Under the Influence: Italy

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. Welcome to Dominus O. Markham and bloghealth1 and Youth and Healthy and Scot Henry who are now Following.

Italian cooks are under the influence. No, they are neither drunk nor drugged, so let’s follow a culinary trail…. Central and Southern Italian cuisine involves tomatoes — everyone knows that. And in the North, there’s cornmeal polenta. And that’s been since forever, right? Well, no. Tomatoes and corn are not native to Italy or even to Europe. Spanish colonizers brought those foods from meso-America back to Europe in the early 1500s. The Spanish were not that impressed. From there, tomatoes and corn spread to Italy, where, by the 1600s, they were embraced like long lost relatives and quickly made part of the food culture. Tomato sauces and salads and pizzas abound all over the country, and corn shows up in the iconic polenta of the North — I even ate kernels of corn on a pizza in Rome. Italy owes much of its culinary traditions to the influence of far-away Indigenous Americans. Fancy that!

Our breakfast features tomatoes as part of a famously delicious Italian sauce, while dinner involves cornmeal polenta. You too can be under the influence.

Puttenesca Bake: 127 calories 6 g fat 0.6 g fiber 7.7 g protein 10 g carbs [10 g Complex] 77.7 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beveragesPB GF  Once you have Puttenesca Sauce in the freezer, preparing this breakfast is very easy.

one 2-oz egg 1½ Tbsp Puttenesca sauce, drained of excess liquid   ½ Tbsp Parmesan, grated ¼ cup peaches, fresh or canned in light juice   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]

Set the toaster oven at 350 degrees F. Spritz an oven-proof ramekin or small casserole [if serving 2 or more] with non-stick spray. Whisk the eggs with the sauce and cheese. Pour into the baking dish and heat for 12-15 minutes. Portion the peaches and prepare the beverages. Que bella!

Seafood with Polenta & Vegetables: 291 calories 8.5 g fat 3.7 g fiber 30 g protein 28 g carbs [24 g Complex] 180 mg Calcium  PB GF  Mediterranean Food, anyone? Here it is, a splendid way to eat healthily.

oops! This photo shows 3 logs of polenta when it should have only 2.

½ cup Mediterranean Vegetables without chickpeas   2 ‘logs’ of home-made polenta, from a batch with 6 ‘logs’ 4 oz fish such as cod or tilapia, raw or cooked ¾ oz mushrooms, sliced 3 Tbsp Parmesan, grated Prepare or thaw the polenta. Prepare or thaw the Mediterranean Vegetables. Stir in the mushrooms and sea food and simmer, covered, until the fish is cooked through. Place the polenta on the side of the plate and spoon the warm mixture on top. Top with the grated cheese and enjoy your taste of Italy.

Henri IV

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.

Henry of Navarre. Le Bon Henri. What ever you call him, Henry IV was the best king France ever had. He was born in Pau, in the Bearn region of far southern France. He was the King of Navarre and a Protestant. This latter fact made it impossible for him to be King of France. But by lineage, he was the heir to the throne. Eventually, he decided, “Paris vaut une messe,” [Paris makes it worth going to Mass] and he accepted the kingship in exchange for becoming a nominal Catholic. As King, he signed the Edict of Nantes which made the Protestant religion legal in France, ending for the time being the Wars of Religion. He provided street lights in Paris. He built the ‘Pont Neuf‘ [‘New Bridge’] in Paris in 1604, which is still standing. He insisted on stone buildings in cities to prevent fires. He promoted prosperity while minimizing social disparity, seeking a goal of ‘a chicken in every pot.’ [Yes, that is the origin of the political pledge.] Sadly, King Henri was assassinated on a street of Paris in 1610.

Hailing from Gascony, Henri would appreciate today’s menu choices. The breakfast highlights the fruits of the fertile South-West. The dinner is a nod to the Basque people of Aquitaine and their love of peppers.

Fruit Souffle Omelette:  128 calories 5 g fat 2.2 g fiber 8.7 g protein 9 g carbs [6.5 g Complex] 34 mg Calcium   PB GF  From the fruited hills and valleys of Gascony comes this dessert which, with a few tweeks, goes to the breakfast table.  HINT: This serves two. The recipe is difficult to cut to serve one, so enjoy it with a friend or save for dessert tomorrow.

