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Musings On Calorie Restriction Cooking

John Liu
3 months ago
last modified: 3 months ago

SWMBO, DD, and I have all decided to Go On And Die. Oops, I meant to say Go On A Diet.

I've done this before. About a decade ago I went from an unfit 217 lb to a fit 186 lb. My goal was 175 lb but I couldn't get there, because the "fit" part involved adding muscle which is heavy.

Well, I'm starting my sixth decade now, and part of the fifth was spent in Covid times which seems to have been waistline and fitness-unfriendly for me. I realize all the cool kids moved to Colorado to work remotely while cross-country skiing and mountain biking 5 days a week; I just stayed home and ate.

So, time to do it again, Jack.

We are using the traditional method of calorie restriction, which is what worked for me before. Again, I realize the cool kids go keto, fast intermittently, convert to veganism, take Ozempic, etc; I'm boring.

What I like is that a calorie restricted diet is not boring, or doesn't have to be. If I'm going to eat only 200 grams of something, rather than half a pound, I'm motivated to take the time to make that 200 grams as tasty as it can be.

It helps that we've been largely housebound the last several days, due to the wind-snow-ice storm that froze up the Pacific Northwest, but neither lost electric power nor had our water pipes freeze, so we've had plenty of time to cook.

I'm starting this thread to share interesting, tasty, very low-calorie dishes we run across. Suggestions very much welcomed!

Comments (67)

  • party_music50
    3 months ago

    floral, I didn't say that sugar is a better nutritional choice than fat, any more than you just said that gravy is good for you. :)

  • floraluk2
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago
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  • Islay Corbel
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Foodonastump it's because it's simply not going to satisfy him for very long so he's going to look for something to fill the gap before the next meal. It isn't enough to feed a child properly LOL.

    Plus, avocados are full of fat. It might be healthy but when you're trying to lose weight, it's not a good choice and no-one but no-one needs those taco/chip things in their diet, -overweight or not. It's a perhaps weekend treat with a glass of wine but not part of a calorie controlled diet. If you fill up with lots of seasonal veggies and lean proteins then you feel full for longer. The plate should be like this https://images.app.goo.gl/mqMopeN2U8TmND6d7

    It's essential not to be hungry. I did weight watchers years ago. I lost 13KGS in 3 months but I was peckish all the time. I couldn't sustain it. Lunch today was tomato soup made with chicken stock, onion, tinned tomatoes, cooked until the onion was soft then blended. Followed by a big salad and fruit. Tonight is pizza - so it's home-made pizza dough with light toppings. A little mozz is acceptable. Breakfast, a greek yog and a sliced banana. No dreaded snacks.

  • foodonastump
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Dieting

    Now chiefly: the action or practice of following a dietary regimen that restricts what or how one eats, esp. in order to lose weight.

    https://www.oed.com/dictionary/dieting_n?tl=true

    Floral, I agree with everything you said but your first sentence. If he lost weight then his dieting worked. What ultimately failed was his effort to maintain. No matter what method you choose to lose weight, you need to burn more energy than you’re consuming. And once you’ve reached your goal weight, not consume more energy than you expend. That’s going to hold true no matter what diet or eating schedule is recommended. “What works” will vary by individual.

    When looking at a national level, I’d say cherry picking individual factors and crediting them with broad results can be misleading. For example does pointing to countries like Japan with their very low obesity rates and high per capita rice consumption support a conclusion that rice is important in fighting obesity? I don’t know, Americans eat half again as much rice as France and Greece but our obesity rate is nearly three times theirs, what gives?

    I think that for Americans, we’ve got a perfect storm of a celebration of gluttony, an overabundance of low quality convenience foods that have overtaken our diets, and a well-intentioned push towards acceptance. So is it too many carbs or too much fat or too many meals or two few meals or the timing that we need to address? For years “they” were pushing more frequent eating over the course of the day, now apparently they’re thinking that’s not a great idea. Cite your theories du jour, but I’ll stick with that the average overweight but otherwise healthy person needs to eat less. In whatever way works for them.

    Edit - That’s not to say there aren’t additional factors that may affect our metabolisms, etc. Just theorizing that they are a lesser part of our overall problem.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    3 months ago

    I don't think there is one healthy plate for everyone. People have different needs based on their lifestyle, metabolism, gut biome, etc.

    I cannot really speak heavily to plans for losing weight; I can speak some to nutrition and food journaling but not to dieting in the traditional sense of the term. What I can say is that when nutritionists have attempted to normalize what I was eating, it has backfired ... my nutritional markers (bloodwork) were going the wrong way ... (I would do very poorly overall eating a plate that looked like the one Islay Corbel linked ... not enough protein, among other issues.) Figure out what your body needs and don't make sudden drastic changes, so your body can adapt ... well, unless your version of drastic change is replacing fast food and fried everything with homecooked and not so fried ... do that, haha.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    My view about all this is that while there “may” be one theoretically-ideal way for people to eat, there’s a lot of other ways that are not-theoretically-ideal-but-still-work for different people. An athlete may need to eat one way, a sedentary office worker another, someone who is disinterested in food one way, someone who is very interested in food and cooking another.

