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Healthy eating?

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I've struggled with this for years.  I know what's healthy as far as ingredients and preparation, but my palate is conditioned to find those things less appealing and to really enjoy the worst of the worst: big hunks of fatty beef, fried food, creamy sauces, tons of melted cheese, etc.  DH has the same thing only worse; his mom's default preparation method involves a big spoonful of leftover bacon grease, even for vegetables.  We're trying to follow the Mediterranean Diet guideliness: red med no more than once a week, fish at least once a week (this is really tough because neither of us really likes fish other than deep fried with tartar sauce, and I can't seem to cook fresh fish to save my life), more of the meal's bulk coming from vegetables and beans.

My personal discovery is egg whites.  I was trying to find a low carb breakfast alternative to cereal.  I don't like eggs, and I don't feel satisfied with smoothies, yogurt, etc.  I tried making an egg white omelet and now I'm hooked.  I dump in a ton of chopped spinach and tomatoes, garlic and onions, and a little feta cheese - yum.  Or some picante sauce and cojito cheese.  I'm also exploring vegetarian options and found a Mediterranean seasoned veggie burger that's pretty tasty served with a salad.

Moving away from processed foods is a trick I'm still learning, but i think of that as being a step in a healthier direction.  Ideally I would have a big salad for lunch, snack on granola or fruit, and have steamed fresh fish or broiled chicken breast and veggies for dinner all the time, but I'm just not that virtuous.   :). I like all those things sometimes, but cannot maintain it on a daily basis.

One suggestion is to find the equivalent recipe to something you love (e.g. Hamburger Helper seasoning) and make it yourself using off the shelf spices.  Most likely you will be cutting down on the sodium and chemicals that shelf stable foods rely on and it doesn't really add to the cooking time.

Grated real cheese melted over whole wheat pasta doesn't take much longer than boxed Mac and cheese and it's gotta be better for you, right?

Baking from scratch rather than boxed Hostess snack cakes.  Sure it takes longer, but you control what goes into them and can even make some healthier substitutions with practice and tweaking the recipe (no sugar added "pure" applesauce in lieu of some oil, brown sugar or whole wheat flour instead of the more processed white kinds, that sort of thing).  I've found the results aren't as satisfying to me personally, but the taste is still good and if it helps DD avoid discovering junk food until she's older and her tastes are more set towards healthy, all the better.

I recently looked over Dean Ornish's Spectrum diet for heart disease prevention and (presumably) reversal.  I did not buy his book but looked at what was available on the web.

He divides foods into 5 categories with lower numbers being healthier.  His advice is that you should try to shift your eating into the lower number categories without being too obsessive over calories, etc.  I can do that.

I do disagree with some of his recommendations though.  One is fat-free products.  Many fat-free salad dressings, mayo, ice cream, etc contain a lot of chemical additives that can't be good for you.  I like Michael Pollan's advice that if you don't recognize the ingredients in a product you probably shouldn't be eating it.  I say that a little real mayo is better than more of the fake stuff.

Another disagreement is on high fructose corn syrup.  Ornish says it's OK.  I'm not so sure.  i've made a concerted effort to avoid it.  I think there's more than just coincidence between it's introduction as a mainstream sweetener and the rise in obesity.

The last disagreement is on eggs.  Ornish considers them to be death bombs.  Yes, they do have cholesterol but if you eat one egg a day you probably won't collapse with a heart attack if you are also eating a good amount of fiber, fruits and veggies.

Just my 2 cents.

I've been using buffalo sauce or oil and vinegar for my salads and sprinkling a little cheese (usually Bleu or Feta) on top.   I think this dresses the salad nicely without using too much dairy like with a creamy dressing.

I also love my mom's favorite summer dish on a hot day.  It has chopped green bell pepper, canned corn, chopped purple onion mixed with a dressing of plain Greek yogurt and cracked pepper.

For breakfast, I like Greek yogurt because it is easy and creates minimal dishes for me to wash.  Slightly off topic, Yoplait has taken high fructose corn syrup out of their yogurt, and I think the new product tastes so much better.

If I have the time to cook, I like to use egg whites instead of eggs ... but that is because just don't like the yolks.  When I make eggs for more than one person, the other person gets my yolks in their omelette.

For veg and meat I think it's mostly about the processing and preservation method; fresh is best, frozen is fine, canned is just okay for veg, unhealthy for fruit and meat.  I've tried to cut back on the amount of canned goods we eat.  I don't like food that's processed for instant microwaving either; it's hard to find microwave meals that are actually healthy and not just healthy in comparison to other microwave meals.

I also cut back significantly on starches, soda, white flour and sugar.  I try to use fruit (natural juice or bananas) or honey or molasses as sweetener.  I don't drink fruit juice because I think it's pointless to consume most kinds of fruit sugar without the fiber benefit of the fruit.  I bake with chickpea flour as much as possible.  I'm not sold on low-carb/keto as a full time diet but I can't deny the results so I try to strike a happy medium with carbs; quinoa, couscous, whole wheat pasta when possible, beans are okay too.  Chickpeas are great.

No margarine ever; only butter, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.

I eat a lot of dark chocolate.  I eat a lot of cheese.  I save my bacon fat for frying.  Bacon and sausage and tuna are probably the only heavily processed meats that I eat.  I don't do cold cuts anymore, much as I miss them.  Too much salt.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if all the good I was doing with my diet was balanced out by some of the bad.  For every ten kale, pear, and craisin salads there's a bacon and cheese sandwich fried in fat.

But we do hold flavor in high regard, I won't eat anything that doesn't taste good.  Lucky for me, most everything tastes good.


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