2 egg yolks 3 egg whites ¼ c blueberries ¼ c raspberries ¼ cup goldenberries [feel free to substitute strawberries or cherries] 2 tsp [5 ml] Armagnac, the brandy of SW France 1 tsp sugar

If the fruit is frozen, put it in a sieve while it thaws to catch extra juices. Heat the fruit and sugar in a small saute pan. Add the Armagnac and flame it, gently swirling the pan to be sure all the alcohol is burned off. Remove from heat. Warm the oven to 375F. Find a saute pan that can be used on the cook-top and in the oven as well. Whisk the yolks with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Using a rotary or electric beater, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Whisk a bit of the whites into the yolks to lighten them, then fold the whites and eggs together. Pour into that saute pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cook on the cook-top until the bottom sets and starts to brown. Pour the fruit on top and put in the upper third of the oven. Cook until the eggs are set and puffed. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. A fine treat.

Chicken Basquaise: 263 calories 4 g fat 4.7 g fiber 31 g protein 21 g carbs [15 g Complex] 87 mg Calcium PB GF Here is another meal inspired by airplane [Air France] food. Once you have prepared the Sauce Basquaise, you can enjoy it as often as you like since the recipe makes lots. 

4 oz chicken breast ¼ c Sauce Basquaise++ 1 slice polenta  2 oz green beans OR 1.5 oz snow peas 1 tsp Dijon mustard

++SAUCE BASQUAISE: makes 5 cups  1/2 cup = 89 calories 4.7 g fat 3 g fiber 2 g protein 8 g carbs [7.7 g Complex] 21.4 mg Calcium 

2 Tbsp olive oilHeat the oil in a large sauce pan
1 cup onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped  optional: 2 oz Bayonne/Serrano ham or pancetta, diced  3 cups red bell pepper, diced [2 large peppers, abt 13 oz]  3 cups green bell pepper, diced [2 large peppers, abt 13 oz]  4 cups tomatoes, seeded and dicedAdd the onion, garlic, ham, peppers, and tomatoes.  Cook over medium-low heat until peppers are tender
½ cup red wine 5 g ‘esplette’ pepper or ground cayenne pepper 2 tsp fresh thyme ½ tsp saltAdd to the pan Simmer 10 minutes more
Easy to prepare. Freezes well, but taste for seasoning after thawing.

Choose a saute pan with a lid. Add 3 Tbsp water, Sauce Basquaise, and the chicken. Cover and braise the chicken over low until it is almost cooked. Remove the lid to see if the sauce has cooked down to a thick consistancy. Continue to cook, without lid, if necessary. Cook the green beans. In a small fry-pan, cook the polenta slice on both sides using non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking. Plate with the sauce on top of the chicken and the dab of mustard on the side. A first-class meal.

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

1 two-oz egg  + tomato1.5 two-oz eggs  
feta cheese + Kalamata olivetomatoes
lamb meat + spinachapples + scallions
oregano + peach/nectarinemushrooms
optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

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

beef + carrot + cabbageeggplant + onion + garlic
parsnip + green beanscorn kernels + zucchini
red potato + spinach + herbscooked chicken + Monterey Jack
white beans + stones [optional]corn tortillas + enchilada sauce
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Indigenous Peoples

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. Welcome to Colorful Sisters who are now Following.

‘Indigenous’ is from the latin word ‘indigenus,’ meaning ‘native.’ In North America, there are 562 recognized groups of Indigenous Peoples. Many more are in Central and South America, not to mention other areas around the world. The colonizers were amazed by native foods, taking them back to introduce to Europe. Corn [Zea mays], beans [Phaseolus vulgaris], and tomatoes [Solanum lycopersicum] subsequently entered into the cuisine of Spain, and then other countries. Corn, beans, and squashes were the foundations of indigenous agriculture and food culture — and where would we be today without them? Whether you call the original people ‘indigenous’ or ‘First Nations,’ October 10 is a day to celebrate their culture and foods.

The basic salad of three ‘American’ ingredients is a fine dish by itself. It can be added to other ingredients for a breakfast or a dinner. Very versatile! [I use the word ‘American’ to mean North, Central, and South America which took their name from Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian-Spanish merchant-explorer who visited the ‘New World’ much more extensively in the 1490s than did Columbus.]

Tomato-Corn-Black Bean Salad:  1 Serving = ¾ cup = 115 calories 3.8 g fat 5.3 g fiber 4.7 g protein 17 g carbs 30 mg Calcium  PB GF  For a real late Summer treat, you can’t beat fresh corn and tomatoes!  100Daysofrealfood provided the recipe and then I altered it a little. HINT: This makes 3 cups of salad. One generous serving = ¾ cup. As good as it is colorful.

1½ ears of corn  
1 c canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Blanch the corn for 1 minute in boiling water. Cool + cut the kernels off the cob and put in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the rinsed beans to the bowl. 
4 oz tomato: cherry toms cut in half OR whole tomato cut in ½” dice
¼ cup red onion, diced
Gently mix beans + corn with tomatoes + onion. Heat vegetables in the microwave for 45-60 seconds to make slightly warm.
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
In a small bowl combine the basil, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour over the warmed vegetables and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Summer Vegetable Bake 129 calories 6 g fat 2.4 g fiber 8 g protein 11 g carbs 33 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg and hash only, not the optional hot beveragePB GF  Corn, beans, and tomatoes are native American foods and they all ripen in late Summer. They find themselves to be right at home in this breakfast.