    Similarly, there’s various ways for people to lose weight, that can work or not depending on the person’s body, activity level, psychology, etc.

    In my case, I’ve been down this road before, and it was pretty successful. I went from heavy, very out-of-shape, pre-diabetic to a not-heavy, pretty fit, riding 20 miles a day to and from work and 100 miles on weekends, with normal lab values. And stayed that way for almost a decade, until the pandemic hit.

    You know what did me in then? First, the general disorder around here included people driving like lunatics, no plates, no insurance, trashed up cars, visibly smoking dope behind the wheel, with no fear of the police who had stopped enforcing traffic laws. That scared me off the bike - which is something, because I’ve been riding bicycles through city traffic since 7 years old. Second, we started “supporting our local restaurants”, which meant eating more take-out food than I’ve ever eaten in my life. Especially Chinese takeout, and do you know how much fat and calories are in dim sum? It’s not pretty.

    I know calorie restriction works for me, and that I can do pretty significant restriction. I also learned, last time, a little about psychology. Everyone is different, but in my case the more time I spend thinking about different ways to cook, prepping, cooking, monitoring what I eat, etc, the less I eat or want to eat. But if I simply go pick up a bunch of takeout dim sum, I’ll eat way more than is sensible. It’s like the time spent cooking food substitutes for eating the food. Odd, but there you go.


    The months I spent this year stripping the paint off my house was a good motivator. When I started that project in June, I was tired out after just an hour, legs and arms and feet all aching, and climbing up and down the ladders like a fat old man - fittingly, I guess. By September, I was skipping up and down the rungs, stripping paint for five and six hours straight, and some of my shirts were getting tight at the shoulders. I felt good. Then the project was over, and I didn’t want to sink back into rotund lethargy, so I’ve now found a new project.

  • Islay Corbel
    3 months ago

    Do you walk? I got out of the habit of walking every day..... work and other little bothersome things getting in the way..... sigh...... but I'm going to get back to it. It's very hilly here, being at the seaside and it can get you pretty fit quite quickly. Another things I love is being in the sea, either swimming or in winter, sea walking. It's been so cold here I haven't been in the sea since the 31st December ....... Must be more active! LOL. Activity is good. A diet that suits us is good..... don't eat too little, though! I'm off for my brekkie.

  • foodonastump
    3 months ago

    Yeah managing the psychological aspect is the hardest, and I imagine varies considerably from person to person.

    Exercise is a tough one for me for physical reasons while I’ll avoid moaning about here.

    So, back to low calorie discussion. Drinks. I’ve never been a big water drinker, and I’m always looking for something satisfying that’s low or non caloric. I get on kicks of lemon seltzer but then tire of that. NA beer has gotten better and lighter in recent years, there’s one I like that’s just 45 cal but that adds up when you’re thirsty. I’d easily go through more than a six pack a day if cost didn't keep me in check. I’m currently happy with my latest kick, if I can call it a kick at just one day old. Also seltzer based, I use plain and add to it an ounce or so of a strong berry tea I brewed with six bags to a pint of water. I’m expecting that to keep my interest for a bit.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    FOAS, I just drink plain tap water. SWMBO likes a lime or lemon or a splash of rose water in her water water. We also use a Sodastream for carbonated water. Fizzy water with lime and ice is practically a cocktail!

    Ah, beer. I love beer, and used to drink two 16 oz pints a day. Now I have a half pint once or twice a week, unless I’m traveling. The craft beer industry here is struggling, about 8% of Portland craft breweries have closed. Supposedly people are drinking less beer and more cider, but my friend’s highly regarded craft cidery recently closed too. There’s a change afoot in the drinks business and it is claiming victims weekly; sadly, I’m one of the causes.

    Islay, I traditionally try to avoid walking because it is frustratingly slow compared to a bike. When we were in Berkeley I had to walk dogs multiple times a day, and that was even worse than regular walking, with all the standing around waiting for the dog to sniff, poop, and sniff poops.

    I don’t run at all, for anything - not for exercise, to catch a bus or a plane, not even for Godzilla. That’s an oath I took in high school, doubled over vomiting during a sadistic training run with my cross-country team. ”If I survive this I’ll never run again” , I gasped while trying to not aspirate my throw-up, and I’ve stuck to it. Well, about ten years ago I did try running again, immediately hurt my back, and returned, chastened, to my anti-running ways. The benefit of not-running is that your joints aren’t titanium before 50!

    Every now and then I go on a hike or a family walk. We are about to go on a walk now, in fact. All the local businesses have lost a week of sales to the snow-ice storm, so we’re going to stimulate the neighborhood bookshop economy and maybe the local coffee shop sector too.


    If I had convenient access to a pool, I’d swim. It’s such a great exercise, doesn’t pound your joints to pieces (like running), doesn’t leave you with big thighs and teeny Tyranosaurus Rex arms (like cycling). But public pools seem to be a disappearing luxury, in Portland at least. There is a fancy “athletic club” here that I’ve been thinking about applying to, but the amortized cost per swim would be like $100.


