Category Archives: UGH Healthy Eating
Recipe: One-pan roasted veg (per “The Plan”)
As I may have mentioned, I’m not one for complex, time-consuming, fiddly cooking. In fact, if I had my way, I’d never make another meal again. The bank balance being what it is, however, neither permanent-guest status nor live-in domestic help appear to be in my future, and as such the evening meal must be slapped on the table one way or another. Night after night after night.
Regular readers will recall that my dieting struggles are legendary, even in Hell, as they say. So what I try to do is leverage my aversion to all tasks culinary as a useful weight-loss strategy. Most days, Mr. Slattern arrives home to an exciting supper of grilled fish or chicken accompanied by a large salad, which, through the miracle of ready-washed greens, is as easy to prepare as it is to clean up. Fine. Of course when followed by half a cherry chocolate cheesecake and washed down with a bottle or two of white wine, even the most blameless of meals tends to lose its slimming properties. Still, labor has been saved and vegetables consumed, which counts for something.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, healthy meals, easy to fix. So the salad meal is great for summer; however, often, as the warm weather wanes, the body yearns for more substantial fare, and a cooked veg can be just the thing. Now I hate screwing around with vegetable prep, I won’t lie. The washing, peeling and chopping wreak havoc with my manicure, and you really do have to be careful when working with knives, which puts an unwelcome damper on the mid-afternoon cocktail hour. I have, however, partially solved this little dilemma by buying butternut squash and broccoli already cut up. These I mix with a chopped onion, a red pepper and some garlic (all of which have to be prepped, but really it’s not that bad). Just drizzle the whole mess with olive oil, salt and pepper and a couple of pinches of dried oregano, fresh basil or herbes de Provence, pop the pan in a 400 degree oven for half an hour or so, et voila, Lyn Genet’s Italian vegetables as detailed in The Plan, the latest diet I have failed to follow, but which I am certain would have wondrously transformed both my life and my figure had I but been able to choke down flaxseed granola rather than Boston cream donuts at breakfast for more than a week.
So anywho, what I do is make enough of this stuff for about forty people and just reheat it in the ‘wave all week or throw it into rice or pasta. If you have higher culinary standards than me — and really, except for Sandra Lee, who doesn’t? — this may not work for you; however, for the sufficiently slatternly this system can really take the sting out of being a hausfrau and put the zing back into sundown…speaking of which, I believe the portable bar is calling my name.
Day 1: In which one desperate, overweight, middle-aged urbanite attempts to make and consume flax seed granola. Welcome to “The Plan.”
Regular visitors to my little literary lock-down unit will know that when it comes to dieting and weight loss, my “suffering is legendary even in Hell,” as the infamous Pinhead so aptly put it.
In recent months, my quest to reduce has become something of a forced-march, and my struggles to rein in my intake are now the stuff of legend. OK, maybe not Legend in the biblical or Arthurian sense, but I think it’s fair to say that this challenge looms large on my personal horizon. And by that I mean, it has begun to consume my every waking hour, haunt my dreams and even impinge on that most sacred of rituals, cocktail hour.
I have consulted with (and subsequently eighty-sixed) Dr. Feelbad, diet doctor to the stars, on the basis of his poor bedside manner, his obvious supplement scam and complete lack of interest in important details like stress levels, sleep patterns and whether I’m going to have a nervous breakdown in the next ten minutes. These, you see, have an enormous impact on weight, as any reputable doctor/nutritionist worth his
salt Maine Coast Organic Kelp Granules (salt is fast becoming a war crime in my house) will attest.
Now, having tried the many small meals approach and failed in a spectacular fashion, I was becoming rather desperate. Always ravenous, constantly panic stricken from hunger and never within reach of an approved high-protein, low-carb, non-pizza food, I was haunted by the desire for a cookie, piece of fudge or entire cheesecake, pretty much night and day. When I say I was powerless in the face of these cravings, you can believe it. Picture an aggressively peckish Honey Boo Boo gazing upon a truckload of pork rinds or Bill Clinton peering through the window of a jello-wrestling marathon, and you get the idea.
Sure I was down ten pounds, but that happened two months ago. I had, as we in the diet-as-second-career business say, plateaued. The problem: twenty more to go, no idea how to get up the mountain and not a crampon in sight.
Enter “The Lyn-Genet Plan.”
So yesterday I flicked on the tube and caught a few minutes of an interview with the oddly-monickered Lyn-Genet Recitas. She claims that the key to successful weight loss and abundant good health is not calorie counting or the banishment of wine, chocolate and cheese; rather it’s the elimination of specific foods that we cannot tolerate. So I was in — all over IT.
Straightaway I bought the book and headed out to provision. Unfortunately, all of New York City is apparently in with me, so finding the necessary food items was more like a scavenger hunt with the cast of Survivor than a zen-like shopping trip as prelude to radiant good health. The required dandelion tea was scarcer than hen’s teeth, while the mandatory flax seed granola was nowhere to be found. As such I have been forced to concoct my own flax seed granola from the vague recipe in the book. In fact, all of the recipes are quite vague. Luckily I do have a certain skill in the kitchen, and was able to create a semi-palatable iteration to keep body and soul together until the store-bought version arrives in the mail. And I will share; I’m a giver.
