Tropic of Capricorn

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

The Earth tilts as it spins on its axis. Currently [and this is subject to change], the tilt is 23 degrees, 27 minutes from vertical. As the Earth orbits the sun, the tilt causes the sun to shine more directly on some places and less directly on others. This is the cause of our seasons. On a map of the world, you will see the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. It is at 23 degrees South of the Equator. That is the point over which the sun shines most directly during the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The same day marks the Winter Solstice for those in the Northern Hemisphere, which has winter due to the lack of direct sunlight. This line gets it name from the fact that the Sun was moving through the constellation of Capricorn on the December solstice day when the line was first named around 2000 years ago. The line marks the southern limit of the warm areas called ‘the tropics’ aka: the Torrid Zone. Now you know.

Today’s meals were chosen because they are eaten in countries through which the Tropic of Capricorn passes. As I write this, they are having Summer. Breakfast is my adaptation of food from Chile and dinner is a well-liked soup from Australia.

Pumpkin Sopaipilla Breakfast:  202 calories 4.2 g fat 2.7 g fiber 7.5 g protein 73.8 g carbs [11.9 g Complex] 45 mg Calcium  PB  This breakfast is based on Chile’s favorite snack, a deep-fried street-food concoction. Our’s are the same recipe, but lower in calorie, served for breakfast with some yummy sides. The recipe comes from hispanickitchen.com.

3 pumpkin sopaipillas+++ 1 Tbsp jelly sauce** 1 clementine + 1 Tbsp fat-free vanilla yogurt 1 or 2 slice Canadian Bacon [back bacon, 20 calories/slice] Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories]

Prepare the sopaipillas, which I did the night before so that I could bake them in the morning. Prepare the jelly sauce. Peel and section the clementine and stir in the yogurt. When ready to serve, heat the sopaipillas at 350 F for 5 minutes, Heat the jelly sauce for about 15 seconds in the microwave. Cook the Canadian bacon. Plate the bacon, fruit, and sopaipillas. Sprinkle the latter with confectioners sugar and spoon the syrup over them. Putting cocoa in the coffee gives you another taste of the Americas, the source of both squashes and cocoa.

+++Pumpkin Sopaipillas yields 10-11 two-inch rounds ½ cup flour 1 tsp baking powder ¼ tsp salt ½ cup pumpkin puree, canned 1 Tbsp melted butter Combine into a smooth dough. Let sit 20 minutes, then roll out on a floured surface. Cut into 2″ rounds with a cookie cutter or the top of a glass.

**Jelly Sauce  yields 2 Tbsp 2 Tbsp water 1 tsp fruit jelly [grape, raspberry, strawberry] Stir together in a custard cup and heat in the microwave until the jelly dissolves.

Australian Chicken-Corn Soup: 198 calories 2.8 g fat 1.2 g fiber 12 g protein 20 g carbs [6.5 g Complex] 9 mg Calcium   PB GF  This remarkable version of a Chinese soup is found in the “Australian Women’s Weekly’s” Chinese Cooking Class book. From such an easy preparation comes a wonderful, complex flavor.  HINT: this recipe makes four cups of soup. One serving = one cup.

1 liter water
1 pound raw chick – meat and bones
1.25 cm piece [small knob] ginger
½ onion, peeled and quartered
2 peppercorns
2 sprigs parsley
½ tsp salt



OR-3.5 cups whchick stock
ginger knob
salt + pepper
Put chicken or chicken pieces into saucepan and add water, peppercorns, peeled and sliced ginger, onion, parsley and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and skim well to remove any scum; reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for one and a half hours. Remove any scum from top of stock. Strain and reserve three and a half cups of the stock.
-OR- Simmer premade stock, ginger knob, salt and pepper covered for 30 mins. Strain.
3.5 cups stock
240 g creamed corn, canned 1 stock cube= 1 tsp dry bouillon grains ¼ tsp dry ginger powder 2.5 chopped fresh scallions ground pepper ½ tsp sesame oil
Combine in a large saucepan the reserved chicken stock, creamed corn, crumbled stock cubes, ginger, scallions, pepper and sesame oil. Bring to boil. Take off heat and taste for salt.

2 Tbsp cornstarch/cornflour 2 Tbsp waterMix cornflour to smooth paste with water; add to soup while stirring. Put back on heat and stir until soup boils and thickens. Reduce heat, simmer for 1 min.
1 egg white 1 Tbsp water 2 tsp soy sauceBeat egg white and water lightly and add to soup in a thin stream, stirring well. Add soy sauce. Taste for seasoning.
1 slice ham =1 oz, thinly sliced ½ cup chicken, shredded chopped scallion/chives/
spinach leaves
Remove meat from bones, shred finely. Add meats to soup, heat gently. Top with extra chopped scallions or chives or baby spinach leaves.

me-me-me-me

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Tomorrow will be my birthday, and this blog is all about ME. I know a woman who describes people who are vain or show-offy as ‘Opera Singers’ – – all ‘me-me-me’. So this will be my opera singer day as I talk about some of my food favorites. There are people who say, “I couldn’t diet because I love food too much. You who diet obviously don’t like food.” What I don’t like is eating when I’m not hungry. What’s the point? No food tastes as delicious as when you are hungry! I like foods that are savory; and foods that are sweet; and foods that are easy to prepare; and foods that take some finagling. One of the reasons that Dear Husband and I look forward to Fast Days is that the food will be varied and delicious. [Yes, I’m bragging again.]

