Learning How to Eat (plus about 30 recipes!)

TOCINO

Every once in a while, I write something I think is kind of fun, but short and not really big enough for a blog post. Those stories usually wind up on Facebook. The other day, I posted a recipe for “Pork Tocino” from A Girl Worth Saving.

The recipe reminded me of a story …

I used to work with a Mexican dude named Saul. Saul didn’t speak English very well, but … he was taking classes, tried really hard and was a wonderful guy! One day, I was trying to think of the Spanish word for Bacon. I had a big handful of raw bacon and held it up to Saul and said, “Hey, Saul … how do you say this?” and pointed at it. Saul stopped everything he was doing and his face turned up into thoughtful kerfuzzle. He thought and thought. After about a minute, he started pacing around the kitchen. I’d never SEEN someone work so hard to think of a word. He kept saying, “I don’t know! It’s been a while. I’ll think of it!” … then he’d stomp around, frustrated, dejected … and still lost in thought. Finally, after what felt like a full 10 minutes of theatrics, the light bulb turned on, immediate and bright! His eyes opened wide and he looked at me, like he had the cure for cancer and said … “Bacon??!”

The whole kitchen just blew up in an uproar! Saul had thought I was quizzing him!

Saul, if you get this … the answer I was looking for was … “Tocino“.

Learning How To Eat

I was recently sent an email asking me what I eat on a day to day basis. It’s odd, in that I’ve never really discussed this before, even though the entire website is ABOUT the foods I eat. To be sure, all the meals I eat on a regular basis ARE included on the website, in one form or another.

The super short version of this post …

Every day, I wake up and drink coffee. At about Noon, I have lunch. At about 8 PM, I have dinner. I don’t eat breakfast, even though rumor has it … it’s the most important meal of the day! My lunch is also always smaller than my dinner. This is also contrary to the recommendations.

It should be said that … this post is about what “I” eat … it’s not a “what you should eat” or a “how you should eat”. I’ve earned huge success from following these patterns, but … the show ain’t over, I’m not Brad Pitt and … I still eat too much.

I’m working on it.

The super long version of this post …

I didn’t really understand how food worked within my body, when I first started this way of eating. I knew that I loved to eat it, but once it slid down the back of my tongue, I had no clue what happened. I assumed fat was the enemy and grains to be my friend. I knew sugar wasn’t great, but … didn’t consider to be “damaging”. It was just pure hollow yum … a guilty pleasure.

In the beginning, my only rule was 20 net carbs a day, or less. My definition of a “net” carb was: carbs – fiber – sugar alcohols = “net” carbs. It was very simple and basic and backed by skimming an old Atkins book I’d found buried near the bottom of that “stack of books donated by friends and family, over the years”. I had no restrictions, short of that one “20 net carb” rule. As a result, what I ate when I began looked A LOT like the foods I was eating when I weighed 350+ lbs. In fact, I essentially spent all my early days just trying to figure out how to recreate my favorite recipes. They just happened to have had the carbs stripped out of them!

In the early days, I ate MOUNDS of cheese, melted in hot pools of heavy cream, swirled in salty goodness, with bacon coated Dreamfield’s Pastas, deli mulch-meat on highly processed Frankenbreads, packaged low-carb products, diet bars, shakes, bottled condiments, etc. I thrived on these things, because they mirrored my habits! I ate well, I ate often and I ate copious amounts … all the while … the weight slid right off of me! I lost about 140 lbs. in one year!

There are essentially two periods to discuss: The beginning and now.

In the Beginning …

Mini Quiches

I LOVE PIE! Back in the day, I’d make quiche pretty regularly (while somehow staying a “real man”). I always had little balls of pie dough in the fridge and could throw one together in no time. This was one of my first recreations.

FrankenLoaf

This is another one I made quite often. It looks just like bread! I’d make the following with it, pretty regularly (loaves freeze super well, too!)

