Monday, November 17, 2008

A little healthier everyday

I mentioned last month that B and I were slowly making our way towards a diet that had less red meat and more white meat. We only eat beef when we’re eating out or at someone else’s house, and, except for bacon and sometimes lunch meat, the same is true for pork. Currently all of our protein comes from chicken, tofu, and seafood. B even made the biggest step of all (for him), which was making his homemade meatballs with TURKEY instead of beef (GASP!). However, he only agreed to do so after calling his mom to make SURE that this was even POSSIBLE and verifying that the world as we know it would not fold in on itself if he were to take such a bold step. As it turns out, his mom has been making them this way for years. (Picture me laughing hysterically in the background)

Anyway, we’re continuing our progress by taking that one small step further and moving towards a more plant-based diet. Again, nothing radical. I don’t think there is anything that I would permanently give up; it’s just not how I roll. However, every single health book and specialist that I’ve found right now is in agreement on one thing – a more plant-based (veggies, grains, etc.) diet and a less animal-based diet is what leads to health and longevity. The one sticking point on “less animal-based” is that our household has what can only be classified as a dairy addiction. Between milk, yogurt, ice cream, and every type of cheese imaginable, we are deeply in love. And since I can’t stomach any of the substitutes for those products, we’re cutting our animals in other places.

The best advice I got on this change so far has come from my dad. He said that you have to start thinking of your salads and your vegetables as the main portion of your meal, and use your proteins as more of a side. So that’s what we’ve been trying to do twice a week and we’ve LOVED the results. We prefer using the baby spinach as a salad base instead of lettuce for several reasons – doesn’t get soggy, no prep work, healthier – and we’ve been using either chicken or scallops as our salad toppers.

This was last Friday’s dinner:

Caprese Salad – sliced fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, & olive oil drizzled on top

Baguette with dipping oil – olive oil with a sprinkling of this AMAZING salt that B’s mom got for us. It includes sea salt, Rosemary, and a few other things. Honestly, you could just sprinkle in the sea salt and it would still be amazing. B sliced and lightly toasted the bread first, but you don’t have to.

Spinach Salad with Chicken Breast – the salad was made by just looking around to see what we had. It ended up including: baby spinach, apples, red onion, tomatoes, and candied chopped walnuts. I saw that we had chopped walnuts, so I threw them in a pan with brown sugar and butter, cooked them for a few minutes, and then let them cool in the freezer while I made a vinaigrette. For the chicken, I used the pre-cooked and pre-chopped chicken I had made earlier in the week and just heated it in a pan for a few minutes with olive oil and some spices. This salad was BEYOND amazing. Neither of us spoke for a good ten minutes, lest we interrupt the eating.

As for the chicken breast cubes, I know I mentioned before that I had started doing this, but I had only done it once at that point. Now that it’s been a few weeks and I’ve seen how much easier it makes everything, I’m committed to never having a freezer without chicken cubes again! I just can’t tell you how easy it makes things. If I want pasta during the week for lunch, I can defrost a few pieces of chicken and add them for protein. Or we can use them for our dinner salads. And the process couldn’t possibly be easier. Other than washing the chicken, I do almost nothing – no cutting in half, no pounding, nothing. Wash the chicken, cover in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, cook at 350 for about 25 minutes and you’re done. Cool, cube, freeze, done.

This Week’s Menu:
(a few less meals than normal since B is out of town)

BBQ Tofu sandwiches with side of French fries

(kind of like pulled pork sandwiches, but with crumbled tofu instead)

Stuffed Eggplant with side of whole wheat pasta
(The eggplant is a new Cooking Light recipe I’m trying)

Stuffed Herbed Chicken with side of sautéed zucchini

Breakfast burritos with side of potatoes

Spinach salad with chicken


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