Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CR in the news

It seems that I can't go anywhere without seeing news coverage about CR and CALERIE!
I was commuting today and the woman across from me was reading the NYT-- and what article was facing me? A report on how CR improves memory in older people (50-70). I have not read the scientific paper yet- but as the article mentions-- the pilot study CALERIE participants had not shown an improvement in memory but the scientific variables are different: CALERIE participants were younger and memory is not tested specifically.

I remember that I did some cognitive testing that did involve some short-term recall both at baseline and at the 6mo time point- and the only thing that I remember was that at my 6mo visit I felt a bit distracted(aka hungry) and I thought it did not go that well... We will see how I fare at my one-year physical.

Also- I came into work yesterday and my lab mate told me she watched a nightly-news-special (maybe this one?) about calorie restriction. She was upset because (my interpretation of her comment) she thought it portrayed CR as a starvation lifestyle that seemed less than attractive. After reading the show transcript I can agree that I would have had the same reaction. Here is an excerpt that I found to be the most disturbing:
But our record as humans staying on diets is pretty miserable and worsening. So it's a fat chance that we'll all be giving up our passion for greasy junk. We consume tons more calories than we need, but believe it or not there are some Americans who just revel in their hunger.

Meet the members of CRS - the Calorie Restriction Society - a group that has been severely restricting their calories for years now. They are also part of a Washington University study to see if humans "mimic" the monkeys. Does this kind of self-denial makes them live longer, healthier lives?

60 Minutes joined them for what they call "happy hour," consisting of a cocktail of low-calorie soup for starters, and walnuts, and baby food - green bean puree on flour-free bread to top off this feast fit for a flea.

So far the participants have lowered their blood pressure, reduced body fat, and lessened risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. And what's more, to one husband anyway, starvation has its sexy side. "To be honest, if you saw her without any clothes, you'd see she looks pretty darn good, like a woman like of many, many years younger," the man told 60 Minutes.

Where do I begin? I will start with the first paragraph. Yes- it is difficult to give up foods you love. No, you can not eat as many greasy foods as you may want. But if you look at my records, I eat hamburgers, french fries, I drink beer and wine, I even eat doughnuts! It is all about figuring out what food is worth the calories- and if you want it- eat it. Just not every day. And I am rarely hungry. I eat foods that fill me up so that I never feel hungry. I eat junk food when I want it. I would not be able to diet if I felt hungry or deprived. I am a wimp. Also I am not perfect. I think it is unreasonable to expect to be- this is a lifestyle not a diet. If you have a bad day (or weekend, or holiday season) fine, pick back up, go food shopping for the stand-by "favorite" meals, and refocus.

Next let's look at their "happy hour." It seems like a small appetizer for me. I love low-cal vegetable soup as much as the next person- but I use it as a prelude to my meal. Why not serve a virgin bloody mary or a fruit juice spritzer? Walnuts- OK. I prefer almonds, but fine. Green bean puree on top of flour-free bread. UGH! Maybe the green bean puree is tasty (if I can imagine that it was made with some roasted garlic, lemon, and hot peppers- yum!) but flour-free bread? Why bother? Just eat some low-cal crackers... Or use veggies for dipping... Or make your own tortilla chips (corn tortillas (60cal ea) sprayed with cooking spray/oil spray, salted and baked until crispy!). All those seem like better choices to serve a reporter...

We recently had a CALERIE party and the foods there would have been perfect for a reporter to witness. Let's test my memory now of how many good foods they served (feel free to fill in anything that I left out)! I remember an eggplant red pepper dip, turkey meatballs, warm lentil stew, veggies, pita chips, chocolate fiber-one treats (rice-krispie treats made with fiber-one instead), seltzer, coffee, and tea. The best part was that the serving utensils were measuring cups/spoons so you knew how much you were taking, AND the calorie information was printed on the table right next to the foods. Maybe with the study's permission I will share the recipes :)

Finally, yes, these CR practitioners are more healthy than the average American, but at what apparent cost- a life of baby food and low-cal soups? That is why I write this blog- to show people out there (generally my family and the few friends that read my blog) that I am eating "normally" (I would say well!), participating in my typical activities and CR is not as terrible as you might think. It can be done, and it does not relegate you to a life of boring, agonizingly dull food.

My last comment of CR in the press actually comes from a fellow CALERIE participant! I have not met him, but I agree with his commentary. The dietitians/counselors in the study alerted me to this article- and I love there are more participants out there documenting their experiences :)

Phew! This post took me 2 days to write... so much for my free time now that teaching has started up again...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sesame Crusted Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms

I am starting from the bottom of the list :)

Sesame Crusted Tofu Sticks with Shiitake Mushrooms

Yield- 6 servings (this made 3 "Liz size" servings- double the nutritional information)

From Cooking Light


  • Tofu:
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 (15-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 18 sticks (we only had 12 sticks)
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided

  • Vegetables:
  • 1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps (about 10 mushrooms)
  • 2 cups (2-inch) sliced green onions
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese sweet and sour sauce (such as ABC sauce; optional)


To prepare tofu, combine first 4 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs, flour, and sesame seeds in a shallow dish.

