Post #416 Sauces and 5 Things You Might Not Know

September 18, 2015 at 5:54 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #416 Sauces and 5 Things You Might Not Know

When Partner/Spouse and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving together, he was at my house and I was doing most of the cooking.  I had invited several friends over in a loose open-house style of dining so I was a little nervous, wanting to get everything perfect.  I made the gravy and took a taste and was transported.  I called him over to the stove for a taste and we both stood there with our spoons eating this gravy like soup.  I’ve heard other chefs and diners talk about sauces that contained the “soul of the meat” and that’s how good this was.  I’ve come close since then, but haven’t replicated the exact flavor.  The reason I bring it up is because gravy is a sauce and that’s what this post is about.

At their core, sauces are simply liquids poured over foods to enhance flavor.  They do a good job.  Back in the days when food storage was problematic and spoilage was high, sauces with a lot of herbal flavors were used to mask the taste of spoiled foods.  Also, when a siege lay upon a city and food became scarce, sauces were used to hide the food itself.  Most people won’t eat a rat, or a snail, or a bull’s testicle if they recognize what it is.  When sauces are made, flavors are added either through the main course cooking method, or through an independent process.

Mayonnaise is a cool thickened sauce made independently of the cooking process.  It’s simple but complex.  Egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and good quality oil are whisked together until thickened.  One yolk can handled up to 1/4 cup of oil.  It’s called an emulsified sauce because the oil is emulsified, or suspended, in the egg yolk.  Mayonnaise can have extra flavors incorporated in the mixing process, like garlic or basil.  It can also have extra flavors added afterward by simply sprinkling something on, like paprika or pepper.

When I was growing up, my mom knew only two sauces: gravy and tomato.  When we moved to Arizona, she also learned a sauce made with green chilies and onion.  But she knew them well and they were always delicious, cooked with the meats to gather their flavors.  I found out later that this method of using meats and veggies to create a sauce comes from the braising technique of cooking.

De-glazing a pan that food has been cooked in also creates a really good sauce.  Melissa D’Arabian from the Food Network has a four step method for this.  De-glazing means putting some liquid in the pan after the food has been cooked.  While the liquid heats, you scrape up the leftover bits, called the fond.  These melt into the liquid and give it flavor from the food itself.  Melissa’s four step method is: 1) cook the food (usually chicken); 2) de-glaze the pan (usually with water, but wine or some other liquid will work just as well); 3) add complementary spices and cook down; 4) add a tablespoon of butter to the sauce to give even more flavor and give the sauce a silkiness.  I’ve done this many times since and it works great.  De-glazing creates a thin sauce full of flavor.

Ketchup, as we know it today, started as a sauce and is still considered a sauce.  Most condiments are sauces of the chilled variety.  Even chunky condiments are sauces.  Pickle relish and salsa are sauces.  Chutney is a sauce, as well as dhal.

There are two ways to make a basic sauce.  One is to combine a thickener with a liquid and cook until the sauce is cooked and thickened.  Thickeners can be almost anything but tend to fall into the flour category.  Flours of nearly every type are used to create sauces.  Each type of flour gives a different texture and flavor.  Also starches of various types can be used.  The typical ones are corn, rice, or potato starch.  Corn is the most common one use since it’s the least expensive.  Starches will add their own flavors to sauces, too.  To create the sauce, blend the thickener with a liquid.  That also can be done many ways.  You can create a roux by adding the flour to a fat (most times it’s melted butter) then adding a hot liquid to the roux in small amounts until the sauce is ready.  You can also create a slurry, a mixture of equal parts flour and water stirred until smooth.  This can be added to a large amount of hot liquid until the sauce is created.

