Get Back on the Rails with Three Easy Tips

This holiday season I managed to NOT GAIN any weight from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Quite a good accomplishment I would say! And, it is a first! Yes, I indulged and enjoyed treats and special meals but I just didn’t make every moment of every day in December be an excuse to stuff my face with foods I normally don’t eat. In fact, I think this is the first year in a long time that I remained unstuffed and mostly uncompromised during the celebrations. (Patting myself on the back.)

Even so, I certainly did make and eat more than my share of  holiday indulgences. Did you?  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

“Time to clean up my act!”

What with the cookies, pies, stuffing stuffed in squashes, potatoes, and numerous other carb-loaded meals that seems like it would be the first place to cut back, doesn’t it?

Well . . . yes and no.

This is the traditional post-holiday season for joining weight-loss programs, making fitness resolutions and promising beneficial dietary changes. But that doesn’t mean we should go to the other extreme and attempt to cut out entire major food groups or set impossible and un-maintainable goals for ourselves.

Our bodies work on a basis of homeostasis. (I’m a poet and don’t know it,) The body likes to maintain the status quo. So if you want to make changes, you’ve got to train your body to be able to adjust the way you want it to.

Three easy tips to get back on the rails

1. Whole Grains.  My best advice after all those flour products and simple carbohydrates is NOT TO ELIMINATE CARBS!   Instead, consistently use whole grains and just cut out or cut back on the refined and processed grains.

Whole grains means the entire grain, unbroken and un-made-into-flour, not cracked, not rolled, not processed into any other format than just a grain. Included are things like brown rice, millet, quinoa (really a seed, but that’s okay), barley, buckwheat, wheat berries, whole oats—you get the idea.

HATO MUGI SPRING STEW

 

Pearl Barley with Black Beans and Carrots

Not included would be any breads, pastries, pastas, pizza dough, baked goods etc that are made with refined grains such as white flour. Check it out! “Rye bread” ingredients might say there’s rye flour but also it could say “wheat flour.,” That doesn’t mean whole wheat and probably means white wheat which has already been stripped down before it is even made into flour.  I think most of you know what the difference is between whole unrefined grains and the other stuff.

For the most part—at least for a while—I recommend avoiding or greatly reducing bread, cereal and flour products made from whole grains that were nonetheless cracked or floured, pasta, noodles. Also potatoes.

Some other foods that can help satisfy a craving for refined carbs are beans and squashes.

2. No sugar.   No sugar including honey, definitely no agave syrup (it is like high fructose corn syrup in how it affects your body), brown sugar, molasses, cane-anything and any products that contain these. But does that mean going from Sweets City to desolation? Absolutely not! You can get your whole grains and satisfy your sweet tooth by using whole grain sweeteners such as brown rice syrup and barely malt. These are complex carbohydrates and can be eaten in moderation without throwing your body off. See what I recommended in my top ten Christmas gift for cooks list.

FRESH COLLARDS

 

Collard Greens

3. Eat those veggies!   We all know we should eat veggies, but how much do we really need? I would say as much as you can manage but no less than 40-50% of your food volume. At least while you’re cleaning up your act. And every day this should include dark leafy greens like kale, collards, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, etc.

BEAUTIFUL WARM BRUSSELS SPROT SALAD

 

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Even if you get some of your veggies in a smoothie, that is better than nothing.

 

This is by no means a complete rundown on what to eat to be healthy. There is so much more and so many great books and advices that you can read and follow.

These are, however, my top three tips on getting back into balance after a month-long holiday season of indulgences. This is what I’m doing and I’ll let you know how it goes.,

I’d love to hear what you are doing and how it is working for you!

 

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Dark Chocolate Snowball

My resolution to discover and learn to make the best dark chocolate mousse on the planet is taking on a life of its own.

No offense  to Ben & Jerry's, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

No offense to Ben & Jerry’s, but it is time for a chocolate upgrade at mycookinglife for 2013!

First of all, there’s the pressure.  I said I’d make one dark chocolate mousse a month and the first week of January is already slipping by.

“So,” I thought, “Now I have to decide when this monthly merry mousse-making is going to appear.”

Before I could reach a decision my thoughts jumped ahead to some other issues–some of which were instigated by reading other blogs.

I follow “Foodimentary” and learned today is National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day. This used to be my all-time favorite candy but I don’t eat it much any more because the chocolate is usually so cheap and not worth it. (There’s a subject for a post!)

That got me thinking about chocolate quality in general and what do I really know about chocolate?  No doubt there are chocolate connoisseurs in the world. In fact, there are some here in New Mexico and maybe I can consult with them or interview them for my blog.  (There’s a subject for a post!)

Then I read this great post about making a New Year’s resolution to kiss more people more often.  (It was really good, you should read it.)  That got me thinking about my husband and what a great kisser he is and somehow that led to the idea of the famous Chocolate Kisses and the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up in February and that I’d like to make a really special dark chocolate mousse for that month.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

I also read one of my favorite blogger’s excellent advice on the whole new-year-new-diet scene and how to effectively improve your health and lifestyle by making aware decisions about what you eat.  (Yes, I recommend this post to you.)  I had been thinking about the fact that in order to try a different dark chocolate mousse every month, I will inevitably use some recipes that call for a little sugar and some cream–both of which I usually don’t eat–and how do I justify that?

Well, I am no saint and I do sometimes eat those things and this blogger helped me realize that with the right attitude (No, I don’t mean justification, I mean attitude), I can make eating dark chocolate mousse work very well for me.  (There’s a subject for a great post!)

