Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My mostly veggie life

It's not as if I'm totally rejecting French cuisine. But I have done something in the past three weeks that will likely irk my French chefs. I've shifted my diet to about 75% vegetarian and I've drop-kicked butter from my diet.

BUT, as of today, I have lost eight pounds since early January. Keeping up with my New Year's resolution to lose nearly 30 pounds, I now hit the scale at 146, as opposed to 154. My body fat percentage is down is 39.2%, down from nearly 41% a month ago. My BMI is now 25.9, as opposed to 27.3. Worth noting: I didn't drop any weight the first two weeks of January. In fact, I gained two pounds.

Key strategies:
- Exercise. I walk at least 10,000 steps a day and work out at the gym six days a week for at least 45 minutes. Weight train one day, cardio the next. A trainer suggested walking briskly on a steep (10 to 12%) incline on the treadmill. Most days I do that until it says that I've burned 250 calories, about 25 minutes. My butt physically hurts right now, but hey, no pain, no gain.

- I'm down on "white foods." Minimal potatoes, white bread, bananas, white pasta and the like. My dairy consumption is down by 75%. I've replaced soy milk for cow's milk and eschew heavy cheese. I still eat cottage cheese and yogurt, and use sparing amounts of freshly grated Parmesan into dishes.

- We've started to eat our biggest meal of the day by no later than 6 p.m. Both Mike and I are night owls, and we routinely ate dinner around 9 p.m., sometimes later. Now, we eat earlier and have a snack at night.

- Less meat, plenty of vegetables and lots of fiber. I eat something with beans almost every day, like this white bean and collard green soup.

White bean and great greens soup
Like most soups, this is a flexible way to use up leftover vegetables. Use kale, collard or other hearty greens. In my recent version, I included green beans from my mom's garden, but you could use corn, sweet potatoes, zucchini, additional carrots or artichokes. I used canned beans for convenience, but you can obviously include dried beans in their place. To make this properly vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock for chicken.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock
1 quart water
1 can great northern or cannelloni beans, drained, rinsed
2 cups or 1 14 oz. can chopped and seeded tomatoes
1 to 2 cups other vegetables
1 tablespoon dried mixed Italian herbs
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup dried whole wheat pasta
2 cups kale or collard greens, roughly chopped
Salt, ground pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chicken stock, water, beans, tomatoes, vegetables, herbs, cayenne and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the pasta and greens simmer about 15 minutes, or until the pasta has softened. Add soft and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with grated Parmesan and a couple grinds of fresh pepper.

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Anonymous Dana McCauley said...

Michael Pollan will be proud - didn't he say to eat mostly plants in his Defense of Food?

It's good sense though. When I stick to a similar strategy I always feel better and lose a few pounds. I'm just glad that wine and gin are made from plants!

February 5, 2009 at 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Cherie said...

Good for you. I read your entry about your resolutions. I hope you post more healthy recipes!

February 5, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Cherie said...

Good for you. I read your entry about your resolutions. I hope you post more healthy recipes!

February 5, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger ClaraCooks said...

Congrats! Although from your photos, you never looked overweight. The chicken in vermouth recipe you posted awhile back was great, BTW.

February 5, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

This is really commendable. Kudos for making what has to be a major paradigm shift in how you cook, eat and exercise! One of the things they don't tell you up front, is that when you attend a "classic French" cooking school, you use traditional ingredients. When it calls for butter, heavy cream, LARD, etc. ... that' what you use. I love making soups, and they're a great way to limit calories. But every now and then, you just HAVE to have a couple pieces of great cheese and a few crackers ... and of course it's usually at about 11 PM!

February 5, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Peter Hertzmann said...

I think you can stay "French" in your cooking and still meet your dietary goals. I have a couple dozen French cookbooks stressing diet and health from as early as the 1920s, and none of them eliminate all the ingredients that would be considered characteristic of French cuisine. I think fat in moderation is OK, total meal quantity is more an issue. I've always found it easy to loose weight while I was working in restaurants in France by avoiding sugar and other high glycemic index foods.

February 5, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Peter, I think you're totally right. I forgot to mention that I'm also just trying to avoid sugar altogether. I'm not a sweets person, so it hasn't been too hard -- yet.

February 5, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger The Veggie Queen said...

Well, it certainly sounds like you are on the right track with many plant-based foods and avoiding the "white stuff" which, of course, includes sugar.

I've found that staying away from pasta and bread also helpful, even if it's whole wheat. Eating grains is much more satisfying and filling because of the higher fiber content.

It's worked well for Bittman and I am sure that it will work for you. Keep up the good work.

February 5, 2009 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

Good job on the weight/diet success. It's tough but once you get into a routine, it gets easier. The switch to Vegetarian was the best move I ever made.

February 5, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

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