The second way to make a sauce is to simply simmer the leftover pan juices until they are reduced to a slightly thickened sauce that looks a lot like syrup.  A wonderful sauce can be made this way using only balsamic vinegar.  Use a high grade vinegar and simmer until the sauce is made and it changes the flavor of the vinegar completely.  It becomes much more mellow with a sweet tang that enhances beef like crazy.  You can add a dab of butter for the silkiness I referred to above, or just serve the reduced sauce as is.  Many chefs will add fresh herbs during the reducing stage to add layers of flavor.  The one thing to avoid when doing this is the burnt stage.  If your sauce burns, that flavor will never ever go away.  So when reducing a sauce, use only the simmer stage and stir often.

My favorite sauce to add to nearly anything is a simple combination of garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, capers, and sometimes butter and/or basil heated thoroughly and tossed either in pasta or on top of some cooked meat.  It’s really simple and really good.

Enjoy

 

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Post #415 Five Marvelous Mushroom Things

September 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Anyone else like mushrooms all the time?  I sure do.  I haven’t done any mushroom hunting because they can be extraordinarily dangerous to eat if you don’t know what you’re doing, but domesticated mushrooms are very good and if you know what you’re doing, wild mushrooms are spectacular.  But I’ve never tried to learn to identify mushrooms except those in the grocery stores.

mushrooms

I started by eating deep fried mushrooms, but those are usually frozen before they’re fried, and they release a lot of water during the frying process.  They become quickly soggy and unappealing so I don’t do them often.  Then I started putting them on pizza, then in grilled sandwiches, and then in casseroles.  Suddenly, as with lentils, I was eating mostly mushrooms and people were looking at me with that “can’t we have something else?” expression.

So, just in case you like mushrooms as much as I do, I thought I’d offer five different things you can do with mushrooms that can segue into other dishes you might like.  Just remember there are lots of different kinds of mushrooms with lots of different flavors and they usually aren’t interchangeable.

Mushroom Thing #1:  Dried Mushroom Powder

We’ve done this several times based on a suggestion from America’s Test Kitchen.  Most grocery stores sell dried mushrooms, either all the same kind, or in blends.  Take those dried mushrooms and put them in a spice grinder or coffee bean grinder (that has NOT been used for coffee ever at any time) and turn the dried mushrooms into powder.  This powder can then be used as seasoning for nearly anything.  It imparts the intense mushroom flavor without the mushroom consistency.  Partner/Spouse hates the feeling of mushrooms in his mouth.  Loves the flavor, though.  This is the perfect compromise.  We find it’s best in soups or sauces, but not as a stand alone soup.

Mushroom Thing #2:  Fried or Sautéed Mushrooms

You can fry mushroom caps, slices mushrooms, or chopped mushrooms.  If you’re frying caps or sliced, do not over crowd the pan.  Fry them longer than you feel comfortable with and they’ll get a nice crispy layer on the outside.  You can fry them with other things but if you want the crispiness, fry them alone first, then add the other veggies or meat.  Mushrooms have their own flavor, but they also pick up the flavors of what they’re cooked with so some really good pairings are beef, garlic, onion, and butter.  Once the mushrooms are fried, they can be added to anything.  I’ve seen a sandwich where the chef hollowed out a whole loaf of bread, fried a sirloin steak, stuffed it into the hollowed loaf, added fried mushrooms, and weighted the whole thing down in wax paper.  After several hours in the fridge, it turned into a wonderful cold sandwich with all the juices soaked into the bread and the meat and mushrooms as tender as a marshmallow.  I’ve added fried mushrooms on top of burgers, and into meatloaf.  Sometimes, I’ve put them in casseroles, but usually I put raw mushrooms in to cook with the casserole.

