It’s a Game Changer…

Lentil recipe with veggies.
Red lentils with veggies that I cooked Sunday.

Saturday evening, after watching a show on Netflix called The Game Changers, my husband announced he wanted to go on a plant-based diet. He said the show talked about the health benefits and that we should try it several days a week. Not go full vegan, but cut out meat three to four days per week. The movie featured professional athletes and Olympians who went plant-based and got stronger and gained more endurance. It argued against theories we’ve grown up with that to be strong you need to eat animal protein. The movie explained that plants also offer complete proteins.

When our kids were young, my husband told them that if they wanted to grow up big and strong they needed to eat something “with a face.”

At the exact time my husband said he wanted to cut out meat, I was charring a giant tri-tip on the barbecue that I found half price at the store. I also sauteed shishito peppers in sesame oil, cooked green beans from the farmer’s market and heated up mashed potatoes. It was a delicious meal. Yes, we eat a lot of meat. Would I be able to give it up? Or cut back? I crave protein and eat beef, chicken, pork and fish.

Charred rare tri-tip, green beans and mashed potatoes.
Last night’s dinner. Tri-tip charred on the outside, rare inside and veggies.

I watched the show on Sunday and thought I could try it a few days a week and see how it goes. We’re both feeling aches and pains we didn’t a year or two ago — and if a plant-based diet makes us feel better and healthier, why not? So, I cooked a batch of lentils. My son introduced me to lentils a few years ago and they are a staple in his diet. He’s not a vegan, but he definitely doesn’t eat meat every day.

I tried a different type that that I haven’t used before, fast cooking red lentils, and I simmered them in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. The package said one cup lentils to three cups liquid. They need to be rinsed before you cook them. Then I prepped garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes.

Red Mill red lentils
The lentils simmering on the stove.
lentils draining after simmering
Red lentils draining after 15 minutes of simmering.
onions, peppers, celery, carrots and cherry tomoatoes
The best tasting and most beautiful part of this dish.

I sauteed garlic and onion and spices in avocado oil. I’m an avocado oil fan because it cooks at a higher temperature than olive oil. It cooks faster and hotter.

garlic and onions sauteed in avocado oil
Sauteed onions, garlic and spices of cumin, ginger, ancho chile powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.

The secret is to come up with a blend of spices that you love and season it well. The lentils pick up the flavors of their surroundings.

It was filling and delicious. I sent my husband to a friend’s house with a big slab of the tri-tip roast. I’ll enjoy the leftover tri-tip on a non-vegan day, but if I’m going to try going meatless three days a week, I don’t want it sitting in the fridge staring at me.

Should I try going plant-based three days in a row? Or, mix it up?

Have you tried a plant-based diet? How did it make you feel? I’m not known for a lot of will power. Do you have any tips or recipes I should try? Is it cheating to eat cheese or use butter? Would you give up meat? Why or why not?

Here are some plant-based recipes from the The Game Changers website: CLICK HERE.

What’s your favorite burger?

Here's the screenshot of Five Guys

Screenshot of Five Guys home page.

This weekend, we went to Five Guys for the first time. I will admit I was a bit skeptical having lived in California for 37 years. In-N-Out Burger has a cult following and during COVID-19 the drive-in line was never less than 50 cars wrapped in a serpent through their parking lot and out onto the street. It’s always busy. Everywhere you see an In-N-Out there is a line. Always for all 37 years I lived there.

When we pulled up to Five Guys there was one family and lady with a Yorkie in line ahead of us. That was it.

I did like the Five Guys burger. In fact it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I’m not ready to say it’s better than In-N-Out though. My loyalty won’t allow it.

As for the fries….Five Guys was too salty. The salt ruined perfection. You could see the salt granules sticking to your fingers with every bite. Next time, I’ll ask them to go light.

 

Here’s a screen shot of In-N-Out’s website.

My first poll! I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to make one. Also, for my first post using Block Editor.

Do you have a favorite burger place? What is it? Or, please share your home kitchen secrets to the perfect burger.