1 two-oz egg ¼ cup corn-black bean-tomato salad [see above recipe] pinch of chili pepper 2 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]

Whisk the egg with the chili pepper. Heat the toaster oven to 350 F. Spritz an oven-proof dish with cooking oil or spray and put the corn salad into it. Pour the egg on top and bake for 12-15 minutes. Plate with the melon for a taste of Meso-America.

Tomato-Corn-Black Bean Salad Dinner: 274 calories 9 g fat 16.5 g protein 34.7 g carbs [34 g Complex] 63.4 mg Calcium  PB GF  For a real late Summer treat, you can’t beat fresh corn and tomatoes! The recipe is from 100Daysofrealfood and then I altered it a little. HINT: This makes 4 cups of salad. One generous serving = ¾ cup. As good as it is colorful.

1½ ears of corn 
1 c canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Blanch the corn for 1 minute in boiling water. Cool + cut the kernels off the cob and put in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the rinsed beans to the bowl. 
4 oz tomato: cherry tomatoes cut in half OR whole tomato cut in 1” dice
¼ cup red onion, diced
Gently mix beans + corn with tomatoes + onion. Heat vegetables in the microwave for 45-60 seconds to make slightly warm.
1 oz cooked beef, from steak or roast OR 1 oz roast pork Slice the meat very thinly and warm it briefly if it is cold.
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
In a small bowl combine the basil, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour over the warmed vegetables and stir to combine. If you are not serving 5 people, cool and store the leftovers in the refrigerator. 
Plate ¾ cup of corn salad per serving and arrange the meat on top

Who Dunit? Who Ate It? Chapter 4

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. Welcome to NutritionIdeas2020 who is now Following.

Dear Husband and I love to read ‘whodunits.’ Crime literature in English harks back to Edgar Allen Poe’s Murders on Rue Morgue in 1841. As the genre took off, a sub-genre developed: culinary crime. These books are read as much for the procedural as for the vicarious thrills of the meals that are described along the way. There are many authors who tantalize our tastebuds while they challenge our little grey cells and today, I will feature foods from two widely different sources.

Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie‘s most enduring detectives, although she came to dislike the character eventually. He is a former policeman from Belgium who is obsessed with order and cleanliness. Not for him searching for footprints and collecting cigar ash — too dirty. Add to that, Poirot professes to have a tender stomach. Thus he prefers food that is neat, regularly-shaped, European, and mild but never bland. An omelette made with apples and cream would appeal to him.

Omelette Normande:  174 calories 11 g fat 1 g fiber 10 g protein 9 g carbs [8.2 g Complex] 46 mg Calcium NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beverages.  PB GF  Cooking in Normandy naturally involves apple and cream, even at breakfast. This is the breakfast version of a Norman dessert omelette.

1 ½ 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.  1½ oz apple, peeled and sliced thinly 1½ tsp heavy/whipping cream ½ tsp butter ¼ tsp sugar + ¼ tsp cinnamon 1 oz peach    Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories]  NO smoothie today

Peel and slice the apples and cook them slowly in a saute pan with the butter, sugar, cinnamon, 2 Tbsp water, and a healthy spray of non-stick spray. Add more water if the pan gets dry – you don’t want the apples to stick or scorch. Cook until the apples are almost soft and there is no more liquid in the pan. HINT: You can do this the night before. Whisk the eggs with the cream and a little salt while the apples heat/stay warm in the saute pan. Pour in the eggs and let them cook undisturbed until done. Fold and plate with the peach or other fruit of 11 calories. Picture apple trees in bloom.

Perhaps the greatest contemporary foodie-detective is Bruno Courreges, created by Martin Walker in the Bruno, Chief of Police series. As you read, you can’t wait for the next succulent recipe to be presented — step by step, so you could almost cook from the page of the novel. In addition to the food, the plots and characters make the books worth reading. Bruno lives in southern Perigord, a region known for its local ingredients and he makes the most of them. This is a person you want to share a meal with, as long as he is cooking. Author Walker’s wife, Julia Watson, is in charge of the recipes and she does a great job.

Green Gazpacho with Shrimp:  279 calories 19 g fat 2 g fiber 13 g protein 11 g carbs 56 mg Calcium   PB GF   “Bruno,” according to the cookbook, “likes everything about Spanish Gazpacho except the color and texture.” So here is his own version. HINT: The recipe makes 3 cups of soup, to serve three [3] people.

