Lent: Days 22-24

Lent: Days 22-24
My son received a gift of chocolate yesterday and he was in heaven!
My son received a gift of chocolate yesterday and he was in heaven!

I have crossed the halfway point in my Lenten healthy eating project! It’s all downhill to Easter from here. Just a little over 3 weeks left.

Day 22

Wednesday was a fasting day.  This was my salad for the evening, Gwyneth's healthy tuna salad (with my addition of jalapenos) over beans and greens.
Wednesday was a fasting day. This was my salad for the evening, Gwyneth’s healthy tuna salad (with my addition of jalapenos) over beans and greens.
The dinner salad I made for my husband: grilled turkey with salsa, beans, cheese and goat's milk yogurt.
The dinner salad I made for my husband: grilled turkey with salsa, beans, cheese and goat’s milk yogurt.

Day 23

Sweet quinoa for breakfast.
Sweet quinoa for breakfast.
For my husband's breakfast, a body builder smoothie.  He doesn't particularly care for it but he will drink it for me.  :)
For my husband’s breakfast, a body builder smoothie. He doesn’t particularly care for it but he will drink it for me. 🙂
We had lunch with a dear friend.  I made the chicken and white bean chili and the "Frankies-esque beet salad." Everyone said they enjoyed both dishes very much.  My friend reminded me of how far my cooking skills have come in the last few years.  A few years ago, making this type of meal would have been unimaginable!
We had lunch with a dear friend. I made the chicken and white bean chili and the “Frankies-esque beet salad.” Everyone said they enjoyed both dishes very much. My friend reminded me of how far my cooking skills have come in the last few years. A few years ago, making this type of meal would have been unimaginable!
After lunch, we had some fun with Easter crafts she brought.
After lunch, we had some fun with Easter crafts she brought.
For a small treat after lunch, I made these "gluten free sugar free" cookies from Disney's Spoonful.  The ingredients are just almonds, dates, peanut butter and vanilla.  They were awesome!  I ate one, then had to eat another and would have eaten the whole plate if my children had not eaten them all first.  Can you tell we are starved for cookies here?
For a small treat after lunch, I made these “gluten free sugar free” cookies from Disney’s Spoonful. The ingredients are just almonds, dates, peanut butter and vanilla. They were awesome! I ate one, then had to eat another and would have eaten the whole plate if my children had not eaten them all first. Can you tell we are starved for cookies here?
Late afternoon snack: apple and peanut butter.
Late afternoon snack: apple and peanut butter.
My dinner: leftover tuna salad.
My dinner: leftover tuna salad.
I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner and he responded, "MEAT!"  I made these Japanese-style meatballs from the Kids Food section of It's All Good.  I swapped ground turkey for the ground chicken the recipe called for.  These meatballs are a favorite of Gwyneth's son Moses.  The dipping sauce is "Lee's Hoisin Sauce."  My husband said they were awesome but a bit dry.  This is probably the second time I have ever made meatballs before.  They are tricky to cook.  You have to make sure they are cooked all the way through but still remain juicy.  I need a little more practice.
I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner and he responded, “MEAT!” I made these Japanese-style meatballs from the Kids Food section of It’s All Good. I swapped ground turkey for the ground chicken the recipe called for. These meatballs are a favorite of Gwyneth’s son Moses. The dipping sauce is “Lee’s Hoisin Sauce.” My husband said they were awesome but a bit dry. This is probably the second time I have ever made meatballs before. They are tricky to cook. You have to make sure they are cooked all the way through but still remain juicy. I need a little more practice.
A salad of beans and greens for my husband to go with the meatballs.  I used Gwyneth's "Apple Cider Vinaigrette" for the dressing.  Something was crystallizing out of this dressing.  I'm not sure what but it tasted OK.
A salad of beans and greens for my husband to go with the meatballs. I used Gwyneth’s “Apple Cider Vinaigrette” for the dressing. Something was crystallizing out of this dressing. I’m not sure what but it tasted OK.