    Breakfast was roesti (shredded potato, a bit of cheese, fried on a non-stick pan with a small amount of olive oil, no butter), bacon (two thin slices), and scrambled eggs (two eggs with a bit of cream cheese and lots of kale), logging in at 460 calories. Psychologically, logging calories makes me more aware of portion size and reminds me I’m not a lumberjack and don’t need to eat like one.

  • Islay Corbel
    2 months ago

    I agree with you about dog walking ( it's really hard to get any speed up LOL. Aren't you at the seaside like me? I have no idea what it's like - I thought there was a favoured climate on the west coast.....can you get in the sea or would it be suicidal? Teeny tyranosaurus arms..... I'm still laughing.

  • rob333 (zone 7b)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Eat the way that works for you. I don't eat that poorly. But I do know carbs hit me hard. Even when watching my calories, an equally caloric carb meal compared to a lean meat and vegetable meal-the carb meal WILL cause weight gain. It can be one, that's right, one piece of a medium pizza. Not a large pie. Not multiple pieces. So I just can't have them. Not bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta. Really not pasta. I have a better chance of weight loss when eating white sugar. Who knows why. But I intend to pay attention to what works for me. I don't think anyone knows your body better than you.

    P.S. I use My Fitness Pal for logging. It's when the numbers are staring me in the face, it's far easier to put down the ____, and walk away.

  • bbstx
    2 months ago

    IC, I’ll let John answer for himself where he lives because I’m not sure. But I believe it is in Oregon. I remember when as a child we took a driving vacation along the west coast. On the beaches in Oregon were signs warning that the water was so cold, you risked a heart attack getting in it.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I live in Portland, Oregon and we are about 100 miles from the coast. The ocean off Oregon is cold with big waves and riptides, okay for surfers in wetsuits but hardly casual dipping water. There is nice walking around me - I live in a lovely neighborhood with big trees and historic houses, and there are various pretty parks and interesting shopping streets nearby. SWMBO walks with friends, I need to walk with her more (says she) but I still can't help thinking "we invented the wheel for a reason". Oh, it rains more or less all the time from October through April, except when we have wet snow or freezing rain. It is also uncool to use an umbrella - not sure why, but it is a tourist telltale. So I don't love walking this time of year, and am always thinking "wheels would get us out of this rain sooner".

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Interesting. DD is doing a huge re-organization of the kitchen, so we can’t cook tonight. I was sent to get smashburgers and fries from a food cart on my way home from work.


    Smashburgers are popular here. They are thin and crusty, totally different from the traditional juicy medium-rare burger. They are also fairly small - between a slider and a standard burger. But they are not diet food. 2.5 oz bun, 3.0 oz patty, plus sauce still adds up to 460 calories.


    Anyway, I had one and a half smashburgers and about 2.0 oz of fries - and I feel vaguely sick. Apparently my body has decided it is now a temple for carefully prepared healthy food, and resents being fed “ junk food”.


    We decided on the smashburgers and fries because all the other takeout food choices sounded even more caloric and/or junky. Takeout food, the usual stuff anyway, really is dietary disaster. Pizza for sure is. Same with burritos, tacos, pad thai, fried chicken. Dim sum we’ve already talked about. Sushi sounds healthy but the takeout variety is mostly rice. I’m not sure what is in my favorite Indian take-out, but the kormas and curries taste fattening as heck. And that pretty much exhausts the list of convenient takeout food around me.


    I guess I’ll be cooking every meal for awhile.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 months ago

    My guess would be that it was more fat than you've been consuming recently or a fat that didn't agree with you. The other possibility is that they used a seasoning that didn't agree with you.


    Hard to lighten up take-out pizza or pad thai ... and I'm not sure the burrito would be appealing by the time one finished modifying it to make it more diet friendly, or even still a burrito.

    Tacos can be lightened up depending on what and how your order, but it's hard to give specific suggestions on that without looking at a menu ... if it's a food truck, then modification options may be limited.

    Fried chicken ... well, it's fried, yes, but how much fat that means it has will be down to technique, and most fried chicken places aren't really going for low calorie when they set their menu, so probably going to be hard there, too.

    I can't speak to Indian food ... it doesn't agree with me, so I don't know much about its nutrition and options.

    Sushi has options, though. If your issue is the quantity of rice, order sashimi; it may come on a bed ot seasoned rice (chirashi), but you can choose how much of that you consume. If you prefer maki, inquire about options; you may be able to get the rolls with brown rice or made with the rice on the outside (uramaki) even if it's not listed that way, and they may even have a reduced rice option. Miso soup is pretty light and satisfying ... at least it is if it's good miso soup. Edamame is salted but is just soybean, so that should just be a matter of portion size for calorie control. If you're looking for more vegetable, I don't think there's much that would be objectionable diet-wise in seaweed salad.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    For a few weeks it has been a challenge to get to the mailbox without full on

    arctic gear. A walk in the park would be most difficult. Rain and above freezing temps in a couple days will take care of that. Walking at a good clip pace kept us sane during initial lockdown. We have never cared for indoor gym equipment or 'gyms' (except for their pools). I'll hop on the treadmill with a good podcast to get some steps in.

    Hopefully by thursday i should only need my heated vest.