Grilled Ham Sandwich

I made sandwiches! All kinds! Hot, cold, fried, etc. They were delicious, too!

Chicken Caesar

I’d also make croutons, which were great in salads, as well as things like bread pudding!

Pasta ala Stuff in my Fridge

Let’s not leave out pasta. This is another one which was made quite often. This was more a “guide” than an absolute, though. It was always quick and based on whatever I had in the fridge. Sort of an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, but it was essentially meat, cheese, veggies, pasta and cream. There was usually tomato or pesto, as well.

My Mom’s Red Lasagna

Sloppy Green Lasagna

These are two that I’d make in large trays. Then, I’d cool them down, cut it into bricks and vacuum pack and freeze the bricks. I’d heat them up as I’d need them!

Pollo Verde Enchilada Casserole

Just like the lasagnas, this is another which would get baked, chilled, cut, packed and frozen. At any given point in time, you could look into my freezer and see multi-colored bricks of layered yumminess!

Cheesy Pork Enchiladas

This is another one which I’d play with. Some of the time it would be layered, like the above casserole. Other times, I’d roll it up. It really depended on time, laziness and tasty filling! (also, whether or not company was coming …)

Pizza Attempted on Tortilla

Turkey, Bacon, Pesto Wrap

I was also a HUGE fan of Mama Lupe’s tortillas and would make pizzas, BBQ tacos and sandwich wraps with them. Again, these are just “ideas” … not necessarily absolutes. The ingredients would change, but the principle ideas behind them stayed about the same.

Spiced Refrigerator Candy

Ice Cream

It should be said that I ate dessert every day, in the beginning. 99% of the time, they were either fat bombs or ice cream. I’ve made at least 100 flavors of each kind, I’m sure.

The good news is, I never felt like I was wanting, hungry or needed to limit what I eat. And while I almost effortlessly lost one and a half hundred pounds, the bad news is, I never really changed my habits, and I stalled out.

In order to continue losing weight, I needed to change what I ate, and the amounts. (I’m still working on this second part)

Now

See, I’m a blogger, now. I’ve spent the last year writing and reading other blogs, looking at various news stories flitter by on Facebook, joined a cookbook authoring team with rules to follow, have read countless … hundreds … of eBooks, etc. At this point, I’ve gained an ENORMOUS appreciation for the foods that enter my body. What I eat today is WILDLY different from what I ate then, even though I’m still a devout low-carber.

In many ways, I’ve gone a bit primal (eating like a caveman). Actually, what I currently eat, I’ve been calling “Low Primal” … essentially Paleo + Dairy + Low-Carb + Erythritol. While I haven’t lost much more weight as a result, I’ve gained more muscle, the weight has shifted location, become more dense and … I just FEEL better. My mind has a clarity it didn’t historically have … the clouds appear to have lifted! While a lot of this is due to time in the gym, I also think it’s the result of cutting out heavy blasts of dairy and grains.

I like to use my coffee to showcase the differences …

Then: Whatever cheap coffee I could find, combined with heavy cream and Splenda.

Now: Organic whole bean coffee, home ground, with almond milk and erythritol.

The Future: I’m eyeballing Bulletproof Coffee

I STILL drink a mammoth mug of coffee in the morning, but the ingredients have all changed.

See, the funny part is … if I’d gone back 4 years and looked me dead in the eye and said, “You need to eat more veggies and cut out soy, all grains, dairy, legumes, all major carbs (potatoes, rice, sugar, honey, maple syrup, dried fruit, tropical fruits, etc.), synthetic sweeteners, foods in bags, foods in boxes, foods in cans, frozen foods, etc.” I wouldn’t have even tried. I may even have punched myself square in my future’s nose.

If I had seen this morning’s cup of coffee, 4 years ago, I would’ve thought it was the most ridiculous, pompous, watery, weird sounding, expensive, silly cup of coffee, ever. I would’ve judged and laughed at me, and I would’ve stopped listening to anything I had to say, right then. I’d have blocked me out … forever, never to listen to my future self, again. Clearly my future self just doesn’t understand!