1-½ green peppers [9 oz] cut in ½” dice  3 fl oz dry white or rose winePut 1/3 of the chopped green peppers into a blender with the white wine. Pulse a bit, then add 1/3 more and pulse again. Add remaining peppers and pulse.
½ large cucumber [5 oz] cut in ½” diceAdd the chopped cucumber and pulse a few times.
75 ml / 4 Tbsp good olive oil 50 ml/ 4 tsp vinegar tarrragon sprig 2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
salt + pepper to taste
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until the soup is still a little chunky.
Pour into another container and chill for 30 minutes or more.
Per serving: 2 oz small shrimp
Piment d’esplette
Sprinkle shrimp with piment d’esplette and cook. Pour soup into serving bowl and top with cooked shrimp.

Chicken Corn Soup Supper

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. 

Every August, small country churches in my family’s area of South-Central Pennsylvania used to put up the signs: Chicken Corn Soup Supper. Organized and run by the ladies of the church [with some help from the men-folk], these can be at once a social event, a cherished link to the agrarian culture, and a major fund-raiser. In August, the sweet corn is ripe and half of the laying flock is 2-years old which means that the stars are aligned for Chicken Corn Soup. The best broth is from older chickens [fowls], so they would be dispatched early in the morning and stewed for hours. The chickens’ meat, off the bones and shredded, would be added to the broth, along with the herbs and onions they were cooked with. Kernels from sweet corn [as opposed to the taller, coarser field corn], and chunks of potatoes would be be added. One hot August evening many years ago, Dear Husband and I attended one of these dinners at an old stone chapel near Newville, Pa. Tressle tables and benches were set up the lawn, covered with butcher paper. You squeezed in among the other diners and partook of the delights of the table: a big bowl of hot soup, dinner rolls fresh from the oven, butter, iced tea, and cake or pie for dessert. The air was conditioned by the breeze in the Black Locust trees and the entertainment was the hum of cicadas. All around, a sense of contentment as the rhythm of the seasons was observed.

Here is my attempt at the tastiest soup of August, and a breakfast that a busy farm wife could assemble in minutes, from her kitchen garden, while she stewed the fowl and let the bread rise.

Allium Bake: 136 calories 6.6 g fat 1.2 g fiber 10 g protein 9 g carbs 108 mg Calcium   PB GF  The genus Allium contains all the onions and their relatives. This bake contains three of them along with two cheeses for even more flavor and goodness.

One 2-oz egg ½ oz sliced leek, green +/or white parts ½ oz minced onion 1 Tbsp minced chives 1 Tbsp cottage cheese 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 2 oz peach 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 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/chop the leeks and onions. Spray a skillet/saute pan with non-stick spray and cook the alliums until they are limp. Put them, along with the chives and any seasonings you like, in the prepared oven-safe dish. Whisk the egg with the two cheeses and pour over the alliums. Bake for 12 minutes or until done as you like it. Plate with the peach, pour your beverage of choice, and savor a flavorful day.

Chicken Corn Soup:  159 calories 4 g fat 2 g fiber 12 g protein 20 g carbs 21.6 mg Calcium NB: the above food values do not include the optional bread   PB GF – if using GF bread or eliminating it.

1-½ cups corn cut from the cob [about 3 ears] 1-½ cups potato, cut in ½ inch cubes 3 cups rich chicken broth ½ cup water from cooking the corn and potato ½ cup raw chicken meat, cut in small pieces many sprigs thyme + 1-2 sage leaves one ½-inch slice onion salt & pepper to taste   per serving:  ½ hard-boiled egg   Optional: 1 slice [1 oz] sourdough bread [add 100 calories]

Pour the chicken broth into a sauce pan, adding the onion and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until it cooks down to 2-½ cups. Let stand off heat. Put the corn in a skillet with water half-way up the sides of the ears. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the corn and add the potato cubes to the water. Cook the potato for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove the potato from the water and save the cooking water. Chop the chicken and put it in the hot chicken stock to cook off the heat. Cut the kernals off the corn cobs and measure the volume. Remove the thyme sprigs and the onion from the stock, and chop the onion. Put the corn and potato into the stock, along with the chopped onion and any thyme leaves you can remove from the boiled sprigs. Add ½ cup of the corn/potato water to the soup. Gently heat the soup until the chicken is cooked. Taste for seasonings. One portion = 1 cup. Top each portion of soup with chopped hard-boiled egg and a bit of parsley. If you wish, serve with a slice of sourdough bread. Freeze the remainder. This is truly the taste of Summer. Cue the cicadas.

Science

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. Welcome to jimmdetoxman who is now Following.

