On a Roll (hold the butter)!

Day Four (4) of my Low Cholesterol Meal Plan is going well.  The three areas of concern are cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrate, in that order.  Fortunately, I’m finding many foods which can be easily prepared, depending on specific criteria.  My biggest challenge is hiding the leftover Halloween candy which looks so pretty in its festive holiday bowl.  I try to reiterate, “A minute on the lips; a lifetime on the hips” each time a Snickers catches my eye.  Damn willpower!

I’ve discovered it’s more challenging to prepare a low cholesterol meal that is also low carbohydrate than one with merely lower fat and sodium.  Last night, I prepared Sea Scallops with Broccoli Rabe, Sautéed Mushrooms and Garlic.  The dish was served over brown rice. 

It was a quick meal to prepare and only required a few ingredients.  Recipe follows:

Sautéed Scallops with Broccoli Rabe and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. sliced fresh mushrooms (baby bella or button)
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Hot cooked brown rice

Directions:

  1. Bring several quarts of water to boiling. Remove any tough or damaged outer leaves of broccoli rabe and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Peel thick, lower stems and tear into large pieces.
  2. Blanch broccoli rabe by pouring boiling water over it while it is in a colander.  Drain well and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Sauté garlic about 30 seconds, being careful it doesn’t burn.  Add mushrooms and broccoli rabe to the pan and toss to coat with garlic/pepper mixture.   Heat thoroughly, about 3-4 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
  3. In a separate pan, heat about a tablespoon of rice bran or extra virgin olive oil.  Meanwhile, season scallops with black pepper and a pinch of salt.  When oil is hot, add scallops and sear 2-3 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook.  Watch carefully.  When nicely seared (browned) on each side, remove from pan and serve over mushroom/broccoli blend and hot cooked brown rice.

This was a tasty meal.  Although the directions I posted call for searing scallops in a separate skillet, last night I cooked them in the same one as the vegetables.  (See Photo)  I do not recommend this as they were a little overcooked and slightly dry and the vegetables were a little too tender for my liking.  Separate pans are the better way to go with this dish.  That being said, it was a very tasty, satisfying meal and I would definitely make it again.

Tonight I made sautéed chicken breasts, seasoned with lemon and garlic, served over a garden salad with homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

The salad dressing recipe follows:

 Low Sodium, Low Cholesterol Salad Dressing (I adjusted basic recipe from Cooks.com)

  • 1/2 c. oil (I used rice bran but you can use olive, canola, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar (I used raspberry wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute such as Truvia®)

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Refrigerate in covered jar. Shake well before use. I added 1/8 tsp. dill and marjoram for added flavor.  Yield: 3/4 cup.

For dessert, I had a small bowl of cantaloupe chunks with fresh blueberries and several walnut pieces.  Delicious! 

Breakfast and lunch have been pretty much the same since I began this meal plan:  oat cereal or light English muffin with fruit and coffee or tea for breakfast; yogurt with fruit or salad with hard-boiled egg white or tuna for lunch.  Snacks are low cholesterol, low carb chips, fruit, nuts or the occasional piece of dark chocolate (am I bad!)

Remember to drink at least six glasses of water daily.  Buon Appetito!

 “Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  ~William Shakespeare

What Not to Eat After a Workout

Here I am on Day 5 of my Gluten-Free meal plan.  Aside from going through bread-withdrawal, I imagine I’m doing okay overall.  Weigh-in is on Monday morning and even with the exercise, I don’t feel much has changed.  However, I’m hopeful that if I keep it up, something is bound to make a difference, one way or another.

I came across an interesting article today about what NOT to eat after a workout.  That thought never really crossed my mind.  After reading what Dina Aronson, RD had to say on Ivillage.com about this topic, I thought I’d summarize her findings.  Too bad my workouts aren’t strenuous enough to break a sweat; at least not for the time being.  Maybe I’m not pushing myself enough.  I’ll add a few extra reps or minutes with the jump rope tomorrow.  For now, here are a few pointers:

Foods to Avoid after a Workout

High-Sugar Energy Bars.  They may cause a spike in blood sugar.  Try low-fat yogurt with fruit instead.

Raw vegetables.  They aren’t substantial enough to help your muscles recover, keep your metabolism active or maintain energy levels.  If you want to snack on them, eat with hummus or yogurt dip.

Cheese is usually processed and high in saturated fat.  An alternative would be cheese-flavored soy chips.

Soda and fruit drinks.  Need I say more; may as well drink battery acid.  Sugar spikes blood levels and artificial sweeteners trick the body into craving more sugar.  Try iced herbal tea or water with fresh lemon or lime for a refreshing drink.

Salty snacks disrupt the body’s water/salt balance.  Low-sodium baked chips would be a better substitute.

Bread.  Here we go.  I didn’t even want to mention it.  I’m such a bread addict, it kills me not to be able to have it.  Bread has starch that quickly turns to sugar.  Choose a nutrient packed whole grain tortilla or bread slice with a little nut butter and a few banana slices instead.  Gluten-free choices are also available from health food stores.

Pizza.  Again, similar to bread dough, pizza has too much saturated fat and salt, not to mention white flour with little nutrition.  Try half a whole grain English muffin or pita with some sautéed veggies and a sprinkle of low-sodium cheese.  I’ll pass on gluten-free brands because they’re packed with additives and sugar as well as being expensive.

Candy or Chocolate.  We all know candy elevates blood sugar levels after a workout.  If you crave chocolate, have a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of skim chocolate milk (regular or almond).

Cereal.  Again, some contain too much sugar.  Substitute 1/4 cup low-sugar granola with fruit and nuts; no-sugar-added trail mix with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; or a 1/2 serving of unsweetened plain cereal, like shredded wheat or Grape Nuts.  I’ll skip all together for now.

Doughnuts and Pastries.  I know, but these were also on the list of foods to avoid, like we wouldn’t know that!  They’re high in saturated fat and sugar.  Try whole-wheat toast and peanut butter instead.

Pancakes.  Old fashioned ones sure taste great but between the white flour and typical toppings of syrup, butter and powdered sugar, fuggetaboutit!  Go for whole- grain, oatmeal or buckwheat pancakes toppings like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, or toast a whole-grain frozen waffle served with nut butter and a few banana slices.  Again, there are gluten-free varieties but one needs to be careful for an overload of additives.

Fried eggs.  Anything fried contains too much saturated fat.  Try boiled eggs (I keep several hard boiled on hand in my fridge regularly) or an egg-white omelet with a few chopped veggies (sans butter) instead.

French fries.  Sounds counterproductive to exercise and then have French fries.  But they are a weakness of mine.  Thinking “grease” will make you change your mind.  Half a baked white or sweet potato with a tiny scoop of black beans and salsa would be a better choice.

Smoothies.   I love smoothies, especially after working out.  However, you’ll need to replace juice with skim or low-fat milk, regular or almond, some frozen berries or ½ banana with a small handful of walnuts, cashews, almonds or unsalted pistachios.  Blend well.

Bacon & Other Processed Meats.  These can be linked with the other foods high in salt and saturated fat. Try a fresh turkey or chicken wrap either in lettuce leaves or in a whole grain pita with tomatoes and a little seasoning.  Stay away from cold cuts or processed meat though.

After putting all the effort into maximizing a workout session, the last thing you would want to do is replace all the calories you just burned with unhealthy food.  Although it didn’t sound like I had many options, most of the above foods are readily available in my refrigerator and pantry.  I spent almost $20 more on my grocery bill last week from purchasing specific gluten-free products which seem to be extremely overpriced. 

Sixteen days remain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Now, if I could only have just one OREO cookie!