Fasting works. It is a break from high-on-the-hog eating and a chance to re-set the bathroom scale to a more reasonable number. What foods would I choose if my natal day fell on a Fast Day? A strawberry-filled crepe at breakfast seems so elegant, yet is simple to pull off. The fish and vegetables for dinner is a meal SOOOO easy and yet really delicious. Through Fasting, I have maintained my average weight at my Target for over 4 years. If you can say the same, good for you! If you are not where you want your weight to be, try Fasting.

Strawberry Crepe: 193 calories 7.5 g fat 1.9 g fiber 9.5 g protein 23 g carbs [8 g Complex] 211 mg Calcium  NB: Food values given are for the plated foods only, and do not include the optional beveragePB  Isn’t it a treat to enjoy ‘Strawberries & Cream’ once in a while? If you haven’t made the crepes already, this is a good reason to try them. Mine were ready in the freezer.

1 sweet crepe*** 2 Tbsp ricotta cheese 3 Tbsp vanilla low-fat yogurt 3 oz strawberries, sliced and put in a sieve over a bowl, especially if frozen 1 slice uncured bacon or 1 slice ‘Canadian’ bacon   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories]  NO SMOOTHIE 

Stir the ricotta and yogurt together. Add most of the berries, saving some for garnish. If there is a lot of juice, cook it down slowly to make a little syrup. Cook the bacon. Place the crepe on the plate and spoon the cream filling onto it. Fold over the crepe and top with the extra berries and syrup. Plate with the bacon and prepare your hot beverage of choice.

***CREPES, SWEETmakes 16 eight-inch crepes  each = 55 calories 0.7 g fat 0.2 g fiber 2.7 g protein 9 g carbs [0 g Complex] 39 mg Calcium 154 g all-purpose flour 14 fl oz milk [416 g] 2 tsp vanilla sugar 2 two-oz eggs

Whisk the flour and sugar together. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Add the eggs one at a time. Whisk vigorously until the batter runs off the whisk in ropes. The batter can rest for up to an hour. Heat a small cast-iron pan or ceramic saute pan.  Lightly spritz with oil, then wipe out the pan. Dip a ¼ cup measure into the batter and let the extra drain off. Grasp the handle of the cook pan with one hand as you slowly pour the batter into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan in a swirling pattern to let the batter form a circle roughly 6” in diameter. Don’t get hung up on perfectly round or perfectly flat. Watch the crepe cook and look to see when the edges start to dry and curl a bit. Using a heat-resistant but non-scratching tool [I use my fingers], lift the crepe and turn it over. Cook the other side until done. Time will vary, depending on the heat of your pan. Lift out the cooked crepe, put it aside, and cook the next one. HINT: if storing them for later today or tomorrow, let them cool on a tea towel, then stack and freeze in a plastic bag. 

Arctic Char with Peas, 3 ways: Arctic Char is a member of the Salmon Family which can be both sustainably fished in the wild and farm-raised. It is delicious, too. There are three presentations given: two are ridiculously easy, the other slightly more complex. All are great.

Version I: 263 calories 8 g fat 3 g fiber 28 g protein 10 g carbs [10 g Complex] 25 mg Calcium  PB GF   4 oz arctic char fillets ½ cup green ‘English’ peas, fresh or frozen Salt and pepper the fish and bake at 400 F. for 10 minutes/inch of thickness or grill for 4 minutes/side. Cook the peas and serve over/around the fish.

Version II: 247 calories 8.7 g fat 2 g fiber 26.7 g protein 7.3 g carbs [5.5 g Complex] 74.7 mg Calcium   PB GF   4 oz arctic char fillets ¼ cup watercress sauce [see SIDEKICKS II oct 4, 2017 ] 1 cup snow peas, stems and strings removed Salt and pepper the fish. Bake at 400 F. for 10 minutes/ inch of thickness or grill for 4 minutes/side. Warm the watercress sauce and serve over the fish. Cook the peas and plate. 