- To 1/2 cup of water, add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
- Add 1 cup of whole flax seeds to the water and spices and mix it up.
- Refrigerate the mixture COVERED overnight.
- The next morning scoop it out and spread it in a baking dish (metal, not pyrex) or cookie sheet. Not too thick, just enough to cover the surface with no gaps. As pictured:
- Use a spoon to press it down (this is important because it holds together better when you do) and bake it at 300 degrees for 45-55 minutes or so. About half way through, you may need to flip it over so that it crisps up. Just break it into big hunks.
- You can add dried fruits and nuts when you’re ready to eat it.
Is it delicious? No, but it’s BULKY, and if you cover it in blueberries and coconut milk, it’s not half bad.
Now, since the three-day cleanse portion of The Plan includes the dreaded kale, I’ll need a strong stomach, but I am resolved to go forward, and will let you know how it all shakes out.
What is all the fuss about?
May I speak frankly? Thank you.
I hate kale. I mean I really, really loathe it. Even more than okra, even more than radishes.
It’s not for lack of trying it either. I have nibbled the ubiquitous superfood in salads, baked it into chips, steamed, buttered, braised and sautéed it. I’ve even tried tarting it up with spicy mango salsa, and the verdict is in, children. Kale is nasty. It tastes exactly the way I imagine soylent green would, and it smells like the inside of a teenage boy’s sneaker as it cooks, after which time the aroma of putrid cabbage lingers in the house for approximately five years. The odor has a half-life, people!
Kale stalks are tough and fiberous, the taste makes you wretch, and it returns on you, if you take my meaning. The last time I gagged some down, the flavor lingered in my mouth even after three toothbrushings, a careful flossing and Listerine rinse, and half a dozen tequila shooters with lime and salt. That is some awe-inspiring staying power.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know, it’s got every freakin’ vitamin and nutrient in the world and probably a bunch that haven’t even been discovered yet. There’s folic acid and protein in the leaves, it regulates your digestion, conquers cancer and prevents every disease known to man, as well as — again — some horrible afflictions no one has even come down with, let alone found a cure for, as yet. It’s downright miraculous.
Which is why, I suppose, it is currently turning up on every goddamned plate in every overpriced, artisanal restaurant in New York City, more often than not accompanied by pork belly, lardons, thick cut bacon or some other equally fatty, heavily smoked, thoroughly undigestible subcutaneous pork product. By the time the dynamic duo of leaves like wire brushes and jagged nuggets of semi-masticated pork scratchings has blazed a trail through your digestive tract, you will be keenly aware of having eaten something, let me assure you. And don’t even get me started on what it takes to extract the remnants of same from between your crowns. A little after dinner fracking, anyone?
So I’m drawing a line in the sand — think of me as the Gaddafi of roughage. There will be no more kale in the Slattern’s culinary realm. I will not buy it in the pathetic hope that I will find an appetizing and savory way to cook it. If it appears as a side dish for a $25 entrée, I will insist on extra cauliflower gratin instead. And if someone offers me a green smoothie saying, “You’ll never guess what’s in this!” they’d best be prepared to wear it.
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Think you’ve got the stomach for even more semi-coherent ranting? I’m not so sure, but if you’re game, why not check out these other posts? Welcome to the monkey house, folks.
In the event this is all too much, may I suggest you take a gander at some of the blogs listed right over there in the sidebar? All are excellent and bear the Slattern’s seal of approval.
As I have often chronicled in this strange little experiment in self expression, I have what we might call a fondness for sugary treats. I like to bake ’em, I like to buy ’em, but mostly I like to eat ’em. Ever a fan of the eggy/creamy dessert, I have lately become laser focused on the vanilla/salty caramel flavor combination. It haunts my dreams and consumes my waking hours, and as the taste sensation of the minute, it’s everywhere. Mostly I find it in horrifically overpriced, “artisanal” ice cream, but it also pops up on nearly every restaurant menu in New York City. One day soon I fully expect to happen upon a box of Salti-Mellow Mini Wheats or a Seaside Toffee Streusel Swirl cake mix in the low-budget “traditional groceries” aisle at Fairway.
In any case, I cannot get enough of the salty sweet combination, and my copious consumption has finally caught up with me. According to Dr. Feelbad (the rather unpleasant “rehabilitative nutritionist” I have consulted to find a solution to this craving madness and get me safely back to single digit sizes), it will take a truckload of expensive dietary supplements, a concerted campaign of all-around abstemiousness and frequent lengthy gym visits to undo what Jeni and her Splendid Ice Cream hath wrought. As a result, I am bidding a wistful sayonara to all things sweet, in a last ditch effort to shake the sugar monkey off my rapidly expanding back.
