I’ve always been a food adventurer. More a foodie than a gourmet (funnel cake appeals to me as much as tiramisu), and yet for some reason, I rarely carried over that adventuring into dieting. Whenever I restricted calories, I stuck to mostly traditional “diet foods.” I don’t know why I wasn’t able to think outside the box, but dieting meant “diet foods,” and also usually meant boredom and frustration and going off the diet (at least periodically).
This time, I decided to incorporate food adventuring into my weight loss plan, and see what happens. Some of my successes and failures during this journey (in no particular order):
Dragonfruit (pitaya) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya
Beautiful, bright red and golden green on the outside. Moist, white flesh speckled with tiny black seeds, a texture a bit like kiwi. The texture was pleasant and juicy, but the taste was a disappointment. It didn’t taste bad, it just lacked oomph. Imagine sugar water. Sweet, but nothing else. I would eat it again if it was given to me, but I would never again pay $7 for one fruit. Still, it was fun to try.
Mmmm, I didn’t think I’d find a fruit that could replace Ranier cherries as my favorite fruit, but fresh (not canned!) lychees are as wonderful as their reputation.
Ugli fruit, Uniq fruit, pluots, white peaches/nectarines, and fancy varieties of apples
These aren’t exactly “new” for me, but while I have always loved the fancy hybrid and varieties of fruits, I am less reluctant to buy them because of the somewhat higher price. I have to be budget conscious, but I don’t buy the cheapest varieties just because they’re the cheapest. Flavor matters too.
Wheat and rye berries.
I discovered wheat berries in the 80’s in Yoplait’s “breakfast yogurt,” but until a couple years ago, had never cooked them myself. Now they’re a staple. I like them added to yogurt, oatmeal or dry cereal (or used by themselves as a hot or cold cereal). I also use them as a base or add-in to salads.
I tried rye berries for the first time when I made a sloppy joe-like bean and rye berrie dish (see recipe in recipe section of blog). So absolutely yummy.
Bitter melon –
Not so yummy. It’s supposed to be very good for weight loss and diabetes (if eaten or juiced/drunk on an almost daily basis), but it lives up to it’s name and is very bitter. I probably won’t be eating much of this, though I may try it again.
I HATE european eggplant. I’ve never been able to de-bitter one successfully (yes, I’ve tried salt and milk and multiple rinses). However, I love thin asian eggplants, and even the tiny egg-sized and shaped ones (though not quite as much as there are more seeds than I care for in the tiny ones). No de-bittering required, and the skin is even edible. I like them roasted best (cut in large chunks, tossed in a bit of oil and seasonings – a bit of ranch dressing mix powder is my favorite fast mix, baked at 425 until carmelized).
I’ve hated Brussels sprouts most of my life, but discovered that I love them roasted (just like the eggplant, though I halve the sprouts before tossing with the oil and seasoning).
Ground cherries (physalis) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis
They look like tiny little tomatillos, and taste a bit like them, but sweet. Sort of like gooseberries. I’m not sure whether these were a success or a failure. I mostly liked them, but can’t say that I’ve had a “taste” for them since trying them. Hubby didn’t like them, he didn’t like the texture or “green tomato,” flavor (I’m not sure that I would have compared the flavor to tomato, or even completely tomatillo, but I agree that it did have more of a “sweet vegetable” flavor to me than a sweet fruit. More astringent than tart.)
I’ve always eaten canned tuna and sardines, whether dieting or not, but in standard grocery stores and in ethnic groceries, the variety is endless. I do have to be careful here, because some products are canned in oil or high calorie sauces, but whether it’s big-brand flavored varieties of tuna, or sardines in curry sauce or clams in chili sauce from the oriental grocery, canned fish and seafood packs a lot of flavor punch for the calorie (which some would see as a downfall – hubby hates the smell of canned fish products other than tuna so much that we have a deal that I only eat them when he is not in the house – or at least give him warning so he can decide whether to leave for a while). I never want for a dinner companion though, as our cat becomes very friendly when she smells that I’ve opened a can. Her favorite is sardines in green curry. It’s pretty spicy, but she will beg for it like a lapdog – even will “sit pretty” on her hind legs.
These are my next culinary adventure. I bought a pound of frozen boiled apple snails in a thai grocery. They’ve been in there about a month or two, because I haven’t the foggiest idea how to cook or serve them, but Google of course, came to the rescue – and now I can’t decide which of the yummy-sounding recipes I’m going to try. I have about 24 hours to decide, because they’re in the refrigerator thawing.