I haven’t felt very creative lately… with food or words or song lyrics. Consequently my blog and diet have suffered. Winter blues, holiday blues… who knows, but for someone who makes his living cooking, writing and talking about food this is not a good thing. For someone who makes his living singing the blues this would be great… but that’s not me.
But it is almost the New Year… and I’ve been reflecting back on what a crazy, great year it has been for me… and how I got here. The changes I made in how I ate, which led to changes in how I felt, which led to changes in how I treated other people, which led to this… I can’t say that changing my diet was the first step on my path to happiness, but it was near the beginning. Like many chefs, while I fed the public all sorts of fancy food, I lived on beer, fast food, and 7-11 burritos . Oh yeah and I smoked. My health and weight reflected it. I quit smoking and decided I needed to lose some weight too… a daunting prospect for sure… one or the other maybe, but both? Fast forward to now… done smoking: check, lose some weight: check at 60 pounds.
But I digress… I had a fantastic and ridiculously healthy dinner tonight and it was built around the legume that changed my life… thank you lentils. Can the lentil change your life too? Doubtful… but read on.
Billions of dollars are spent in America every year on the business of losing weight. Hundreds of books, hours of infomercials, dieticians, doctors, gurus, therapists, personal trainers AND chefs… the secret will only cost you a couple more dollars. Here’s my secret… (don’t tell anyone).. eat better, not less, and work out more. Less animal fats, more fiber, less simple starches, more whole grains, more meals, smaller meals, regular hard exercise… is any of this ringing a bell. Seriously though it works… unlike all the crap that people spend all their money on.
LENTILS!!! I’m supposed to be writing about LENTILS. OK three best things about lentils: 1. Unlike other members of the dried legume family they don’t need to be soaked or cooked for hours so you can decide to have them whenever. 2. One cup of lentils… 230 calories, one gram of fat, 18 grams of protein, and 16 grams of fiber http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4338/2 3. They don’t really taste like anything so will happily absorb any and all flavors that you add to them. Seriously SIXTEEN grams of fiber per cup… 63% of your RDA… the grocery bag you bring it home in has less fiber.
So long story short: when I still worked at my last restaurant job and was really losing weight fast, I brought all my meals to work. I usually brought more than I needed and I would share the leftovers with the other employees. One dish, of many, was a super simple lentil salad: cold lentils, tomato, red onion, cucumber, basil, feta, and just another 30 second olive oil vinaigrette. It was good… nothing special as I remember it, but in the land of ranch dressing he who cooks with Sherry vinegar is king. It was that day that my friend Amy suggested I should teach a cooking class for the staff…. which I did… and great fun was had by all… and I tried to figure out how to turn this teaching thing into a career… which led me to the personal chef industry… which brings me back to now… and dinner.
I started my New Year’s resolutions a little early this year… back to eating well and back to sharing my thoughts on how eating lentils can change your life. A piece of seared salmon, super simple lentil salad, sautéed spinach, (alliteration unintentional) and a olive bar meets food processor tapenade… most satisfying meal I’ve had in a while. Here’s a recipe from Alice Waters the original and greatest back to basics chef:http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/recipes/alice-waters-lentil-salad-44021308
Happy New Year’s everyone. Eat well and live well this year.