The word “science” is from the latin word “scientia,” meaning “knowledge.” It is called that because it is based on facts which can be tested and verified. This sets it apart from opinion, which is not necessarily based on fact. Ex: It is a fact that Earth has a moon, but there are many opinions as to how that moon formed. Galileo [1564-1642] was a real scientist. He collected data to test his opinions until he knew which were facts and which were not. Ever since he improved on existing telescopes, he had been collecting information about the motion of the planets in our part of space. In his time, it was popularly believed that the sun and all the planets orbited around the Earth, since that had been the idea of Aristotle and Ptolemy. This view was first challenged by Copernicus and then more mathematically by Kepler. [In between was Tycho, who tried to strike a middle ground with a hybrid theory.] Kepler’s work was scorned as fake-news by the Church and popular culture. The idea that Earth, God’s best creation, was only one of a multitude of planets orbiting the little sun seemed to diminish humans’ importance. Furthermore, to challenge the Church’s view was to challenge the Church’s authority and beliefs. In 1616, Galileo had been warned by the Church not to talk or write anymore about the sun-centered ideas which his telescope confirmed. Many Church leaders, including the pope who was a personal friend, had gone to ‘telescope parties’ at Galileo’s house to see how the planets moved. But the Church would not be moved. Galileo published one more book and was put on trial. After years of waffling, he was at last forced to renounce his scientific work and he recanted his ideas on June 22, 1633. A bad day for science, a good day for people who think science should be bent to fit their political agenda.

Our breakfast involves flavors of Florence, Italy, Galileo’s beloved home town. The dinner is from China. Why? you ask. In the early 1600s, Jesuit missionaries had gone to the Chinese court, seeking to preach Christianity and to demonstrate [superior] European culture. One of the technologies that they proudly displayed, between 1626 and 1634, was a Galilean telescope.

Ham Florentine Bake: 133 calories 6.5 g fat 1 g fiber 8 g protein 6 g carbs 61.5 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages. PB GF This bake is so flavorful that you will not notice the tiny calorie count. Same ‘ham Florentine’ used to fill crepes for dinner. Same kind of deliciousness.

1 two-oz egg 2 Tbsp ham Florentine mixture** 2 oz applesauce Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 caloriesOptional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water 

Set the toaster oven at 350 F. Spritz an oven-proof dish with non-stick spray. Whisk the egg and stir in the ham Florentine mixture. Pour into prepared dish and bake for 12-15 minutes. Portion the applesauce and pour your choice of beverages. This is a breakfast to prepare often.

**Ham Florentine Fillingmakes 1.5 cups  Freeze the remainder to fill crepes or in small quantities for eggs. ½ cup no-cheese Bechamel Sauce [see SIDEKICKS I, 17-Sept-’17 ] 1 cup ham in ¼ ” dice 1 cup [5 oz] cooked spinach, fresh or frozen ½ cup chopped celery ¼ cup chopped onion pinch of each: 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.

Shrimp Fu Yung:  239 calories 14 g fat 2 g fiber 23.4 g protein 9 g carbs 132 mg Calcium  PB GF  Here is the Cantonese classic, as delicious as ever. Americans seem to think it should have brown chicken gravy on top – not very authentic. I have recreated the look using a very savory sauce.

1-¼ oz shrimp, cooked or raw ¼ stalk celery [substitute: leaf rib of Swiss Chard] 2 Tbsp chopped mushroom ¼ cup mung bean sprouts [substitute: chopped cabbage] 1-½ scallions [spring onions] ¼ tsp ginger powder 2 two-oz eggs 1 oz spinach leaves + garlic powder + ¼ tsp sesame seed ½ tsp sesame oil   Sauce: 1 tsp hoisin sauce + 1 tsp soy sauce + 1 tsp oyster sauce

Cut the shrimp into small slices and put in a bowl with the mushrooms. Slice the celery ¼” thick and put into another bowl. Slice the scallions and add to the same bowl, along with the sprouts. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside. Whisk the eggs with the ginger. In a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick spray and a tablespoon of water, cook the spinach, stirring, until it is just limp. Remove from heat, stir with a sprinkle of garlic powder. Plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Return the pan to the stove over high heat. Spray again and add the sesame oil. Put the vegetables into the pan and stir for 60 seconds. Add the shrimp/mushrooms and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Pour the eggs in a circular motion into the pan, trying not to disturb the other items. Tilt the pan as you lift the edge of the eggs to let the uncooked egg down to the pan. After a few minutes, flip the egg disk to the other side to cook. [I put a plate over the pan and inverted it, then slid the egg disk back into the pan.] Soon the bottom will be cooked. Slide the eggs onto a cutting board and slice into quarters. Arrange them on the plate next to the spinach. Drizzle the sauce on top and enjoy every bite.