Day 24

Breakfast: the "Mushroom Spinach" version of the egg white omelet.  Yummy!
Breakfast: the “Mushroom Spinach” version of the egg white omelet. Yummy!
The pumpkin pie shake for a snack.
The pumpkin pie shake for a snack.
Post work-out snack of apples and peanut butter.
Post work-out snack of apples and peanut butter.
A lunch of leftovers: Japanese Meatballs and Hoisin sauce over quinoa with leftover "Frankies-esque beet salad."
A lunch of leftovers: Japanese Meatballs and Hoisin sauce over quinoa with leftover “Frankies-esque beet salad.”
Dinner: leftover "Chicken and White Bean Chili"
Dinner: leftover “Chicken and White Bean Chili”
My husband's fasting day salad today: tuna jalapeno with avocado.  He agrees that the jalapenos give the tuna a nice kick.
My husband’s fasting day salad today: tuna jalapeno with avocado. He agrees that the jalapenos give the tuna a nice kick.

Nutritional News Roundup

I had a big shock today to read some recent research about 5-2 fasting. Some scientists tested the diet on mice, feeding them an obesity-inducing diet for 10 days and then a restricted intake diet for 4 days, repeating the cycle 4 times. (It’s not quite 5-2 fasting as you can see). They study found:

“The mice that fasted between bouts of eating had almost twice as much fat in their liver as those who had uninterrupted access to the obesity-promoting diet. The intermittent fasting group also put on more visceral fat . . . .”

–Fattening Facts behind the 5:2 Diet, ScienceNordic, March 27,2014

This experiment doesn’t doom 5:2 fasting for me but I think it points out a few things, such as, if you don’t restrict your dietary intake on your non-fast days at least minimally, you are headed for problems. Also, fasting is really a diet technique for conscious beings. You have to realize that you are fasting for a set duration of time and understand the purpose behind it. It also takes a breaking in period to get used to these periods of feast and famine. If you are a mouse who is worried you are about to starve to death, you probably would eat uncontrollably when food was available as well.

There was also a wonderful quote in this New York Times book review of a book called “Overwhelmed,” about the difficulties women face balancing choices of career and motherhood:

“[L]ike all self-help advice, [her suggestions] don’t measure up against the entrenched forces that are indifferent if not hostile to the emotional well-being of a majority of Americans. Schulte is fighting SEAL Team Six with a pair of fingernail scissors.”

–Ann Critenden, Review of Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed, The New York Times, March 28, 2014.

This quote made me think about how hard it is to try to pursue a healthy diet and exercise program with all the pressures of everyday life. You essentially have to commit to making your own food and motivating yourself to exercise.

Michael Pollan recently Tweeted a link to this article in The Atlantic where science proved that the best diet out there is “real food,” (i.e. “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”) The study’s author sadly noted, however:

“The evidence that with knowledge already at our disposal, we could eliminate 80 percent of chronic disease is the basis for everything I do,” Katz said. Just as he was finishing his residency in internal medicine in 1993, influential research in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“Actual Causes of Death in the United States”) put diet on a short list of the lifestyle factors blamed for half of deaths in 1990. “Here we are more than 20 years later and we’ve made just about no progress.”

–Dr. David Katz, quoted in James Hamblin’s “Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner Is Real Food,” The Atlantic, March 24, 2014.

You can see this backlash against healthy eating everywhere. I have been shocked at the articles for example blaming Gwyneth Paltrow for her divorce by “forcing” her husband and children to eat healthy food. I wonder if the people writing those articles have ever actually tasted her recipes. For some, the thought of giving up any kind of food is a fate worse than death. This healthy eating project for me has been a lesson that I need to keep an open mind about diet and exercise and be willing to risk some of my own comfort in the short term for longer term benefits.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. Bertie and Mary, could you check in with how you are faring so far?