mushrooms 2

Mushroom Thing #3:  Soups and Sauces

Ever been to a Japanese Steak House restaurant?  The first course is usually a light beef or onion soup with mushrooms slice thin as paper.  The mushrooms wilt and cook in the bowl of broth and the whole thing tastes wonderful.  Most restaurants go the quick and easy route by using a beef bouillon, but if you want it authentic, you should use a beef consommé.  It’s time consuming but not difficult.  Once the consommé is done, use a very sharp knife or a mandolin to slice the mushrooms as thin as possible.  Those go into the hot broth and served immediately with a few chopped scallions.  Cream of Mushroom soup is easy to make and you don’t really need cream or milk for it.  Start by heating a pound of sliced mushrooms in half a cup of chicken broth.  Cover and heat, stirring occasionally so nothing burns, until the mushrooms have released their juices and cooked down, about 20-30 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then using an immersion blender, or a stand blender, puree the entire pot of soup.  Make sure there are no lumps at all.  Put the soup back in the pot and bring to a simmer, adding two cups of chicken broth.  When the whole pot is hot and simmering, make a slurry out of 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.  Make sure the slurry has no lumps.  Add the slurry to the soup in a slow stream, stirring the soup constantly.  Cook the soup stirring constantly until it thickens, then allow to cook for five minutes without stirring.  Serve hot.  You can use leftovers for any cream of mushroom recipe you know.

Mushroom Thing #4:  Raw Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great when cooked, but are just as good when served raw.  Make sure they’re fresh and have a crisp pop to them.  Clean them thoroughly, but you don’t need to peel them.  Make sure they’re dry, or they spoil more quickly.  If you’re going to store them, put them in a cool, dark, dry place and make sure they have air all around them.  A plastic baggie won’t do.  When you use them, cut them into bite size pieces for salads or dipping.  Some salads like to have them sautéed, but mostly they’ll be raw.  You can also stuff the caps with deviled egg yolk or chicken salad or cheese.  They can be dipped into any savory dip, or plain olive oil with seasoning or vinegar.  I do not recommend dipping them in a sweet dip, but to each his own.

Mushroom Thing #5:  Mushrooms as a Garnish

I’ve watched chefs slice little wedges out of mushrooms caps and place them on a plate as an eye-pretty.  It seemed like a lot of work for something that’s to be ignored.  I’ve seen other chefs spiral cut a mushroom and edge platters with them.  I’ve seen pizza chefs cut a mushroom so thin you could see through it and drape it over the outer crust so the mushroom cooks crisp but the outer crust stay moist but firm.  I’ve seen bowls of mushrooms marinated to rubber-like consistency then set out on the table for each person to add to their plate as they see fit.  Mushrooms as a garnish is an okay thing.  I’d rather just eat the mushroom in the meal.

You get the point that mushrooms are versatile and mushrooms are good.  They’re also good for you.  They contain trace minerals that are important to the human body.  They also contain a good amount of vitamin D as well as a good supply of protein.  Mushrooms can be substituted for meat in many dishes, if you use the right mushroom.  Once I got a steak at a restaurant that was entirely covered with a sautéed portabella mushroom.  Everyone else at the table was turned off by the mushrooms on their steaks, so I got to eat my steak, my mushroom, and everyone else’s mushrooms.  It was good!

Enjoy

Post #414 Harvest Time

September 14, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Summer this year seemed hotter than previous years, and certainly more humid.  We had rain at least once a week all summer long which is unusual for this area.  It made the grass grow like crazy and kept the neighborhood buzzing with lawn mowers.  The summer heat lasted longer, too.  It’s only just now cooling off to normal temps for the area and it’s much appreciated.  We kept the windows open all day yesterday and last night.  It got pretty chilly but felt wonderful after the heat.  Of course, the electricity bills will go down by quite a bit, too.

With the change in seasons (Autumn is just a week away), the harvests are changing and we’re getting into the fall veggies, some of my favorites.  Our favorite vegetable store just posted this on their FB page:

Emily 1

Emily 2

The tomatoes are spectacular and I’m not looking forward to a winter of no fresh ones.  We’re seeing the corn harvest wind down.  Corn is planted early and late so there are two crops.  Now we’re seeing the beginning harvest of the second planting.

corn

It’s fun to watch things grow and try to identify them.  We finally learned the answer to one puzzle just recently.  We saw this growing:

soybeans

and we knew what it was, soybeans.  They’re just starting to ripen when they look like this.  The field will go entirely yellow, then completely brown.  When it’s brown, it’s harvested and the bean is separated from the plant.  But there’s another plant that looks exactly like soybean but grows a little taller and straighter, and stays a dark green until it’s harvested.  I asked around, but no one I asked knew what it was.

