Friday, 21 January 2011

Flab-freeze diet


How to cut off cold weather cooped up hunger cravings.
Life's not fair, is it? Some of us drink champagne in the fast lane, and some of us eat our sandwiches by the loose chippings on the A597.Some of us flab out while others get away flab free.
How do you make up for the wintertime slowdown of fibre-filling fruits and vegetables in your diet? Develop a winter salad habit like this one I´ve created. An all star superfood salad of fibre-rich puy lentils, onions, nuts,cured meats and high nutrient baby spinach.You´ll be strong to the "finich" cause you eats all your spinach!!!
In the winter months temperatures dip, daytime light hours change and our eating "clocks" switch automatically to heartier meals. Its not surprising that the chilly months come with all sorts of built-in hunger turn-ons that you don´t find in the summer. This explains why diet loyalties slip in the  winter stretch. We could argue that our bodies need an extra layer of thermal padding to withstand the cold, and I am not talking Damart thermolactyls here. We don´t want this extra layer to turn into layers of permanent fat that we can find difficult to get rid of. We have to be careful that the more susceptible we are to winter´s tradition steeped hunger triggers, the higher the odds are in Spring flab´s favour.Getting your brain in touch with the things that flick on your appetite switch is half the battle. For example, cooped up winter nights tend to encourage lingering around the dinner table socially.This is inviting fat trouble. Keep food platters off the table and while away the evening toying with a grape or clementine segment - I don´t think so, but we know it makes sense.That old devil called temptation is always the uninvited guest at that table,and you have to better his conversation.The winter signals to me a powerful desire to bake.I have to temper this craving for cake and cookies.I have taught myself to sacrifice that slather of butter with that lovely artesan portuguese bread, and replaced it with a slither of cheese and a glass of juice. You don´t need butter with cheese.The idea is not to deny yourself these pleasures, but to work with the cues that are affecting your desire to eat.Night time temperatures have taken a sudden dip in the Algarve at the moment so this nourishing warm winter salad will help us make it through, and avoid us having to put our hands in our muffs.

A Warm salad of puy lentils, nuts, spinach, bacon and linguica
with a red chilli coriander and garlic cream dressing
serves 2
120g puy lentils
2 small red onions, cut into six pieces
2 heads of garlic
2 large tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Portuguese linguica sausages, finely sliced
150 g bacon in small thin slices
3 handfuls of baby spinach
2 spring onions
a handful of shelled pistachios and toasted almonds

FOR THE DRESSING
roasted garlic cloves as above
juice of 1 lemon
a handful of coriander leaves
1 medium red chilli
extra virgin olive oil

Put the onions, garlic and tomatoes on a baking tray with a generous libation of extra virgin olive oil.Bake at 180C /gas 4 for 1 hour. The garlic must be soft enough to squash between your fingers and the onions should be starting to show sign of sticky caramelization.When the garlic cloves are cool enough put them in the blender. Pour in the lemon juice, a red chilli chopped and deseeded, olive oil and coriander leaves.Blitz until you have a bright dressing the consistency of double cream. Put the lentils in a pan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. The lentils should be cooked but still have a little bite to them.Drain and keep warm.In a roasting tray warm through the nuts in the oven.Gently fry the bacon until crispy, add the linguica and cook until the juices start running, Throw in the spring onion followed by the spinach and cook until the spinach starts to wilt. At this point toss in the lentils  and stir to mix.Serve immediately in two bowls and arrange the roasted onions warmed nuts and tomatoes on top. Pour over the dressing.
VEGETARIAN OPTION:
Substitute Feta cheese for the bacon and sausage, but do not cook it add it in at the final stage.If you prefer you can substiute different nuts for a slightly different flavour. hazelnuts and walnuts would work equally well.For those with nut allergies omit the nuts.

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