The recipes for Week 1 and Week 2 of the 2011 Whole Living Action Plan were designed by chef Louisa Shafia, author of "Lucid Food," and emphasize clean, flavorful ingredients. While you're cooking and snacking away this week, Chef Louisa is here in the community to answer your food-related quesitons.
While the Plan only provides only one specific recipe suggestion per day, it does offer guidelines (and plenty of other options to choose from) so that you can design your own meal plan that best fits your needs within the confines of the detox. For a complete printable list of recipes, click here.
If you're curious about what, how, or why to eat what you're eating this week, leave Chef Louisa a question here. She'll be checking in Monday through Wednesday this week and will do her best to post a response within 24 hours.
Louisa attended the Natural Gourmet Institute and has cooked at Roxanne’s in San Francisco (the first fine-dining establishment dedicated to raw food), as well as Aquavit and Pure Food and Wine in New York. You can read more about her at LucidFood.com.
Update - January 13: This discussion board is now closed. Thanks to everyone who contributed and made it a great success! You can continue to discuss related topics on other Action Plan boards.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
I'm sure Louisa will be addressing this herself, but I can't resist popping in here to tell you what I do know, and that is that brown (as well as black and red) rice carries far more nutritional benefits than white. Reason: White is refined, and has had the outer bran removed where all the good stuff is. Occasional white rice isn't going to hurt you, certainly, but it also doesn't do a lot for you either. I think the key is to EXPAND your rice--and grain--repertoire so you're not always relying on one refined carb, which is one of the key goals for the action plan. To eat fewer refined carbs.
Hey, I was raised on white, so I know how delicious it is! But I just make sure that for, say, every one meal I use white rice for, I use two or more of brown. Note, too, that there are diff kinds of brown. I've found that long grain brown is good, but short-grain brown has that stickiness that I like, and that I love about white rice. So give that a try.
Thanks so much for your question. Terri made a lot of great points in her response, regarding brown rice having more nutrients and fiber than white rice. All true.
In addition, I find that when I eat white rice, it makes my blood sugar peak and crash, so I'm really tired afterward (hmm, maybe this is why as a child I used to fall asleep in Chinese restaurants ...). The fact is, white rice is a high-glycemic, highly processed carbohydrate that makes blood sugar levels spike, and diets heavy in these kinds of foods can lead to health problems like heart disease and kidney disease, and are dangerous for diabetics.In contrast, brown rice is a low-glycemic food, but more than that, I honestly love the taste! It may be that I've gotten to like the taste of things that I know are good for me, but I'm very happy with a bowl of ginger-y brown rice and some sauteed kale. Like Terri, I grew up eating white rice, but unless I'm making a specific ethnic food like Thai or Persian that is truly complemented by white rice, I choose brown. Seasoned with a little olive oil and salt, brown rice can be rich and satisfying.
Thanks, everyone! Actually, I do have that experience with white rice as well that Louisa describes. Or I get hungry a short time after eating it. I made some brown rice tonight and it WAS very tasty. I'll have to get some of the black and/or red kinds that Terri mentioned next time I go to the grocery store.
Good for you for giving the plan a real go. I'm happy to hear you're feeling good.
Believe me, you CAN stick with this way of eating after January. I've been eating this way for years. At home, I cook in the style of the recipes that are included in the plan, but I still have a life and I go out and enjoy myself at restaurants and at meals in other people's homes. Like you, I would never want to be rude and turn down food that someone put a lot of time and energy into making; I'll happily eat whatever someone puts in front of me, and then make sure to eat lots of leafy greens and other foods that make my body feel good over the next few days.
A few tips to remember moving forward:
Cook with color! If you include lots of brightly colored vegetables in your meals on a daily basis, you'll be getting the vital nutrients that your body needs. It doesn't even matter which vegetables you eat, just make sure there's color on your plate. I'm thinking of red and yellow beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, parsley, collards, kale, and chard. They're all good for you. In addition, food is simply more appetizing when it looks beautiful, and foods with naturally vibrant colors will start to seduce your palate before the food goes into your mouth.
Stick with whole grains. Keep white rice, pasta, bread, and white potatoes to a minimum, and instead choose whole grains with complex flavors and interesting textures like brown rice, millet, quinoa, wheat berries, amaranth grains, steel cut oats, and barley, to name a few. Whole grains fill you up while providing your body with fiber, vitamins, and protein, and if they're not already a regular part of your diet, you'll grow to like their interesting, unique tastes.
