06 August 2011

Don't be afraid to experiment

My dieting quest really kicked into gear when I talked to a holistic doctor/accupuncturist who suggested the anti-inflammatory diet to discover if food was causing some of my abdominal pain, allergies, and/or headaches.

I discovered that my cuprits were:
  • meat (severe PAIN worse than AF cramps when I have even a 3-4oz serving)
  • wheat (heavy congestion, hay-fever like itchy/sneezy symptoms, and headaches)
  • and dairy products add to the congestion.
I have backed off of meat and dairy and I try my best to cut wheat out of my diet at least 6 days a week.

It was easy enough to cook something with meat/dary and have a serving and just leave my serving of meat in the pot. The broth/stock doesn't bother me. More meat for DH? Yeah, he didn;t complain much!! And when I did make something strictly vegetarian or vegan I just cooked a servoing of seasoned chicken breast on teh side for him.

But it was hard to learn to cook wheat free. I bake a lot, and I had to learn how to thicken (and color) my sauces and gravies without using flour (and roux). I had to experiment  A LOT!

I spent a lot of time in the library and online googling gluten free flours. I check out every GF cookbook my library had.. TWICE! I fiddled around with recipes till I found a flour mix I like and I used it to create other recipes.

Cooking is rarely a science, and when it is it is baking, so converting to GF has been fun.. a challenge for sure, but fun.

As with GF dishes, don't be afraid to experiment with your favorite foods while dieting! If your favorite dinner is obviously high fat & calorie laden, EXPERIMENT!! Change it up to be healthier!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Anything with heavy cream soups can be recreated at home with corn starch and low-fat milk instead, or you might be able to find a lower fat version in the store. 
  2. Pasta and rice dishes can be made a little healthier just by switching to a while grain variety. (When planning remember these take a little longer to cook!)
  3. Whole chicken pieces can be made healthier by simply stripping off the skin and trimming off the fat.
  4. Switch to boneless, skinless chicken breasts and avoid dark meat for a small calorie/fat decrease.
  5. Trim fat off of red meats & pork.
  6. Switch to low fat ground beef for your recipes, or even low fat ground turkey!
  7. Use healthy "fillers". Instead of using the mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta to fill up, add and extra cup of veggies or beans to your recipe then cut back your starch portion by 1/4 to 1/2 cup. You won't miss it and your grocery bill won't go up THAT much.
  8. A baked potato with 1/2 broccoli florets and a sprnkle of low-fat cheese is healthier than filling it with butter and sour cream... and even better (health and taste wise) than eating a sandwich and chips!
  9. Try low-sodium or sodium-free seasonings to add flavor without adding water weight gain! Mrs. Dash and Weber are a few brands that offer many possibilities.
  10. MAKE YOUR OWN!! Making your own broths is healthier than buying one in the store. You can control ingredients, seasonings, and salt. Put a decent sized freezer bag in the freezer and every time you peel carrots, cut the stems off broccoli, the ends off onions... wilted carrots, spinach, or kale that are still ok to eat but don't look pretty in your soup. (No potatoes - keep the starch down) put them in the bag and freeze them. When it's full put them in a stock pot with 1.5-2 gallons of water (and salt-free seasoning to taste if you want - I do mine plain) and bring to a boil. Turn it down low and simmer for 3-4 hours then strain the veggies out and store in freezable containers (peanut butter jars work great!) Freeze until used.
I'll add more when I think of it, but I hope that is enough to get you started!

Until later! Anne Marie


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