Dip tofu, one piece at a time, in egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Return tofu to egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining tofu, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of tofu; cook 4 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and tofu. Keep warm.

To prepare vegetables, pour pineapple juice into pan. Bring to a boil; cook until juice is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan.

Heat pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add shallots, minced garlic, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, tomatoes, and thyme, and cook 1 minute. Stir in pineapple juice and balsamic vinegar, and cook 30 seconds.

Arrange about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 3 tofu sticks. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sweet and sour sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 253 (29% from fat)

Fat: 8.1g (sat 1.4g,mono 3g,poly 3.1g)

Protein: 12.5g
Carbohydrate: 32.9g
Fiber: 3g
Cholesterol: 36mg
Iron: 3.5mg
Sodium: 846mg
Calcium: 119mg

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mystery Foods

I know... Again I have fallen out of the blogging habit. I have been a bit hectic with the start of the school semester and getting some research groundwork finished before I start teaching- but I have been cooking! So in an effort to help motivate me to write, and maybe to get you all to start demanding more posts, I will post pictures of the upcoming foods- and you all can get a feeling for what is to come :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year Feast- Part 1

OK in an effort to recover from the "dog poo" post I am finally getting around to the first 3 courses of our New Year Feast. I have my weigh-in today, and this meal certainly did not help me lose any of the 3lbs gained over the holidays.

Course 1: Pate, pears, cornishons, balsamic mini-onions, and homemade bread!

The bread: TE loves Mark Bittman. Loves, Loves. I like his column too- and this bread was fantastic. If you have time, make this bread. You will thank me!
The pate was store-bought (pork, garlic, A-MAZING), the cornishons as well. The pears were sliced and dressed in a citrus honey dressing (the same as the beet salad). I could have eaten all this food and been satisfied. So, so good.
I will have to find out how TE did the onions, I was not paying attention to that part, and they did not come from any recipe that I could find printed out in our stack of NY recipes. But they were also fantastic!

Course 2: Deconstructed clam chowder
First we had to make a dashi. This is basically a fish stock.
Then we followed this recipe, changing it a bit.
We only used 1lb of fish, and we cooked it a bit longer than the recipe stated. It still tasted great but the broth was not as smooth looking as TE wanted it to be.

Course 3: Heirloom Beet Salad with goat cheese

This was a simple and tasty salad. We roasted and peeled all the beets ourselves and in the process learned a secret to keeping your hands from turning purple when working with beets: olive oil! If you have olive oil (or any oil I am sure) on your hands while you are peeling, the color washes right out!
In our salad we used an arugula mix, beets and goat cheese, plus a bit of the dressing. Yum!

I have not calculated calorie information on these recipes/foods. It was a bit of a CR holiday...

OK I am saved! Now you will not see a post about poo first thing on my page :) Stay posted for the main course. Quite the feast....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Eating After The Holidays

While I am working on my New Year's feast post, I thought I would blog about how I am getting back into my proper eating habits in the new year. Let me know what you think about these steps, what you recommend, and/or what you are doing to shed that extra holiday weight gained this season.

1) Fiber. Fiber. Fiber.
I am aiming for 35+ grams a day. This is the only way my stretched out stomach, used to eating too much bad-for-you-food, will feel full on 1670 calories... I do this by eating lots of bran cereals, weight watchers bread products, and Trader Joes FiberFull fruit leathers.

2) Vegetable soup/Salad eaten before lunch and dinner.
I made a big pot of vegetable soup (made from any and all vegetable products in my apartment, soup broths, and additional frozen/canned soups to bulk it up- TE's worst nightmare :)) so that I can eat it before my meals or as a hearty-low calorie snack.

3) Standard/Typical Meals for breakfast and lunch.
Breakfast will switch between my favorite cereal breakfast and Kashi waffles with peanut butter and apple butter. Lunch is either soup and a turkey sandwich on high fiber bread, or like today- leftovers from dinner last night.

4) Less processed foods. More fresh fruit and vegetables.
I got a bit sick over break with the cold/viral bug that was going around. I was not as bad as TE (maybe thanks to CR?) but I bought a ton of oranges and grapefruit regardless. I am still eating 1/day to keep my immune system happy. I also bought groceries with a cooking plan so that always helps motivate me to cook at night. Nothing like expensive food in your fridge staring at you each night as you contemplate another lazy night of cereal/packaged meals :)

That is about it. Any one else have additional ideas?