A Healthy Diet.
Part 1: Nutrition.
- Eat organic and locally grown food whenever possible. It's lower in pesticides, preservatives, and additives, and farmer's markets are full of friendly people.
- If you eat too quickly, you'll be more likely to overeat, since the stomach realizes that it's full at a much slower rate than the mouth can fill it. Eating quickly will also keep you from tasting your food, and from chewing it fully enough to make your stomach's job easier and to fully absorb the nutrients.
- Eating too much at a time, on the other hand, will distend (stretch) the stomach, and gradually make it larger over time. This'll mean that it takes more food to feel full, and when the metabolism slows down due to aging weight gain will be likely. Excessive portions will also make the stomach work too hard to digest food and lead to blood sugar fluctuations; both of these effects contribute to post-meal tiredness and create less than optimal health.
- Processed food loses nutrients and collects unhealthy additives. In particular, avoid anything hydrogenated and use whole-grain flour and bread. White flour, sugar and salt are usually bleached, and bleach is not good for you.
- After infancy, many people lose their ability to produce lactase, an enzyme that processes the sugars present in milk. Milk is therefore difficult to digest, produces gas and strains the digestive system. Goat's milk is better in this respect than cow's milk, and soy milk is best of all.
- While strength training, protein requirements are higher than usual. Weight lifting breaks down your muscles and they rebuild stronger than before, and protein is the raw material for that rebuilding process. You should eat a protein-rich meal soon (~1 hr) after your workout and have a generally strong diet in this respect, but you don't need meat or expensive supplements. Try grains and legumes for a tastier (complete) protein.
- Drink plenty of water. It flushes toxins out of the system and keeps cell function at its peak. Filtered or bottled water is best, although the latter is of dubious quality and more expensive than it's worth.
- Look here for more information on a vegetarian diet. It's a fine way to get essential nutrients without endangering your health, your conscience, or your planet.
Part 2: Weight Loss.
- When you expend more energy than you take in by eating, your body is forced to use its stored energy source, fat, to make up the difference. In order to create a fat-burning energy deficit while remaining healthy, you need to meet your dietary requirements at a low caloric intake. You also need to burn more calories than you take in.
- So, Eat Better and Exercise. Choose foods with a high nutrient density; these will meet your nutritional needs without an excess of calories. Avoid high-energy, nutrient-poor foods like soda, candy and greasy french fries.
- If you're tired and sluggish after a meal, you've probably eaten too much. This is a burden on your digestive system, as well excess energy that you'll have to either exercise away or accept as fat. Eat slowly and stop when you're full. Pay attention to how you feel and you'll get a sense of your ideal portion size is. Stick to it.
- Foods that rapidly raise your blood sugar, such as refined grain foods and most sweets, provide a natural high that quickly wears off, at which point you crave more food. This leads to overeating. Protein helps to slow the movement of sugars into the bloodstream and hence prevent this vicious cycle. In any case, you need to distinguish between craving and hunger if you want to lose weight.
- The fat you eat does not automatically become fat in your body. But it does have a lot of calories and little nutritional value, so eating too much of it will gain you weight.
- Localized fat burning does not exist. If you have an energy deficit, your body will burn fat from predetermined spots to make up the difference, more or less in proportion to how much fat is stored there.
- Strength training will help you lose weight, because stronger muscles burn more energy (and hence fat) just by existing. Building your muscles is a great way to raise your metabolism, leading to round-the-clock fat burning that'll show your abs in no time.
- The Atkins diet, in my opinion, is bunk. Many foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, have rich vitamins and minerals that more than compensate. Atkins works because protein satiates the appetite, but it's also a sort of starvation diet that can deprive you of nutrients, and it tends to be high in fat and cholesterol. The best way to create a fat-burning energy deficit is to eat nutrient-dense food and exercise.
Part 3: Cooking.
- First of all, learn to cook. Once you get a few simple tools and learn to follow a recipe, the whole world of food is yours. Simple cooking is not that difficult, and the colours and sounds and smells of a developing dish make the whole process extremely enjoyable. Cooking also gives you control over the nutritive content of your food, as well as over its taste. If that's not enough to convince you, consider how a good meal brings families, friends and lovers closer together.
- If you don't learn to cook, at least learn to eat. Use your tongue and taste the food! You may find that you don't want to eat certain nasty things anymore. This is a good thing.
- Below I've posted some simple vegetarian recipes that I've gathered from friends and family, or created/adapted on my own. In keeping with the way I eat, they're vegetarian, nearly vegan, healthy and simple to cook. They're also tasty and make enough to last for a few meals, so they're great for university students. Enjoy.
A collection of simple, tasty, healthy, and meatless recipes that I'm happy to share with the world.
Lurzian Lentil Burgers
This one comes from the Lurz, who plays the drums, beats my @$$ at chess, and makes some fine cuisine.
- 2 cups dry lentils
- 2 cups water
Simmer with a teaspoon of oil until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, get out the food processor...
- 3/4 cups walnuts
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic
Grind these up and add them to a mixing bowl. When the lentils are finished, mash them up and add them too. Next get out the flavorings...
- 2 tsp worchestershire sauce (lee & perrins)
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- Hot sauce to taste
- Bread crumbs to texture
Mix all this stuff together, adding bread crumbs until the burgers keep their shape and are suitable for barbecuing. Use wax paper to form the patties, and freeze any leftovers with sheets of wax paper between them. Barbecue and eat on a bun with something yummy like sauteéd mushrooms and onions on top.
