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Restructuring perceptions of "a meal"

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Old 12-08-2010, 05:43 AM   #1
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Default Restructuring perceptions of "a meal"

I am finding it really tricky at the moment to get inspiration for constructing a meal. Apart from a salad there doesn't seem to be anything else to "have with" your protein. I go through all the usual options but it always seems to come down to I could have pasta instead of potatoes, or rice instead of pasta, bread instead of rice, it never comes to anything that is not a big wedge of carb on the side.

I've heard of "roasted vegetables" being used as a side but no idea what veggies that would actually consist of nor how to roast them, and I'm not quite there yet because until 4 weeks ago I'd never eaten a vegetable of any kind in my life (for complex reasons).

What is there to make up the rest of a meal? I find myself going around and around with chicken and pasta, chicken and a potato, etc. because the protein needs to be low-cal and I don't really know of other "meal-ish" non-meat proteins, I mean sure I could have a lump of mozzarella cheese, but it's not exactly a meal!

I can't quite move my perception of "a meal" away from meat an potatoes to anything else, all other foods seem like you've been cheated out of your meal, it's a snack, you'll get your meal later sometime.

What else makes up an actual whole meal for you without using pasta, rice, salad or potatoes?
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:54 AM   #2
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I love roasted Cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. I just cut them up, put them in a bowl with a Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil and Garlic to coat them. Then I spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake them at 400 tossing them every 5-10 minutes until they are done.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:14 AM   #3
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I like any veg. mashed: mashed cauli with a little soft cheese and nutmeg; mashed carrot and turnip; mashed sweet potato. Although I enjoy all veg in any form, if I just have main+veg, it feels as though there's something missing. Even mashed sprouts fills that 'something'.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:42 AM   #4
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I usually do a protein and 2 or more veg now. I try to make them different colors to give more variety to the plate. You can also use a fruit instead of just vegetables; if you cut it up it takes more space.

Looks can make a big difference in how you perceive your meal as being complete. Have a look at some pictures in cooking magazines or websites that do "healthy" food like Eating Well or Cooking Light or Martha Stewart and see how they "present" the plate.

I do roasted vegetables a lot, for me they're easier to cook than doing stuff on the stovetop, because you just cut it up throw it all on one baking sheet, set the oven and go check email till it dings. You can roast anything in the way LauraLyn gave above; the time depends on the vegetable, how big you cut them and what shape. You can also do a bunch of vegetables at once and keep them as leftovers to reheat later in the week for other meals, or have cold with a bit of balsamic vinegar. (This is basically Italian "antipasto".) I am WAY too lazy now to go back to boiling pasta and rice in a pot.

Some examples of no or low-starch I have had this week:

Lunch: sandwich; cut-up carrot, raw snow peas, grapes, cut-up apple

Dinner:
1) salmon, (microwave-) steamed green beans, mixed with single (70g) cut-up baby potato and with a sauce made of skim yogurt, mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar; cut-up tomato; a half-orange on the side

2) Chicken with roasted broccoli, roasted orange sweet potato (75g), with 1 tbsp hoisin sauce or teriyaki sauce

3) chicken meatballs in a stew of chickpeas, crushed tomato, onion, garlic, italian spices; side of red grapes

4) pita with roasted vegetables: portobello mushroom, eggplant and zucchini sliced into slabs, with 1 tbsp of romano cheese (can also use low-fat mozzarella); slices of pear and apple on the side.

Last edited by bronzeager : 12-08-2010 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:44 AM   #5
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Rice is a staple in my diet, but it's only part of the meal. A typical dinner is lots of stirfried veggies (mushrooms, boy choy, onions, celery, cabbage) with tofu/chicken/shrimp over rice. I usually get 2 servings out of it since there are so many veggies while still having only 1 cup of rice and 3-4 oz of protein.

Another mix is fajitas - again, lot of veggies (onions, peppers, mushrooms, kale) a protein and then whole wheat tortillas with salsa.

Maybe start thinking of the veggies as the main course and the protein and carb as the sides? Or have fruit as the main course some night, with protein and carb as the sides. A big fruit salad with some hard boiled eggs and toast on the side.

Or get some dough and make a little pizza with the meat & veg on top.

Have fun!
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:58 AM   #6
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OK, I'm assuming that was not clear, what I need is things that are not vegetables. No vegetables. None. I am working on my veg consumption but at the moment I can eat up to 1/2 a teaspoon of up to 3 veg at any one meal. What can you make a meal out of that involves no vegetables, are there options other than potatoes, rice, pasta and bread that I have missed out on, or is that just the way it is?
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:07 AM   #7
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hmm well if you do not do veg at all, maybe do brown rice instead of white, sweet potatoes and yams instead of white potatoes and whole grain bread rather than white bread.