3 Chilly Saints

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. Welcome to toondebacker who is now Following.

“Mamertus, Pancras, and Gervais were three early Christian  saints. Because their feast days, on May 11, 12, and 13, respectively, are traditionally cold, they have come to be known as the  Three Chilly Saints.” Thus says the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and they know all about weird weather. Mamertus died in 475 in Arles, France. Pancras died around 304 at the age of 14. Gervais died in the 2nd century. German farmers often add St Boniface [May 14] to the list of Eismanner.

Naturally, chilly weather makes one want to eat ‘chili.’ But what is ‘chili’? To begin with, chili is a plant [Capsicum annum] which originated in Mexico around 7500 BCE. Chili also refers to the fruit of that plant, nicknamed ‘chili peppers’ by Columbus, because the spicy flavor reminded him of black pepper. There are many types of chili, of varying heat. In New Mexico, when you say ‘chili,’ only the New Mexico ‘Chile’ [note the spelling change] is being discussed. These can be green or red, fresh or roasted or dried, and they define the local cuisine. ‘Chili’ also means the meal, prepared with or without beans, which is one of the tentpoles of cooking in the American South-West.

We will have chili and chiles for breakfast and chili with chiles for dinner. Chilly enough for you?

Chili-Chile Eggs:  139 calories 10 g fat 2.2 g fiber 11 g protein 11.8 g carbs [10 g Complex] 77 mg Calcium   NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beveragesPB GF  Two of the American South West’s best flavors: 2 spellings in one breakfast bake.

one 2-oz egg ¼ cup Chili Non Carne [see SIDEKICKS II Oct 4, 2017 for the recipe], drained if too soupy 1 Tbsp canned green chiles {Hatch brand is the best] pinch of salt 1/8 oz cheddar cheese, grated 2 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]

Whisk the chile and chilis with the egg. Add salt to your taste. Pour into a lightly-spritzed ramekin and top with the grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. The egg mixture will puff up and be firm to the touch when done. If it is very jiggly in the middle, keep baking it. Prep the fruit and pour the optional beverage of choice. You are off to a chili start, even if your weather is hot.

Chili Verde with Beans: 265 calories 2.8 g fat 5.4 g fiber 14 g protein 31 g carbs [29 g Complex] 169 mg Calcium   PB GF  In the great debate about what makes ‘authentic’ chili, beans are often the issue. Here, they are served as a ‘side dish.’  HINT: This makes enough for 3 [three] servings.

Without the beans, this chili would be great in flautas or fajitas or corn tortillas.
½ tsp oil  ½ cup red onion, choppedCook onion until softened.
3 cloves garlic, mincedAdd to onion and cook one minute more
2 Tbsp tomato sauce 2 tsp green chili powder one 4-oz can New Mexico green chilis 1 tsp ground cumin + 1 tsp [Mexican] oregano ½ cup salsa verde [purchased is fine] ¼ cup waterStir in tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Then add chilis, seasonings, salsa and water. Turn heat down to a simmer.
Enough cooked turkey or chicken to make 1-1/2 cups shredded meat – about 200 grams pinch or two saltShred the chicken or grind it and add to the pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add the salt and continue to heat.
Per serving: 1/3 cup small white beans, canned 1/4 cup chopped green onionPlate with scallions on top and the beans on the side.

Flowering Moon

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 First Nations People of North America had names for all of the full moons. Beautiful, descriptive names. The Ojibwe tribe called the moon in May the “Flowering Moon.” The ancient Romans had a goddess of flowers named Flora. Her festival was in late April/early May. In the early USA, putting baskets of flowers on neighbors’ front doors was a custom on the first of May. In Japan, the famous Hanami [admiring blossoms] Festival is spread out from March to April, depending on blooming times. In Northern Japan, they are admiring cherry blossoms as late as May 1. How wonderful that such disparate cultures and locations in the same hemisphere all shared an appreciation of Springtime and its flowers! You can celebrate the early days of May by spending time in your garden or nearest public park. Enjoy the fresh air and the growing plants. Renew yourself outside, then renew your determination to change yourself inside by eating a healthier diet.

Our meals, this early May, will highlight one of the flowers that we commonly eat — asparagus! And it comes up in the Spring. Full of flavor, fiber, and nutrition, asparagus is a great addition to the Faster’s diet.

Asparagus Roll-ups:  107 calories 7 g fat 1.2 g fiber 8 g protein 2.6 g carbs [2.7 g Complex] 51.5 mg Calcium PB GF Pretty on the plate and a delight to eat.