Version III: 274 calories 7.4 g fat 8 g fiber 25 g protein 16.4 g carbs [16.4 g Complex] 54.5 mg Calcium  PB GF  3 oz arctic char ¼ cup edamame [soy beans] ¼ cup ‘English’ peas ½ cup snow peas

Remove the stems and strings from the snow peas. Bake the fish at 400 F. for 10 minutes/ inch of thickness or grill for 4 minutes/side. Meanwhile, cook the peas and edamame according to package directions. Plate the fish and surround it with beautiful green peas.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday ……… single portion for Thursday:

1.5 two-oz eggTWO BREAKFAST MENUS:
anchovies3%-fat ham + sourdough rye bread 
tomatoHermelin or Camembert cheese
melon or mangoyellow plums
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday: …….. single portion for Thursday:

chicken meat + stock + stock cubes [bouillion cubes]THIS IS A BREAKFAST MENU
canned creamed corn + scallions1 two-oz egg + chèvre cheese
sesame oil + corn starch + gingerspinach, frozen or pre-cooked
egg white + 1 oz ham slicelemon-dill seasoning + apple/pear
Sparkling wateroptional beverages

Hilaritas

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Do you like to laugh? Think about it: how often do you laugh out loud? Laughing is good for you, you know. The name Hilary, whether for a man or a woman, is based on the name of a Roman goddess “Hilaritas,” meaning ‘cheerfulness’. [Bet you can see where the word “hilarious” came from.] Tomorrow is the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, France, and it seems to me that it should be a good day for finding reasons to laugh. Look up a good joke on the internet and share it with friends, family, colleagues. Be open to finding the humor in a situation. Wear clothes that make you smile. Be with people who make you glad. Have fun.

Foods for St Hilary will have as an ingredient the cheese called “Vache Qui Rit” [the Laughing Cow]: in the eggs at breakfast and in a sauce at dinner. Even the picture of the cow logo should coax a smile.

Laughing Herb Bake:  129 calories 6.5 g fat 0.9 g fiber 8.8 g protein 6.2 g carbs [5 g Complex] 94 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beveragesPB GF  So rich! So creamy! So low in calories!

One 2-oz egg ½ wedge Laughing Cow low-fat cheese 2 Tbsp fresh herbs OR 1 Tbsp dried ½ Tbsp low-fat ricotta cheese 3 oz melon Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Spritz a ramekin with non-stick spray. Set the toaster oven at 350 F. Cream the cheeses together with the herbs. Whisk in the egg and salt/pepper to taste. Pour into the ramekin and bake at 350 F. 12-15 minutes. Plate the fruit, prepare the beverages, and find something that makes you laugh.

Seafood Galettes:  269 calories  7.3 g fat 2.8 g fiber  18 g protein 19 g carbs [9.8 g Complex]  142 mg Calcium   PB This is very easy to prepare [IF you have prepared the galettes in advance. I had previously prepared the Bechamel as well.] and very easy to eat. Advance preparation is a key ingredient.  HINT: This recipe makes enough to serve 2 [two] people. 

7 oz Ahi tuna fillet OR mixed seafood, cooked and cut in 1/2” bits 1 wedge Laughing Cow [Vache Qui Rit] cheese 2 galettes 6 Tbsp Bechamel sauce without cheese 2-3 Tbsp fish stock 1.5 oz cauliflower florets 1 oz carrot ‘coins’ 2 oz zucchini slices

If your tuna isn’t cooked, poach it gently in fish stock – enough to come half-way up the fillet. Reserve the stock as you will use some of it later. Cut the fish into small chunks. Gently heat and whisk the bechamel with 2 Tbsp fish stock and the cheese until the cheese melts. Add the fish/seafood to the sauce, adding more stock if you wish. Prepare the vegetables and begin to cook them. Warm the galettes, wrapped in a tea towel, in the microwave. When the fish and sauce are warm and the vegetables are cooked, plate the vegetables and place the galette on the plate too. Divide the fish and sauce between the two galettes and serve. Delicious!

The Man Who Invented Robots

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

The word ‘robot’ was invented in 1920, by Karel Capek. He wrote a dystopian science fiction play called R.U.R. which stands for “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. The play imagines the industrialist Rossum, who invents humanoid automatons, dubbed ‘robots‘, which can replace humans in any occupation. One would think this is to eliminate boring, mind-killing work — but really it was to make money. Of course, humans use the robots to wage wars and eventually the robots rebel, wiping out all but one human: a technician who can help them to create more robots.

Karel Capek was born in what is now the Czech Republic on January 9 in 1890. A sickly child, he turned to literature as an adult in the form of journalism and play-writing. His work ran him afoul of the Gestapo, since Capek was an ardent anti-Fascist and anti-Communist. Others praised his work and he was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Capek died of influenza/pneumonia in 1938.

For Capek’s birthday, we start with a meal so simple that even a human can prepare it. “Rosey” the Jetson’s robot housekeeper can take the morning off. The dinner is a soup that the author might well have eaten, especially since garlic is supposed to fight colds.

