Like the concise title? Me too. I’m not feeling particularly concise tonight, but the lovely dinner I just finished got me thinking.
Michael had to be out this evening, and I was feeling energetic enough to attempt making dinner – one that involved the oven, no less. Our CSA shares (1 fruit, 1 veg, both abundant) will be arriving tomorrow, so it was time to clean the riffraff out of the fridge. I finally made the decision to pitch a couple of items – some yellow beans, a head of Chinese cabbage, and a giant golden zucchini – which I hate to do. But really, you have to cut your losses sometimes; neither of us has been in shape to ride herd on our vegetable supply, and I just can’t feel bad about it.
Anyhoo, I rescued an eggplant, 2 nicely sized zucchini, a fresh onion, a few cloves of fresh garlic, and 3 tomatoes. Made a nice pan of eggplant-tomato-onion-garlic and another of zuc-tomato-onion-garlic, threw on some oil & seasoning, and put both in the oven. I love baking dinner; so little effort, so much roasty goodness. Adding tomatoes was my strategy to keep everything hydrated enough that I wouldn’t have to be vigilant about flipping the veggies, and it worked nicely. Everything stewed up together and was delicious. In the meantime, I braised some tempeh with oil, garlic, tomato, Bragg’s, balsamic vinegar, and a bunch of Italian-leaning spices. Also totally low-effort and delicious. Check out Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan With a Vengeance for the recipe that inspired the tempeh. Reheated a little bit of rice & beans from last night, added a blob (more appealingly called a dollop, I guess) of plain soy yogurt for a cool, sour-creamy foil to the hot stuff, and we had a fantastic meal.
As I finished, completely satisfied but not overly full, I thought about the way I’ve adjusted my eating along with this injury. It’s really based on a strategy to which my coach, Mary Eggers, introduced me. The concepts come from The Core Diet (www.thecorediet.com), and although I can’t say I’m a strict adherent, I have made a conscious and very constructive shift in my eating since discovering them. The concepts helped me a ton during my last 8 months or so of training, and they also made me really confident that I can make it through this recovery process while building strength, healing well, and maintaining a stable weight.
I started laying out the basic concepts that have helped me, and I quickly realized that this is too involved for a single blog post. So maybe I’ll start with the first concept, which is the one that relates most to my fabulous veg-filled dinner anyway.
Concept 1: Focus the diet on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy oils, nuts & seeds. These provide abundant nutrients, fiber, and excellent taste. They supply plenty of energy for times when you need to be alert and healthy but not actively exercising. By avoiding refined grains and lots of sweets, blood sugar and energy stay more stable. I don’t strictly exclude grains, but I’ve cut down on them. I do generally have a bit of high-fiber cereal for breakfast (helps me feel full longer) and another serving of grains (slice of bread, scoop of rice, etc) sometime during the day. But grains are no longer the focus of my diet, except around workouts.
This focus on high-quality vegetables, fruits & proteins has really helped me feel good, and although my portions are a bit smaller now that I’m so much less active, the core of my diet is really the same. And yes, I do make exceptions. I am a Hanson / Dimick, and I like my dessert. But I like it most these days in small portions that I can savor and that keep me feeling healthy.
Anyway, some other day I’ll take a stab at another nutrition concept from my completely non-scientific approach. For now, take this for what it’s worth: just my experience, nothing more or less. But after a lot of years of struggling with nutrition, I finally feel like I have a solid strategy, and apparently it even works when I end up beached in a Lazy Boy for a month. Who knew?