Aztec Diet: Climbing the Slippery Slope

It happened. When did it start? Was it Friday, when Anna wanted to have breakfast to share her fears about her schnauzer, Zipper, newly diagnosed with cancer? I chose eggs with goetta, potatoes and a pancake instead of the spinach omelet I knew I should have. The cancer turned out to be too far progressed for treatment. Saturday, Zipper got his angel wings. We went to the movies for a distraction (Iron Man 3 was excellent, BTW). That included buttered popcorn and Popeye’s chicken afterwards. I ate the biscuit and the crunchy skin. This week, I had a raspberry chocolate chip milkshake made with chocolate milk, two small pieces of cheesecake, a Dove Bar, and a Frappuccino. There was also a chicken quesadilla and a beef gordito in there somewhere. There must be other, undocumented sins. I woke up today, two pounds heavier.

I really have to go back further than Friday’s breakfast. I bought kale and spinach 2 weeks ago, and did not touch either until this morning. I was just tired of smoothies, tired of thinking about food, too tired to fix food, tired in general. Perhaps it had something to do with being out of meds for a week. My therapist says this can promote carb and sugar cravings. Switching jobs from grading tests in the evening to polishing flutes in the afternoon must have played a part.

My TBI (traumatic brain injury) has been acting up. That means that simple, everyday tasks require the herculean effort of Frodo clawing his way up the slopes of Mount Doom. “Sam, I can’t do it anymore,” is a frequent mental refrain. I eat whatever is easiest.

This is not so much about blaming or explaining as understanding. I enjoyed my little trip off the food reservation, but I don’t like the aftermath. I don’t want to do this again.

So, how does one climb back up the slippery slope? One step at a time.

Pomegranate Pleasure

    2 Cups spinach
    1/2 Cup yogurt
    1 banana
    1/2 Cup pomegranate juice
    1 Cup water
    2 – 4 TBSP ground chia

Aztec Diet, Phase II: Magical Fruit

Pounds lost since February 19: 25.5# (includes 6 weeks of relaxed dieting due to work obligations.)
Pounds lost since May 5: 3.4

Menu, 5/8: Pre-Breakfast: Coffee and 2 cuties; Breakfast: 1/2 Chocolate Cherry Banacado Lunch: Ceviche Dinner: 1/2 Chocolate Cherry Banacado; Evening Snack: air-popped popcorn

Menu, 5/9: Pre-Breakfast: Coffee; Breakfast: 12 ounces cottage cheese with 1 cup blueberries and 1 banana; Lunch: chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell; Dinner: I was too exhausted to think about food. 12 ounces of almond milk and a red bell pepper; Evening snack: 2 bananas

Thursday was busy and I was grabbing food on the go. I didn’t do too badly, considering.

I want, want, want to get back to writing Maximum Security. Life is interfering with art again. Now that the audiobook is in the pipeline, I’ve got a pile of flutes to polish for Pat and a number of practical matters that need attending. Plus, Zipper, the amazing paraplegic schnauzer has just been diagnosed with cancer. Pat and Anna are needing extra TLC. They’ll find out this afternoon about his treatment options and prognosis. As Brent says, “Life is messy.”

Now that I’m talking about Phase II and solid food, I thought I’d talk about beans.

Beans are a terrific and often un-sung diet food. Cheap, filling, nutritious, packed with fiber. On paper they have more carbs than are desirable, but beans have a high percentage of “resistant starch,” meaning they do not break down quickly like typical carbs and thus, don’t spike blood sugar.

Beans are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Green bananas are another. Other stars are whole grains, such as rolled oats and long-grain brown rice. You can amp-up the effects of your Aztec Diet by choosing resistant starches whenever possible. (Get more info on resistant starch here)

You can further increase the nutritional value by sprouting the beans before you cook them. Sprouting your beans first has the added benefit of reducing gas.

I usually make a pot of Curried Black Beans every week. I get four 12 ounce or six 8 ounce servings per pound of beans. Nuke a bowl and top with grated cheese and yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream). Stir in a scrambled egg or some sauteed veggies. Toss them on a low-carb tortilla with hot sauce.

Today I’m starting a pot. It’ll be done some time Sunday. Don’t let that scare you, the prep is super-simple and can be tailored around any schedule.