Well, it’s soybean, too.  It’s just a different kind of soybean and has only recently been added to the crop cycle here on the peninsula.  It’s a gourmet soybean and is used differently.  It’s sort of the truffle of soybeans.

But the big thing right now is the big thing.

pumpkin-field

As we’re driving around we’re seeing  a bunch of these fields, and a bunch of these giant orange orbs at all the roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and in the stores.  It’s a little early for making jack o’lanterns for Halloween, but the stuff is there.

When we were kids and living in upstate New York, one year my dad brought home small pumpkins for each kid.  We got to make our own jack o’lantern in our own way and put them out on the porch for the big day.  Because of the cold, they stayed out there well into November, almost to Thanksgiving.  Eventually, frost and age took its toll and the glorious lit lantern/gourd turned into drooping, saggy piles of near mush that no one wanted to get near.  Dad corralled all three of us to grab our own pumpkin and troop out to the garbage can in the back yard.  We didn’t want to touch the ugly mass, but it had to be done and they were ours, after all.  It went well, for the most part, until my little brother dropped his.  It hit the ground and splattered in a perfect circle.  My fascination in watching the pumpkin splatter like that turned into revulsion as my little brother emptied his stomach on top the pumpkin mess.  Dad, the marine, was singularly unimpressed and unmoved by my brother’s plight and handed him a newspaper, a shovel, and the garden hose.  His youngest son’s tears were not enough to change his mind.

Pumpkins always remind me of the my sister’s first Thanksgiving.  A friend of hers who had a large vegetable garden said he’d bring the stuff for pumpkin pie.  About midmorning I received a frantic phone call from her.

“What do I do with this pumpkin?  He brought a pumpkin!”

“Does it have a large stem on the end?”

“Yes, but it’s a pumpkin!  It’s not a can!”

“Grab the stem firmly in your right hand and beat him about the head and shoulders.  Then come on over grab a couple of our pies.  We have plenty.”

I looked the next day and he’d brought the right kind of pumpkin.  To make a pumpkin pie, you have to start with a sugar pumpkin.  They look essentially like a regular pumpkin but smaller and rounder.sugar pumpkin

They have a sweeter flavor and in every other respect are exactly like the standard pumpkin you see all through the Fall.

sugar-pumpkin-1

They’re the pumpkins you want when you’re cooking because the flavor tends to be more intense and better to the mouth.

Partner/Spouse loves to tell about the time his mom decided to make pumpkin pie from scratch.  She only did it once.  It tends to be the kind of thing people only do once because it’s seldom successful unless you know what you’re doing.  So she took the leftover pumpkin from Halloween, cut it into pieces and boiled it until it was soft.  Then she mashed it by hand, made the pie, and it turned out slimy, and with a funny flavor.  After that, she went back to the canned pumpkin or the frozen pies.

To get the true pumpkin flavor, like any other root or gourd vegetable, you need to roast it.  As I said before, this intensifies the flavors.  Then you blend it to a paste, add eggs and milk to make a custard, and what’s known as pumpkin pie spices.

There’s not a more evocative blend of spices than that one.  It’s sweet, earthy, and addicting.

Pumpkin Pie Spices

You can buy the blend pre-made, or you can do like my mom and just add the separate spices until it tastes right.  She liked more cinnamon, but I tend to like a little more allspice and nutmeg.  This time of year, we’re inundated with pumpkin flavored everything, but it’s usually just a little bit of this blend to evoke the memory of pumpkin pie.

pumpkin pie

I could go on for another thousand words or so about pumpkin pie, but I’ll close with this little story.  My mom and I always went a little overboard on pies during the holidays.  Nearly every pie was accompanied with whipped topping or ice cream.  One afternoon, I was reading on the couch and mom came in from the kitchen with a saucer that had a piece of pie and a huge mound of Cool Whip.  I was curious about what kind of pie she had chosen, and thinking about a blueberry pie in the fridge, so I was watching her eat. About halfway through I finally said, “Um, mom, you forgot you forgot to put pie on that plate.”

