Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Curiosity Seasoned the Cat

Not to worry, Zesty: I answered that response because I think the idea of dissolving anger in "diet and exercise" is one of the great unexamined cliches in the Diet Lexicon.

But I'm moving on, and quickly if I can help it for once. My body aches from walking dogs and I'm longing for bed. This will be a first installment on a topic I'll come back to.

Today I have 11 days of an abstinence I want more than I've wanted in as long as I can remember. My abstinence takes a lot of work. One of them is having the right food in the house.

We're going through one of what I hope are our last remaining cold spells so Sunday I decided to get the 3,000 vegetables used in making a warming, sustaining vegetable chili that I got from Allrecipes. It's not for the faint of heart -- but then again, I'm learning, perhaps it is especially for the faint of heart.

Here's the recipe:

Slow Cooker Vegetable Chili

1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chili powder
1 (4-oz. can) chopped green peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Throw it all in the crockpot and cook on low 6 - 8 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours.

I happen to love spicy food and I happen to love cumin, which I increased. I tried to make a double batch but my crock isn't big enough. The next time I have it for dinner, I'll heat up another can of tomatoes and garbanzo beans with more seasoning and add it to the plentiful vegetables.

It's as perfect a dish as I can imagine for my food plan. I simply add 4 ounces of protein and then do the research for this blog.

I don't count calories. I weigh and measure foods that exclude sugar and flour. It all comes out to somewhere around 1200 calories a day -- I think. Sometimes I don't have a carbohydrate at night and sometimes, if I've told my sponsor, I have a protein/fruit snack. At 52, I find that I'm as hungry as ever but not as often and not for as much.

This is startling insight into my body. My body is Mumbai, a tragic place w-a-y over t-h-e-r-e.

This weekend Daisy and I spent a night with Molly, whose owners left a Bon Appetite out. It contained a short article extolling the virtues of spices and herbs. I decided to do some research.

The oregano (flowering to the left) in my chili is exploding with antioxidents, a word I had to look up and then keep looking up the vocabulary of the definition. What it comes down to is rust. Oxidation is the loss of oxygen that results in rust. It's good to keep our oxygen atoms in our body in order not to end up singing "If I Only Had a Heart" (toot-toot).

OK. What else about oregano? It has very few calories. It is high in calcium and iron. It supports the immune system against certain diseases and is a fungus fighter. It has antimicrobial activity against pathogens in food -- it's a cancer fighter. Most surprisingly, a tablespoon of the stuff has the same thermogenic power as two cups of broccoli, which means it's so nutrient-dense that it boosts metabolism and has recently been found to affect the satiety center so that we feel fuller faster.

Garlic helps lower blood fats and cholesterol. It also has antiviral and antibacterial powers that boost our ability to fight flus and colds. It's good for your heart and it helps ward off strokes.

Cumin (ah, cumin!) fights dementia. Chili powder (along with red pepper flakes, cayenne and paprika) contains vitamin A. It enhances digestion and circulation and there is increasing evidence that it, too, enhances metabolism and fat-burning and increases satiety. A Dutch study found that half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes as part of an appetizer reduced calorie intake by 10 - 16%.

The seven Wonder Spices, according to SHEKNOWS, are oregano, ginger, dried red peppers, rosemary, thyme and turmeric. The seventh is cinnamon, which just oozes good stuff. It contains calcium, iron and vitamin C and is anti-microbial and anti-clotting. A Swedish trial with Type-2 diabetes patients found that two teaspoons of cinnamon a day for six weeks significantly reduced blood-glucose. It also reduces cholesterol and triglycerides.

All of these herbs and spices fight inflammation, which is often the first step toward heart disease, Alzheimer's and allergies.

So when I walked in the door with Daisy this evening, I tossed some cinnamon in my coffee grounds for tomorrow's wake-up.

I wonder what I'll make this weekend?


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your abstinence!! Do you also avoid artificial sweeteners?
I love your blog!

Frances Kuffel said...

Avoid them? Not all of them. I avoid Splenda & now that stivia is coming onto the popular market (i.e., available at the grocery store), I'll be switching over.

That being said, I'm not a big diet soda fan or many packaged things like sugar-free pudding (except for jam), so I pretty much know how much sweetener I use in a day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I appreciate your responding.
I also struggle with sugar addiction but felt like the artificial sweeteners, diet sodas, etc., didn't really bother me and wanted to get another's perspective.

Marian said...

Cinnamon in the chili! Not too much, but it *broadens* the flavor out, or something. Have you ever put cayenne pepper in hot chocolate? It's like that, but the other way around.

Bea said...

I hate to cook and this entry inspired me. I am going to revamp my kitchen and fridge. If I don't put healthy eating at the top of my list, it totally falls off the list. I also put a pinch of coffee in my chili.

JS said...

I love this entry! It's so celebratory.

Also, I love your fur hat and funky glasses in the photo.

Unknown said...

Mmmm, cumin. And crockpot chili (I use ground turkey in ours as well as lots of veggies) is a winter mainstay, and eminently freezable in portions. I put a dash of cinnamon in mine, and a half-bottle of amber beer/ale for an especially hearty flavor.


Anonymous said...

I am going to make that Chili. My son has been asking for Chili for a few weeks now.

Laura N said...

The veggie chili looks wonderful. I have every one of those ingredients at home right now & will try to make some this weekend. I adore cumin. When I cook with it, I smell & smell the bottle after I doll out the portion to the dish. It's supposed to be snowy & cold again this weekend in Indiana, so I think this will be wonderful to have on Saturday.

We're one day away from ending this never-ending month of February!

Laura N said...

I meant, dole out the portion. Stinking fingers are faster than my brain.

Caffeinated said...

Oooh, great recipe! I'm a little bit of a spicy food wimp (although I LOVE cumin!!) - if I significantly cut down the chili powder, do you think it would still be good? I also LOVE garbanzo beans, so this will totally be on my to-make list! Thank you!

Cindy said...

Thanks for the recipe, and the great posts!!! Congrats on the abstinece!!!

Gallis said...

Hmmm...perhaps I should turn to the crock pot as salvation from our nightly 'What do you want for dinner? I dunno. What do you want for dinner?" conversations. LOL