At the beginning of the year, I talked about this year being the year (that sounds familiar to EVERY year, doesn't it?) that I really do concentrate on eating healthier and cutting junk food out of my diet. With half the year almost gone, I realize that to a great extent I have been successful. I am eating many more fresh vegetables and much much less junk food. Am I perfect? Nah, but I'm learning to enjoy better foods more often instead of just as the guilt tucks in. I also talked about four books at the first of the year that have been helping me on that journey http://afridgefulloffood.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/01/happy-new-year-ring-in-the-new-year-with-renewed-commitment-to-health.html#tp
One of those books is The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. There's also a companion cookbook and a web site: www.eatcleandiet.com. Most of Tosca's principles line up perfectly with The Mediterranean Diet in that she focuses on real, as fresh as possible, wholesome foods, getting rid of the junk food, good fats, deleting sugar, and concentrating on complex carbs. Another principe of Eat Clean that I'm experimenting with is she suggests eating every 2-3 hours and to combine protein/complex carbs, both to keep blood sugar stabilized. I had an epiphany on that one. Because I work long night shifts I find myself often craving soda to the point of getting a headache and sick to my stomach while at work. I suddenly realized that while I was thinking I was craving the caffeine, I'm now wondering if it's not a blood sugar drop instead. I'm experimenting this week by following Eat-Clean to the letter.
A great way to get lots of vegetables in without any chemicals or trans-fats is soup, specifically veggie soups. This Minestrone recipe is very good and a pleasure to eat. I don't even feel like I"m deprived. I'm eager to sit down to a bowl of it. I will make one caveat. The recipe as written is a HUGE batch. I cut it in half and still have a huge crockpot full but it's perfect for a family of more than just two people, or for dinner plus nice lunch leftovers, or for me, like this weekend when I'm working a three day stretch. It gives me quick grab and run meals at home and at work that keep me out of the hospital crapeteria and not even glancing at the vending machines.
Recipe from The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno
Makes 24 cups
1 leek, whites only, halved, rinsed, and sliced
2 cups tomatoes, blanched and diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 onion, cut into one-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, cut into one-inch chunks
4 stalks of celery, threads removed, chopped
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed, skin on, cut into one-inch chunks
2 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup cannelini beans
1 cup green peas
1/4 lbs green beans, trimmed
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 Tbsp Olive oil, best quality
1/2 lb kale or spinach, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
2 Tbsp fresh basil
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1/2 cup small pasta shells
8 cups low-sodium vegetable juice
16 cups low-sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced, optional
Salt and pepper to taste--wait until after the soup has cooked and all flavors have melded and reduced before adding extra salt.
Prepare the dried beans by bringing 2 liters (i cups) of water to boil in a large saucepan. Add the beans and bring the water to boil. Remove from heat and let soak in the pan overnight. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Puree half the beans in a food processor or blender. Stir the puree and remaining whole beans into the soup.
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Add all fresh vegetables except tomatoes and spinach. Cook for a few minute until lightly colored. Add cooked meat if using. Add seasonings, green beans, stock, and tomatoes. Simmer for 2 hours. Add pasta shells and cook for another 30 minutes. Toss spinach into the soup just before serving.
Cook's notes: I prepared this in the crockpot on low overnight for about 8 hours and it worked beautifully. Also, I didn't have the dried cannelini beans so I used canned large butter beans and they work great. Any canned bean, like kidney, pinto, black, butter, etc., will work well if you'd like to omit the step of cooking the beans from scratch. --glenna
Nutrition per serving (with the chicken breasts) per cup: Calories: 126; Protein 6 g; Carbs: 19; Fat 3.5gr; Fiber: 3; Weight Watchers points: 2 plus 1 healthy oil serving