Cooking without oils

One of the healthiest “mini-conversions” people can make to rid their diets of excess calories, while honing in on super nutrition, is to learn how to use alternative ingredients and cooking methods that eliminate added fats and salt.

This is one of the most important components of the Eat To Live plan that I have been following religiously.  It’s not simply a weight-loss thing, like some people suppose.  It also helps to keep cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes (Type 2), and many other chronic disease in check.

zuchtopWhile there are so-called “healthy fats” that are essential to the body, most of these are easily attained through rich natural sources such as nuts and seeds.  Even with this knowledge, however, it is difficult for people to realize that cooking can be accomplished without the use of added oils, even the “healthy” ones.

So, relearning cooking methods and using alternative ingredients are essential if one really wants to succeed in eating an optimal nutritious diet without compromising for lack of knowledge.

When I came across this post, I knew it belonged on my blog.  I have seen some good articles, and some good videos on specific techniques, but this, perhaps, is the best one yet.

Posted on Forks Over Knives, this article, by Darshana Thacker, “Expert Tips on How to Cook Without Oil”, covers most all cooking methods with alternative suggestions and ingredients.  She also discusses cookware suggestions that are helpful.

Take a look at it, and let me know what you think about it!  I’d love to hear other ideas that are not included here.

Click this link to read this great article!

Twitter handles:

Forks Over Knives
Darshana’s Kitchen

Lentils, black wild rice, and mustard greens soup

lentilsoupSunday is soup-making day!  I make a big pot of bean soup so I can have enough to take with me to work during the week.  Usually, I use whatever veggies I have that are “near death” in the fridge, but this week I harvested some mustard greens and some yellow chard from my garden to put in a soup with some dried lentils.  It is quite tasty.  Here’s the recipe:

One cup of dried lentils
One cup of black wild rice
2 cups of fresh mustard greens, roughly cut
1 cup of yellow swiss chard, or use something else if you don’t have any
1 can of organic, no salt added, tomato sauce
one-half cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
two stalks fresh celery (sliced thin)
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper

Bring lentils and rice to boil for about five minutes.  Lower heat, then add all other ingredients.  Bring to simmer for about forty minutes, or until rice is tender.  Slightly cool, and serve.

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Tribute to one of the best towns in Texas…West

villagebakeryoutsideAbout a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote an article, published on Blogcritics (click here to read the old article), about the wonderful town of West, Texas.  Known for its fantastic bakeries and Czech food, it is the best-known stopping place between Dallas and points south like Waco and Austin on I-35.

Best of all, though, is the tremendous hospitality that is such an obvious characteristic of this great community.  On my trips south out of Dallas, the highlight is always West.  On trips in which I have not been in a huge hurry, I’ve always enjoyed visiting with small business owners and hearing stories about the Czech heritage and the town’s history.  It truly is one of the great small town treasures in my beloved home state of Texas.

If any community is equipped to handle tragedy, it is West.  It’s hard to imagine that they will be drawn any closer to each other than they already are, but they will.  I am sure they are thankful for the world’s attention on them at this little snapshot in time, but if I know the community as well as I think I do, they will also be glad when they can indulge in their private grief and say their quiet good-byes to their friends and neighbors.

I have enormous respect for the people of West and the surrounding small communities like Elm Mott and Abbott.  These folks are not your Hollywood Texans, swelled up with ego and braggadocio.  They are the humble, kind, and relentlessly hospitable folks that make native Texans, like myself, so proud to live here.

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SAMSUNG

Favorite meal of the day…fresh pineapple for breakfast

Absolutely yum — pineapples!

Pineapple slices and chunks

For too long I avoided the mess of trimming a pineapple and settled for canned or jarred pineapples from the produce section of the grocery store.  Lately, I’ve changed my attitude about food prep entirely.  I trim my pineapples by slicing them, as pictured here.  Then, I trim the outer layer away from the tasty inside part.  If I want only a slice or two, I place some plastic wrap around the bottom (exposed) portion, and place it back in the fridge for later.  I don’t have to cut the whole thing at once.  For me, convenience is the key.

Benefits of eating whole fruits and vegetables

Instead of settling for less taste and compromising freshness, I’ve made a habit of buying more fruits and vegetables whole and then doing the slicing, chopping, peeling myself.  The benefits of eating this way are tremendous:

  • higher nutrient value as the fruits and vegetables retain their natural qualities until they are consumed
  • you don’t pay for packaging
  • the peels and scraps can be used in your compost if you are organic gardener
  • you are at least one level nearer the actual producer when the processing is taken out of the picture, and this helps eliminate some of the mysteries of processing
  • the color is richer and deeper; appetite for healthier foods becomes stronger
  • flavor, flavor, flavor

I can store two or three at a time in my fridge, so I really look for the two-fer specials at the grocery store.   I love a slice of pineapple in a bowl with strawberries, blueberries, and orange slices for breakfast.  It’s my favorite meal of the day!