    I've been keeping my cross country ski polls by the back door for a few years. Just ordered a pair of hiking sticks for the front door.



    2020 we both lost 20 and about another 10 since. We have never tried any of the yoyo diets but did start paying attention to caloric intake and cutting way back on land and sea proteins..2-3 oz beef, 4 oz chicken/pork, 4-5 oz most seafood. All 'ish'. Never weigh anything but know from packaging and round way up. Like, an egg is 100 calories, no mater the size/weight.

    Lockdown also gave me the challenge to shop and stock the way we like to eat. No junk food temptations. No takeout. My NYC lunch fix has always been Sweetgreen.

    I could make their entire menu tomorrow and them some...another 20 choices i bet. A couple weeks ago i wrote down a list of possible dinner choices after a quick inventory of freezer/crisper/pantry.

    SWEETGREEN LINK



  • foodonastump
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Sleeve - Did you influence their plating or they, yours? 🙂 Your dishes are so easy to spot while skimming through WFD - always a plate FULL of food!

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 months ago

    I'm always collecting Menus for ideas. This is TERROR TWILIGHT. A restaurant in Melborne.

    We have a broth type bowl at lest three times a week these winter months.



  • foodonastump
    2 months ago

    John - I had a cheat day, too. On just day 5 of my effort. Yay me. I was in the basement caught up in the making of a lawn decoration for the upcoming “holiday” and next thing you know my wife called down. “Where are you? I just finished work and it’s almost 8:00, what’s for dinner?”

    Oops. So we agreed to order a white pie. Thinking about my food log, I forced myself to limit it to two slices. But I guess my brain said ”while we’re at it…” and I made my way to the tin of my mom’s Christmas cookies. Had two. Then thought how rude that I haven't tried the cookies my daughter made with my mom on Sunday. Had one.

    Three cookies. Now THERE'S self control. Normally that would be me just getting started. The log really helps me. As I contemplated a third slice and a cookie binge, I kept thinking about having to write it down. Lying to the log defeats the purpose, and I didn’t want to report an utter failure.

    The rest of the day was good though. Influenced by the ”cabbage bolognese” above, I’ve taken to lightly braising a small pan of red cabbage in a few ounces of Rao’s sauce. I haven’t done the math on that, but I’d imagine it’s fairly low cal, nutritious, and it’s tasty and keeps me satisfied for a while.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Cabbage braised in Rao’s marinara sauce (only 20 cal per oz) seems tasty and low calorie indeed. I need to try different cabbages and find the one best for “noodle duty”. Maybe a Napa cabbage?


    The ice has melted so I can resume riding to work this morning. There will be gravel in the bike lanes but oh well. My current bike commute is short but at least gets me outside and moving.


  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    After yesterday’s alarming detour to takeout junk food, it’s back to healthy home-cooked food. This is black rice and quinoa (2 oz), stirfried cauliflower with Chinese sausage (3 oz), sweet potato (3 oz), DD’s shao mai (three, with extra thin wrappers), and seared salmon belly brushed lightly with carmelized Yoshida sauce (3 oz). Totaling 480 calories, or about the same as one of yesterday’s smashburgers. A lot more work to make, of course, but cooking is fun.



    Weirdly, at my local H-Mart salmon filet is expensive but salmon belly is super cheap, like $3/lb. The belly is the best part of the salmon!

  • foodonastump
    2 months ago

    Looks good! I found some bags of stuff in the freezer. Decided it might be turkey chili. Threw it in the microwave, and sure ’nuff. Since it was made with turkey, I can be pretty sure I was looking for healthy at the time.

    How’s the huge re-organization coming along? Any interesting trends, or is she just making her mark?

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    We have, it seems, layer after layer of duplicated, excess , and overlooked - everything. Six bags of slivered almonds, because we never can find slivered almonds and resort to buying another bag. Rinse and repeat for just about every category of pantry staple, from dried Chinese black mushrooms to balsamic vinegars.

    Thanks to DD, all that stuff is now wrangled into tidy plastic containers with cute labels.

    Of course, it is all stacked in the same crappy kitchen with insufficient storage, but I’ve just sent off a deposit on the new cabinets, inquired with a countertop fabricator, and am starting to investigate flooring alternatives. By midyear, I hope to be posting from a nicer and better organized kitchen, where just the right amount of slivered almonds falls immediately to hand.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I did a pantry/freezer/fridge organization before the holidays and became a mess again...so just recently did a quick inventory again. Could not locate a few things so ordered again. 🫤

    FOAS, I've only had Sweetgreen bowls a handful of times. But many friends and co-workers that do not cook used them all 2020. During that time they offered a roasted chicken dinner with sides. A family of four ordering 4-5 salad bowls sharred with a chicken dinner seemed to please for a few days.

    We only have one meal a day. 4-5 pm. No carbs before noon. But rarely have even lunch. I pull out a prepped sald or a hummus plate around 3-ish to snack on before dinner. I do make a great chia pudding i used to like for breakfast, but now seems to be a good 7pm snack. Or popcorn. DH likes cottage cheese, half and avocado with chili crisp...or a slice of cheese. Breakfast BC, (before covid) was always a bit of plain yogurt, granola, a bit of fruit. Dried or fresh or both and a few toasted seeds.