1 two-oz egg 2 oz asparagus spears, tough lower stalks snapped off 1 Tbsp whipped cream cheese 1-2 tsp tarragon, chopped A few fresh berries: golden berries, blueberries, raspberries  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [87 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Break the tough lower part of the asparagus stalks, wash, and steam or cook in minimal water until tender. Drain, salt lightly, and set aside. HINT: You could do this the night before. Whisk the egg with the cream cheese and tarragon, along with a pinch of sea salt. Heat an 8”-9” skillet and spritz it with non-stick spray. Pour in the egg and tilt the pan so that the egg forms a thin, even layer over the bottom of the pan. Without stirring or moving the egg, cook until the egg is set and as your like them – this will not take long. Remove the egg to your plate, like a big pancake. Put the cooked asparagus in the pan and shake it a bit over heat to re-warm. Lay the spears on the eggs so that the blossom ends hang over the edge. Roll the egg so that the asparagus is inside and plate attractively. With your optional beverages, you are set for a Spring-time breakfast treat.

Beef & Asparagus Stir-fry:  289 calories 8.4 g fat 5.2 g fiber 20.7 g protein 35.7 g carbs [12.6 g Complex] 69 mg Calcium  PB GF— if omitting the noodles   The flavors of beef, asparagus, and oyster sauce are a real WOW.

2 oz sirloin, raw, sliced thinly across grain 2 tsp oyster sauce 2 tsp soy sauce 2-3 tsp cornstarch ¼ c chicken stock 2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced 1 clove garlic, sliced hot pepper flakes to taste 5 oz asparagus, roll-cut in 2” pieces 3 oz red pepper, sliced into strips 1 oz onion, sliced   Optional: ½ oz Japanese buckwheat noodles, broken into 2” pieces

Prepare the meat as described. Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, stock, and cornstarch. Add the sliced meat and set aside. Boil the noodles for four minutes, drain [saving the cooking water], rinse, and put aside. Cut the vegetables as described and put in a bowl. In another dish, put the garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes [those are the ‘aromatics’]. Heat a wok or cast iron skillet until it is hot. Spray with oil or non-stick spray. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 3 minutes [if needed, add some noodle water to keep it cooking. Push the vegetables aside and add the aromatics. Count to 30. Add the beef with marinade. Stir-fry for 1 minute more or until the beef is mostly cooked and the sauce begins to thicken. If the sauce gets too thick, add some of the noodle water. then add the cooked noodles. Stir to combine and warm, then plate. 

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

1 two-oz egg + Cheddar cheeseoatmeal 
chili non carne strawberries
canned green chilis [Hatch brand]blueberries
melon
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

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

chicken breast + bell peppers smoked salmon + cucumber
canned green chilis + red onion + garlictomato + red onion + romaine lettuce
canned white beans + scallionsourdough rye + olive oil + honey
cumin + chili powder + oregano + salsa verdehard-boiled egg + lemon juice + dill
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Gascony

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. Welcome to Clary Rouge who is now Following.

Gascony” is one of the regions of old France, often called by other names, and now broken up into several small departments. It is bounded on the West by the Atlantic Ocean and on the South by the Pyrenees Mountains. To the North, it is bordered by the Garonne River and on the East by the region of Languedoc. The Romans called it Aquatania, after the native tribe. The locals at the Eastern end called it Occitain, which is based on the ancient local word for ‘Yes’ which was ‘Oc’ instead of the current ‘Oui.’ The Duchy of Aquaitaine passed into English control in 1152 when Eleanor of Aquitaine married the English King Henry II — a simple act that set the stage for the Hundred Years War. Gascony is known for three famous ‘products’: its iconic and delicious food; the fictional/actual Musketeer d’Artagnan; and French King Henri IV.

If the world were a healthier place right now, Dear Husband and I would be in Gascony. It is our idea of a vacation spot: bucolic, ‘undiscovered’, full of good food, and planted in vineyards. We have never been there, but maybe next year…. In the meantime, we will prepare Gascon foods at home.

Garbure Bake: 134 calories 6.3 g fat 1.7 g fiber 9.5 g protein 7.7 g carbs [7.5 g Complex] 53 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages.  PB GF  ‘Garbure’ is a favorite casserole of Southwestern France. Now you can enjoy its flavors at breakfast.

1 two-ounce egg ½ oz cabbage, thinly-sliced ½ oz leeks, thinly-sliced ¼ oz small white beans [All I had were garbanzoes, so I sliced them in half] 1/3 oz pork, shredded or thinly-sliced ½ tsp duck fat or bacon fat 1-3/4 oz strawberries/blueberries   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]

Prepare the cabbage and leek, and put in one bowl. In another, put the beans and pork. Heat a saute pan and add the fat with a few Tablespoons of water. Saute the cabbage/leek until they are limp, adding more water if needed. Then stir in the pork and beans and cook until warm.Season with salt and pepper. Put the cooked mixture into a baking dish which has been spritzed with non-stick spray. Whisk the egg with salt and pepper to taste and pour into the dish. Bake at 350 F for 15+ minutes. Portion the fruit and plate the bake. Welcome to a taste of Gascony.

