Channeling My Inner Aztec

Despite my blood-thirsty proclivities, I am not about to play soccer with someone’s head. Just so you know.

A little over a week ago I picked up a copy of Women’s World magazine at the supermarket because the cover read : “Better than Lap-Band Surgery! More energizing than Red Bull! Lose 30 LBs in 30 Days eating the world’s most nutritious food!”

I don’t normally go for fad diets, but I made important changes in my eating habits 6 months ago. I lost 10 pound pretty quickly and over the last four months I’ve had to chisel the pounds off, one by one for a total loss of 15 pounds. The day before I saw the magazine, I weighed myself and saw that I’d gained back 3 pounds. Now in addition to dieting, I’d been taking green coffee bean extract AND Raspberry Ketones, which are doing wonders for a friend of mine. Not for me.

That afternoon, I got a horrible jones for a Papa John’s pizza with sausage, mushrooms, pineapple, black olives and three-cheese blend. I said to hell with it, ordered the pizza and ate half of it piping hot and loved every minute of it. I saved the rest of it for breakfast.

I don’t regret this, but it did bring me to a fork in the road, or rather, the kitchen. What was I going to do now? Did I really want to gain it all back and keep going?

I’ve lost weight before. I dropped 60 pounds in less than a year on a 50% raw food diet while having a Master Cleanse lemonade for breakfast and sometimes dinner. This time that didn’t work for me. This weight gain was much more stubborn, precipitated by medication that is otherwise a lifesaver for me. It was time to try something different.

The article touted The Aztec Diet by Dr. Bob Arnot. The initial phase of this diet consists, as reported by WW, 2 smoothies a day and some limitations for lunch. An afternoon snack was allowed. The gimmick was the addition of chia seeds to the smoothies to absorb water and keep you feeling fuller, longer.

I really liked this idea. I love raw smoothies. My only problem is that they don’t fill me up like a regular meal does. And I already put chia seed on my oatmeal. So I read this and thought, “I can do that.” I hunted up the book on the library web-site. It was on order. I checked for it on Amazon. It wasn’t even out yet! The book was being released Tuesday, February 12th. I put the book on hold at the library and decided to do the diet according to the WW article until I got better information.

I did not stick strictly to the diet guidelines for lunch. I did not lose the vaunted 1 pound per day, but I also didn’t suffered for my pizza binge and I dropped those 3 pounds I gained. So, not so bad. I did not feel any extra energy. I’m not going to use myself as an example for that, though, because I have suffered from extreme fatigue since I had a brain injury 11 years ago. It would be a pretty neat trick if the Aztec Diet could resolve this chronic issue in less than a week, but I wasn’t expecting it.

Thursday, I checked the Library website, it said my book was “in transit” so I stopped by Thursday afternoon, hoping it was in. It was not. I stopped by Friday morning when the library opened at 10. It had not been on that morning’s truck. I called Saturday morning, the truck wouldn’t be there until around noon. Finally, the book came in around 1 pm.

I picked it up on the way to a lunch date with my very favorite former boss, the lovely and compassionate Debbie Roller. I thought, no sweat, I can have a really great salad for lunch. Only the place we were to meet did not serve lunch on Saturday. Nor did Debbie’s second choice (we were on her turf). We wound up at Pompillio’s, an Italian restaurant famous for being the location for the “Rain Man” toothpick scene.

Italian is so not on the Aztec Diet. I surrendered to circumstance (when in Rome and all that) and ordered their house specialty, lasagna, followed by a lovely tiramisu. I would worry about the diet after I had a chance to read the book.

I Picked up another half pound of chia seeds and some cacao nibs on the way home from lunch and started skimming the book. As I was flipping through the pages, I saw a little inset box with bold type. It said that you should NOT add whole chia seeds to your smoothies, because they would pass right through and you would miss out on all the super nutrition. I’d been doing it WRONG. I needed to grind them up. Okay. I could do that. And you need to keep sipping water afterward to give the chia more to soak up. Okay, I can do that, too.

I read about the Chia Challenge. Women’s World had misrepresented this. There is no solid lunch. Three smoothies a day with an afternoon snack if you need it. Well, maybe a little harder than I was hoping for, but still do-able for me.

I checked the recipes. They sound really good. I love the emphasis on raw food, at least for the smoothie challenge. I am definitely going to get the book. Can’t decide yet if I want hard-bound or ebook, there’s only $3 difference in the price on Amazon.

I have a couple quibbles with the book. He makes it sound like you have to spend $400 on a Vitamix to get a decent smoothie. Not True. You need at least 1/2 hp motor (375 watts) to grind up greens. I found a 475 watt Black and Decker blender on sale for $30 a few years ago, and it works fine. A Vitamix will last forever. I have a friend who loves hers. She also wears ear protection while she’s using it. And it’s not as easy to clean as a typical blender. Or you can pick up a blender for under $50 that has enough power, and use it until you kill it. I’ve had this blender for maybe three years. At that rate, I’ll be dead before I spend $400 on my cheap blenders.

Also, he suggests using ice cubes in some recipes. Freezing cold food is harder on your digestive system. I suggest cool to warm food. I do wish he had more savory smoothies. But truly, these are just quibbles. The plan looks good, and I can use some of my own recipes.

Sunday is when my landlord takes me to brunch. I help him walk his dogs, so he feeds me brunch. I went this morning and let him know this was going to be my last meal out for a while since I was going on a smoothie diet.

After brunch, I read the first three chapters and made a grocery list. Bought $70 of fruits and veggies (including a 5 pound papaya) and the allowed snacks, which should get me through the two week Chia Challenge. I also bought some quart baggies because I know I’m gonna have to freeze some of that papaya.

I invented a savory smoothie to use up some portabella mushrooms. I’ve been sipping on it while writing this blog entry. Here’s the recipe:

Spinach Portabella Smoothie

    One huge handful of baby spinach leaves (I bought the organic washed leaves) This expands to 3 cups in the blender.
    1 4-5 inch portabella cap, torn into pieces
    1/3 cup cashews (raw, if you can find them)
    Pinch Real Salt or Celtic sea salt
    2 TBSP ground chia seed
    2 TBSP grated parmesean
    8 – 12 ounces of water

Dump everything but the water in the blender. Add a cup of water and blend. Add water as needed until you get a smooth, thin smoothie (remember, the chia is going to gel up on you). You should have about 3 cups. Sip slowly. When you finish, continue to sip water.

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