    I recenly binged a great dietician that was a obese child. (i'll find it eventually). She is all about the mind and the psychological choices we make. Like JohnLiu's better meal over the junk food meal at similar calories but much more satisfying.

    Do not agree with this...

    "We all have very different metabolic needs so you can't rely on how someone else did on some calorie-controlled diet or stick to some totally arbitrary 2,000 calories for women, it's complete rubbish," he said.

    For example, while a croissant is generally fewer calories than avocado and eggs on sourdough toast, the latter has a higher nutritional value and will keep you fuller for longer due to the fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

    But do agree with this...gut health

    Being aware of calorie intake as well as whole foods and smaller land and sea proteins is a no brainer. Better to know both calories and whole non-processed foods.

    I used to think, if i had to categorize our diet, it would be Medeteranian. Never thought we are 'intermittent fasters', lol. Odd, now in a few years, we are never hungry.

    Being aware of calories is not 'rubbish'.

    Dead calories like waffles/pancakes, and croissants, and bagels, i agree are useless calories.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 months ago

    The statement isn't saying that being aware of calorie intake is rubbish; it's saying that trying to assign a number of calories to people based on so few factors is rubbish. In other words, it's foolish to think that every moderately-active woman between 31-50 should eat 2000 calories a day ... different people who meet that description will have different needs based on other factors.

  • Lulu
    2 months ago

    John, this is really good low fat salad I came upmwith a few years ago. we love it!


    Thai chicken salad


    Fresh or steam fried dried chow mein noodles. The thin kind. Cooked until el dente. I rinse with cold water and toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking together. Chill. I used a whole package of steam fried dried 170g because I had them in the pantry. I prefer fresh.

    Carrot matchsticks, handful or more

    Pea pods cut in half crosswise, handful or more

    Fresh bean sprouts, small amount if you have, otherwise leave out.

    Roasted peanuts, again a handful

    Small amount of shredded cabbage or romaine

    Green onion

    Cooken chicken, sliced. Rotisserie is good

    dressing:

    1/2 cup chicken broth

    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

    1/2 tsp. Grated ginger

    3 cloves chopped garlic

    2 tbsp soya sauce

    1 tbsp sesame oil

    1/2 tsp. Tabasco or saracha

    1 tbsp honey

    I blend the dressing in the blender and serve it along side of the salad as it’s quite thin so I like to add more than I need to my bowl so I can keep dipping my fork of salad in the dressing as I eat it. I hope this makes sense

    John Liu thanked Lulu
  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Flavor, absolutely!

    One of my goals for this project is to use it to explore cuisines that are interesting and tasty in addition to healthy and lower calorie.

    I’ve been browsing ”Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art”, the majestic work on Japanese cuisine by Shizuo Tsuji (foreword by MFK Fisher). I love, almost worship, Japanese food, but other than some dalliances with miso soup, tempura, tamago, and sushi rolls, have never ventured far into it - in my kitchen, at least.

    I did make a very tasty Japanese-ish fish dish recently, using one of my favorite fishes, mackerel. H-Mart had large whole Spanish mackerel, which disassemble much like tuna. Mackerel can be ”fishy” tasting, but if you soak the fillets is ice water, changed thrice, all that fishiness is gone. Then bring a pot of miso soup, just large enough to comfortably hold all the fillets, to a boil, turn it off, and slide the fillets into the soup. The ice-cold mackerel will both cook in, and cool down, the soup. When they both reach the same equilibrium temperature, the fish is perfectly done. Retrieve the fillets, brush them with sauce, and have a tasty, simple, and very healthy fish and soup dinner.

    The sauce can be problematic. A typical sauce might be mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar - quite a lot of sugar - carmelized in a pan. Not very dietetic. But if you brush, not drown, it’s alright.


    I think I’d like to investigate “one pot cooking”, if SWMBO will make me a traditional unglazed donabe pot. No doubt the recipes can be made in any pot, but Revereware would, I think, spoil the effect. Part of the problem with living with a potter is that she gets quite offended if you buy ceramicware, but is too busy to make you the desired piece right away. So a period of cajoling will precede the donabe and the one pot cookery.

  • bbstx
    2 months ago

    Ah, the cobbler’s children go shoeless….

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    2 months ago

    "...using one of my favorite fishes, mackerel."


    Oh I love mackerel, it is a very tasty fish! But it stinks up the whole house -- I eventually banned DH from cooking it indoors, he has to use the grill on the patio (same with the deep fryer -- that is relegated to a cooking table out in the garage...).

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    SWMBO will be in San Francisco for the next few weeks, so my chances of receiving a she-made donabe are slim.

    Accordingly, DD and I made a pilgrimage to Uwajimaya, the best Japanese grocery store in our area, to get a donabe. There were several, all lovely,from $25 to $48, And a squat, plain, ugly one, for $12. I picked up Ugly Pot, put it back, considered, then put it in my cart. It was ugly, but cheap and looked folorn. It was a real ”Anne of Green Gables” moment.

    We left Uwajimaya with fewer bizarre foods than usual. Here is one. I’m hoping someday I’ll find a dinner guest who wants crunchy fried mini-crabs as an appetizer.



