5 Ways to lighten the load without losing out

Hey Friends! After the last post, I had a few conversations with people who were trying to eat better, but struggling to move away from “comfort” foods- especially in the winter when the body craves warm, gooey, luscious things. I get it. In the winter all I want are biscuits, mac and cheese, naan, steamy jeera rice, and mashed potatoes. But I’m no longer 20, so if I ate like that everyday it would be pretty problematic (mainly because I refuse to buy a new wardrobe to accommodate the generous increase that would ensue). However, there are ways to lighten the load, without losing out on flavour & satisfaction.

Here are 5 easy and delicious ways:

  1. Portobello Pizzas: Swap out the heavy (but delicious) dough for some chewy mushrooms, top as you like and voila! An easy weeknight meal that has hundreds of options.
  2. Spaghetti squash with your favourite sauce: We like to top this with vegan “meatballs” or a simple lentil Bolognese.
  3. PB&J on an apple: Looking for a way to get some fruit into your daily mix? Swap out the bread for an apple and enjoy the [natural] sugar rush.
  4. Zucchini (Courgette) Lasagna noodles: So easy to build your own favorite lasagna, but without the guilt-inducing noodles. I usually slice my zucchini ¼ inch, salt them, and bake them in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, before proceeding with any standard recipe. (This helps to remove some of the moisture in the zucchini, otherwise you end up with a lasagna pool.) Once you’ve done this, just use the zucchini noodles as you would lasagna noodles, piling on your favourite toppings and baking until bubbly. cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog
  5. Cauliflower rice: A must for anyone trying to incorporate more veggies into their diet. We always have bags of this in the freezer, ready to accompany our curry.

Vegetables for weight loss

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Have you ever tried to lose weight? I mean really tried? I’m in my 30s and this is the first time in my life that I’m truly making a conscious and physical effort to shed some pounds- and it’s hard as heck! In my previous post I talked about slowing down and taking care of myself. A large part of ‘keeping it light’ in 2016 is taking care of the physical body: eating more vegetables, being more active and reinvigorating my yoga practice. Ultimately with the intention to physically ‘keep it light.’

Luckily, time is on my side. Often I speak to people who are trying to lose weight in order to fit into an outfit, go on vacation, or be ready for summer. All of those external time constraints might be a motivating factor for some people, but for me they’re a hindrance. I prefer to wholeheartedly incorporate some changes into my lifestyle, slowly adding ones that feel good and subtracting ones that don’t work.

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Some of the bounty from my weekly vegetable delivery.

One effective way to lighten the load is to incorporate more vegetables into the daily mix. Now some of you might be saying “Hey Shilpa, you have a blog called ‘Salad for Breakfast.’ Don’t you eat enough vegetables as it is?” To which I would say “My friend, you can never eat enough vegetables…” Okay scratch that. I would actually probably just say “No!”

So, more vegetables it is! In particular, for weight loss, I use the following as a rule of thumb when choosing vegetables for my plate: either leafys (not really a word so don’t google it), greens, or water-filled. Here are examples of some of these varieties:

  • Leafys (the bunches or layers of leafy-like vegetables): Spinach, Chard, Kale, Cabbage (green or red), beetroot greens, bok choy (or other Asian greens), lettuce
  • Greens (this one is self explanatory): Broccoli, edamame, avocado, peas (blah okay I don’t really ever choose peas), pea snaps (I like these)
  • Water-filled (these are the ones that will keep you hydrated and/or shed lots of water when cooked): Peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, garlic, onions, celery, tomatoes (are they a fruit? Are they a vegetable?)

So basically, the things that haven’t made it on the list are the vegetables that are high in starch and/or sugar (carrots, beets, potatoes, squashes etc.) That doesn’t mean that I don’t eat these vegetables- I sure do! I’m just more mindful of the portions, don’t eat them daily and try not to eat them all in one meal. Again, this is my own rule of thumb for weight loss. I’m not a nutritionist so this might all sound like mumbo jumbo to you! And that’s okay 🙂

This system is particularly hard to follow in the winter, when most of the seasonal produce in Toronto is made up of starches and root vegetables. So it’s been a fun learning process and I’ve had to figure out ways to balance my need for locally grown food, with my need for leafys, greens and water-filled vegetables.

What about you? What rules do you follow for weight loss? I’d love to hear what works for you. In the next post I’ll share some tips on how I’ve been using the vegetables.

Until then, keep it light!

 

Morning Greens? Think outside the smoothie

Oct 21

Although the title “salad for breakfast” might turn a few heads, greens for breakfast isn’t an unusual concept; hence the popularity of green smoothies in the past few years. Most of my friends and family who have tried green smoothies, have given them glowing reviews, citing all sorts of health benefits. But for some reason, I’ve had my reservations and have always kept green smoothies at an arm’s length. I think I will leave those reasons for another post.

For now, let’s talk about broccoli.

Say it with me, “broccoli for breakfast.” Okay, now this time, say it out loud and without the questioning tone in your voice (!)

Yes, broccoli for breakfast! And why not? Broccoli is satisfying, can be served up in a variety of ways, and about ½ a cup has 70% of your daily vitamin C needs (more than the amount in half a grapefruit)!

I know a lot of people who are looking for ways to up their intake of greens as well as get some more fiber in their diet. This is an easy way to do it, and customizable to various taste preferences. Why dissolve a powder into juice when you can get your fiber and vitamin c straight from the source?

This morning when I was craving some greens, I had some of these beautiful babies from last night’s dinner.

I don’t have a solid recipe for this, but there’s a method you can follow for some simply satisfying roasted broccoli:

  • Cut broccoli into florets, wash and dry them thoroughly.
  • Drizzle on a bit of oil with two pinches of sea salt; toss with your hands.
  • Roast in a 400 F degree oven for 10-20 minutes (turning over once midway so they don’t burn).

Once they’re out of the oven you can enjoy them as is, or dress them further. For this round, I mixed in some fresh lemon juice, black pepper, walnuts and freshly grated parmesan. Et voila!

Remember to have fun with it. If you’ve never tried roasting broccoli, what are you waiting for? Seriously- what are you doing with your time? Try it!

What’s your favourite way to eat broccoli?

Unfinished Business Part 1

I’ve already learnt my first lesson in blogging- only make promises that I’m sure I can deliver on.

After another night of copious congestion, I decided it was time to give my body some much needed rest today.

What this means is that there’s no recipe today. I will, however, offer the succession of pictures below as well as an assurance that an accompanying explanation is imminent.

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Salad for Breakfast?

There’s a very intentional question mark at the end of that title.

We sometimes have unconscious rigidity when it comes to our own food habits: rules that guide what we eat and when. Cereal in the morning, SSS (soup, salad, sandwich) at lunch, and some combination of the previous two meals at dinner. Often these habits are influenced by what we see in the media, what we’ve grown up with, what we’ve read about in a magazine.

What are some of your own food “rules”?

This blog is very much about thinking outside of the box when it comes to vegetables and general eating habits. I’m going to make an assumption that for most people, vegetables are very much a sideshow; an obligatory accompaniment. I’m not sure why that is (though I can make some pretty educated guesses), especially for the value that they bring to the table.

I’ll say from the outset that I’m no authority on the subject matter. I don’t have any academic background in nutrition and health. I only have my fervent interest in the subject, and my own life experience.

But it’s my hope that this is a space where you can reimagine the way you think about vegetables. I hope we can learn & share together. And who knows, there may be a paradigm shift which causes you to eat more vegetables, or try something you’ve never tried before, or (gulp) have a salad for breakfast.

Who knows?!