To Diet or Not to Diet — That is the Question

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When I was in college, my best friend and I went on crazy eating binges and diets. We actually put soy sauce on iceberg lettuce and called it a meal. We made shakes with nothing but ice, lettuce and sweet-n-low. Then we’d end the night eating a bag of Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels and undo our day of starvation.

imgres-1All that craziness never resulted in losing weight. It wasn’t until I got hit by truck — as a pedestrian crossing a street — that I had common sense knocked into my head.

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The week in the hospital made me realize how lucky I was to be alive. I was so thrilled when I could stand up and take a few steps with a walker — and go to the bathroom. That was so much more important to me than the goal of being five pounds lighter. Strangely, after I healed and returned to normal mobility — about six months later — I never had to diet again. I just ate what I wanted and liked. It was mostly seafood. I would choose a second helping of Dungeness crab or Ahi Sashimi over a piece of cake.

imgresBut, then something changed. Welcome to getting older. Weight has crept up on me the last couple years. I exercise every single day, yet ten to 15 pounds seemed to attach itself to my middle. (I guess that’s why they call it “Middle-Aged?”)

images-4I asked some friends that are also middle-aged — who look terrific — what their secret was. They told me about a high protein, low carb diet. I decided to try it, since my kids are off to college and I no longer have to feed two always hungry swimmers.

Five days later, I’m four pounds smaller. But, I am seriously craving a big bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce. And potato salad. 

Check back with me to see if I continue to diet — or not to diet.

Do you have any secrets to staying fit after 50?

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Tips on How to Eat Uber Hot Chili Peppers and Other Fun Adventures of an Empty Nester

The dolphin statue in Puerto Vallarta by Bud Bottoms. It's a twin statue to the one on Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara.

The dolphin statue in Puerto Vallarta by Bud Bottoms. It’s a twin statue to the one at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.

We were on vacation in Puerto Vallarta — enjoying “empty nesting” that I first wrote about  here.  We went to a brunch at a luxurious gringo resort — complete with every type of food imaginable — waffle and omelet stations, a taco bar, sushi, every type of seafood and protein known to man, plus gorgeous arrays of fruits and salads.

I was being so good, trying to stick to a high protein, low carb plate — salmon, pork, a taste of sushi. And then I saw roasted Serrano chilis near the elaborate Mexican dishes. It wouldn’t hurt to just have a taste, would it? I plunked the single chili onto my plate next to the scrambled eggs.

Serrano Pepper

Serrano Pepper

Later, sitting at the table with my husband, friends, and a person we had just met, I cut off a small bite of the chili. POW! YIKES! Help me, Jesus! How could I sit still, be polite and nod and smile?

My eyes watered, I shifted up and down in my seat and I thought I was crawling out of my skin. I was ready to jump on the table and do a happy dance!

That was the all time hottest chili. Ever. So much for the high protein low carb diet — I began stuffing my mouth with bread, tortillas, chips — anything to get the soaring heat to die.

Peppers

Peppers

The next evening at dinner, I listened to one of our friends tell a story about when he was in college and ate his first jalapeño. He was told that the secret was to keep the chili from getting any air. So right from the jar, he slipped the jalapeño into his mouth and closed his lips tight. Then he chewed and was blasted with unbelievable heat. He said the guy who told him “the secret way to eat chilis” laughed so hard that he’s probably still laughing today — 40 years later.

Now that I’m away from the freshly roasted peppers, I looked up a few things about chilis. First, serrano chilis are typically eaten raw and have a bright and biting flavor that is notably hotter than the jalapeño pepper. No kidding!

The Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale

There is a thing called the Scoville Scale that measures the spicy heat of the pepper! Who knew? 

What makes a chili hot? The answer is capsaicin. What is that you ask? 

“Capsaicin (/kæpˈs.ɨsɪn/; 8-methylNvanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.” — from Wikipedia.Chilito_verde

If you ever have the horribly uncomfortable occasion of biting into a super hot chili — milk and dairy is the answer. I did not know this. Do not drink water, tea or coffee. Try milk, yogurt or cheese to cut the heat. The next best thing is bread, rice or pasta.

Besides the great food and hot peppers, what did I enjoy about Puerto Vallarta? Try this!

View of beach in Puerto Vallarta.

View of beach in Puerto Vallarta.