Monday, January 30, 2012

The Abs Diet

I started working out with a personal trainer in July and ever since, he has shown up three days a week to torture me physically. During the workout I whine, complain and make excuses but after each workout I always feel great. I know that even though the workouts are hard, they have had a great effect on me. I have been less stressed and most importantly my overall health has improved. Not to mention I am in much better shape. I went from barely making it through 10 minutes of cardio to being able to run 15 minutes on the treadmill. Go me!

But there is just one problem: my weight on the scale has not changed since July. I weighed in at 163 lbs. back then and the last time I weighed myself, I was still that same weight.

They say a sign of insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Well clearly I have been acting crazy for months. I have been doing my 3 workouts but, at the same time, eating whatever I wanted and would be shocked when the scale wouldn't move. My main excuse for my eating is that I COOK healthy. I never fry foods, I cook lean meats and I always include vegetables in my dishes. But all of this healthy cooking and eating doesn't cover up the fast food I may eat a couple times a week or the wine and vodka cranberries I have on the weekends. It is quite clear to me that, now that I have my fitness routine set, I need to change the way I eat if I really want shed pounds.

When I told my trainer this he gave me The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko. He actually gave me the book a few months ago, but this past weekend I actually sat down and read it because it just so happens that my belly is the part of my body I like the least. I don't know if it's hereditary or what but all of my weight goes to my middle and I feel like if I can shed the belly fat and maybe 10-15 pounds, this would be a body I would be proud to walk around in.

In an afternoon I read The Abs Diet cover to cover and I learned alot of useful information; most importantly I learned specific foods, he calls them "Powerfoods," that I should be eating to get rid of the belly fat. I also learned that the best way to burn belly fat is to boost metabolism by eating 6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks). Another thing that Zinczenko recommends to be successful is to plan your meals and snacks for 14 days in a row. This is what I spent most of yesterday doing; planning my meals and snacks that incorporated the "Powerfoods" as much as possible.

I decided to share this new endeavor on my blog because this diet is not only going to change how I cook but it's also going to change what I cook. I plan to be on this diet for a minimum of 8 weeks and the recipes I post will most likely be light dishes that incorporate the "Powerfoods." I also hope that posting the details of this process will help keep me on track and perhaps I can inspire you all to think critically about what you eat and maybe you will even try out some of the recipes I post.

Today marks Day 1 of my first 14 days. I have posted my stats below and a few new strategies I am using in the next 2 weeks to make sure the number on the scale moves.

Weight: 159.6 lbs (1st thing in the morning, no food or drink)
Waist: 33"
Middle of Abs: 35"
Lower Abs: 36.5"


1. Eat 6 times a day (3 meals, 3 snacks) and try not to eat anything after 7:30pm.

2. Add 1 more day of exercise-3 with my trainer and 1 on my own

3. Cut waaaayyyyyy back on the booze-I am allowing myself 1 day a week to drink. This week it will be Superbowl Sunday.

4. Eat as many Powerfoods as possible. Here are the one's that are already in my 14 day meal plan:
  • Green Tea:almost Daily
  • Oatmeal: 4 days a week (I bought Better Oats organic raw oats w/ Flaxseeds)
  • Berries: Put on top of my oatmeal and in smoothies
  • Dairy: Yogurt as snack and in smoothies
  • Almonds: almost daily
  • Fish: Salmon for Dinner, Tuna on Salads for Lunch (The book says that if you eat fish for lunch, you will consume 11% less calories at dinner b/c fish keeps you fuller, longer.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

HFC Black Bean Soup w/ Smoked Turkey

If you read my last blog post you would know that in 2012 I am trying to create HFC recipes. HFC stands for Healthy, Fast, and Cheap. A lot of people feel like it’s hard to eat healthy on a budget because healthy food is expensive but I think we should have recipes on hand for healthy dishes that are affordable so that when we are pinching pennies, we don’t have any excuses to not feed our body right.