Lies, past self … all LIES!!! It’s because I understand on such a deep level what it took to get me ON this path, I will never … EVER EVER!!! criticize anyone, for ANY effort they are making to try and improve their lives. Do what it takes. Eat what makes you happy! Then … start listening to your body, because … whether you like it or not, your body has needs different than what your mind might demand. My mind demands pizza, pasta and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but it THRIVES on lettuce, zucchini and bacon!

Listening to my body has taken me further down this path … and further from the foods which once brought so much comfort. I now find comfort in new things.

These semi-evolutionary changes have eliminated certain ingredients from my diet. Gluten, for example, is pretty much right out. As wonderful as Dreamfields pasta is, I tried an experiment where I eliminated all gluten from my diet for 30 days (dairy, too!). Because I’m human … and occasionally kind of a dumb dumb … I celebrated the victorious milestone with a massive bowl of Pasta ala Stuff in DJ’s Fridge. It was delicious! It was like my body was lifted up from my body, and I was able to peer down at my grinning face. Love.

The next morning, it was as if the lights were turned out, deep within. I had a face melting headache. I felt bloaty and my thoughts came as if they were being sent through a filter of warm, partially melted cheese food. I couldn’t make a decision to save my life and I was inexplicably sad. It was pure misery. This lasted about 4 or 5 days, becoming less severe with each passing day.

This was about 6 months ago. I haven’t had a noodle, tortilla, or Frankenfood since. I’ve also cut WAY back on my opulent, exorbitant and over indulgent dairy consumption. Now, it’s pretty much just occasional cheese, with even less frequent heavy cream.

One mainstay, however … eggs.

Poorly Cooked Eggs

One of my absolute favorite meals … eggs. Eggs are great! I essentially saute up some stuff … while whipping some cream and/or almond milk in a bowl with a touch of salt and pepper. Then, I dump the eggs on the mostly cooked goodies and overcook until lightly browned! DELISH!

A huge variety of options are available on this one. Chicken, peppers, onions and garlic … topped with salsa? Bacon, Mushrooms and Swiss … topped with some fresh tomatoes? Italian sausage, parmesan, broccoli and a touch of pesto? Yes, please! Bring on those green eggs!

Rosemary, Ham and Swiss Frittatas

Pizzattata

Here’s another way in which eggs slide down my gullet. In “Frittata” form! Frittatas are essentially crustless quiches (although, I believe they’re technically more like pan-sized omelets finished in the oven). In any event, this is another one that gets made in the Foodie household … OFTEN! Most of the time I make the mini versions, but for guests/company, the big ones get made.

As you can see … Stuff + Eggs = Yum!

Chia Fauxtmeal

Chia is another one to appear on my radar and makes for a GREAT breakfast, lunch or … dessert!

Warm Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Pecans and Bacon

Warm Chicken, Bacon, Tomato and Balsamic

Thai-Inspired Beef Salad

One incredibly common meal is the “Warm Salad”. This is something I eat easily once a week, potentially more. This is lunch or dinner. No sides, no frills, no complicated or moving parts … just lettuce, veggies, cubed meat, occasionally cheese, and dressing. It’s not entirely unlike a partially raw stir-fry.

I LOVE these, because they take minutes to throw together, while wielding a huge variety of nutrients, and allowing for an enormous range of flavor profiles. I’ve made Indian flavored ones with chicken, yoghurt, cucumbers, spinach and spices, as well as more Chinese, or Japanese variations. I’ve made big ones and small ones. Some of the time I use cream based dressings, or mayonnaise based dressings and other times … just lemon juice and some olive oil. A lot depends on what’s in the fridge!

Between you and I, I have a giant banged up metal bowl, from my old catering days. It’s got a scorched bottom from sitting on the top of so many grills. It’s a horror show of professional kitchen equipment.

I fill this massive bowl with healthy goodness, grab a pitchfork and … devour!