Chickpea Ragout with fish:  ragout = 121 calories  2.8 g fat 5.3 g fiber 5.8 g protein 20 g carbs 26 mg Calcium  PLUS calories from the fish you choose GF PB  Prepare the simple ragout, add the fish of your choice.  This is from Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. Although he doesn’t mean our kind of ‘Fast Food,’ Pepin has long been a proponent of healthy cooking. He presents this as a side dish, but for our purposes it is best prepared as a main course with seafood for more protein.

½ cup Chickpea Ragout [see Saucy, Dec 6, 2018] 1 oz fresh spinach leaves your choice of fish:   4 oz swordfish  139 calories   4 oz cod  92 calories   4 oz salmon  160 calories   4 oz halibut  124 calories   4 oz smelts 110 calories 2 oz shad  140 calories

Put the Chickpea Ragout in a small pan with a few tablespoons of water. Place the fish on top. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked. At the last minute, add some fresh spinach leaves and continue to cook until they wilt. All done. All delicious.

Ramadan

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 religions incorporate fasting into their customs. The Islamic faith elevates it to a different status during their observance of Ramadan. During the month-long event, fasting is strictly observed from sun-rise to sun-set. NO eating. NO drinking. The fast is in recognition of the month during which the holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century. When one is fasting, one has time to contemplate the word of God and to re-evaluate one’s life in that context. After sundown, dinner is served. Is it possible to do a 5:2 type of Fasting during Ramadan? Sure, why not? As long as you eat your Fast breakfast before sun-up and you wait until after the sun goes down to enjoy your Fast dinner. If you are Muslim, I wish you “Ramadan Mubarak.”  If you are not Muslim [neither am I], read some of the Qur’an or Ask a Muslim a question, whether at the online site or with a colleague from work.

If you decide to Fast while fasting, here are some menus to try. The Leventine eggs are made with flavors found in the countries where Islam first took hold. The dinner is a popular meal in that area, too.

Levantine ScrOmelette: 142 calories 8 g fat 1 g fiber 10 g protein 5 g carbs [4.6 g Complex] 50.5 mg Calcium  PB GF  NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beverages.  “Levantine” refers to the Eastern Mediterranean, where “the sun rises.”  These fine ingredients yield a flavorful result. The sun rising in the East will smile on you.

1 ½ 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 Tbsp mediterranian vegetables, chopped [see Sidekicks II, 4-Oct-’17] 1.5 tsp hummus 1 black olive, minced 1 oz strawberries    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 the eggs, then stir in the hummus and vegetables. Pour into a saute pan which has been spritzed with non-stick spray and scramble to your taste or prepare as an omelette. Pour the optional beverages and plate with the berries.

Red & Green Shakshuka: 220 calories 10.6 g fat 5.3 g fiber 11.6 g protein 16.7 g carbs [15 g Complex] 207 mg Calcium   PB GF  There is Red Shakshuka and there is Green. And here we have the combination.

½ tsp oil ¼ c onion, chopped 3 Tbsp chopped celery 1 clove garlic, chopped 1/3 cup red or green sweet pepper, chopped 1.5 cups fresh spinach ½ cup mashed whole tomatoes 1/3 cup eggplant cubes cumin + paprika + oregano 1 egg 1.5 Tbsp Feta Cheese

Use a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet that has an oven-safe lid. Set the oven at 375 F. Cook the onion and celery in the oil until a bit softened. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the sweet pepper, tomato, and eggplant, along with the seasonings. Cook until tender. Put the spinach in the bubbling vegetables and stir/toss them until the leaves are softened but not limp. Make a slight indentation in the vegetables and crack an egg into it. Sprinkle with the Feta. Cover the skillet and bake it for 5 minutes. Check to see if egg is done to your liking. If not, recover and cook another minute or two. Serve in the skillet.  NB: You could cook two eggs on top for one person if you wanted to boost the protein. 290 calories / 15 g fat / 5.3 g fiber / 18 g protein / 17 g carbs / 235 mg Calcium

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

1 two-oz egg1.5 two-oz eggs 
cabbage + white beanscorned beef
duck fat + leeks + porkcabbage + apple
garlic powder + cayenne cottage cheese + thyme
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

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

4 oz fish 2 crepes/galettes [Sidekicks I, Sept. ’17]
chickpea ragout chicken breast + mozzarella
Mediterranean Vegetables [Sidekicks II, ’17]
chèvre + herbes de Province
Sparkling waterSparkling water