Here's a break from my norm. Today I'm writing about sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes? Yes, sweet potatoes! Why? Because I want to get down to the smallest, divisible part of healthy living and in my mind sweet potatoes are just as good a "poster child" vegetable as any.
Huh? Let me see if I can put this in the clearest, nicest but most effective language. All the planning, scheming, dreaming, goal setting, exercising, cussing, fussing and work of weight loss comes down to one very small denominator. If I miss this, I have missed the boat entirely. The smallest detail of the painting of our healthy lives comes down to not each meal we prepare, it comes down to each bite of food we put in our mouths. I believe to be successful, really successful, I have to work my way down to the smallest minute moment - the bite.
I can plan all I want to but if I am not planning the right foods and sticking to it, I am kidding myself. Now I love a good baked potato, loaded up with all the fixings but I know, if I really want to be serious about moving the scale, I have to leave out the starchy, heavy foods and opt for better choices. Enter - SWEET POTATOES.
So today for breakfast I had two fried eggs - fried in olive oil, I have to make sure I get enough healthy oil in my diet so I start here and I love eggs. At some point I may have to ditch the eggs for leaner protein but as long as the scale is moving in the right direction I'm going to allow myself this luxury. Someone else may choose a different sin but eggs are mine - easy morning protein. On the side I made roasted sweet potato. I chopped the potato in bite size pieces, I tossed them in a teaspoon of coconut oil (I keep my coconut oil in a warm place in my kitchen so it is usually liquid - if not a 10 second defrost in the microwave will liquefy it) and put them on a cookie sheet on a small square of foil for easy clean up. I sprinkled them with red pepper, cinnamon, smoked paprika and a little blackening seasoning and seasoning salt. So they are now sweet and savory which to me equals satisfying. Roasted them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400°. Bonita - see pic above - those are mine.
The point? I could have baked a couple of frozen hash brown squares instead. Easier and tasty - love those things, but I really wanted a lighter and different veggie. According to my research, two of my beloved hash browns are 300 calories, 4 grams of protein, 36 grams of carbs, 16 fat (4 are saturated) and 4 grams of fiber but very little else. But the sweet potato has 180 calories, 4 grams of protein, 41 carbs, 0 fat and 7 grams of fiber plus...769% of my daily vitamin A, 8% calcium, 65% vitamin C and 8% iron. And my sweet potato is not processed, except by me so there are not all those scary little chemicals. The hash browns are not bad in the way potato chips are bad but a fresh sweet potato is so much healthier if I prepare it.
This tells me I don't really need to worry about this looming decision of whether or not to eat potato chips or a loaded baked potato. That ship has sailed. I need to be down in the trenches figuring out the best way to roast a good sweet potato, or a cauliflower, or the many ways to prepare spinach that I can love. If I want to be serious about weight loss and being healthy, I need to be worrying about the tougher questions, those individual bites and how much good or bad they pack.
So where do I find my inspiration? I watch the food network and look at it through the eyes of "how can I do that with less calories or make it healthier" and sometimes it doesn't even require much thought. Whole grain pasta if I am having a rare pasta dish (I try to avoid processed food and stick to mostly a paleo diet - see the blog I wrote Paleo Brother) I use olive oil or coconut oil almost all the time. I can leave out most of the dairy, I substitute Fage greek yogurt for sour cream and mayo. I substitute a vegetable for a bread such as a leaf of cabbage instead of a tortilla.... I really like variety and can't stand the thought of a boring diet so I also have recipe books I go to for inspiration and look at the foods people post on FB and Pinterest. But I am always thinking of them as healthy versions and when I see breads and desserts, I just move on. I don't need to even think about those train wrecks.
Now, for full disclosure, I am not perfect at this. I go out to eat and get a steak and a loaded potato. I have a hamburger and fries if that's what I want. But...I don't do this all the time. I try to eat the healthiest way I can for the bigger percentage of my eating and then eat something off the chart occasionally, a couple of times a week at the most. Balance. So this is my down and dirty view of healthy eating; Look at each bite and what it represents in the big picture. Is it going to help me reach my goal or hold me back? If not, is it worth it? Can I enjoy this hamburger tonight and get back on track tomorrow? Am I being realistic about what I am eating. Again, not perfect, don't expect to be, but I am trying and succeeding at creating lots of fresh vegetable dishes and lean meats. Is the large percentage of my food healthy and satisfying? (Side note, the more I eat fresh vegetables, the less I crave chips and dips). If so, I can live with that.
Some of my go to favorites are:
Thai tuna salad
Baked okra, zucchini and/or cauliflower
Fish or ground turkey tacos on corn tortillas
Shrimp soup (with tomato and egg)
Chopped salads with light dressing
Cabbage and ground turkey stir fry
Hot and Sour soup
Roasted Chicken and Fennel
It's all about a lot of vegetables and lean meat for me. Simple but sooo good.
Always searching for new vegetables and new ways to prepare them. Always learning more about the foods I eat. Trying to focus on not just the good choices but the best choices - down to the smallest detail. I once thought a baked potato with a little margarine was a good choice for healthy living and losing weight. The more I learn the more I am able to make an even better choice. I don't mind a good baked potato, in fact I would say he is my first love, but now that I know all the facts, I think I like his red-headed cousin just a little better.
That's all ~ Thanks Y'all!