Jambalaya

Sopa sin Tortillas

I also eat a lot of soup. These are GREAT in that you can kind of just throw stuff into broth and simmer it till soft and yummy. These are usually meat/veggies in homemade chicken stock (I buy LOTS of roasted chickens from the local deli and always make broth from the bones). This is done chunky style.

Alternately, there’s the CREAM based soups, which are like veggies in stock, simmered till soft, then … blended with cream. This is a VERY common lunch! Check out all my soup recipes to see a variety. I eat most of them on a semi-regular basis!

The two above are two that I make in giant batches, then vacuum pack and freeze. For the Sopa sin Tortilla, it’s just the pork and broth. Then, I re-heat it and add all the fixin’s. For the Jambalaya, I make the entire recipe, but leave out the shrimp. Then, when I re-heat it, I add the shrimp at the last minute and serve over a bowl of Cauli-rice!

Coconut-Cocoa-Macadamia Smoothie

I’d be lying if I said I’d completely given up sweets and ice cream. I still enjoy these, but … desserts are usually either flavored chia pudding, or a protein smoothie. The recipe above doesn’t have any protein powder, but I’d add it. Here’s one WITH protein powder. Both are favs, as are a whole battalion of other tasty flavors!

One Minute Muffins

I’d be missing a key element to the low-carb cycle of life, if I left out the OMM’s. That said, I’ve never really gotten big into the habit of making them. I see nothing wrong with them, short of portion control potentially being an issue for some. In my case, I simply didn’t have a microwave when I first began in this road. As a result … OMM’s never became a part of my strategy, but … they’re DEFINITELY quick, tasty and varied. It felt silly to leave them out, even though I personally don’t nosh on them very often.

Ok … this post is beyond long and I doubt anyone is still reading, but … I wanted to really showcase the types of foods I eat and what the progression was like. The reality is, I’m a busy guy, just like most of you. I eat simple foods in my daily life, and only occasionally make more complicated meals. The complicated meals are usually for special occasions, guests, dates, family, holidays, etc.

Today, for lunch I ate this … and for dinner, I’m eating this, but with ground chia, instead of the pork rinds …

Eat simple, but … eat well.

DJ

Italian Sausage Salad with Pesto, Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Italian Sausage Salad with Pesto, Tomatoes and MozzarellaI’m often asked what I eat. THIS is what “I” eat!

While I realize I’ve got lots of complicated recipes on my website, those are largely to showcase an idea, or point out an interesting technique or ingredient. Other times, they’re there for special occasions, such as a birthday or holiday. For the most part, I don’t think most people cook complicated and elaborate meals for themselves on a regular basis. I’m no different!

This is precisely the kind of thing I eat on a regular basis. It’s one of my many warm protein salads that I make (the core idea is chunks of hot meat, tossed with lettuce and vegetables, which are sometimes raw and sometimes cooked). One of my absolute favorite meals on earth is a simple salad of chicken, bacon, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese! Another consists of chicken, roasted peppers, BBQ sauce and ranch dressing! Or, what about this one with strawberries? YUM!

I also do the same thing in with fish and beef, and with a whole host of flavor profiles … some of the time Indian, others THAI! But, the core idea is always the same … hot cubes of meat, mixed with a variety of lettuce(s) and veggies, tossed in a giant bowl and eaten with a pitch fork.

THESE are full meals, with what would ordinarily be considered “the sides”, just cooked and thrown in the bowl with things like pesto, or a vinaigrette of some kind, or ginger and soy sauce, or garam masala and some yoghurt! Big bowls of partially raw nutrient dense goodness … quick, easy and ABSOLUTELY flavorful!

Here I’m throwing another tasty flavor combo in the pile! YUM!

