Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dinner for One: Surprise Mashed Potatoes

I may be jumping the gun here, but with the holidays fast approaching, I thought I would get a head start on my New Year's resolution of losing that stubborn 10 pounds I seem to have put on by all this good food and wine I have been indulging in this past year. Between checking out all these new places I blog about, and experimenting with new recipes, the weight has been slowly creeping up! So I set to the task of the "Back to Basics" approach and consulted my go-to diets of the past.

First up is the book, Eat Right for your Blood Type by Peter J. D'Adamo. I won't bore you with all the statistics and science that this approach takes, but I will say that as a Type O, I am supposed to be on a very high protien, low-to-no-carb way of life! As hard as that sounds, I did do it 10 years ago with great success and a 15 pound weight loss! But as the temptations always seem to get the best of me (and you guys know this story all to well for yourselves), the carb craving are hard if not impossible to ignore.

Somewhere around 2003-2004, I got my hands on the craze of the moment which then was the South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, M.D. . All my friends were doing it, so why not try it? I lasted about 2 weeks, and fell right off it again. It's basically like the blood type diet, high protein low carb, but I just couldn't get into the fact that they pushed a lot of "sugar-free" crap on it. I mean, if real sugar is so bad, then the fake stuff must be worse right? At least that is what I think, and so I would rather just give up real sugar and not worry about substituting the fake stuff (which many studies have shown are just as bad- i.e., Sweet-n-low, Splenda etc). So the thought of going back to "South Beach" just didn't appeal to me.

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I happened upon their book section and there on the shelf was my answer. This book practically jumped off the shelf at me: The Stubborn Fat Fix by Keith Berkowitz MD and Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD. This book just came out this year and was co-written by the Berkowitz's, a husband-wife team that have a practice in NYC, the Center for Balanced Health. Anything with the word "balanced" in it is all right in my book. That word has become my mantra over this past year of my life.

They take a "metabolic" approach to weight loss by really honing in on blood sugar levels and how carbs spike these (and with diabetes in my family history this really spoke volumes to me). Most of us live on a roller coaster of highs and lows with our blood sugar levels- which explains that mid-afternoon need for caffeine and/or sugar to make it til the next meal! They also do something that none of these other diets have done and that is they really push you to rest! Yes, if that's possible they are big fanatics on making sure your body gets the sleep and rest that it needs. This all ties to the adrenals and other things like hormone levels etc.. I know it's nothing new for a doctor to say "get some rest" .....but, I always have ignored that! After all, someone has to work and worry right??

Anyway, they come from the Atkins world ( I never did try that diet). Actually, he was the medical director for the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine. Their approach is kind of a combination of my previously mentioned diets: they all have the common thread of low or no carbs for everyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off. It's a life long plan. But the big difference is that on the Stubborn Fat Fix, they go in depth on good fiber, high fiber, and have a very detailed chart of what foods are high on the list, making it a no brainer to what choices you should go for in making your carbs count.

For example, did you know that dark chocolate packs a huge fiber ratio? (that's when you divide the grams of fiber in a food by the grams of carbs and multiply by 100-they call it a "fiber score"). So when choosing a dark chocolate, (which you are allowed to have on this plan, not a whole bar of course, but a 2 square serving) look for at least a 70% cacao content. They recommend the brand Vivani 85% cacao, but I have yet to find this at any of the stores here.

But I digress! You may be asking, "but what about the potatoes you mentioned earlier?? Aren't those carbs and on the do not eat list??".

Well, I am glad you are paying attention! Yes they are not good if you want to lose weight, but what I found that tastes even better, believe it or not, is a recipe for cauliflower puree, that I swear, satisfies that comfort food feeling that a bowl of mashed potatoes is so famous for.

I made this recipe for "Surprise South Beach Mashed Potatoes" which actually came from the South Beach Diet book but I did not use the "I can't believe it's Not Butter" spray (yuck) or the half and half. So here is my version:

4 cups cauliflower florets, steamed
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced

olive oil

cayenne pepper, to taste

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Steam the cauliflower until tender but not mushy. Meanwhile, saute the shallots and garlic in a little olive oil until golden brown (do not burn the garlic). Transfer the cauliflower and shallot-garlic mixture to a food processor, add cayenne pepper and either a little water, cream, or broth and pulse until you get a nice puree. Add butter if desired for extra flavor. This makes enough to serve 2.

I was never a big fan of cauliflower until I tried roasting it, but now I have a new favorite! I served it with some sauteed shrimp and oven roasted tomatoes (I made the tomatoes the night before) and finally after all this dinner for one:

According to the Stubborn Fat Fix, 1 cup of raw cauliflower packs 2 grams of fiber,with a fiber score of 47! That's decent! By the way, that Vivani 85% dark chocolate? That's got 5.3 grams of fiber in a 2.5 oz serving, and a fiber score of 90! I really gotta find that chocolate!!

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