And then there’s presentation.  My second New Year’s Resolution is to learn how to do food photography better.  Which leads to props.  Which leads to shopping. (Love shopping). Which leads to finding creative ways to feature my future dark chocolate meeces (Huh?) in beautiful and enticing photographs.  Imagine the dessert bowls and ramekins! The garnishes! Slenderize Your Dark Chocolate Mousse With Vertical White Chocolate Stripes. Dark Chocolate Mousse Fashion Design. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

Many of my blogging friends are doing interactive things with their blogs like the Virtual Vegan Potluck (invite meeee! I’ll bring a Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse that I want to make.) and Giveaways.  My third New Year’s resolution is to have guest bloggers and that fits right in with being interactive and they may decide to make dark chocolate mousse with photographs supplied.  I thought of quite a few people I could ask to be guests and then I thought of some people I could actually visit and we can make dark chocolate mousse together with photos etc. (There’s a subject for a great post!)

My husband-the-great-kisser, by the way, is more than happy to be the taste tester for my experimental mousse-making.  We will make beautiful moussic together.  (Couldn’t resist saying that!)  In the spirit of being more interactive, I’d like to invite other taste-testers too and have them render their opinions. Of dark chocolate mousse, not of my husband’s kissing thank you very much. (There’s a subject for another great post!)

In fact, why don’t I work out some kind of dark chocolate mousse-making contest and solicit original recipes that I can make during the year as part of my Dark Chocolate Mousse Star Search!? (There’s a subject for another great post, for sure!)

Or the updated versions:  So You Think You Can Mousse.  Moussing With the Stars (Gosh! Do you think I could even pull in a celebrity dark chocolate mousse recipe?)

Moussing with Bullwinkle.

Johnny Depp!  How About You? You were in that Chocolate Factory movie, right? In fact, you were in Chocolat too. Sure, just come on over and we’ll mousse up a Dark Chocolate Storm! I need an expert like you, Johnny.

Chinese New Year:  Year of the Dark Chocolate Moussssse (It’s the year of the snake, and snakes, hiss, and . . . maybe they all can’t be winners).

A Dark Chocolate Day.  Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. Dark Chocolate–Aphrodisiac or Bitter End? Famous Chocolate Marriages – Meet the Reese’s. South of the Border with Mexican Chocolate. How to Remove Chocolate Stains. They Called Me a “Dip.” Lose Ten Pounds on the Dark Chocolate Mousse Diet! Lifestyles of the Dark, Rich and Famous (Chocolate, That Is). Death By Chocolate–Thirty Ways To Do It. Deep Dark Beauty Secrets or How to Have Flawless Chocolate Coating.

Mousse is Not a Hair Product.

I LIke Vanilla: Confessions of a Chocolate Maven.

Where’s my writer’s notepad and pen? I’m drowning ecstatically in my own Dark Chocolate Dreams!  (Yes, another subject for a great post!)

Like I said, there’s the pressure.  And if there wasn’t enough of it before, I’ve certainly magnified it a thousand-fold with these entertainingly bloggy chocolate thoughts, haven’t I?  See what happens when you make what at first seems like a simple resolution?

It is now a Quest.

Surely I’ll be looking for a little help from my blogging friends and we’ll come out okay and probably coated in Delicious Dark Chocolate.  I can just see the words “Chocolate” and “Mousse” looming larger and larger in my tag cloud!

In the meantime I’ve got to choose a dark chocolate mousse recipe to try out and feature for January.  And I think I know just the lady to go to for that.  (Not telling because that will be the subject–you guessed it–for another great post!)

2013 is looking very Dark Chocolate Moussey, I must say!

Doompocalyptic-Resolution in the Kitchen

First of all,  I never paid a lick of attention to the Mayan Calendar, I don’t agree I am headed for a tumble over the “Fiscal Cliff,” and I have a very definite opinion about why people cling to any type of “doomsday” prediction.

We people just love, LOVE, L O V E drama. And getting all excited and worried about doomsday or cliffs or devastation by meteorite seems a lot more exciting sometimes than the challenge of facing our lives and making the moment by moment decisions in which we are actually creating our own futures and navigating through our own personal doomsday.

But in the spirit of the New Year and the tradition of making resolutions, I’m joining in on WordPress’ DPChallenge and I’m going to tell you about three things I’d like to change in my life.

My cooking life, that is!

The secret to a good resolution is to have a definite plan on how you are going to accomplish it and then lay out your targets which will lead to your goal. Don’t defeat your own goal before you’re hardly started by deciding it is not big enough, important enough, worthwhile enough, etc., or adopt the consideration that you’ll probably fail to reach your goal.

Cake made of chocolate mousse.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.  I’m going to learn how to make the best, most excellent dark chocolate mousse.  I resolve to make a different dark chocolate mousse recipe every month this year and find out which one is the best.  I’m pretty sure my husband will agree to be my guinea pig taste tester and I’ll post my research findings for you to see.  Stay tuned for the first “Dark Chocolate Mousse of the Month.”

2.  I’m going to learn how to take great pictures of food (for your viewing pleasure when you read my blog).  For this I have purchased Food Photography for Dummies even though I absolutely dislike being referred to as a
“Dummy” and have avoided purchasing any book with this theme in the title until now.

3. I’m going to find and feature six guest authors to contribute to mycookinglife.com  I’ve invited two and have more in mind!

Nope.  Not much doom and gloom here in my kitchen!  What do you resolve to do this year in YOUR cooking life?