Parmesan-Chive Scramble:  159 calories 9.7 g fat 1 g fiber 12.7 g protein 5.2 g carbs [4.3 g Complex] 139 mg Calcium  NB: Food values shown are for the Scramble and fruit only, and do not include the optional beverages.  PB GF  This is the Scramble version of my Dear Husband’s ‘Bake’ of the same ingredients. Still wonderful! 

1 ½ two-oz eggs  HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week   1.5 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 1.5 Tbsp minced fresh chives 1 oz kiwi fruit   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Whisk together the chives, cheese, and eggs. Turn into a hot pan spritzed with oil or non-stick spray. Scramble to perfection and plate with the fruit. Pour your choice of beverages and dig into a bright breakfast, even on a grey day.

Czech Garlic Soup: 194 calories 4.7 g fat 4.3 g fiber 9 g protein 27 g carbs [18.4 g Complex] 84 mg Calcium  PB GF – if using GF rye bread What could be better on a cold winter’s night than a cozy bowl of soup? This is a classic, but feel free to make it your own. The calorie count is so low that you could add other vegetables or some low-fat meat. Flavor!!!

1 Tbsp unsalted butter OR bacon fat  
7 cloves garlic
Chop garlic and saute in butter/fat in a stock pot.
7 cups water OR   Chicken Broth OR Beef Broth
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cubed potatoes  
3 cups cubed parsnips
Peel potatoes and parsnips and cut in cubes. Add to broth and salt in a large pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, until vegetables are just under-done. Remove ½ cup soup stock and cool.
1 egg
1 tsp marjoram
Whisk the egg, then whisk in the reserved ½ cup of soup stock. Return to the stockpot, stirring, and add marjoram. Taste for seasoning. Let sit 8-24 hours.
per serving: 1/2 oz sourdough rye bread, cubed
1/4 oz Swiss cheese, grated
Toast the cubes of bread. Grate the cheese over them while hot. Use to garnish the reheated soup.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday ……… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz eggsweet crepe + uncured bacon
Vache Qui Rit [Laughing Cow] cheeselow-fat ricotta cheese
lots of herbs + ricotta cheeselow-fat yogurt
melonstrawberries
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday: …….. single portion for Thursday:

galette + fish stock
Arctic char, 4 oz
3.5 oz tuna/mixed seafood +
cauliflower + zucchini
green peas, edamame, snow peas–
one type or a combination
bechamel sauce + carrot
optional: watercress sauce
Laughing Cow cheese

Sparkling waterSparkling water

Epiphany

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Tomorrow will be the Feast of the Epiphany, aka: Three Kings’ Day or the 12th Day of Christmas [got room for those 12 Drummers Drumming?] or the start of Carnival Season. In the church, it marks the day that the three Magi arrived in Nazareth to visit the child Jesus. [Contrary to what is shown on the Christmas Cards and in most artwork, this visit occurred around two years after the nativity in Bethlehem. Jesus was then a toddler.] In a wider sense, ‘epiphany’ means ‘an awakening.’ Have you come to a new understanding of something? That was an epiphany.

The Kings are described as coming “from the Orient” which simply means anywhere East of Judea. They were most likely astronomers from Persia who had seen the planet Jupiter [a king] move into the constellation Pisces or Aries [which the Persians associated with Israel]. This celestial event lead them to the knowledge that a new king was born in Israel. In honor of the greeting card notion that one or all of them were from Cathay/China, our meals hale from the Eastern end of Asia. In the dinner, you have choices. I suggest that you limit yourself to three types of items, to remember the “Kings who traversed afar”.

Foo Yung Bake:  129 calories 5 g fat 2.4 g fiber 10 g protein 12 g carbs [11 g complex] 56.8 mg Calcium  NB: The food values shown are for the egg bake and the fruit, not for the optional beverages.  PB  Straight out of China, a no-fuss bake.

One 2-oz egg 2 Tbsp crab meat 1 tsp soy sauce ¼ cup sprouts [I used broccoli sprouts — suit yourself] ¼ oz mushrooms pinch ground ginger + pinch granulated garlic 1 Tbsp scallion, sliced across 2 oz pear OR 1 clementine   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Lightly mix the crab meat with the sprouts, scallion, and mushroom. Lightly oil or spritz an oven-proof dish. Distribute the crab mixture over the bottom of the dish. Whisk the egg with the soy sauce, ginger, and garlic powder, and pour over the sprouts and crab. Add salt and pepper if you wish. Bake at 350 F. for 12 minutes. Plate with the pear and pour the optional beverages.