Mumia's Vegan Chili
This one's thanks to my mother, who's a real smart lady and knows me better than I know myself.
- 1-2 large onions
- 4-5 stalks celery
- 1-2 red peppers
Chop the above and stir-fry them in a large wok, starting with the onions. Notice how they form the colours of the Italian flag. =) 4-5 carrots make a nice addition, but that's not any country I can think of.
- 1 large can diced tomates (crushed ones cook faster)
- 1 large can red kidney beans
- 1 large can black beans
- A block of firm chopped tofu or TVP
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp hot chili flakes
- Salt & pepper to taste
Once the onions are soft, add all of the above. Cook on high until it bubbles, then simmer long and slow for a few hours. This recipe freezes well and benefits from the blending of flavours that occurs over time.
Blue Screen Pancakes
I'll take the credit for this one... thank you very much.
Heat up a frying pan and melt 3 tbsp of butter while you mix up the dry ingredients.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
Mix all this stuff together in a large bowl. Get out your liquid measuring pitcher and pour the melted butter in from the frying pan to cool, while you peel (optional) and dice a cup or two of fresh fruit - two apples or two pears, some blueberries =), or some raisins if you're into that.
- 3 free-range eggs
- 2 cups soy milk
- 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
Beat the eggs and combine with the cooled butter, soy milk and vanilla in your measuring pitcher. Dig a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and gradually add and mix in the liquid stuff to make the pancake batter.
Butter up that frying pan a little more, and drop a ladle-full of batter onto it. I like to make my cakes about the size of the burner underneath, so they cook evenly and are large enough to be a challenging flip. Wait 'til you see bubbles and then have fun flipping them over.
Last time I had these I topped them with plain yogurt and fruit salad, and enjoyed them very much. If you're less of a health nut, maple syrup will do. Orange juice is an essential accompaniment.
Ya-Ya's Bean Salad
A favorite of mine for potlucks - easy to make, vegan, and quite tasty.
- 19 oz. can of chickpeas, drained
- The same of red kidney beans, black beans, and corn kernels
- 1 sweet red pepper, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 a red onion, diced
Combine all the above in a large mixing bowl.
- Basil, 1/2 cup fresh or 1 tbsp dry
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
Whisk all this stuff together , pour it on the veggies, and mix it together. Sprinkle 1/4 cup fresh parsley on top, cover and refridgerate overnight if you can.
Katie's Shepherd's Pie
This one's from my sister who I love a whole lot.
- 6 potatoes (or two per person)
Peel these, chop 'em up to increase the surface-area-to-volume ratio (hooray for science!) and start them boiling in lightly salted water.
- 1 cooking onion
- 3-4 large carrots
- 1 or 2 zucchini
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic
Stir-fry these in a pan with oil until the onions are translucent. You can use other vegetables if you like; root vegetables are recommended.
- 1 package yves veggie ground ground
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning or 1/2 tbsp each cumin and chili powder
Add this stuff to the stir fry and heat it up; no need to really cook it though. Drain the potatoes and mash them with the following:
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 cup soy milk
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350° and get out a nice big casserole dish. There's no need to oil it; just layer the mashed potatoes on top of the stir-fry mixture.
- Cheddar cheese, enough to cover your dish
Cover the potatoes with grated or sliced cheese (cheddar is nice) and bake until it's a nice golden brown, maybe 40 minutes. Yummy.
Papitro's Pasta Sauce
My father's amazing recipe with my own tasty modifications. Still a work in progress.
- 4 or 5 carrots
- 1/3 cup olive oil & 1 broth cube
- 3 or 4 small onions or 1 - 1.5 large ones
Peel the carrots and start them boiling or steaming. Heat the oil in a large wok and dissolve the broth cubes. Chop the onions and fry them in the oil until soft.
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 2 small shakes of cinnamon
Add the above to the wok when the onions are close to being done.
- 3 19 oz. cans tomatoes, 2 crushed & 1 diced
- 1 small can tomato paste
- The steamed carrots from above, chopped or mashed
- A block of soft tofu, mashed, or some TVP
- 2 tsp chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
Add all the above stuff to the wok. Heat on medium high 'til it bubbles, then turn down to medium low to simmer for an hour or two. Cover with a mesh thing to control the exploding bubbles of sauce. Eat with whole wheat penne rigate, soy parmesan, and mesclun salad mix. =D
The best thing I've ever cooked.
- Plenty of Papitro's pasta sauce (~2/3 of a batch)
- A package frozen spinach (unfrozen) added to the sauce
- A cup or two of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large eggplant & 2-3 zucchini, steamed
- Lasagna noodles ("ready to bake" is easier, but I like the whole wheat or spinach style)
- Mozzarella cheese on top
While the pasta sauce simmers, slice and steam the eggplant and zucchini, and cook the lasagna noodles if you need to. Find a good lasagna dish - I like about 4 inches depth for more layers. Lightly oil the dish and begin with a thin layer of sauce, then add layers of noodles, eggplant, noodles, zucchini, noodles, mushrooms, noodles and cheese, with sauce in between each layer. Bake at 375° for ~40 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns a handsome golden brown. Enjoy.