She just giggled.  “No, I didn’t.”

Enjoy

Post #413 A Picture is Worth A Recipe

September 11, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #413 A Picture is Worth A Recipe

Before starting this post, I wanted to take a moment to remember all those who lost their lives 14 years ago, and to remember all the heroes of that time, both two-legged and four-legged.  Thanks.

I always think I don’t care much for fruit, until I’m eating it.  In memory, it always has the characteristic of being too sweet.  I prefer vegetables since they have their own, individual and distinct flavors.  But then I’ll eat a whole bunch of bananas and remember that I really like them.  Or I’ll eat a slice of blueberry pie and think, “Oh, that’s really good.”  I’ll use lemon or lime in a pasta dish and wonder why I’m not eating pasta all the damn time.  Then I realize that I do like fruit, but only when it’s prepared properly.  And like vegetables, I don’t like all fruits.

For instance, strawberries.  My mom liked strawberries.  She’d eat strawberry jam out of the jar, sometimes foregoing the spoon in favor of her fingers.  I think the spoon got in her way.  She tried to cultivate a love of them in us kids, but was wildly unsuccessful with me.  I know my sister likes strawberries, but I’m not sure about my brother.  My sister-in-law put my feelings about strawberries quite succinctly.  She doesn’t like them either and often says, “I think strawberries are over-rated.”  Only once in my life have I ever eaten strawberries and enjoyed them.  It was at my uncle’s ranch and they had strawberries growing in the dirt.  They were ripe on the vine, large, juicy, and delicious.  And while I enjoyed the few that I ate, I still didn’t like strawberries.

Apples are another.  We were raised on apples.  I think mom truly believed that an apple a day kept the doctor away.  We always had apples.  Or apples products, like apple juice, or apple butter, or applesauce, or apple cake, or baked apples, or apples in salads, or apples and cheese.  Mom seemed to know a bazillion ways to use apples and use them up.  I finally got sick to death of apples in my late teens and now I can’t look at an apple without getting just a little sick to my stomach.  Every once in a while, though, I will eat part of an apple that’s crisp and chilled, and the juicy pulp is filling my mouth with a tart and sweet apply flavor and I’ll remember summer days when I was 8 and it feels like I’m eating an apple for the first time and I can taste the tang all the way behind my ears.  But only once in a while.  The last apple I ate was last fall.  The one before that was likely a couple of years ago.  I might have one sometime this fall.

Yesterday, for breakfast, I ate a whole pound of watermelon.  It was store bought, pre cut in a plastic container, and had been chilled in the fridge for a couple of days.  It was at the height of its ripeness and once I started, I couldn’t stop till it was all gone.  Then I drank the juice.  And it was good.

And very soon I’m going to make a berry buckle with the blueberries and blackberries I have in the freezer.  Cuz not much is better than berries.

The other day, I was wandering around the internet pursuing a bit of research and stumbled across a picture of a dessert.

Cheery Cherry Cheesecake

No recipe, just a title, Cherry Cheese Wheel.

My first thought was, mmmmmmmmmmm, cherries!

It’s a tie between cherries and blueberries for my favorite fruit.  Just about anything with cherries is okay by me.  Same for blueberries.  When I was a kid, my mom couldn’t keep cans of cherry pie filling in the house because of me.  It made her angry at first, until she decided I was eating fruit and it was a good thing.

The more I looked at the picture-with-no-recipe, the more I wanted to make it.  It’s just a riff on a cherry cheese danish, really.  I know how to do those.