This black bean soup recipe is a great go-to dinner when you don’t want to break the bank and you want to be health conscious. When I priced the ingredients it came to $20.00 including tax, making it a mere $4-5 a serving.* To make it even better all of the ingredients are healthy. The main ingredient, black beans, is so good for you that they were named one of the 14 SuperFoods. This is because beans are high in fiber, lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, reduce obesity, lessen cancer risk, and relieve hypertension. Need I say more?

In addition to beans, this soup contains colorful peppers, celery, tomatoes, onions and garlic to help boost the health factor even more. It is because of this, that I thought that it would be ok to add a (somewhat) healthy protein: smoked turkey. I say somewhat because smoked turkey, though high in protein and low in calories, does have a lot of salt. Though I am mindful of this and I found other ways to cut the salt.

So I think I’ve given you every reason imaginable to make this dish but just in case you needed a couple more: it’s ready in under an hour AND it freezes well. PLUS I have variations for vegetarians and spicy food lovers.** Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 4-5 servings):
3 Cans Black Beans
1 Container of Chicken Stock
2 Smoked Turkey Legs (Approx 1 lb.)
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (veg. oil works too)
1 Red Pepper (I used half of a red and half a orange for extra color)
3 Ribs of Celery
1 Onion
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Sour Cream (for garnish)
Scallions (for garnish)
Lime (for garnish)

Before you begin to cook the soup you must prep the smoked turkey and the black beans. First, place the smoked turkey legs in a small pot and add the container of stock. (Leftover stock can be refrigerated to make rice or use in another soup recipe) Put the pot on low/medium heat to simmer while you prepare the soup. Boiling the turkey legs will flavor the stock and it will be helpful when you remove the meat later.

To prep the black beans, use a colander to drain and rinse 1 CAN of beans. Then, using a mini food processor, puree the can of beans and set aside. If you don’t have a mini chopper, use a fork to mask them up. Next, using the same colander, rinse and drain the other 2 cans of black beans but leave those beans whole and set them aside as well. It is important to rinse the beans because it will rinse away a lot of unnecessary salt.

Now you can begin to cook the soup. In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium/high heat. While the oil is heating dice the pepper and celery and add them to the pot. Then dice the onion, mince the garlic cloves, add those to the pot and give everything a good stir. Throw in the bay leaf, a pinch of cayenne and salt and allow to cook for another 3-4 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Next, add the can of tomatoes, the whole black beans and the pureed/mashed black beans as well. Add the cumin and coriander and give everything a big stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium/low.

Remove the small pot containing the stock and turkey legs from the heat. Using tongs, pull the turkey legs from the stock and lay them on your cutting board to cool. Then, add the stock to the soup, stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the soup to simmer on medium/low heat for about 15 minutes while you remove the meat from the turkey legs. First you must let the legs cool slightly, and then I use tongs to help remove the skin and pull the meat from the bone. Once the meat has been pulled from the bone, I give it a rough chop and stir it into the soup.

Now the soup is finished and it can be served immediately. Top with scallions, sour cream and lime to squeeze over soup right before eating.
**If you like spicy foods you can add a jalapeƱo or red pepper flakes to the rest of the veggies, or just finish with hot sauce. If you are a vegetarian, use vegetable stock and leave out the smoked turkey.

*The price of this recipe was calculated with the assumption that you have oil and the seasonings on hand. It also does not include the price of the garnishes so the cost may increase if you have to purchase any of these items. Though a lot of the ingredients can be used again in other recipes.

Bag of Yellow Onions 2.99
1 Red Bell Pepper 1.50
Bag of Celery 2.50
1 Head of Garlic .59
Smoked Turkey Legs 4.00
Container of Organic Chicken Stock 2.99
3 cans Black Beans 1.25 x 3 = 3.75
Can Diced Tomatoes 1.50
$19.82 X .008 tax= $19.98 round to $20