Dim Sum Choices: Dining at a dim sum recipe is all about choices: the trolley arrives covered with savory dishes – how do you decide?! You can make those choices easily at home if you have a freezer that contains a little of this and a bit of that. My egg roll/Spring roll recipes prepare 5, of which we eat 4 at a meal. One left over to save for a Dim Sum Dinner. The wonton recipe makes 26, so save some for Dim Sum night. Same for the momos. Got some frozen pot stickers? Good choice. Add steamed vegetables and your own sauce and you will be all set for a fun meal. Make some choices from the following, being sure to add up to 300 or less calories, including the dipping sauce of choice and some cherry tomatoes or steamed vegetables:

1 chicken momo: 34 calories 0.2 fat 0.2 fiber 2.4 g protein 4.5 g carbs 15.7 mg Calcium 

2 Tbsp balls of chicken momo filling: 25 calories 0.2 g fat o.2 g fiber 3.6 g protein 1.4 g carbs 8.6 mg Calcium 

1 beef egg roll: 136 calories 4.6 g fat 1.2 g fiber 9.4 g protein 17.5 g carbs 23 mg Calcium 

1 shrimp spring roll: 88 calories 2 g fat 1 g fiber 7 g protein 8.4 g carbs 33 mg Calcium 

1 pork wonton: 41 calories 6.6 g fat o g fiber 3.4 g protein 7 g carbs 0 mg Calcium 

1 purchased pork dumpling/pot sticker: read the label 

1 oz purchased Asian BBQ pork: 46 calories 1.5 g fat 0 g fiber 6.7 g protein 8.4 g carbs 0 mg Calcium

2 oz chicken + 1 tsp satay sauce: 76 calories 1 g fat 0 g fiber 13 g protein 0.7 g carbs 6.2 mg Calcium 

Literary Reference

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

A literary reference is when an author has a situation/event/character in one book which is recognizable as something in another book by a different author. I love to see those: it is as if the author is winking and nodding at me, saying “I know you’ll get that”. Some people debate whether one can have a ‘literary’ reference to a movie or TV show, but hey — a screen play is literature, too. Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary makes recurring reference to Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Anyone who asserts that he/she is “Shocked. Shocked!” is referring to the screenplay of Casablanca. The list goes on and on! Shakespear, Homer, all authors are grist for the literary reference mill. What fun.

Today’s meals are a culinary form of literary reference. The Keats poem The Eve of St Agnes describes in length the meal set by the love-struck swain Porphyro for his beloved. Read The Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton and you will want a meal flavored with ‘the spices of the East’.

Porphyro’s Picnic:   252 calories 5.7 g fat 6 g fiber 6.5 g protein 53 g carbs [43 g Complex] 128 mg Calcium   PB GF   This is based on the foods described by Keats in his romantic poem The Eve of St Agnes. The meal is rather sweet [key to a teenage girl’s heart?] despite its low calorie count – it needs some other taste to cut it. A cup of black coffee? Full of fiber, this meal is sure to kick-start your tally of fruits/vegetables for the day. HINT: The photo below shows the meal for two [2] people on one plate — true love doesn’t mind sharing.

2 Tbsp lowfat Plain OR French Vanilla yogurt + 2 Tbsp almond meal 2 oz apple, diced 2 oz melon, cubed ¼ cup pitted plums [I used canned plums in light syrup, drained and rinsed], use fresh if in season 2 tsp cider syrup [or use 2 tsp syrup from the plums] + ¼ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ oz Medjool date, cut in 4 pieces. NO smoothie coffee or tea ONLY if it is black or lemon in hot water

Stir the yogurt and almond meal together and spoon onto the center of the plate. Chop the apple, cube the melon, and arrange them around the almond cream, along with the plums. Place the pieces of date at random. Combine the cider syrup with the cinnamon and drizzle it over the apple and melon. All set to eat and you still have 48 calories left over. Not responsible for what happens if you eat this by moonlight on January 20.

Arabian Spiced Chicken:  297 calories 4 g fat 5.4 g fiber 24.4 g protein 46 g carbs [45 g Complex] 35 mg Calcium   PB GF  Using ingredients originally from the region, it is possible to craft a very authentic meal that could have been enjoyed by ancient Arabs. They would have eaten by grasping the stew with the flat-bread called fatir — but on a Fast Day, we will choose a fork.  TIP: This recipe makes enough for 2 [two] meals.

6 oz chicken thigh meat, boneless, skinless 1.5 tsp Hawayij spice 2/3 cups water 1/3 cup chicken broth 1/3 cup dry quick-cooking barley   Per serving: 3 deglet noor dates + 5 oz watermelon cubes

Skin and bone the chicken thigh and cut it into 1” chunks. Heat a non-stick skillet and spritz it with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the chicken with the spice and saute it until partly cooked. To the pan, add the water and heat it, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Stir in the dry barley. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir gently until everything is heated through. Plate with the dates and watermelon on the side. Sprinkle the stew with more Hawayij if you like. The peppery stew is fabulous with the cool, crisp melon and the sweet, musky dates. What an Arabian Delight.