    Later, at an interesting used bookstore, we found a 1949 copy of “Anne of Green Gables” for $45, which we did not buy, and a 1935 first edition of Steinbeck’s ”Tortilla Flat” for the ridiculously low price of $10, which we did buy. It was a good day.


    Inspired, but still mindful of our calorie restriction, we made wor wonton soup, which is 150 calories per serving, one shown here in Ugly Pot. Lotus root, scallions, bok choy, carrots, enoki mushrooms. We forgot the Chinese sausage. For the wontons, DD used extra thin skins, which saves 10 calories per wonton.


    Tomorrow, we are going to eat only Asian food. Starting with congee for breakfast, although rice is a challenge for this project.



  • annie1992
    2 months ago

    Oh man, Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite series, I read them all. More than once, LOL, my little 3 room country school had a limited library!


    The soup looks good but I'm not sure I could eat the crunchy crabs, I can just imagine pieces of shell. Then again, they might be amazing, crumbled up and sprinkled over salad or soup...


    Elery is also wanting to lose a few pounds, he got that second hip replaced the end of July and it's more problematic than the first one. Of course, I had to remind him that he's 8 years older, and he appreciated that a lot. Ahem. And, of course, I can always stand to lose 20 pounds, something about being 5 foot nothing.....


    Good luck, and I don't think the pot is Ugly at all, it's nicely neutral and very utilitarian. Kind of a modern vibe!


    Annie

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    A bowl of congee with toppings is about 200 calories, of which the rice is 90. Toppings to choose from include re/fried tofu, shiitake mushrooms with carmelized Yoshida sauce, roast bok choy, dried anchovies, lotus root, Chinese sausage, enoki mushrooms, ham in matchsticks, vinegared carrot, pork sung, and other stuff.

    Congee is not as calorie-challenging as I feared. It isn’t a “low-calorie” meal but my project isn’t all about eating dietetic foods. It is also to remind myself of reasonable quantities of non-diet foods.





  • foodonastump
    2 months ago

    Hey John - I know this is supposed to be a cooking thread but I’ve been wondering how you’re making out. As for me, I lost about 15 pounds in the first two weeks and have now plateaued there. But what’s been astounding has been the effect on my blood pressure. Especially diastolic, easily down ten points, regularly. That number has been high for a couple years, even when systolic was kinda sorta ok. I hope this is more than a temporary effect!

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Wow, I am really impressed! You're doing great! From my experience, significant weight loss can result in remarkable improvements to all sorts of health issues.


    As for me, I haven't made much progress. Down about 5 lb in first three weeks, and much of that could be water weight. I've been "stuck" at 199 lb for awhile.


    DD thinks I need to increase my calories. She, of course, is shedding weight like water off a greased duck.


    I think I need to get serious about exercise. I haven't been cycling, for various reasons. I'm doing some weights, but not systematically - focused on left shoulder, which sounds/is weird, but the summer of house paint stripping left my right shoulder noticeably bigger/stronger than my left, which bothers me. I've also been skiing on the weekends. But nothing beats daily cycling.

  • foodonastump
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    LOL John, first I had to picture you with huge legs and skinny arms, now I have to modify that to a single big arm. I’m actually envious of such noticeable results - with exercise I can feel stronger and be stronger but to visually show more muscle seems to largely escape me.

    I’m not pushing myself too hard in the exercise department. I figure that in order to maintain long term, I have to focus on habits that will stick. Unfortunately my history of sticking with rigorous exercise routines is pretty nonexistent. So I’m trying to focus on little things that are already part of my day, like shaving minutes off the dog walk route, opting for baskets vs shopping carts when possible. Baby steps. But I would like to get on my bike a bit as the weather warms.

  • l pinkmountain
    2 months ago

    The worst thing for me is wanting to drink my calories, in the form of coffee with something sweet or cream or both, alcohol and fizzy sodas. I drink the flavored zero calorie soda water but it isn't as enjoyable for me. I have a hard time drinking water, I'm not sure why but I just have resistance to drinking it. And some waters, especially my tap water, have a bad taste to me, sometimes metallic. I can't do aspartame anything.


    I really have no tips of things that are both tasty fun and low calorie, other than fresh fruit for a snack. I lost 35 lbs last year but gained most of it back. I didn't even try for anything extreme, but I was still hungry all the time. I think exercise helps with that. Really I think the biggest challenge to dieting is exercise. I don't think you can be successful long term with one without the other . . . sigh. My biggest challenge is not cooking, it's hunger. And yes, I tried filling up on water ahead of time, no effect. I found no effect from upping my water intake other than having to pee more often. Sorry, I am a dieting grouch. Just keeping busy so not thinking about food is my biggest tip. Also stress relief strategies help. My dad is a basket case of stress and I want to drink or eat chocolate after most visits with him.