But I’m feeling kind of lazy right now, so I want some short cuts.  What can I use for the pastry that won’t involve me actually doing a ton of work.  It has to puff nicely, be flaky, and slightly sweet.  It can’t be dense.  It’s got to hold up well against the fillings.  So it can’t be pie crust, or refrigerator biscuits or crescent rolls.  Really, the only thing that fits the bill without making it from scratch is puff pastry.  So, lay out a sheet of puff pastry and form it into a round in the easiest way possible.  Then, to hold the filling in, I’ll need to cut longer pieces and build up overlapping sides but not too high..  I need to brush them with an egg wash to make them stick together.  Then, I’m going to blind bake the pastry and let it cool completely.

While that’s going on, I’m going to start with the filling by making the cheese spread.  Basically, it’s a sweet cream cheese.  You can use whatever cream cheese you like.  A lot of people like mascarpone, but mostly it’s the cream cheese we know and love.  You can also find pre-made cheesecake filling near the cream cheese that you can use, too.  I’m going to use 8oz of cream cheese at room temp and I’m going to beat in 1/2 tsp of vanilla and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  When it’s well blended, I’m going to add one egg and blend it in.  I might add a 1/2 tsp of lemon, but I’ll decide that on the day.  Once it’s all mixed together, I’ll spread it on the baked and cooled pastry.

Then, I’ll spread cherry preserves over the top.  I might used a can or two of cherry pie filling, but I’m most likely to use a recipe for making my own cherry pie filling that I have filed somewhere if I can find it.  By making it myself, I can have as many cherries as I like and not be limited to whatever is in the can.

Then, I’ll cut the strips of pastry to make the spokes and the center hub.  I’ll bake it until the cheese is set and the pastry is brown.  While it cools, I’ll make the glaze with powdered sugar, water, and vanilla.  I’ll pipe some while it’s still hot so it sinks in, and finish it when it’s cooled.

Then I’ll probably throw my face into it and come up for air when it’s gone.

Cheery Cherry Cheesecake

Cuz it just looks that good.

Enjoy

Post #412 Dare I Eat That?

September 9, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #412 Dare I Eat That?

A joke went around a couple of decades ago that the word “diet” stood for Dare I Eat That?  Diets back in the 70s had very little to do with nutrition and almost everything to do with calories.  The fewer calories you ate, the more weight you would lose.  Trouble was, in most cases, you gained all the weight back again once you stopped dieting, usually more than you’d lost for a net gain.  I once watched my brother’s first ex-wife literally starve herself by eating only 900 calories a day and reduced herself to tears by the end of two weeks because she was so hungry.  Diets got a bad reputation because they were only effective in the short term.  The rank and file didn’t know enough about how diets work and how the body responds to diets to be able to make informed decisions.

By the mid 80s, more specialty and long-term diets were popping up and books by the dozens were being published.  Suddenly, every bookstore had a growing section on dieting.  There were diets specific to diseases, like the heart smart diet, and the diabetes diet.  There were diets specific to activities like the runner’s diet, the weight lifter’s diet, and the bicyclist’s diet.  There were diets based on places like the South Beach diet, and the Hollywood diet.  There were even diets based on specific foods like the Atkins diet which focused on proteins, and the Whole Foods diet with focused on low- or no-processed foods.  Slowly, good information was getting to the public and making diet gurus rich.  Dieting and being a dieting expert was suddenly good business.

By the 90s, dieting was more scientific.  There were medical procedures to assist those who couldn’t do it by themselves.  There were amazing drugs that dropped the pounds and kept them off.  Some of them caused other problems in the long term, but some were effective for the weight loss and other health concerns and are still around today.

In the late 90s, I had an accident and hurt my head and neck.  Overnight, my lifestyle had to change and I wasn’t allowed to be anywhere close to as active as I had been most of my life.  I didn’t exactly load on the pounds, but over the course of a year I went from 180 to almost 220.  Along with my sedentary lifestyle came some of those problems from overeating.  I had high cholesterol, but luckily only skirted pre-diabetes and high blood pressure.