Also, try roasting vegetables that you are familiar with. Not sure which ones you can or will eat, but roasted green beans are fantastic, as are roasted cauliflower and different winter squash. You can roast the yams and potatoes too.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:10 AM   #8
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Oh. I didn't get that.
How about couscous? Made with a little stock and some olive oil or butter melted in, it's very moreish and lovely on the side.
I've heard great things about buckwheat, quinoa and barley too but haven't tried them (other than barley in soup).
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:20 AM   #9
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I don't have any veg that I am familiar with at all. What happened was as a small child I was put on a super-low fibre diet following some bowel surgery that went very wrong. I was on liquid feed for ages and then this really low fibre food for ages, and of course that's the palate I grew up with. Because vegetables were never part of my life and also because they were something I had to really avoid because they might genuinely do me damage it's been a tough adjustment to try to start eating them now that the bowel issue has been (we think!) resolved. I have to build it up slowly in case they do make me ill, so it's a little bit of "one in one out" before I can increase to 2 in 2 out. If the 1 in doesn't come out then we have to drop the whole thing. For the same reason many wholemeal foods are off the menu too. Bit of a disaster, eh?

Also, did you initially have the same problems with adjusting to a meal that didn't consist of meat and potatoes? Did you feel robbed at first? How did you move past that?

THx.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:20 AM   #10
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Hmm, that's kind of a stumper. All the non-protein foods I know pretty much fall into either the fruit, vegetable, nut, grain or legume category. Except for transitional things like corn which could go either way between veg and grain. Do you have any experience with corn? From that you could go into a polenta or cornbread or corn tortillas or grits direction. You would have to check and make sure it's a lower fiber type thing (stay away from the ones marked "stone ground"). How about nut purees? Like chestnut? The French do that as a side. I don't remember if that's high fiber or not.

I didn't have any trouble moving away from carbs into just vegetable sides cold turkey because my experience growing up was pretty much opposite yours. My mother was not an enthusiastic cook, and did horrible things to potatoes and pasta and also vegetables (mostly connected with overcooking and underseasoning). But we had a vegetable garden, and so snacked on the lovely raw produce quite a lot before she got ahold of it. And then I went to university in California and discovered an additional new world of tasty vegetables that had not been pre-mangled by mom.

(She's gotten better now, a bit. Still won't put any seasoning on anything herself, but likes it when I make it for her.)
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:23 AM   #11
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Would green peas count as a vegetable for you? Like the mushy peas they do in the UK?
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:58 PM   #12
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You might want to talk to a dietician to establish healthy, nutrititional options for your diet restrictions. Without veggies, you may not be getting the nutrients you need. And being nutrient deficient can make your body hold on to everything you eat, meaning you won't lose weight. I would talk to a professional and see what they recommend (maybe vitamins or nutritional drinks).
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:02 PM   #13
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I've seen a couple of dieticians, one said "there's nothing magic about vegetables" which didn't help a great deal and the other spent 35 of the 40 minutes we'd been allocated giving me a totally standard diet sheet and patronising me through every word on it before allowing me to ask questions when we had 5 minutes left and I said yes, I was referred here because I can't eat any of this stuff and need some personal recommendations, what do I do? She said she didn't realise but we'd run out of time! Then my doctor refused to refer me again because he said they can't help me if I can't eat the stuff they are going to tell me to eat - really not a bit helpful!

So it's a bit of a case of cast adrift and count bowel movements (I know, fun) and if they start to get too far apart stop eating new foods, and work through the desire to gag and heave up anything with a fibrous texture. I want to get through it this time because I've lost weight before, but it's really unsustainable on a low fibre diet, you're hungry from sun-up to sun-down and quite a lot of the other hours too!
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:17 PM   #14
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Can you do a lean protein, your couple Tbs of veggies and a huge bowl of cut up fruit instead of a carb side dish?
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:28 PM   #15
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I admire your willingness to work through what has to be WAY more than the typical aversion to vegetables due to unfamiliarity. It must be much tougher when you have to add them back in so carefully due to early problems with the fiber in them.

How low-carb is your plan? My meals don't feel complete without a sampling of protein, fat, and carb, so I go ahead and have the potato, rice, or pasta--just in a VERY different quantity than I had it previously. Roasted potatoes are a better option than mashed, at least if you fix mashed potatoes the way I do . If I remember correctly from a previous post of yours, your meal quantities are smallish? If so, your best bet might be roasting new or fingerling potatoes as you can more readily cook only the amount you're going to eat.

Rosinante's suggestions of brown rice, couscous, and quinoa were terrific. As long as the increased fiber in whole grains doesn't wreak any bodily havoc, those are excellent options for providing the complex carbs some of us need to make a meal feel meal-like. If you like variety in your carbs, also consider polenta; it's awesome stuff.

You can get accustomed to seeing salad and protein as a meal, but it isn't the only way to lose weight. Some people thrive on low-carb meals, others on smart-carb plans.
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