March 25, 2010

Learning to Eat (Recipes: Halibut with Fresh Salsa, Roasted Asparagus, Chicken Parmesan and Vietnamese Noodle Salad)

This week I have been struggling a bit at times. I am weighing my food at every meal and tracking my intake on daily - and it does help me see where I need to make adjustments to my eating plan. On the other hand, it also makes me a little bit obsessive about food in a way that feels slightly eating-disordered. So, I will see if things settle down as I get used to this process. I really am not accustomed to thinking a whole lot about fat and carb balance and thought I was doing pretty well just to manage to keep my protein up to about 70 grams and carbs below 30 grams- now I am trying to adjust calorie balance and finding it difficult. One of the more successful programs recommends aprox. 70% of calories from protein and the rest divided more or less evenly between carbs and fat. If I do this on my 600 - 800 calories a day, this means I need way more protein... anyway, I will report back as I progress.

I have also figured out that I am eating way too fast. My doc suggests that it should take me about a half hour to eat my little meal (about 2 ounces of protein max at the moment). I have been eating in about ten minutes, which may explain why I have thrown up after eating a few times over the past week. So, working on it! (little teeny bites, chewed slowly and thoroughly, taking a break between bites...)

I have made some tasty meals. I am going to try and start taking photos of meals starting this week, so that I can post pics for you along with the recipes. Earlier this week I made some roasted pork, Vietnamese style, and ate it over the week with a small salad consisting of chopped mint, basil and cilantro, bean sprouts and shirataki noodles, with a Vietnamese dipping sauce of lime, fish sauce, garlic and chili poured over the top - yum!

Vietnamese Noodle Salad - Low carb and VSG friendly version
Vietnamese Grilled Pork: 
1 lb pork loin - trimmed of any visible fat and sliced about 1/4 thick (I may use pork butt next time - a bit fattier, but less tough once cooked.)

1/4 c sugar (don't worry - not much ends up in the final dish!
1/4 c water

1 Large shallot
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs peanut oil

Cook the sugar and water together in a small pan over medium heat (bring to a boil, then simmer), watching carefully, until sugar caramelizes and turns medium - dark brown. Remove from heat and carefully (watch out for spatters!) add a few tablespoons hot water. Let cool.

Take the shallot and puree, or mince, or pound in a mortar. Get the pieces nice and small
Mix with the fish sauce and soy sauce, then mix in the cooled caramel

Marinate the pork slices for 20-30 minutes, then add a tablespoon of peanut oil and mix into the marinade/pork mixture.

Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the remaining marinade (including quite a lot of the sugar!).

Grill pork over very hot fire, or under broiler - a couple of minutes each side until the edges of the meat stars to look dark brown and crispy. (the hotter the better in this situation - so the meat does not get tough (and hard for us to eat) before the coating starts to caramelize)

Let the pork rest for a few minutes then slice into strips and set aside.

Salad Mixture

Handful of mint leaves
Handful of cilantro leaves
Handful of basil leaves
Handful of bean sprouts
One cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 package shirataki noodles (any type) rinsed, parboiled 3 minutes, cooled

Chop the herbs roughly and mix with the rest of the ingredients - set aside.
You can add some chopped romaine or shredded cabbage if you want to stretch this a bit further.

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

1 packet splenda, or your choice of sweetener
1/4 c fish sauce
1/3 c lime juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Thai or bird's eye chili - seeded and finely chopped (I actually used a jalapeno, because that is what I had)
(optional - add a couple tablespoons of shredded carrot)

Mix all together, and set aside.

Here is how I ate this salad: (I just stored leftovers in separate containers and ate this throughout the week)

1/4 c. salad mix in bowl
2 ounces pork on top
a few tablespoons of the dressing poured over the whole shebang.

I topped it all with a few chopped peanuts.

Here is what else I made this week:

Halibut (just now came into season!), seasoned with salt and pepper, baked in oven about 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees. Served with this fresh salsa on top:

5 or 6 cherry tomatoes (or 2 plum tomatoes), chopped
A handful of basil, julienned
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 of the lemon
Teaspoon of capers
salt, pepper (to taste)
1 Tbs Olive oil

Just mix it all together - mine was a bit acidic, so I added about 1/4 package of splenda and this seemed to mellow and round out the flavor. My husband and I loved it - my daughter had her halibut plain. Served this with some Asparagus, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and roasted in the same oven as the halibut, but for a bit longer (maybe 20-25 minutes). Daughter and husband had some roast baby potatoes too. (Prepared just like the asparagus.) I added a drop or two of balsamic vinegar to the asparagus when it came out of the oven. Very tasty and looked pretty gourmet-ish on the plate!

Note: I find asparagus stems to still be a bit too fibrous for my new tummy - so I just eat the tips off of two spears and that's enough for me.

Also made a lower-carb chicken parmesan - it was simple!

Chicken Parmesan - the low carb, lazy way

Chicken breasts (as many as you need), pounded flat with frypan, rolling pin, or meat pounder

1 cup (you may need a bit more) of almond meal
Mixed italian seasoning to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Grated parmesan

Spray a baking pan, big enough to hold all the chicken in one layer, with non-stick spray

Dip the flattened breasts in the crumb mixture (both sides should be coated) and arrange in baking pan

Bake about 20 minutes, turning chicken over, halfway through
Top each piece of chicken with marinara sauce of your choice (choose a low-sugar variety!) and a handful of shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese)

Return to oven until cheese is bubbly, then serve.

Easy / tasty / and easy on my sleeve!

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