, illustrates an individual's ideal weekly food intake. Note the ratio of red meat to potatoes, wholewheat bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, fruit, beans and nuts. One portion of red meat per week is a bit skimpy, two is acceptable. Whole eggs are surprisingly high in dairy fat hence the restriction to one a week. Tree nuts are the secret ingredient. A quarter cup per day of almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts has been shown to cut bad cholesterol by up to 40% in high risk groups. Nuts are calorie dense, measure them out rather than grazing through a bag.
We operate on instinct and emotion more than we think. Introducing healthy food to our lifestyle puts us in an upward spiral. We gain the motivation to prepare even more healthy food and begin exercising. Increasing our intake of water, fresh fruit and vegetables improves mood and energy level. Simply phase in a few healthy meals to your weekly routine and then progress to more aspects of your lifestyle. Giving up smoking, regular aerobic exercise and eating high fiber, wholewheat bread, pasta and rice, all result in higher production of good cholesterol.
Questions & Feedback.
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Ian ST John.
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