Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mediterranean Diet, Paleo and Fast Metabolism Diet Compared

I am wedded to the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Nevertheless, I will occasionally experiment with other diets to shed a few unwanted pounds.

The Paleo and Fast Metabolism diet’s are two that support the nutritional benefits of the Mediterranean diet.  I believe the Mediterranean diet is far easier to follow as there are less “rules.” One must avoid factory-processed foods and limit the intake of carbohydrates.

As Dr. Kenneth Pelletier points out: “All diets are fad diets. At the same time, all diets work because people pay attention to what they eat while dieting.”

Found below is a brief “high-level” summary of the Paleo and Fast Metabolism diet’s.  The benefits of a “diet” are short-lived unless there is a conscientious change in eating habits.  For this reason, I refer to the Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle change. I consciously seek out seasonal fruits and vegetables and organic chicken and wild-caught fish rather than factory-processed foods and carbs.

Also, dine with family and friends (without the distraction of electronic devices). This encourages and reinforces good dining habits. Exposing children to healthy foods at an early age will most certainly curb obesity.

Paleo Diet Overview

The Paleo diet focuses on eating natural foods that a caveman might eat.  Actually, the diet is a shortened name for “the Paleolithic diet (also called the paleo diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet) and is based mainly on foods presumed to have been available to Paleolithic humans.

The diet focuses on eating natural foods which have not been processed or harvested.  For instance, dairy, cultivated crops (grains, cereals, legumes) and highly processed oils must be avoided.  Foods to consume in moderation on the Paleo diet would include tree nuts (almonds, but no peanuts), organic fruits and natural sweeteners like honey.

The Paleo diet is far more restrictive than the Mediterranean diet.  However, it does steer one clear of that great diet-buster:  factory-processed foods!   Furthermore, there are some wonderful recipes featuring many “forgotten” foods from the Middle East and Africa.  One of my favorites is the West African Chicken Stew, featured in a delightful Paleo diet cookbook from Melissa Joulwan called Well Fed 2.

There are many good Paleo cookbooks.  I will often incorporate many of their innovative and international recipes into my cooking.  My only reservation is that I love cheese, some pasta and the occasional glass of wine with my meal (all No Nos!).

Fast Metabolism Diet Overview

The Fast Metabolism Diet also rejects fast-food and processed foods and is quite similar to the Paleo diet.  Nevertheless, it does allow you to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your diet during certain phases.

Without getting into too much detail, the Fast Metabolism Diet, tricks the body into “not knowing what food comes next,” which causes the body to burn the food rather than store it as fat.  For instance, during one phase of the diet you eat certain fruits but no legumes.  During another phase, you eat legumes, but no fruits.  Overall, the Fast Metabolism diet is a somewhat more balanced diet than Paleo, but you need a spreadsheet to track meals.  Fortunately, there is a Fast Metabolism App for those technically connected.

Also, you eat 5 meals a day (2 snacks).  Again, like the Paleo diet you should avoid eat dairy products, wheat and potatoes.

The Fast Metabolism Diet will help you shed weight – and many family members swear by it.  However, it requires considerable planning and faultless execution (particularly during the first two weeks) to see results.

Summary 

While I have had success with both the Paleo and Fast Metabolism diet’s, I prefer the flexibility of the Mediterranean diet to maintain my weight and still allow me to look forward to enjoying a well-balanced meal.  Nevertheless, there are many things to be said about these diets as they all encourage people to eat healthy non-processed foods.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chicken and Walnut Salad Recipe

People complain that the Mediterranean diet is somewhat bland and lacking in “bite.” Personally, I have never found that to be the case, but I often look to the Far East for inspiration. Like balsamic vinegar in Italian cooking, I have found that soy sauce tends to add a special flavor that triggers a whole new host of tastes.

Salads are wonderful during the summer. The Chinese chicken and walnut salad below incorporates a number of Asian condiments – hoisin sauce and soya – that add a flavor complexity to an otherwise simple salad. The Napa cabbage has become a frequent ingredient for my summer salad preparations since I enjoy the “crunch.”

Napa cabbage

This recipe is a summer favorite and we normally serve it with shredded chicken rather than shrimp, but for those who are feather-challenged we provide you with a harvested-shrimp alternative.

A note on the dressing: Use it sparingly since it tends to overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. Toss in half of the dressing, taste and then add more if needed. This recipe is derived from several sources from my salad archives.

Chinese Chicken and Walnut Salad Recipe

Ingredients for Salad (Serves 4 easily)

  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/2 bunch of Napa cabbage (don’t substitute)
  • 4 carrots julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 red pepper julienned
  • 4 scallions sliced
  • 2 cups of shredded chicken or shrimp
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño thinly sliced

Ingredients for Dressing

  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce (maybe less)
  • 1/4 cup of soy
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

Preparation

  1. Toss salad ingredients together
  2. Mix dressing thoroughly and then add about half of the dressing to the salad and toss thoroughly. Taste and then add more dressing to suit your taste.

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