Stone Soup

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

It was once told to me about three soldiers who tramped down the road, returning home from war. They were hungry, so they planned to stop in the nearest village to ask for some food. But the villagers had seen them coming. The country-folk had had enough of soldiers coming and taking their food, so they had hidden it — down the well, up the chimney, in the cellar, in the attic. The soldiers knocked on door after door, but each cottager said the same thing: “We are poor people, good sirs. We have no food for our children, let alone you three.” The three soldiers huddled in the town square and whispered to each other. Then loudly they said, “These poor people have nothing to eat! We will help them to fill their bellies. We will make our magical Stone Soup for them.”

The villagers peeked out of doors and windows, asking “What could they mean?” They watched in amazement as two of the soldiers brought some rounded stones from the brook and washed them under the pump. The third soldier called out, “Who will lend us a cauldron so that we can prepare the soup? And who will provide some fire wood?” The items were quickly provided, a fire was lighted, the cauldron was filled with 2 quarts of water, and put over the flames. “And now the magic begins!” announced the soldiers. Everyone watched as they put the stones in the water. Everyone wondered how soup could be made from stones and water.

“M-m-m-m! It smells good,” opined one of the soldiers. “Do you remember that soup we made in Grosswaldstadt and how good it tasted? If only we had 4 ounces of carrots, the way we did there…”

A woman shyly came out of her house and handed them some carrots from those hidden in her cellar. They were cut up in no time.

Another soldier rejoined, “Then there was the soup we made in Yffinac — the one with the parsnips and cabbage. That was really delicious.”

A woman hurried out of her house with 4 ounces of parsnips which she had hidden in the woodshed. Not to be out-done, her neighbor rushed over with 4 ounces of cabbage which had been secreted up the chimney.

In Siena,” one soldier hinted broadly, ” we added some beef.” With that, the butcher’s wife ran off to retrieve some meat which had been hidden down in the well.

“If only we had some ….” would no sooner be said, than it appeared: a hand-full of herbs; 4 oz green beans; 4 oz red potatoes; 4 oz red beans; 4 oz spinach leaves; salt, and pepper. That was the wondrous part: food the villagers said they didn’t have seemed to appear magically and then disappear into the simmering water.

At last the soup was done. Everyone gathered ’round with bowls and spoons — not forgetting a bowl for each of the soldiers-turned-chefs. The baker’s wife hurried to get some sourdough rye bread which she ‘just remembered’ was up in her attic. Everyone ate soup and bread. Everyone congratulated the soldiers on their marvelous soup. And everyone learned that if we work together, everyone is better for it.

This is my retelling of a story that was first recorded in 1720, in France by Madame de Noyer. The tale has been told and re-told: in England, in America, everywhere that there are children to be entertained. If you are in the company of children during the holidays, read the story with them while you prepare the soup together. The soup yields 8 one-cup servings.

Tomorrow, December 26, is the Feast of St. Stephen. He was killed by being stoned, so it seems fitting to put stones to the more pacific purpose of making soup today. Most cooked soups benefit from being prepared the day before.

Per cup: 125 calories 1.4 g fat 4 g fiber 7.5 g protein 21.5 g carbs [ALL Complex] 55.6 mg Calcium 1 oz sourdough-rye bread: 72 calories 0 g fat 1.2 g fiber 2.4 g protein 14.5 g carbs

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday ……… single portion for Thursday:

apple + melon + almond meal 2 dinners next week
deglet noor date + plum
cider syrup or plum canning syrup
cinnamon + plain yogurtdried green split peas
Optional smoothiebacon + thyme
optional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday: …….. single portion for Thursday:

chicken thigh + chicken broth oil + chicken breast + broccoli
deglet noor datesItalian pepper + zucchini
quick-cooking barley + watermelon corn tortillas, ~70 calories each
hawayij spicechili powder + Adobo + red onion
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Little Christmas Eve

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

A book we read when our sons were little was all about how Christmas is celebrated around the world — countries and their customs. One that we really liked was “Little Christmas Eve” from Norway. According to the book, that day was given over to final preparations, from baking to wrapping gifts, so that the tree could be decorated that evening. The date for this was December 23, the eve of Christmas Eve. The idea of getting everything taken care of before December 24 sounded like a good idea to this busy mother. To this day, I do get all the baking done before then, as well as my shopping and wrapping. Rushing in all directions and staying up late on Christmas Eve never appealed to me. [Pre-planning helps a lot.] What do you think? These days, we enjoy spending the 24th relaxing with our family and enjoying being together.

Breakfast features salmon, a fish that thrives in the cold waters of Scandinavia. The dinner is soup. Our book described a pot of soup being on the stove all day — if you were hungry, you could help yourself. What a fine idea for a busy day!

Leek & Salmon Bake: 129 calories 6.7 g fat 1 g fiber 9.8 g protein 7 g carbs [7 g Complex] 64.5 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages.  PB GF  Simply delicious. 

