Healthier in 2011: Part 3 – Inspired by Recipes

This New Year, I will be cooking more. (Notice I did not say “I plan to” or “I would like to.” It’s best to be committed to making it happen). I used to cook so much more in the past, but my current commuting habits have made it difficult. Soon, I will be changing practice locations and saving a couple hours of driving time a day, and I have full intention on getting back to being in control of what is on my plate, at least most of the time. I found some inspiration in the January issue of Bon Appétit magazine.

In it, cookbook author Mark Bittman writes about changing his diet.

At a point in his life, Bittman was faced with the facts of his poor health and had to make a decision about how to turn it around – similar to many of the patients I see day after day. The best line in his article is “I didn’t want to eat like an Okinawan for the rest of my life.” [Okinawans are known for their longevity, which is attributed partly to their low-calorie, low-fat, mostly plant based diet].  I suspect that a lot of people cringe when a doctor recommends a healthier diet, envisioning rice cakes and salad after salad and other boring foods.  Bittman created a set of smart and simple rules for himself, with a specific motto: “Think plants first.” I alluded to this in my previous post ( ) .  He practices this by being  “vegan until six” or “less meatarian.”  While the mere idea of veganism is daunting to many, his 5 rules should not:

  1. “Go (mostly) vegan.” I personally would modify this for myself by trying to eat mostly vegetarian. (I do like skim milk in my cereal).
  2. “Minimize the meat.” Eat smaller portions of it than you typically do.
  3. “Weigh it out.” When you see your weight creeping up, be a little more strict with the diet. That being said….
  4. “Cut yourself some slack.” Do not berate yourself for slipping up in a day or a meal. Most importantly, don’t give up on your new pattern of eating. It is easy to give in to old habits when you are frustrated with yourself. Just try your best the next day.
  5. “Make it your own.” Bittman’s rules can be used as a guideline for your own smart simple approach.

As far as Bittman’s recipes, I am looking forward to trying the Multi-Grain Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Kasseri (a type of cheese). It has 9.5 grams of fiber per serving! Also deliciously photographed is the Pear-Cranberry Turnover. It has 309 calories per serving, which is about 80 calories more than a particular ice cream in my freezer, but so much More nutritious.

Also in the magazine was a response by restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton to a question posed by a reader asking, basically, how he doesn’t get fat. (I am paraphrasing). Imagine having dish after dish of finest and richest foods served to you day and night. This is a recipe (ahem) for obesity. What was his secret? He says, “It took several years of dining out to realize that I did not have to clean my plate, no matter what my momma told me. I can still do my job without finishing the drumstick and breast in my fried chicken basket.”

Words to live by.