[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] Y[/dropcap]ou know when you come across someone who is a kindred spirit? Someone who has similar philosophies to your own?
I love when that happens.
Like when I discovered Darya Rose from the fab little blog summertomato.com.
Darya and I share a lot in common including a love of vegetables and legumes, a background in science (Darya has a Ph.D) and a firm belief in the power of healthy eating. We’ve both written guest posts for Tim Ferriss‘ blog, which is how I discovered her.
Anyway, Darya’s book Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting is one of the best books I’ve read on healthy eating.
Actually I love it so much I’ve read (listened to the audiobook version) about 5 times in the last year.
If you’re at all interested in how to use real food and healthy habits to control your weight, or even just after some inspiration to help you eat healthier, I can’t recommend Foodist enough.
But in case you need more convincing, I contacted Darya and asked her a couple of questions…
Q. For you personally, what are the top 2 habits you’ve developed (or quit) for controlling your weight?
A. The number one habit I had to give up, without a doubt, was dieting. It sounds counter-intuitive, but dieting was what caused me to make terrible food choices, deprive myself and ultimately overeat. Once I embraced the joy of Real Food all the “self control” I wished I had became second nature. Eating right became easy for me, and I lost weight naturally.
The second habit was cooking. I never used to cook, and to be honest I thought it was beneath me. I was an academic and preferred to outsource my food preparation so that I could focus on “more important things.” I was so misguided. Once the value of Real Food started becoming clear to me, I realized the only practical way to fit my new lifestyle into my grad student budget was to learn how to cook for myself.
What surprised me was how easy it was.
I thought I needed to have some special talent to make food taste good (I had been known to burn water in the past), but when you start with excellent, seasonal ingredients it’s actually kind of hard to mess it up. Then you just need to develop a few simple skills (sautéing, roasting, etc.) and it’s a piece of cake. These days I actually consider it easier to cook and eat at home than go out to a restaurant in the city.
Q. The habit I struggle with the most is snacking while I’m cooking. This is especially bad at dinner when I’m tired and lacking will power! I often sit down to eat and am already full. Now that I have a baby who eats dinner before us, I find it’s getting worse. I’ve tried having healthy snacks on hand which does help sometimes but often I eat the healthy snacks and reach for more food as well. Any ideas how I can stop so I can enjoy my meals at the table?
A. Snacking is tough for a lot of people. One of the issues is that it is difficult to make it a discreet occurrence; it is hard to create a barrier to stop yourself from overdoing it. The key to reprogramming any habit is to pay close attention to the triggers that drive your behavior, and what feelings they activate. The next step is finding ways to steer yourself in a different direction.
One way that I’ve personally been able to control creeping habits like snacking (I lump work/email in the same category, since I work at home it’s hard to keep work out of my personal life sometimes) is to create clear boundaries.
For instance, I too am often hungry before dinner, which is often after I finish my daily workout. I know that there is no way I can get through the cooking process on so little fuel, so I consciously have a satisfying snack before starting to cook. Carrot sticks wouldn’t cut it in these situations. I often have a bit of trail mix, cheese or a hearty piece of fruit. It’s important to make your snacking official, use a plate and sit at a table. That way eating while standing or walking around the kitchen feels weird and inappropriate.
With my method I’m satisfied enough to not snack during the cooking process, then by the time dinner is ready I’m hungry again. Similarly I keep work in its place by forbidding email in the living room. I have a home office (far away from the living area), which is the only place I’m allowed to work. If I want to check email I have to walk away from everyone and go into my boring office. It’s a pretty good deterrent.
The important part is that there’s a clear boundary for when snacking or working is/isn’t allowed. In Foodist I call these black & white rules.
Kale with Pistachios
Adapted from Foodist by Darya Rose. This is one of Darya’s ‘home court’ recipes which is similar to greens I cook all the time. I love Darya’s idea to leave the garlic sit and add at the end of the cooking time. Darya notes that this time increases the nutritional content of the garlic while minimising the risk of burning the garlic. Love it!
enough for 1-2
1 bunch kale
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
handful shelled pistachios, roasted
100g (3.5oz) cooked lentils (1/2 cup), optional
1. Wash kale well and slice into ribbons. Leave some water on the leaves to help the kale steam as it cooks. If the stems are really thick, remove the stems and just use the leaves.
2. Heat a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil, the chopped kale and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes.
3. Stir and if the kale is drying out or starting to burn add a few tablespoons of water. Cover again and cook for another few minutes. Keep cooking and stirring like this until the kale is wilted.
4. Make a hole in the center of the kale, add the garlic and a splash more oil. Allow the garlic to cook for about 30 seconds then stir it into the kale.
5. Add pistachios and lentils (if using). Stir. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
carnivore – brown some chopped bacon or chorizo before adding the kale. Or serve as a side to roast or BBQ chicken.
different greens – I’ve used purple kale in the picture but any green kale or leafy greens such as spinach or chard are great.
lemony – if the greens taste a little flat, I sometimes add a splash of lemon juice or sherry vinegar at the end.
more substantial – add more cooked lentils or other legumes such as chickpeas or beans.
different nuts – feel free to us other nuts such as almonds, cashews, brazil nuts or pine nuts.
nut-free – just replace the nuts with extra lentils or a handful of toasted sourdough breadcrumbs for extra crunch.
other ideas for tasty additions – roast chopped beets, shavings of parmesan, goats cheese, ricotta, sardines, fresh parsley, lemon zest, or aioli.