One 2-oz egg ½ oz salmon [could be leftover from a previous meal] 1/3 oz leek, sliced thinly 1 tsp low-fat sour cream OR plain Greek Yogurt dill weed to taste dash lemon juice ¼ cup blueberries or 1 plum Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water   Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Spritz an oven-proof ramekin [for 2 people, Dear Husband likes to use a 6×4” oval casserole] with non-stick spray and set the oven for 350 degrees F. Slice the leek and put in a microwave-safe dish. [NB: if the fish is raw, cut it into small pieces and put it in the dish, too] Cook in microwave for 30 minutes at high heat to soften the leek. Add to the ramekin. Whisk the egg with the sour cream, dill, lemon juice, and salt/pepper to taste. [NB: some people find dill to be a very strong flavor] Pour over the salmon/leek mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes. Prepare your beverages and dish the berries. Have a wonderful breakfast and a wonderful day.

‘Therapeutic’ Chicken Soup:  278 calories 3.4 g fat 5 g fiber 18.5 g protein 36 g carbs [26 g Complex Carbs] 78 mg Calcium  PB  The recipe is from It’s All American Food  by David Rosengarten. Simple, filling, and Granma says it is good for you.  NB: One serving = 2 cups of soup! The recipe easily doubles or triples.

1-1/2 cups excellent chicken broth, homemade or purchased 2 oz [½ cup] parsnips, diced 1 oz [¼ cup] carrots, in coins ¼ cup celery, sliced 2 oz cooked chicken breast, cut in 1/2” cubes 1/2 oz Pennsylvania Dutch noodles  3 Tbsp parsley

Prepare the vegetables. Cook the noodles in water until just underdone. Heat the stock to a simmer and add 3-4 Tbsp water, which will boil away as you cook. I added the parsnips first and cooked for about 5 minutes, then added the carrots. After another 5 minutes, I put the celery in the soup. Cook until all the vegetables are tender, then adjust the seasoning of the broth. Add the pasta and chicken. It will need extra flavor now since the pasta will have used it up, so add salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and cook about 5 minutes longer.

Crossroads: Europe

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Many peoples have crossed Europe — North to South, East to West. Despite the idea that ‘all roads lead to Rome,” the cultural melting pot of Europe has got to be Trier. When I was growing up, I never heard of it. [blush] But it kept being mentioned in many areas of my research, leading me to find out more.

Located on the Mosel river where it joins two other rivers, the city is on several intersecting travel routes. During the Iron Age, the Celtic Treveri tribe lived there, eventually giving their name to the town, which is called ‘Treves’ in French. The Romans arrived in 16 BCE and founded a major city which was the capital of their Northern European empire. In 459, the Franks took over, eventually becoming a major center during the rule of Charlemagne. As Christianity grew, Trier became a religious hub. Saints Helen and Ambrose both visited, though not at the same time. Eventually the city belonged to the French, then the Germans. Wars brought new people, new languages, new foods to this crossroad of Europe and made it what it is today. Karl Marx was born there, Saint Mathew is buried there — how much more diverse does it get?

Because the Vikings [aka ‘Danes’] sacked Trier in 882, our breakfast will contain Danish/Northern elements. Our dinner evokes Italy, whence came the Romans. Look up Trier on a map and plan to visit the UNESCO World Heritage city some day.

Danish ScrOmelette: 140 calories 10.4 g fat 0.5 g fiber 12 g protein 5.6 g carbs [3 g Complex] 242 mg Calcium   PB GF  This breakfast is in honor of Northern Europe. The taste of the sea, the Danish cheese, the apple: all are flavors of the region.

1 ½ two-oz eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week 1/2 oz Danish bleu cheese ½ oz herring marinated in wine 1 oz apple, sliced so you can see the star inside Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water    Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Mince the herring. Crumble the bleu cheese and whisk with the eggs. Hold the apple on its side and slice it so that the star of seeds and core in the middle is revealed. Cut a slice parallel to your cut to end up with a slice that weighs 1 oz. Spray a frying pan with non-stick spray and put the minced herring in the pan. Quickly pour the egg-cheese mixture in the pan. As the egg begins to set around the edges, lift the egg with a fork or spatula and tip the pan so that uncooked egg flows underneath. Continue like that until the bottom is fully cooked and the top is set. [Flip the omelette if you dare, or put it under the broiler if you like your eggs well cooked.] Slide the eggs on to the plate next to the apple, pour the beverages, and meditate on the wonders of ancient trade routes across continents.

Ham Florentine Crepes: 299 calories 11.3 g fat 5.6 g fiber 15.6 g protein 33 g carbs 307 mg Calcium PB Peter Christian’s Tavern was a very popular New Hampshire restaurant and their cookbook was a local best seller. The restaurant has closed but the cookbook is a goldmine and it served as the source of this meal. Very easy if the crepes and Bechamel sauce are pre-made.