    I used Noom. Obviously you need to eat high fiber, low fat foods, so lots of veggies. But even a smidge of fat ups the calories significantly. That's why fruit is my biggest snack tip. It's high fiber and relatively low in fat and sugar and is fun to eat. A peeled orange gives you exercise and also vitamin C, so great to eat this time of year. Later, grow some strawberries. It takes work to care for them and fresh off the plant they are delicious and lots of good stuff in them at that stage if you can swing it.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 months ago

    If your tap water has a bad taste, you should filter it. A good filter can greatly improve the flavor and also remove some of the junk that isn't not allowed but isn't good either.


    Fat will always increase calories more rapidly. A gram of fat adds 9 Calories, where a gram of protein or carbohydrate adds 4 Calories.

    Just be aware that the foods that we usually class as fruits generally have a lot of sugar, so something we class as a vegetable may be less caloric for the same quantity of food. Example: an orange is about 140g and 72 Calories; the same quantity of bell pepper or grape tomatoes would be about 44 Calories, less if you can tolerate green bell pepper.

  • l pinkmountain
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I do filter my water. Still tastes bad to me. I drink spring water that I buy, that I can tolerate but not enjoy.

    And I'm done with the "fruits have a lot of sugar." It's not refined and it's not that much when compared to other snacks you might eat which come with fats, chemicals and empty calories. The sugars in fruits are mixed with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants too. And fruit has no saturated fat. I wouldn't overdo it, but fruit is very good for a treat, far better than some refined sweet thing with the same calories. I have not found restricting carbs that have fiber in them does anything for me with weight loss, and not eating fresh fruits and fiber makes me constipated. I eat bell peppers and tomatoes too and greens and every other vegetable, I love them. Of course you could overdo on fruits. When I was counting calories, I found moderate consumption of fruits to be fun, low cal, fiber and vitamin filled and delicious and didn't destroy my numbers for the day. Fruit juice on the other hand, wasn't good, lots of calories, no fiber and yes, lots of sugar without any of the fiber and filling qualities of fresh fruit. Dried fruits also easy to overdo on the calories, they are so delicious I have a hard time stopping at one or two prunes or dried apricots. I also find that I enjoy the smaller fruits more, the larger ones don't have as much flavor. Smoothies which are so touted as healthy, tasted great but didn't fill me up compared to their calorie count. Anything that filling and satisfying and under 100 calories is great in my book.

    But to each their own. I'm just suggesting eating fruits as a treat and enjoying them, instead of a lot of refined sweets which are everywhere tempting us. But sure, leave them out. Not for me, it's refined sweets that break my diet, not fruit. My gut is happier with whole food with fiber. I need the vitamin C right now too. I eat peppers and tomatoes too, almost every day, in soups and salads. Cooking anything with vitamin C reduced the amount of C so if you want the max vitamins, lots of crudites. I usually eat cherry tomatoes and peppers with a half a sandwich when I am dieting. Or on a salad with garbanzo beans. I make chopped salad with whatever fresh vegetables look good, peppers, celery, shredded carrot, broccoli, diced pea pods or green peas, etc. A nice way to start a meal. But if you want to add some salad dressing or cheese, there goes the diet. That's why I say you have to exercise or you end up eating like a bird and being hungry an hour after you eat.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 months ago

    I'm not a big water drinker, but in my experience, if filtered water tastes bad either a new filter is in order (the existing filter may be breaking down; this usually tastes worse than the unfiltered) or a different type of filtering is needed (whatever tastes bad isn't being filtered out by the existing type of filter). It's hard to say whatks causing the taste you dislike without an analysis of the water, though. Bottled water is certainly a solution; I just know that our tap water isn't very good tasting, and when we switched filter types, the water began tasting more like the spring water.


    My point wasn't that the sugar in fruits was bad because it's sugar, but that it tends to result in a higher Calorie content; my comment would apply to starchy fruits and vegetables, too. You'll notice that I listed the Calories, not the sugar content, of the three different fruits (since all three are technically fruits.) If the topic were glycemic load, I would have gone into more about the sugar content and types.

    Each person needs to find what works for them. If the fruits are contributing something that you need, you should absolutely eat them. (Personally, my system doesn't process fruit skins well, so I have to be careful with them ... I have to peel apples to eat more than a couple slices. However, my system is a bit ... well, it probably shouldn't be used as a comparison for anything.) I'm not trying to say that fruit is bad. Fruit is a great treat, and it's certainly much better than a candy bar or pastry. I was just giving more options that would be lower Calorie. Sorry if it sounded like I was criticising your choices; I didn't mean it that way.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I’ve often been lucky to live in places with really good tap water. NYC has, or had when I was a kid, good tap water. San Francisco gets its water from Hetch Hetchy, a mountain valley that was apparently as beautiful as Yosemite Valley before it was dammed, so an environmental crime - but, really good tap water. Portland gets its tap water from the Bull Run watershed high on the slopes of Mount Hood, and it is great water. Very soft, I never have to decalcify my espresso machine. So, I really like tap water. Sometimes we carbonate it, with a Sodastream. The water is minimally treated - they don’t even flouridate it, which is good for our dentists.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    FOAS, that’s funny, if you visualize me as a sort of human fiddler crab.


    The asymmetry is subtle, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten cranky about it, but there is also a marked difference in strength between the right and left arm, and not just in the gym. I’ve noticed that I favor the right for lifting things - heavy bags, etc - and that doesn’t seem right.


