August 19, 2016

6 Tips for Meaningful Meals


MEANINGLESS

I have been guilty of fast-food frenzies and driving-while-eating. Anticipation was far more exciting than the food ever was! I finally hit the brakes when I recognized that mealtime had become meaningless and rushed.

I then pursued more natural, organic choices that included whole grains and my unwillingness to dismiss sugar. It was a start, but not the remedy.

LOW-CARB TO THE RESCUE!

While low-carbing is restoring my health, energy, and common sense, I still have a challenge with timing. My family is too busy to coordinate a set dinnertime. Since eating later slows down my weight loss, I dine alone . . . a lot!

Solo meals, however, do not have to be mundane. Replace the "M" with an "F" and you have FUN-dane! Every meal should be celebrated and here are 6 ways to accomplish that.

SATISFY THE SENSES

Keep it visual...
Add personal touches such as favorite linens, place settings, or a small floral centerpiece. Use herbs for garnish. Employ simple food styling. Example: I used a tonal camera filter on this photo to emphasize the crosshatch slice on the sausage.

Relish aroma...
Make sure your spices are fresh and potent. Taste-testing is essential, but aroma should be a discernible precursor to the meal.

Flirt with flavor...
Allow the 5 basic tastes (umami, sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness) to throw a tastebud party! Do not forget FAT — the low-carber's best friend. Fat adds flavor.

Remove distraction...
A meal is a short journey. Turn off the TV. Put the book, project, and smart phone aside. Have a prepared and relaxing playlist ready to listen to. Avoid anything causing stress — like politics!

Focus on the food...
When is the last time you chewed slowly and thoughtfully? Try putting the fork down between bites (not as easy as it sounds). Pretend you are a food critic and identify all that you are tasting. 

Understand satiety...
Okinawans practice hara hachi bu which means “eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full” (Wikipedia) or 80% full. This requires stopping the meal before the stomach has stretched to make room for it. Satiety does not occur because your stomach is full. It has more to do with the brain reacting to the chemicals in your food, which takes about 20 minutes to kick in. The chemicals then rise and stay elevated for 3 to 5 hours before hunger is experienced again. 

The beauty of a low-carb lifestyle is that satiety is easily achieved when meals find a balance between low-carb vegetables, moderate meat, and plenty of high quality fats.

NOTES
  1. The Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage is precooked and nitrate/nitrite free. After slicing it, I microwaved it for 45 seconds. (It will naturally open up when heated.) I nested the sausage in a salad comprised of cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese — with Pomegranate Vinegar drizzled on top. 
  2. The sausage and the vinegar were purchased from Trader Joe's. I also find sausage deals (Aidelle's) at Grocery Outlet. Of course those are hit and miss.
  3. Check out Still Tasty for spice shelf-life information.
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