Category Archives: UGH Healthy Eating
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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.
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
Carbohydrate deprivation at the ragged edge of sanity.
It’s been two weeks since a barbecued potato chip, a buttery baked potato or half a chocolate cherry cheesecake found its way to my plate. Beer is but a distant memory, and wine is scarcer than, well, bread and potatoes. The numbers on the scale are slowly falling, my jeans are showing signs they might one day loosen their vise-like grip on my southern hemisphere, and my ass no longer hits the sofa a full minute before the rest of me — it’s probably more like 30 seconds, though it’s hard to remember to count when you’re collapsing from hunger and exhaustion. Nonetheless, visions of filmy summer frocks and strappy tank tops skitter merrily before the mind’s eye, and I have even entertained the occasional mad thought of frolicking sarong-less on the beach come August. Yes indeed, I am on my way to becoming a diet success story.
Provided I don’t kill someone first.
Anybody really, but I would have to say that the person with a large chocolate eclair in hand is in far greater danger than say, somebody sipping a blameless cup of nasty green tea. I don’t even want to think about what I might do for a Singapore Sling at this point. Consider yourselves warned.
Life on the straight and narrow, I am finding, has all the charm of hard time at Betty Ford with catering by Gwyneth Paltrow. Now I know why she always has that pinched look — she’s hungry every goddamned minute of every god forsaken day. By all appearances the only things Gwynnie’s filling that gob with are mung beans, lettuce shards and air. This is not a meal plan that brings out the best in anyone, I can assure you. It certainly does, however, bring out the thoracic skeletal structure. I, unfortunately, run no such risk.
Now I have lost and regained enough weight to insulate the skeletons of at least four or five brand new, well-fed adults in my lifetime. The dieting process is nothing new, but let me tell you it does not get easier with age. Still, if like me, you embark upon a dietary clean-up with optimistic goals of achieving glowing health, physical perfection and emotional equilibrium by embracing a healthier regime, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. Better, in my view, to accept that replacing the foods you like with healthy, non-fattening items will be about as pleasurable as a mandatory NPR marathon. Sure it’s edifying and makes you feel all superior and plugged in at first, but after about three hours you know you’d rather be watching the Stooges while working your way through a two-pound bag of Oreos, a bag of Doritos and a case of Coronas.
So in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to disabuse you of a few of the myths surrounding weight loss.
1. Salad is filling.
It is not. Not even a little. You could spend three days at an all you can eat salad bar and you’d still be jonesing for a breadstick. Sure you can eat all the greens you like, but who the hell wants to eat a plate of greens instead of a burger and fries?
2. Salad is satisfying.
It’s about as satisfying as it is filling. Unless of course it’s covered in bleu cheese, croutons and hangar steak. THAT is a meal.
3. Diet/low fat treats are a good replacement for regular treats.
Probably the biggest load of bullshit since Bill Clinton straightened us out about Monica. In fact, to take the comparison one step further, eating one Skinny Cow is about as satisfying as giving an unreciprocated blow job. In my experience all one Skinny Cow leads to is another Skinny Cow, and pretty soon you’re sitting in front of the freezer, bloated and sick, with nondairy stains all over the front of your dress and an empty ice cream sandwich six pack clutched in your sticky hands.
4. After a week or so you’ll stop craving sugary treats/potato chips/cheese doodles/french fries.
Oh ferchrissakes, as my sainted Grandpa Harvey used to say, if that was the case we’d all be slender. You will never pass a bakery or a McDonald’s without feeling an adrenaline rush that is not unlike a great whacking jolt of ECT, or so I am told.
5. You can have a few drinks and still lose weight.
Really? Does anyone buy that? Here’s how it works, children. One glass of wine leads to another glass of wine (see above, Skinny Cows). Two glasses lead to three and so on, and eventually you’re lying on the living room floor with a pint of Phish Food and a serving spoon, wondering if it’s too late to order in a pepperoni pizza which would be delicious with that bottle of chianti you’ve been saving for company.
6. Whole grains taste better than refined ones.
Sure they do. If you like eating mealy cardboard. There’s a reason white rice and bread were historically reserved for the wealthy — they taste better. That Ezekial bread you’re chomping on requires toasting and at least half a cup of butter to be even remotely palatable, whereas a warm hunk of a crusty baguette delights the tastebuds all on its own, completely naked and utterly nude. Add a suspicion of salted butter and a dollop of cherry jam, and you have what I used to think of as breakfast.
7. Skim or low fat milk is acceptable in coffee.
I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.
So why do it? Why not just embrace your God given right to be ample? Well, it’s costly to buy new clothes every year and depressing to have to gaze at yourself in a changing room mirror for more than ten seconds. And looking like the Michelin man in a bikini is more upsetting than you might think. So when you’re waffling on your diet or feeling tempted by the pastry cart, try this:
Would you pass me a carrot stick please?
Meet my new best friend, the roasted almond. This has replaced my old best friend, Mr. Chocolate Croissant, as well as his often-present bestie, Mr. Eggs Benedict, at the breakfast table, and while I cannot say I don’t miss the dynamic duo, I am at least getting by with the replacement.
Having recently sent the bathroom scale into hyperdrive, I am, as you may recall, walking a straighter path dietically speaking. It’s either that or replace an entire, carefully-curated summer wardrobe with items from the tactfully-named “Women’s” department at Bloomingdales, a prospect so horrifying that giving cinnamon toast a pass pales in comparison.