Ham Florentine Fillingmakes 1.5 cups ½ cup no-cheese Bechamel Sauce [see SIDEKICKS I, 17-Sept-’17 ] 1 cup ham in 1/4” dice 1 cup [5 oz] cooked spinach, fresh or frozen ½ cup chopped celery ¼ cup chopped onion celery salt + dill + granulated garlic + basil

Be sure to squeeze the spinach until most of the liquid is out of it. [save the liquid] Spritz a saute pan with non-stick spray and add some of the spinach liquid. Cook the celery and onion until the onions are transluscent, adding more spinach liquid as needed. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat until warmed through. 

For the Dinner: 2 crepes [see  SIDEKICKS I, 17-Sept-’17] ¾ cup Ham Florentine

Set the oven to 350 F. If the crepes are frozen, thaw and wrap in a tea towel. Put them in the oven as it warms. When the crepes are soft and pliable, lay them on a baking sheet, covered with the tea towel. Warm the Ham Florentine filling and spoon over half of each crepe. [I saved out a bit of liquid from the filling.] Fold the crepes over the filling and pat in place. Put the crepes in the oven until warmed through. Top with reserved filling before serving.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday ……… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz egg 
leek + dill weed
Choose a new favorite from Archives
lemon juice + salmon

dab of plain Greek yogurt/sour cream

Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday: …….. single portion for Thursday:

chicken breast meat
a stone + herbs + meaty bones
carrots + celery
carrot + parsley + spinach/kale
parsnip + parsley
cabbage + green beans
egg noodles + rich chicken broth
red potato + canned white beans
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Far-flung Food

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Sometimes one gets into a culinary rut: meal after meal of ‘________’ [you fill in the blank: American comfort food? Thai fried rice? Mexican? Chinese takeout?] Let’s go a little wild and crazy and get out of that rut. Our meals today are easy to prepare, made with ingredients you might have on hand, and are a delicious departure from the ordinary. Plus, they are geographically and culturally divergent as can be: Cajun and Korean!

Cajun Bake:  128 calories 5.2 g fat 2.5 g fiber 8.6 g protein 13 g carbs [11.8 g Complex] 78 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages.  PB GF  Green peppers, onions, and celery are three key ingredients in Cajun cooking, so naturally they find their way into this breakfast. A ‘Cajun’ is someone from Louisiana who is descended from the French ‘Acadians’ of Canada. They were deported to Louisiana by the English in the 1700s.

1 two-oz egg 2 Tbsp green pepper [3/4 oz], chopped 2 Tbsp celery, chopped 2 Tbsp onion, chopped 2 pinches Cajun Seasoning dash or two of Tabasco   1 Tbsp reduced-fat cottage cheese, drained 2 oz pear Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water   Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Drain the cottage cheese overnight to remove excess liquid. Chop the pepper, celery, and onion and cook them in a little water until they are softened. This can be done in the microwave or on the cooktop. Drain the vegetables and put them in an oven-proof dish that has been spritzed with non-stick spray. Whisk the egg with the cottage cheese and Cajun Seasoning, and pour into the ramekin. Bake at 350 degrees F. 12-15 minutes. Prepare beverages of your choice and plate the fruit. Pass the Tabasco if you like extra heat.

Korean Seafood Pancakes “Haemul Pajean”: 266 calories 2.1 g fat 5.6 g fiber 33 g protein 37 g carbs 88 mg Calcium   PB  What’s not to love about this pancake, plump with yummy seafood and served with a savory sauce?

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour ½ cup water 1 egg white 1.5 oz scallion, sliced 4.5 oz cooked seafood – all one type or a mixture [ex: shrimp, chopped into 1/2” pieces, if large; lobster, chopped into 1/2” pieces or use smaller shreds; flounder, flaked] Per serving: 2 oz tomato dipping sauce** or commercially-available Korean spicy sauce

Whisk flour, water, and egg white until well-blended. Combine the seafoods in a bowl with the scallions. Heat a non-stick pan [I found a ceramic pan to work very well] and pour in ½ of the batter. Swirl it around so that it covers the bottom. Quickly sprinkle half of the seafood/scallion mixture over the top of the pancake before it sets. [ALTERNATELY: Combine half of the batter with half of the seafood and pour into the pan.] Cook for 6-8 minutes, then flip and cook until beginning to brown. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Pile the cooked pancakes on top of each other and cut into wedges. Serve with tomato wedges and 2 Tbsp dipping sauce**.

**Dipping Sauce [HINT: THIS IS ENOUGH FOR 2-3 SERVINGS]  3 Tbsp soy sauce 2 tsp rice vinegar 3 Tbsp chives, chopped pinch crushed red pepper flakes pinch sugar Combine in a micro-wave-safe bowl and heat until sugar dissolves.