• Stir It Up: Scaling back but eating well
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     | January 17,2014
     
    Photo by Miki Duisterhof

    Even dieters can and should eat real food. This salad combines quinoa, spinach, pork, squash and berries for a filling and healthy meal. The photo and recipe are from “The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook” by Haylie Pomroy.

    OK, you’re “on a diet.” Everyone is on a diet. As a culture, in fact, it has been said that we have a national eating disorder: our obsession with healthy eating.

    The person who made this observation was Michael Pollan, the food journalist, activist and author. Pollan is also the author of what is perhaps the best advice on healthy eating: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    By this, he has explained, he means, first, eat “real” food — not any food with more than five ingredients or ingredients that you can’t pronounce, or food that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize, or food that won’t eventually rot. Second, make sure that plant matter — fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes — makes up the major part of what you eat. Third, don’t overeat.

    This is not very complicated advice. It does not involve combining certain foods, or counting calories, or eating certain things at certain times of day, or avoiding whole categories of foods like fats or carbs. It doesn’t involve writing anything down, mail-ordering special meals or supplements, or attending meetings.

    But simple advice is often the hardest to follow. Which is why a book like “The Fast Metabolism Diet” rocketed to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

    The book, written by Haylie Pomroy (described in her press materials as a “celebrity nutritionist”), details a three-phase, 28-day plan that will “turn your body into a fat-burning furnace.” It includes rules about eating (“You must eat five times a day”), hydrating (“You must drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of water”) and exercise (“You must exercise three times per week”). It also prohibits consuming the following: wheat, corn, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dried fruit or fruit juices, artificial sweeteners and fat-free “diet” foods.

    Without endorsing or dismissing her plan, it can be safely observed that anyone giving up wheat, corn, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol and fruit juices, while keeping well-hydrated and exercising regularly, is almost guaranteed to lose at least a little weight and probably feel better. If you like a plan with a lot of steps, “phases,” scientific claims, and a list of “dos” and “don’ts,” this one might be for you.

    But even if you don’t embrace Pomroy’s strategy, you may want to check out some of her recipes in “The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook.” They are healthy, satisfying and interesting. They involve “real” food, mostly plants. Enjoy this one.



    Spinach Salad With Seared Pork and Squash

    Yield: 3 servings

    For the dressing:

    1 tangerine, peeled and seeded

    ˝ cup diced cucumber

    2 tablespoons water, or more if needed

    Pinch of stevia

    1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

    Sea salt and white pepper to taste



    For the salad:

    1 cup uncooked quinoa

    12 ounces pork tenderloin, sliced 1˝ inches thick

    3 tablespoons organic chicken broth

    1 small red onion, peeled and sliced

    1˝ cups diced zucchini or yellow squash

    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

    Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

    Scant ˝ teaspoon sea salt

    ˝ teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

    6 cups fresh spinach

    3 cups fresh blueberries

    1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped (optional)



    Make the dressing: In a blender, combine all of the ingredients, adding a bit more water if needed to reach desired consistency. Cover and refrigerate.

    Cook the quinoa: Cover quinoa in cold water and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Place in a pot and cover with 2 cups cold water. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa grains begin to open. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside.

    Make the salad: In a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat, sear the pork slices for about 1 minute on each side. Remove the pork from the pan; add the broth and onion and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the squash and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to soften. Return the pork to the pan and add the lime juice, pepper flakes, salt and cilantro, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the pork is cooked through and the squash is tender.

    Mix in the cooked quinoa and heat for 1 to 2 minutes to make sure everything blends nicely.

    Assemble the dish: Place 2 cups spinach in each of three large, shallow bowls. Divide the cooked mixture among the three bowls. Garnish each bowl with a cup of blueberries and a sprinkling of bell pepper (if using). Dress lightly.

    (Recipe slightly adapted from “The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook” by Haylie Pomroy; Harmony Books, 2013)



    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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