[ VIEW RECIPE ]

Garlicky BBQ Kale

Garlicky BBQ KaleKale is one of those ingredients touted as a super food. This purple of green leafy vegetable is related to broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Kale has sprung onto the health world scene due to its enormous nutrient density. It’s like … concentrated food! SO much good stuff in those crisp sweet leaves! It’s also incredibly versatile, pretty and … pretty much grows everywhere!

There’s a strange aspect to Kale, though. It’s sweet! It’s actually got quite a high carb content to it. Just 4 ounces of it has over 8 net carbs! To a follower of Paleo or Primal trends, this is not an issue, but for those really counting every last little carb … 8 carbs for a decent sized pile of greens is a hefty portion of the day’s allotment!

In the end, I feel that the benefits of Kale far outweigh the one minor drawback. I can’t imagine someone experiencing any kind of negative response to “Kale”. It’s unfathomable to me to think that someone ate “too much kale”. After a good deal of thought and consideration, I decided to add a kale recipe to my site and … keep it simple.

In this case, this is the kind of thing I’d have at a BBQ. I’d cook it in bacon fat, with LOTS of garlic, and I’d spill some BBQ sauce into it, just to give it a little extra liquid to braise in, while also taking that “smoky” flavor just a tad further. Feel free to use my own BBQ sauce, or one of many sugar free BBQ’s sauces out there. I’m a big fan of Guy’s BBQ Sauce … and really think it’s tasty stuff!

Kale … it does a body good!

[ VIEW RECIPE ]

Big Wedge Salad

Big Wedge SaladThis is a strange lead in to a recipe, but it’s the only place I can think to start!

My father is a picky eater. Like, an over-the-top, silly, ludicrously picky eater. He’s such a picky eater, he’ll even allow himself to be rude, if he doesn’t like something. If he won’t eat it, it’s simply not getting eaten. Period. Vegetables, pretty much, are right out. He is a true “Steak and Potatoes” man.

It’s odd to me, in that … he likes … maybe even LOVES … The Wedge!

While my father will likely kill me for divulging such sensitive info, I would never have thought to add “The Big Green Wedge” to my website, were it not for him! So, Dad … I dedicate this one to you!

The puzzling thing is … he won’t eat lettuce (at least, I don’t “think” he will). He won’t eat vegetables. He won’t eat “green things”, but … THIS is a big slab ‘o green thing! It’s BAFFLING to me why he would eat this, while avoiding a million other far tastier things!

At the very least, I’ve come to one logical conclusion. THIS salad is like the STEAK of salads! I have to assume that a vegetarian would look at this like a steak, right? It’s a man salad, for a man! Sure, a woman can order and eat the steak of salads, but … a man can order “The Great Wedge” and … still feel like a man!

So, for those of you out there facing feeding picky eaters, people who won’t eat their salads … here’s one to put in front of them.

The Great Green Wedge … the STEAK of Salads!

[ VIEW RECIPE ]

Colorful Asian Slaw

Colorful Asian SlawThis stuff is absolutely addictive! With a helpful slicing tool, like a mandolin (watch your fingers!) something like this can be whipped up in just a few minutes!

This is, in very large part, this utilizes a lot of the same tastes and textures as you’d find in my Uber Crack Slaw. However, this is cold and perfect for a box lunch, paired with something like a chilled chicken breast. It would also be excellent as a potluck salad. Not only is it bright and colorful, but the sweet crunch, combined with the stronger ginger and sesame flavors will have everyone asking for the recipe!

Another interesting aspect of this particular salad, it’s actually better after it sits in the marinade and macerates for a bit. It’ll wilt and soften. It will lose a little bit of its bright rainbow vibrancy, but … it’s STILL quite beautiful to look at, while tasting even better!

A fun Asian themed slaw, perfect for just about any occasion! (ok, except maybe Thanksgiving … or a trip to the dentist, but … you get the point!)

[ VIEW RECIPE ]

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1 thought on “Learning How to Eat (plus about 30 recipes!)”

  1. Thank you! Very interesting. Your food journey is very similar to mine. You’re funny too. I also would have punched future me square in the nose. LOL

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