I recently decided that having been on about 17 different diets in the past few months the only way I am ever going to loose this stubborn 20 pounds is if I create my own diet.
Seriously folks. There are just too many things about some of these current diets that turn me off. I start one and within a few days I completely pitch it. And eat. What I want and how I want it cooked.
For instance, I could NEVER be on that diet system that delivers all your meals (plus snacks) to your house. I am a cook. Having prepared food delivered to my door would be like swearing off wine. And we all know that's not going to happen.
One recent diet had me giving up coffee - but Dr. Oz says coffee is one of the most antioxidant loaded beverages around. And I only ever have one cup, so does that mean I blow the entire program with one caffeine fix?
A very popular diet regimen in this country has assigned points for every morsel of food in the world. You get a certain number of points per day to eat and when you add up all your food (and points) you are done. I lost my calculator on the third day and think I ate a week's worth of points for breakfast.
Another diet had me eating seeds and nuts 4 times a day. I had to quit that one because I had an inexplicable urge to climb the backyard trees AND I could not for the life of me remember where I had buried all the rest of the nuts.
Yet one more had me abstaining from potatoes, bread, rice, fruit and several types of vegetables, but absolutely encouraged me to eat my fill of butter, oil, meats and cheese.
I am highly suspicious of any diet regime that forbids entire food groups and encourages mass consumption of others. The very word forbid makes me run out and buy a years supply of whatever the forbidden food is. Thank goodness I wasn't in the Garden of Eden, I would not have just bitten the apple, I would have baked a pie, made some applesauce AND written a blog post about it.
I believe I have enough schooling and culinary experience to have a pretty good grasp of what is healthy and what is not. In addition, I am fairly well versed in portion control AND I own and know how to use a food scale.
I'm thinking that my diet should consist of:
Lots of fruits and vegetables.
Dairy in the form of low or no fat yogurt and milk.
Some protein (lean) - like 3-5 ounces a day
An egg a week
Whole wheat pasta, brown rice and whole grain bread and cereal in moderation (like 1 serving a day)
Lots of water
Some fat - but healthy fat, like olive oil.
Herbs and spices - as many as I want in any combination.
Wine (like I always say, "Wine Is Life" and I'm not dead yet - just a little chubby)
What do you think? Do you have a magic combination of foods that help you reduce while keeping you satisfied?
Mediterranean Tilapia En Papillote: serves 4
16 to 20 ounces (1 to 1 1/4 pounds) Tilapia
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 small shallot, minced
4 black olives, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup tri-colored couscous, regular couscous or brown rice (cooked you will need 2 cups)
Parchment paper, cut into four 12 X 8 inch pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Chop up your tomatoes, peppers, shallot, olives and parsley.
Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together and toss in the tomato, peppers, shallot, olives and parsley and whatever else I told you to chop up.
Now, lay one piece of parchment on the counter in front of you. Fold it in half, and crease it. Now open it back up. Place 1/2 cup cooked couscous in the center of the right hand side of the paper.
Lay a piece of Tilapia on top of the couscous.
Now spoon 1/4 of the tomato mixture over the fish. Make sure you include some juices. That will flavor the fish and couscous and keep both moist during cooking.
Here comes the fun part. Fold the left side of the paper over fish
and fold each edge several times, forming a seal on all three edges. Make small folds and really crease it. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and repeat with remaining fish. You will have four packets in all. You may need 2 cookie sheets.
When you put the packet on the cookie sheet, fold down the corners, under the packet.. this will really seal it and keep it from opening in the oven. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Yes, I know there are only 3 packets in this picture. I only needed 3 servings. You can make as many as you want. The math is easy.
Now, put the cookie sheet with the packets in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. They will puff up a bit. It is the steam making the parchment puff. The parchment may even brown a little. That's okay, it's actually exactly what you want!
Serve the closed packets on individual plates. When each diner slices into their packet they will be rewarded with an incredible aroma! Warn them though - the steam is hot!! You may want to open a childs packet for them.
A Cook's Notes: I serve this dish with simple steamed broccoli on the side. Chop your broccoli, rinse. Add some minced garlic and steam. When crisp-tender, remove from steamer, drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
I like using parchment paper but you can use aluminum foil (lightly grease with olive oil before adding couscous) or even a brown paper bag cut to size (print side OUT).
This is also a fun dinner to make if you are having guests. You can make the packets a few hours ahead and put in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them. OR supply a variety of toppings and have your guests each make their own packet. Have them write their initials on the corner of the papillotes so they know which meal is theirs! Have fun. There are endless combinations of ingredients for en papillote cooking. And of course as always, Bon Appetite!