“Eat Real Food, Mostly Vegetables, Not too much”
The above phrase is from Michael Polan’s book In Defense of Food. I highly recommend everything Michael Polan writes as well as his documentary. He has a great way with words. He entertains and informs at the same time.
The diet my genes like best is a Mediterranean diet that follows Polan’s simple instructions. The diet starts with lots and lots of non-starchy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are the base along with anything from the cole family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage of any kind, brussels sprouts. It also includes lots of onions, garlic and shallots. Peppers cucumbers and tomatoes are also on the shopping list whenever they run low. We also use lots of mushrooms, squash and sweet potatoes. The goal is to eat a pound of non-starchy vegetables per day, per person. The effect of this is amazing. You get lots of delicious food to eat that fills you up. These veggies are loaded with phytonutrients as well as vitamins and minerals. Vegetables also are a great way to incorporate lots of olives, olive oil and grass-fed butter into the diet. Our diet is not a low-fat diet. Olive oil, in particular, is great for lowering triglycerides and inflammation. We also use lots of fresh herbs, spices avocados, and vinegars. Vinegars are a great way to add flavor and interest to food. They come in a wide variety from apple cider vinegar with live cultures to mission fig balsamic. We keep a variety of high-quality vinegars on hand to make vinaigrettes. We tailor the vinaigrette to the meal by changing the vinegar. A simple vinaigrette consists of equal parts olive oil to vinegar with salt and pepper. we usually add chopped shallots and a dash of mustard. A small dash of honey can also be used.
We eat huge salads dressed with either vinaigrette or just lemon and olive oil. We top them with a small portion of nuts and seeds for crunch. We also incorporate fruit and cheese depending on our whim. Apples, pears, figs and oranges are some of the usual suspects. Figs and goat cheese on arugula with a simple vinaigrette is a gourmet delight.
We eat nuts seeds and fruit regularly but in small portions. Two ounces by weight of nuts and seeds packs a lot of nutrition in a small package but they are high calorie also so keep the portions small. Fruits are loaded with sugar but eaten whole they contain fiber also. So again keep portions small. Berries especially blueberries are a nutrition powerhouse low in sugar. A half cup a day is great. We keep a big bag of frozen blueberries on hand at all times.
Portions of protein are moderate. Fish is on the menu a lot. The best fish for health are wild caught fatty fish. Olive oil packed sardines, for example, are wonderful but some people do not like them. Oil packed tuna and wild caught salmon are also excellent. We eat a wide variety of seafood. I tend to buy whatever is fresh. Oysters, clams and mussels, by the way, are nutrient powerhouses. Beef Pork and Chicken and Duck are also in the rotation. Free range, grass fed etc. is preferred but hard to get. Our butcher shop always carries duck and we love it. A seared duck breast with crispy skin is better than filet mignon. A crispy roasted duck is a treat and the fat it yields is the best frying medium ever. When we have crispy duck we splurge on duck fat fried potatoes.
Some people tolerate legumes and others do not. We both tolerate them well. the fiber they provide is an excellent prebiotic and they slow the absorption of carbs which is great for satiety and insulin sensitivity. A small portion any kind of bean with every meal can be extremely helpful. Just be sure to rinse cooked beans thoroughly.
Starchy vegetables and grains are not eliminated but they are treats we rarely eat. Both of us react badly to gluten eaten in this country. When we travel in Europe, we eat bread at every meal with no negative reaction except for a few pounds extra at the end of the trip. We cannot explain this unless it is the GMO wheat in this country or the wide use of glyphosphates (Roundup) in grain growing in this country. We love rice in sushi, paella and risottos as well as part of an Indian meal or Asian breakfast bowl. Once again we eat small portions and not that often. Corn whether on the cob or as cornmeal in polenta, cheesy grits or tortillas is not excluded, just limited.
High-quality cheese is a gourmet treat we adore. It is hard to think of a world without parmesan, cheddar, gorgonzola, brie, mozzarella, etc. Imported cheeses tend to be made from grass-fed milk. We prefer all dairy to come from grass-fed animals. The color, flavor, and texture is just so much better. the animals are healthier and they make healthful products.
Eggs are a staple. we pay extra for free-range organic eggs. The color, flavor and nutritional value are worth it. Nellies are our favorite brand.
Lacto fermented foods are great tasting, long-lasting in the fridge and loaded with probiotics. These include kombucha ( I brew our own), yogurt (full fat unpasteurized), kimchee, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables (with live cultures). these foods add a funky “umami” to food that enriches any meal.
Thank god, research has shown that the consumption of high-quality chocolate, coffee, and red wine confers significant health benefits, so we dutifully indulge in all three. Small portions once again applies.
What we do not consume (there are rare exceptions) is processed seed oils (Corn, safflower, soybean etc) We use coconut oil and some peanut oil. A small container of sugar lasts years in our house. We eat almost nothing made in a factory. Almost everything is made from scratch in our kitchen. Desserts are special occasion treats only. We usually save a bit of red wine from dinner and enjoy it with a square of excellent chocolate instead.
We love wine and an after dinner bourbon. In moderation, the science says this is either beneficial or neutral. the science is clear that excess on a regular basis is detrimental.
This is a day of meals we ate recently following these guidelines:
Coffee with half and half
Spinach and feta omelet. Lots of spinach a few red pepper flakes and some olive oil, eggs, and crumbled feta.
Big salad with romaine, sliced peppers, tomatoes, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds and chunks of rotisserie chicken. Dressed in olive oil and lemon.
Iced tea or water with lemon
Crispy medium rare duck breast. ( Gordon Ramsay shows you how to cook this on youtube)
Mushroom risotto loaded with powdered dried mushrooms and lots of baby bellas.
Arugula salad with orange supremes and toasted pistachios in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Red wine and a square of chocolate for dessert.