Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Fling With The 400 Calorie Fix

So here we be with that dreaded post-holiday malaise...feeling bloated and slow and ready for some healthy changes. I admittedly chafe at the onslaught of diet tomes that take center stage at the store this time of year; so many of them promising some new miracle formula for losing weight. It's a recurring cycle that seems on endless repeat: overindulgence followed by regained determination to make healthy changes. I may chafe, but it doesn't change the ugly truth. I need to make some changes and truly, what better time than the beginning of a new year?

Of course, writing a food-related blog presents its own challenges when working to be healthier, as there is so much I dig sampling. That said, the blog has also been a terrific tool for me concerning my relationship with food. When I first starting writing The Confounded Cook in 2009, I mentioned some personal goals; among them quitting smoking and eating healthier. Gratefully, I have been smoke-free for nearly eight months and while I've certainly always loved food, the blog has helped me gain a whole new respect for it. I have been able to largely break a lifelong affair with fast food and pre-packaged edibles. Not that I've made some great declaration to ban either fast food or packaged food, nor will I. I have, however, in my journey to become a better cook, truly learned the value and importance of real food, something my family knew in spades. It has helped me change my eating habits in greatly positive ways over the past few years. What I need to do now is proceed with greater care as I age. Paula Deen announced that she has Type 2 diabetes today and that has stirred up a s^!tstorm in the media. I am the son of two parents with diabetes and I monitor my blood sugar regularly because I am all too aware of those genetic consequences. The diagnosis of diabetes was a shock to my Mom but she turned it into an amazing journey to health; one that ended with her losing 40 pounds, keeping it off and working out in the gym. She took Dad and I on this active trip with her and we were all the better for it. What a kick it was to see my 70-something year old Mom sporting weight-lifting gloves at the gym. Its time for me to get healthier again, for sure.

So, what of the new dietary tomes did we break down and buy this year? Its called the 400 Calorie Fix by Liz Vaccariello of The Flat Belly Diet, Mindy Hermann and the editors of Prevention magazine. The Prevention connection is what sold it to me...I first starting reading that mag when my folks had a subscription and I still peruse it today. Keith was sold after checking out some of the delicious-sounding recipes. So, buy it we did and this past Sunday, we busted out two of the recipes we were most intrigued by: Thai-Inspired Lettuce Wraps and Amy's Minestrone Soup.

The minestrone soup was filling and tasty and made for excellent leftovers. We are big fans of PF Chang's lettuce wraps and were psyched to make our own. In the end, they were good but truthfully lacked a little something in the zing department. This was nothing a little extra soy, lime and spice couldn't fix. These two dishes were packed with nutrients, very filling and fed us for a few days. These factors and of course the flavor were the important criteria of the dishes for us. The recipe for the wrap also included some ingredients we didn't typically carry in the pantry such as rice wine and bean sprouts and that is something I'm going to be way more conscientious of this year (Keith is still reminding me of the plethora of somewhat exotic ingredients we have leftover following last year's Cookbook Challenge....yikes).

So, there's my long-winded take on the beginning of our healthier outlook...thanks for indulging me. This weekend's Condo Camping outing may undo all of our good moves with some indulgences of its own, but more on that later...You can find the recipe for Amy's Minestrone Soup here.

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