Healthy eating and going it alone…it’s not that bad!

When I decided to change my eating habits and to limit my diet to whole foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, I knew it would impact others besides myself.  I also know from past experience that it’s easy to become an evangelist about a new diet, and evangelists can be downright annoying.  I didn’t want this to happen.

Your dietary impact upon others

  • When you eat a meal that is not the SAD (standard American diet) type, you call attention to the habits of others.  Without intending any negative consequences, there can be some sharp things said about your diet choices as others become more self-conscious of their own eating decisions.
  • Dining out can be tricky as your friends and family will either want to accommodate you in choosing a place to eat, or they will simply expect you to conform to them.
  • If you are the primary food prep person in your home, your cooking methods, as well as food choices, will impact those of your family.  The problem is the potential for massive household rebellion, and this can lead to giving up the healthy diet in order to conform to the others in the household.

Some basic rules for controlling the hidden messages in your diet

  • Let it be as private as possible.  In other words, after you’ve informed those closest to you that you intend to eat a different diet, and you have satisfied their curiosity about your reasons for doing so, just move on and do it.  It doesn’t have to be explained, and it doesn’t have to be understood by anyone but YOU!  Don’t preach it, just do it!
  • Have a plan in mind for how you can handle dining out at various restaurants where your friends and family like to spend time.  Almost any place will at least serve a salad, so it’s not a lost cause.  If you’re like me, these have always been the most sociable times with my wife.  We like to catch up on the day, listen to one another’s stories, and we genuinely enjoy our time together while others wait on us at the table.  Being a native resident of Texas, Tex-Mex food has been our favorite for many years.  I have a couple of things I know I can get in any Tex-Mex place.  The ingredients may not be quite as healthy as my do-it-yourself version, but as long as it’s within the general bounds of my diet plan, I can survive Tex-Mex places by eating a guacamole salad, salsa, and a couple of corn tortillas, especially if the tortillas are steamed, instead of cooked in oil.  Having something in mind ahead of time helps with the stress, for both you and your significant other(s).
  • When people ask you how you’re losing so much weight, and they will, tell them in the simplest terms possible, without using “should’s” and “must’s” and “always.”  Try not to elaborate unless they continue to ask for more and more details.  Limit your responses to their questions, and don’t go off on the research, the poor quality of other diet programs, etc.  Just chill…answer the questions, thank them for complimenting your weight loss, and just move on.
  • If you are the primary cook in your home, as I am, you must be willing to make one huge sacrifice to keep the peace, that is, be willing to continue serving up their favorites while preparing, and eating, the food that is preferable for your own diet.  It may mean twice the cooking, twice the dishes afterwards, and twice the time, but your willingness to do this, without complaint, will put an end to any conflict with the family regarding your new eating regimen.

Some interesting results

By using the strategies above, I have found that my friends and family have adapted a lot!  My wife now wants a salad in her lunch box every day…no problem, it makes me smile!

I found out by eavesdropping that a lot of people at work are making some healthier choices after some of them have asked me a barrage of questions.

The general consciousness of good health and nutrition in our household and in my place of business has been raised.  There is no doubt that my 60+ pound weight loss (to date) has made an impact, and I swear, I’ve only talked about it when asked a question.

Living a healthy life does indeed impact the world around you positively, though it may not appear this way at first.  Just follow the rules above, and hopefully, it will make a difference for you.

Vegan cooking…simplicity is key

Vegan cooking is a challenge when one first starts a vegan diet, but keeping it simple is the key.  It’s great fun to try out new recipes as I mentioned in my post about reducing stress.  But, simplicity will help you be successful when you make the commitment to go without eating any animal products.

Simplicity is a good thing!  The things we add to nature’s food to make it tasty are some of the very things that get us into trouble with high blood pressure…like salt.  I prepare my foods without adding salt or oils.  I’ve learned how to use other spices that are salt-free, and I use cooking methods that retain the taste of the foods, most of their textures, and most importantly, the powerful, healing nutrients.

Two sources for vegan recipes

There are sources online, including cookeatshare.com, one of my favorites because of the participation of trained chefs and DIY’ers alike.  The recipes can be elaborate or simple.  You know my choice…simplicity is key!

One bargain I have found are the free vegan cookbooks at Vitalia.Com.  They are in a downloadable, pdf format, and you don’t have to leave an email address or any information to get them.  In other words, totally free!

Let me know of other resources you have!  It’s important to help each other be successful in transitioning to an animal-free diet and greater health!