Thursday, July 29, 2010

Healthy Eating

I have a continual debate with my mother, mother-in-law, and friends, about whether or not my vegetarian diet offers enough protein. Best selling author Dr. Barry Sears, in his new book, Toxic Fat, advocates a mostly vegetable, fruit and legume diet that provides enough protein, and reduces what he calls Toxic fat, a natural fatty acid that causes inflammation and leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

Take that, steak-wielding in-laws!

Dr. Sears’ anti-inflammatory diet balances the body’s hormones, specifically levels of insulin and GI tract hormones.

Even if you continue to eat meat, Dr. Sears suggests a way to cut down, dividing a plate into three equal sections and filling one third with a low-fat protein, 3 ounces for women or four ounces of men the rest of the plate should be filled with colorful non-starchy vegetables, with a little heart-healthy monounsaturated fat: e.g., olive oil, slivered almonds or guacamole.

A Zone Diet meal planner offers menus and recipes, like a Mediterranean pizza made with onions and green olives, and only 1 tablespoon of (fat free) feta cheese.

To follow the diet strictly, you have to buy Zone products like sliced bread ($17.50 a loaf) and multigrain pizza crusts ($25 for 5). They are expensive, but far cheaper than restaurant or take-out meals. And two slices of that bread have as much protein as a chicken breast.

The recipe below uses the Zone fusilli, which is $25 for 5 packages. The rest of the ingredients cost under a dollar total, so you have a whole, healthy meal, for less than $6.

For a few dollars more, you can even invite the in-laws.

Fusilli Fagiole


1 package of Zone Fusilli

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced

1 pinch basil, dried
1 pinch oregano, dried

¼ cup cannelloni beans, rinsed

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan if desired

Fresh basil leaves for garnish


Cook the fusilli as directed on package.

Reserve 1 cup of liquid and drain the rest.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic in a medium saucepan.

Sauté on low heat to prevent burning.

Add the plum tomato and turn up heat to medium high.

Bring to a simmer.

Add dried herbs and beans.

Add ½ cup of reserved pasta liquid and stir. The starch in the liquid will help thicken the tomato mixture. Continue to simmer adding more liquid as necessary to thicken tomato sauce to desired consistency.

Pour over pasta. Sprinkle with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

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