It helped that I was already a fairly healthy eater.  I didn’t indulge in sweets too often, about once a day (not really.)  My alcohol intake then was very low.  No fried foods, ate loads of veggies, and stayed away from processed and fast foods as much as possible.  But I still moved up the weight scale till I started having to buy clothes out of the size I’d been wearing my entire adult life.  I didn’t like that.  No one does.

Then a friend told me about a diet and exercise regimen called Body For Life by Bill Phillips.  It was right up my alley.  Since I was still seeing a battery of doctors at the time, I talked with a couple of them about my weight.  It usually surprised them since I carry pounds pretty well.  One even re-weighed me to confirm the figure.  But they all said as long as I was smart about it, losing weight wouldn’t hurt me.  So my friend and I chose a date and started the course.

The thing about Body for Life (and its companion cookbook Eating for Life) is that it’s a long-range plan to make you rethink how you eat and what you eat.  It tends to go to the low fat extreme.  It allows you to eat low fat versions of traditionally fatty things.  Cheese, dressings, sauces, etc. are always low fat.  I don’t like low fat.  So what I did was use regular versions, but half the amount.  It also combines an intense exercise regimen which is right up my alley.  Every other day was a weight routine, exercises with weights or resistance bands, focusing on one body area.  Alternate days were devoted to cardio.  One day each week, your choice of day as long as it was the same day every week, was a “free” day with no exercise and you could eat what you liked.

There were three keys to the success of this plan.  The first was the frequency you ate your meals.  It was six times a day!  But there was a reason for that.  The body of every animal is designed to survive.  When the body recognizes that it’s not getting enough food, the first thing it does is send out hunger pangs.  When it realizes it’s being ignored, it starts hording what few calories its getting.  The only way the body has to store energy is as fat.  This is why you see so many people going up and down the weight scale like a yo-yo.  The final thing it does is start cannibalizing its own resources while hording fat cells.  Muscles will start to shrink, bones will get brittle, hair will fall out.  But your stomach may start to distend as the body hordes the fat cells in the abdomen.  Cool, huh?  By eating six times a day, the body is conditioned to expect regular intake of energy and calories and stops hording them.  It actually starts to shed the extra stored fat cells.

The second key goes hand in hand with the first.  You’re eating six times a day, but you’re eating smaller portions.  At first, I was forcing myself to eat that much, but as I adjusted portion sizes, it became easier.  Proteins should be no larger than a deck of cards.  Starches should be no larger than your fist.  Oils and sugars should be measured in drops.  Fruits and vegetables are the bread and butter of the plan.  You don’t want to go crazy with them, but you can indulge in them.  So you eat a quick small snack when you wake up with a glass of cold water.  Three hours later, you eat a reasonable breakfast. Three hours later, you eat lunch.  Three hours later you eat a reasonable snack.  Three hours later, you eat a reasonable dinner.  Three hours later, you eat a reasonable snack.  You drink a glass of cold water with each meal, and as much water during the day as you like.  You can substitute unsweetened tea or coffee for water if you choose during the day, but with meals, water only.  Keep in mind, your activity level is increasing too, so the calories are going to be burned off pretty quickly.

The third key is the exercise.  Now here’s where I deviate.  The original plan is designed to make bodybuilder quality bodies.  You know the type.  Zero per cent body fat; 8-10 pack abs; whipcord muscles.  However, if you adopt a less-rigorous routine, but keep it up every day (except your cheat day), you will lose weight.  You’ll lose body fat.  You’ll get healthier.

The whole point of this post is that we’re starting the routine again.  Last time, I lost 27 pounds in 3 months.  Partner/Spouse doesn’t recall how much he lost, but he remembers it was significant.  We’re both much older than when we first tried it, so we’re going to be more sensible and age appropriate.  We’re going to follow the diet meticulously, and do the exercise routine as it fits our schedules.  We will see a nice drop in weight.  I want to drop about 25 pounds and get down to 175.  That’s my goal and I’m sticking to it.  I don’t have a time frame, but I have goal.  It’ll work!  Anyone want to join us?

Enjoy

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