Now, I’ll bet you’re wondering how I came to this crisis point, and even if you’re not, I’ll tell you. About a week ago, I woke up feeling a bit off, with a nasty burning pain in my chest and shooting pains down my left arm and shoulder blade. This, I felt, was not good, so I consulted several authoritative health websites — whatsmattawithyou.com, itsprobablycancer.org, and the always helpful go_to_the_ER_right_now_or_die.net — and all suggested a trip to the Emergency Room was in order. So Mr. Slattern flagged a cab and checked me in, only to endure 36 hours of excruciating boredom broken only by occasional requests for blood and rounds of tests requiring sticky electrodes, the adhesive for which I am still trying to get off my torso.
To make matters worse, Nurse Ratched insisted I change into a hospital gown upon arrival and frequently made me walk around in it outside the relative privacy of my little ER home-away-from-home. My visit culminated with a trip down to the radiation bunker where I was injected with some kind of nuclear byproduct and told to walk on a treadmill until I was “tired.” This workout was to be conducted in said hospital johnny and hospital socks, since the stylish platform wedges I had worn to the hospital that morning were deemed unsuitable.
Preparatory to shooting me up and harnessing me to the wheel of pain, the duo of crazy Russians running the joint asked about a million questions, all of which I had already answered a hundred times, except possibly what size brassiere I wore, which in retrospect I believe had more to do with an office pool than my health. The icing on the cake, however, was the moment Igor told me that I could put said brassiere back on if I wanted to as it would not interfere with the tests. Of course I was wearing one, which really took the wind out of the sails of the good ship Self Esteem.
Long story short, by about 6 pm it was apparent to even the meanest intelligence, namely mine, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that I should be released immediately. Nurse Ratched, however, had other ideas and suggested that I stay over, helpfully pointing out that I was free to leave at any time “against medical advice,” which would clearly get my insurance company off the hook for the charges and me on it. So I stayed.
I was eventually escorted to some lovely semiprivate accommodations with a magnificent view of the air shaft and a 95 year old roommate who was most certainly not there for a spa day. There was no drink service; at no point did anyone offer me a meal; and the shower backed up as soon as I turned it on, forcing me to take a whore’s bath in the middle of the bathroom to avoid standing in the ebola puddle that was collecting in the shower stall. All through the night and into the next morning, the staff attempted to give me a variety of needless shots and pills, but no food, which was probably for the best. If the radiation and bacteria didn’t kill me, the cuisine probably would.
Eventually I got out, but here’s the thing. If I had been in there with a real problem that required them to cut me open, mess around with my organs, transfuse blood and sew me back up, they would not have been able to get me out of there fast enough. But having shown up with a fleeting case of indigestion, I was their bitch for a day and a half, despite frequent requests to leave. And so, it is a sincere desire to stay out of the hospital that has led me to embark upon the path of healthful righteousness, via the offices of Dr. Feelbad, MD.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Quasimodo by Antoine Wiertz via wikimedia commons.
Ice cream courtesy Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Nurse Ratched courtesy goofybeast.com
Smiling fool courtesy healthit2015.com
Diet disaster: The Greek Gods torpedo my weight loss goals
Have you tried this stuff? If not, I’d suggest you avoid Greek Gods honey flavor yogurt — and all of them really — at all costs, unless of course you’re trying to put on a few pounds, in which case this is just the ticket. For those of you looking to take off some weight or maintain your enviably svelte form, be warned: Greek Gods honey yogurt is like heroin combined with a big jolt of endorphins, sugar, cream and fat. In short, heaven in a bowl. Rich, creamy and flavorful without being overly sweet, it’s as addictive as crack, and eating it is (I imagine) as pleasurable as a hot stone massage administered by that guy who played Thor. And no, I have no idea what his name is, and I don’t care that I’m mixing mythologies. Thunderbolts, chariots, hell hammers, Greek, Roman, Norse — it’s all the same to me.
Back to the yogurt. This stuff gives new meaning to the term “happy ending.” One spoonful and you, too, will be hooked — and sooner than later could find yourself next to me in the industrial lingerie department at Lord & Taylor frantically searching for lace panties that don’t creep and of necessity, full-body, super-torque Spanxx that provide at least fifty pounds of compression per square inch.
Gentlemen, you are not exempt from this scourge. Once you start mainlining this stuff, you might as well just give up on that goal of six pack abs or the dream of one day pulling your golf slacks up and over that front end beer keg you’re pushing around. It’ll never happen.
And folks, don’t even think about writing in to tell me how tasty and satisfying fat-free, carcinogen-sweetened yogurt really REALLY is. If that were the case, we’d all look like the offspring of the-actor-who-plays-Thor and Padma Lakshmi, who everyone know chews her food, but never swallows it.
So even though I know that sharing this information will probably land me on the Weight Watchers most wanted list and will most certainly smash the bikini dreams of countless numbers of my fellow struggling dieters, I’m feeling like the pleasure and taste benefits outweigh (if you’ll pardon the cheap pun) the costs.
Here are some ways to enjoy your Greek Gods yogurt. May God and Jennifer Hudson forgive me.
Garnish for vegetable frittata
Parsley yogurt sauce for vegetarian couscous