Curried Black Beans

    Soak 1 pound dried Black Beans in your crock-pot for at least eight hours (overnight works well). If you see tiny bubbles forming on top, drain, rinse and replace the water. Otherwise, the beans might sour.
    Rinse the beans, then let the damp beans sit for 24 hours or so (if the beans dry out, rinse them and drain again). By this time, you should be seeing little “tails” on some of the beans.
    Rinse again, then cover with an inch of water
    Add 2 – 3 rounded TBSP curry and 2 bay leaves
    Cook in your crock pot until soft, around 5 hours on high. If you’re going to be gone all day, put them on low and they’ll be done for dinner.
    Add 1 TSP Real Salt or other whole salt in the last 10 minutes before serving (Don’t add salt in the beginning, it prevents the skins from softening)

Aztec Diet: Raw Fish, Anyone?

cover for soon-to-be-released audiobook
cover for soon-to-be-released audiobook

Today I hit the “Publish Button” at ACX. So the audio version of A Shot in the Bark is in the pipeline and will be ready for purchase in two to three weeks. To whet your appetite, I’ve posted the five minute sample on Sound Cloud.

I’m awed by the fabulous job Jane Boyer did with the narration, bringing Lia, Anna, Peter, Bailey and the rest of the dog park gang to life. When I first contacted her, I told her that the tone of Shot ranged from creepy to cozy. I said it had a large cast of characters. She didn’t blink, and she’s been a consummate professional throughout the entire process. Jane has committed to continuing the series with Drool Baby, and I couldn’t be happier. Expect the second audiobook before the middle of August. I can’t wait, because I know the next book is going to be even better.

My evening job is over until June, so I’m back to regular hours and getting my Aztec Diet in hand. Not that it was totally out of hand, but I did make a number of concessions, including having a solid food in the evenings. I still managed to lose a few pounds. Now I’m looking at Phase II in earnest, and working on more quick and easy recipes for one to suit the Aztec Diet.

I’m a big proponent of raw food, and it fits well with the Aztec Diet. No, I can’t do a 100% raw food diet. But 50% raw food is do-able for most folks and still gives significant benefits.

Most raw foodies are vegan. I’m not. Fish is easy to consume raw. Easiest is sushi. Of course, we aren’t allowed to have sticky rice. But you can have sashimi. I occasionally stop at the sushi counter at Kroger’s and ask them to make me a sashimi plate. Sushi is still a fringe food in Cincinnati, so the sushi chefs at Kroger’s are always thrilled to get a special order. They fix it up with avocado and cucumber on a bed of baby romaine. Yum.

If you want to do-it-yourself, you can always pick up a package of individually frozen tuna steaks, a jar of pickled ginger, a tube of wasabi and a bottle of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s. No, the tuna won’t be as tender as sushi quality, but it will be cheaper and you can have it at your leisure, at home. Be sure to slice against the grain.

Only use tuna. Sushi grade fish is frozen for an extended period at 0 degrees to kill any parasites. If you have a source for sushi-grade fish, great. If you’re like me, you’re stuck with the grocery store. Tuna is the only readily available fish safe to eat raw, as it does not get parasites like other types of fish.

Carol at MIrador del Condor

Another wonderful raw fish option is ceviche. Ceviche is a South American specialty consisting of raw fish that is “cooked” by marinating it in something acidic. I fell in love with it when I was in Peru. You can use vinegar, fresh lemon juice or lime juice. Lime juice gives the tastiest results. If you are feeling decadent, you can use vodka. Ceviche can be made from any white fish. Shrimp and scallops are also used. Tilapia is inexpensive and gives nice results. Raw salad vegetables and spices are added to the marinated fish. Often oil is included. You can check out these recipes: Tilapia Ceviche and Vodka Ceviche

Or, you can try my recipe for a single serving, below:

Carol’s Easy-Peasy Ceviche

    Dice 6 ounces of tilapia filets (or other white fish), place in a glass jar
    Add juice from 2 large limes put the lid on the jar and rotate the jar to ensure the juice has coated all the fish. Put the jar in the refrigerator, rotate occasionally to re-coat the fish. Fish is ‘done’ when it is white and opaque. Time will vary, depending on the size of the pieces. Minimum 20 minutes to a couple hours.
    While the fish is marinating, dice 1/4 – 1/3 Cup each: English cucumber, red bell pepper, tomato (optional. I don’t use tomatoes because I can’t eat them, but they are a classic ceviche ingredient)
    Thinly slice the white part of 1 green onion
    Dice 1/2 avocado (optional)
    Dice 1 serano pepper (optional)
    When the fish is ready, drain the lime juice and discard.
    Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
    Add hot sauce to taste, if desired
    sprinkle on fresh or dried cilantro
    Stir in 1 heaping TBSP mayonnaise or Miracle Whip (optional, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it)
    Stir in vegetables

Many folks eat this on saltines or tortilla chips. Since we’re all about lowering carbs, I suggest simply eating it with a fork. You can also spoon the ceviche onto baby romaine leaves for finger food.