Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The take-away on take-out

Here's an example of how to maximize taste, enhance nutrition, and double your bang for the restaurant buck all while simultaneously minimizing your calories:
This is my take-home portion of arroz con pollo from the excellent local Peruvian restaurant called Chuyos, which I blogged about previously

It's excellent, but it contains white rice, which has a sky-high glycemic index, and heavy cream sauce from the potato side dish.  Even though this is "home-made" rather than fast food, its caloric density is very high... 
...but never fear - workarounds are here:
Chopped cauliflower and broccoli.  It's past the season when I can grow my own, so I use an organic brand available at HEB.  I keep it chopped in the fridge for easy meal incorporation. 

Bush 41 was legendary for not liking the stuff, but good cruciferous vegetables should not have a strong or bitter taste - they shouldn't taste like much of anything, really.  They should instead be mild enough so that they primarily pick up the taste of the other food components and spices that they are cooked with.  If that doesn't happen for you, try another source, maybe organic. 
Steamed for a few minutes.

Dump the heated rice / heavy cream sauce left-overs on top of it. 
Mix and eat.  This literally took five minutes to assemble. 

In this example, the rice has a spicy cilantro base which absolutely dominates the taste of the broccoli and cauliflower.  And the cream sauce is full of spices and garlic.  And the onions are pickled. 
Basically what I did here is almost triple the volume of tasty food while adding virtually no extra calories. 
That's not 146 calories per serving - that's 146 calories per medium-sized head.  Of which a small fraction was incorporated into this dish shown above. 

Screengrabbed from Google. 
I thought I'd offer this idea in a blog post because I'm in the process of re-teaching my teenager about healthy eating.  This is exasperating, because didn't I teach this same stuff, like, ten years ago?!  Yes, of course I did - but what happened in the intervening time was what I call "cultural creep", aka "going with the flow".  With the passage of time and without intervention, home-based messages get displaced and cultural messages grow to dominate.  And the next thing that happens is that I look at my teenager's on-line school cafeteria debit account and I see ten bags of potato chips purchased within a single week.

Which brings me 'round to both broccoli and broadcasting...

"You don't crave broccoli, and our generation has grown up craving a Big Mac" says one of the panicked interviewees on the fantastic HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation.

But here's the take-away on that sentiment:  I do crave broccoli, because I conditioned myself to crave it, just like some other folks conditioned themselves to crave Big Macs.  If someone put a Big Mac in front of me, not only would I not crave it, I would react with a negative intensity that would put Bush 41 to shame.   

The human conditioning process is indiscriminate.  There's no law that says conditioning only works with unhealthy habits.  Healthy habits can also be conditioned. 
"If you go with the flow in America today, you will end up overweight or obese, as two thirds of Americans do."  - Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as stated in The Weight of the Nation

Going with the flow means eating ten bags of potato chips in a single week.  My teen is very slim, but cultural creep and going with the flow would make short work of her present healthy condition if left unchecked.  Part of her refresher training is to watch The Weight of the Nation, all six hours of it.  It's an eye-opening documentary and I can pretty much guarantee that, even if you are well-versed on matters of nutrition, you would learn new stuff by watching it (I sure did).  Here's the trailer below and the link to the films.  Happy conditionin'. 

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