So, I’m on day 4 of a diet. I won’t mention which specific diet it is, because I’m sure there’s something taboo about that, but let’s just say it’s currently a popular diet, and it lasts 17 days. I am pretty well informed about nutrition and am personally familiar with a variety of different weight loss methods. Different methods work for different people depending on their situation and lifestyle. I chose this particular diet because it provides the opportunity for rapid weight loss in the beginning, but by the final phase, you are eating all the foods you regularly do. The challenge for me is that the first phase consists of very simple foods prepared simply. Lean protein (fish, chicken, and turkey) is either grilled or baked and vegetables are eaten either raw or steamed.( I didn’t buy the cookbook which is sold separately from the diet because the last thing I need is another cookbook.) However, the diet allows for 2 TBS. of Olive Oil per day. I use one on my salad at lunch and am now “saving” the second one for prepping dinner. The diet also allows for limited use of certain condiments, including mustard, low sodium soy sauce, and fat free dressings (not going there yet). So, I am committed to trying to tweak things so that I can enjoy dinners that are not simply a bland piece of lean protein with a heap of steamed vegetables. Tonight we were having Tilapia. I decided to bake it, but I wanted it to stay moist, so I seasoned it with some Mexican style spices and put it in a baking dish to which I added Vegetable Stock (much lower sodium than vegetable broth). The fish was very tender, but also had flavor. I decided to grill the zucchini and summer squash and was able to do so using just 2 TBS. of Olive Oil (it was for 3 servings, so less than 1 TBS. per person). I heated up some Pico de Gallo sauce that I had in the fridge (very few calories, and, unlike salsa, no oil) and topped the fish with it. My daughter, who is not on the diet, but is stuck eating what we have for dinner, said it was a fantastic meal. So here’s my first “diet recipe”:
- 3-4 Tilapia Fillets
- 3/4 Cup Vegetable Stock (you could substitute broth, but it has a much higher sodium content)
- 1 tsp. Chili Powder
- 1 tsp. Adobe Seasoning (available through Penzey Spice) – or substitute Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp. Oregano – dried (use 2 tsp. if fresh)
- 3- 4 TBS. Fresh Cilantro – chopped (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
- 3/4 Cup Pico de Gallo *
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Season fish with salt, pepper, chili powder, Adobe Seasoning (or cumin) and oregano. Add vegetable broth to an 8″ baking dish and add fish. Stock should come up to the top of the fish, but not cover it (this allows the the seasoning to bake onto the fish). Bake for about 20-25 minutes (depending on thickness of fillets). Heat Pico de Gallo in the microwave until just warm, not hot. Serve fish with warm Pico de Galloand garnish with chopped cilantro.
For the Grilled Squash:
Preheat grill to high. Slice one zucchini and one summer squash into 1/4 inch rounds. Coat with 2-3 TBS. Olive Oil, 1 TBS. Dried Italian Herbs, 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1 tsp. of Seasoned Pepper. Put squash in a grill pan (in a single layer if possible) and set on grill. Grill until browned on one side, then flip and grill the other side until browned.
* I used store bought Pico de Gallo (from Costco) because I had it on hand. However, if you’re watching your calories, carbohydrates (sugar), fat, and sodium, you’ll want to check labels. Pico de Gallo is very easy to make, but you have to do it in advance to get a really good flavor.
Pico de Gallo:
- 3 Large Tomatoes – diced
- 1 Large Onion – diced
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro – finely chopped
- 1 Small Clove Garlic – finely chopped
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers (more or less to taste) – finely chopped
- 1 TBS. Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 tsp. Salt
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate after 2 hours.