    I went skiing on Sunday, when the rest of the US was watching the Superbowl. Boy did I get my comeuppance. Turns out that slowly following my daughter down the beginner runs is different from a day on my own, going down harder runs faster. My legs were thrashed. Ok, more things to work on.


    The hope is to eventually be one of those active, sporty octogenarians, and I clearly need to do the work now for that to have any chance.



  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    2 months ago

    FWIW, I've read some findings that eating more fruit can help reduce sugar cravings.

    And with all the newer research on gut flora, I understand eating lots of fruits and veggies feeds the bacteria that helps keep our weight in a healthy range.

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    last month

    FOAS, how's it going?


    My report - I've adjusted pretty well to a daily 1,600 calorie target. Looking for groovy new diet foods got old (and expensive) so I just eat normal stuff, just less of it. Weight loss has been irritatingly intermittent - I plateau at a weight +/- 1 lb for a week, then gap down -2 lb, then plateau there for another week, etc. On average I'm losing about -1.6 lb/week.


    I'd like to think skiing 1-2 days/week is building muscle, but I doubt it as I've turned into a Princess. Too windy, too snowy, just not feeling it, and I call time and go home. One recent day i skiied a whopping 2.5 hours. Having a season pass and living 75 minutes from the mountain is making me lazy. I've also crashed hard on my right shoulder 2X and think I'll be rehabilitating that joint this spring.




  • foodonastump
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I’m not ignoring you, John, I was hoping to show my progress on an old shipping scale I won at auction. Based on your espresso maker, I think you can appreciate cool excess. I knew this would be on the large side:


    But not this big. I went to pick it up yesterday and four guys struggled to lift it into my truck, so I decided there was nothing I could do with it at home, and left it behind.


    More of an actual update, shortly.

  • plllog
    last month

    What a shame you had to let it go! It looks so cool!

  • John Liu
    Original Author
    last month

    That’s crazy! Need a liftgate truck . . .

  • foodonastump
    last month

    John - Today marks two months since you started this thread, and since I started my diet. Minor daily fluctuation notwithstanding, I think I’m ready to comfortably say I’m down 30. Overall the first 20-25 fell off, the last five or so have been a lot slower. I’ve added a bit of exercise to my routine, but not enough to where I can justify my plateau by blaming muscle gain! I feel like I’ve overcome something with my eating to where my cravings for garbage have largely gone away, and I don’t enjoy overeating. Historically one of my biggest challenges has been sweets, and I’ve made a lot of headway there. Interestingly, pretty much the only time I really want sweets is after a big meal. For example last night we went out, I overstuffed myself a bit at a Mexican restaurant, and as a result could have really used dessert. Lent keeps me in check for now, but I expect it’ll be a bit more difficult to manage after Easter.

    I always thought I’d be happy at this weight, but now that I’m here and love handles remain, I really want to keep going for at least ten more pounds, preferably 20. Clothes shopping is desperately needed, but I’m trying to keep it to a minimum until I see where I land. Unfortunately it seems like sometime in the past I threw out clothes I decided I’d never fit into again.

    I want to carefully add more exercise/activity into my life. I say carefully because my entire goal here is sustainability. Similar to my eating, I don’t want to add something that I can’t reasonably expect to maintain. I do need to fill my stretched skin with something though!

    How are you doing? Has your slow but steady pace continued?

  • foodonastump
    last month

    Related - I had read about the supposed benefits of intermittent fasting and kind of did a bit of it at first, but I’m glad I didn’t buy into it as maybe what's good is bad again:


    "The study analyzed data on the dietary habits of 20,000 adults across the United States who were followed from 2003 to 2018. They found that people who adhered to the eight-hour eating plan had a 91 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease compared to people who followed a more traditional dietary pattern of eating their food across 12 to 16 hours each day."

    https://wapo.st/3viUwsR


  • plllog
    last month
    last modified: last month

    FOAS, Congratulations on the fruits of your efforts! My reply from this morning went POOF! perhaps due to links. The upshot was that sweets don't aid the digestion, though they stimulate the appetite before a meal, and the ”room for dessert” thing is real, being that sweets act on the brain to relax the stomach muscles and relieve the pressure of the full/overfull feeling. But that much is only from a cursory search for answers.

    Re the article you linked, my first reaction to your paragraph was, ”But were they sick? A lot of people on diets are seriously on diets because they're already unhealthy and are trying to mend their ways.” The Post, in a display of unusually good journalism, but still with the infernal inverted pyramid that puts important details downpage, reported that not only were they sick, people with heart disease were particularly chose for the study, they were self reporting, which is highly unreliable where guilt and shame might attach, and the researches don't have any whys or hows yet. What they did report was an abnormal decline in lean muscle mass in the intermittent fasting group, which I find more immediately worrisome than people with heart disease having heart attacks.

    The 11-hour span for getting food in the cafeteria at my university was uncomfortably compressed. Eight hours may well have people cheating from desperation, gorging at the time limit, not to cheat, etc.

    You may know the antipathy I have for the diet industry. What you've self reported, getting cravings and sweets under control, and doing other health forward things, like a little more exercise, sound good!

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