Choose fresh foods over canned, pre-cooked, frozen, or otherwise processed foods. A wonderfully satisfying dinner can be as simple as a grilled chicken breast, a whole grain like brown rice, and a sauteed vegetable or two. True, it takes a little more time to prepare fresh food, but you can take shortcuts by cooking a big batch of grains, soup, or vegetables and then eating them all week. You can save cooking time by soaking grains and beans overnight, so they'll cook faster and be more digestible. If you're in a rush and you have the option of buying pre-cut veggies, then splurge. Cooking fresh, healthy food shouldn't be torture, so cut yourself a break.
Keep quick-cooking foods on hand. Some things I always have in my kitchen are red lentils and quinoa, both of which cook in about 20 minutes. Almond butter spread on a sliced apple is my favorite snack; it's sweet and satisfying and ready in seconds. I also keep miso paste—Japanese fermented soybean paste—in my fridge because it makes an instant soup when stirred into hot water. Rice crackers, nuts, and dried fruits are great to keep around, too. The idea is to have healthy, quick-cooking foods around so that it's easy to make the right food choices.
Lastly, I encourage you to share your eating experiences with other people, whether it's your partner, your family, or friends. Get the people around you excited about eating this way, show them how tasty it can be to eat healthy, fresh food, and you'll build a support system for your new healthy lifestyle. I encourage you to continue making pizza at home, that sounds like a wonderful tradition, and your homemade pizza will be a lot healthier than what you would get at a restaurant. On pizza nights, experiment with adding lots of fresh veggies, or healthy ingredients like white beans, to your toppings. Honor your family eating traditions, but adjust them to be a little more health-supportive. If you have pizza night once a month, it will be a special occasion and something to look forward to, not something to fear!
I am following the Plan and am feeling great. Sugar cravings have been my biggest challenge and I find myself eating fruit for most of my snacks. Is this OK? Or is there a point where I'm sabotaging my progress by getting too much natural 'sugar' found in fruit?
Thanks for your thoughts,
I think you're just fine eating fruit for your snacks, and fruit is countless times healthier than processed sugar. Fruits are full of fiber and nutrients, and contain lots of water so they're hydrating as well.
My favorite snack of all time is a crisp, sweet apple with almond butter; slice, spread, and serve.
My concern would be that, depending on what climate you're in, eating a lot of raw fruit can make your body cold, at a time of year when most of us need to eat warming, cooked foods. I'm a big believer in eating with the seasons, and making the most of the foods that Mother Nature provides for us. Therefore, if most fresh fruit isn't in season, I'll mostly make do with apples and pears, and wait to eat berries, peaches, etc until they are in season. I'm personally craving cooked foods most of the time, with the occasional apple, pomegranate, or citrus fruit here and there.
I would also encourage you to use the Action Plan to branch out from your favorite tried-and-true snack foods and experiment with new ones. You may discover something that you really love! Maybe this week try making the Red Lentil Dal or the Sweet Potato Hummus, both on the Week 2 snack list and both super quick and easy. When you eat a wide range of vegetables, legumes, and fruits, your body will benefit from the varied nutrients and antioxidants in each one.
You mentioned keeping white potatoes (and other white foods) to a minimum in one of your replies. Are some types of potatoes healthier than others? For instance are Yukon Gold potatoes better than russet or Idaho potatoes? What about purple potatoes?
Great question! Indeed, all potatoes are not created equal.
Idaho potatoes—and Russets, the kind used to make french fries— both have a high starch-to-water ratio, and thus a high glycemic index, which is important to consider if you have diabetes or insulin resistance. Then there are medium-starch potatoes, including white potatoes and yellow potatoes such as the Yukon Gold, which can still be quite high in sugar. I would say your best bet with choosing a potato is to go with a low starch/high moisture ratio variety, like red potatoes or new potatoes, which are nearly 90% water and 10% starch.
A few tips for getting the most nutrition out of a potato:
I'm snowed in today, but have everything on hand to make today's soup -- Chickpea, Tomato, and Spelt ... except for the spelt. I do have quinoa and millet on hand. Which would you recommend?
Happy snow day! Staying in and cooking sounds nice.
To replace the spelt in the chickpea soup, I'd choose millet because it has a heartier texture and will stand up to the other ingredients in the soup like chickpeas and diced vegetables. Quinoa would be just fine too, but the texture of quinoa in a soup is mushy. Both spelt and millet hold their shape during long cooking, like rice.
Way to go with making a substitution! Other grains you could use here would be barley, kasha, brown rice, or wheat berries. You could also swap out the beans for any bean s you have on hand. A recipe is just a guideline, and once you get the gist of how it works, it's fun to get creative and really make the recipe your own by using your personal favorite ingredients, or whatever you have on hand.