weight loss

The “You’re Just Kidding Yourself” Diet

New Year New DietIt’s the beginning of a new year and with it comes the annual doomed attempt to live a healthier lifestyle.  According to Proactive Change nearly half of adult Americans make at least one New Years Resolution each year with the majority resolving to lose weight, exercise more and/or quit smoking.  Their numbers show that by the end of week one 25% give up.  By week two that number is closer to 30% and fewer than half last six months.

Each January, restaurants around the country load up on produce because they know for two weeks they will get killed on salads.  They also have to order a larger amount than normal of chicken for frying, fatty dressings and cheese.  That’s because the first two weeks of each new year Americans flock en masse to the “You’re Just Kidding Yourself” Diet.

Today at the restaurant was a prime example.  Two consecutive tables of four people who’d resolved to eat better ordered a total of seven salads and one turkey sandwich.  The person ordering the turkey sandwich asked for it with no mayo.  Job well done.

Three ordered our shrimp salad which has six cholesterol laden crustaceans sauteed in real butter, bacon bits, iceberg lettuce, almonds, onions and a warm balsamic vinaigrette.  Each replaced the  vinaigrette with Ranch dressing.  First off, iceberg lettuce is virtually devoid of nutrients; it’s just water and fiber, not bad for you but not really good for you either.

Drenched with DressingThe vinaigrette for the shrimp salad has 45 calories and 1/2 a gram of saturated fat.  Ranch dressing has 200 calories and 3 grams of sat. fat – roughly the equivalent of an order of McDonald’s French fries (230 calories, 1.5 grams of sat. fat.).  One ordered our Greek salad which is healthier than the shrimp salad.  However, they too replaced the heart healthy dressing with a metaphorical order of fries.

The next table was the aforementioned turkey sandwich along with three crispy chicken salads.  That’s a salad with iceberg, boiled egg, tomato, onion, cheddar cheese and 6 ounces of deep fried chicken.  Two of them asked to omit the onion from the salad, all three got Ranch dressing.  All three also ordered a side of fried onion rings.

But it’s a salad so it must be healthy right?  That’s the “You’re Just Kidding Yourself” Diet.  It doesn’t matter how much you love Ranch or French or Thousand Island your salad isn’t healthy if you are using them.  The only healthy salad dressings are vinaigrettes and even they aren’t healthy if they contain hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup (BTW, both are in Olive Garden’s famous salad dressing as well as most “low fat” Ranch dressings).

A healthy salad dressing should be made up of three parts Omega 3-rich oil (extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, flax seed oil, et al) and one part acid like vinegar or citrus juice.  Other than keeping your salad healthy these dressings do something else.  They allow you to taste the things in your salad.  Those other dressings cover up the flavors of fresh vegetables, vinaigrettes enhance them.

Next is the cheese.  I opt for lean crumbling cheeses like part-skim feta in my salads.  They are lower in fat which is the main culprit of melting cheeses like cheddar, Jack and Swiss.  Meat should be kept to a minimum – bacon bits are alright as long as there are only a few and there is no other meat in the salad.  I also prefer my protein to be something like grilled or steamed salmon as opposed to ham or fried chicken.  I mean, seriously.

And here’s another little piece of advice.  If you are one of those people who resolve to eat better every year and every year you fall off the wagon after a week or two I implore you to get a grip.  Remember, Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  That’s not hyperbole.

I believe that human beings are capable of anything they want to do.  Anyone can quit smoking instantly.  Anyone can learn Greek.  Everyone can become a better singer.  All it takes is wanting to.  That’s the rub, “wanting to.”

I often hear smokers say they really want to quit smoking but they can’t.  BS!  They don’t quit because they don’t really want to quit.  They know they should quit; they wish they could quit but they don’t “want” to quit.  They “want” to keep smoking.  Guess what?  Because smoking is what they “want” to do that is what they do.

It’s all about “wanting” to do something.  Until you “want” to eat healthier you won’t eat healthier; you’ll just keep going on the “You’re Just Kidding Yourself” Diet.

When a Healthy Diet Isn’t Healthy

According to the market research firm Marketdata Enterpises Inc., Americans spend $55 billion a year on weight loss. Be it in the form of diet books, exercise equipment, health club memberships, pre-packaged meal plans or the ever elusive “magic pill” millions of Americans are trying anything to live a healthy lifestyle. And most are missing the mark, even those who appear perfectly healthy.

Why you may ask? The answer is both simple and complex. The quick and easy answer is greed. The corporations that produce those over-the-counter appetite suppressants and metabolism enhancers like hoodia, benzoyl peroxide and green tea extract prey on the same characteristic that causes most instances of obesity to begin with, sloth.

They know there is great profit to be made in selling the “magic pill” to those Americans who are convinced they can expel that spare tire without having to give up their precious drive-thru combos and channel surfing marathons. They also know (despite what they claim) that their products do not work; they’ve read the Mayo Clinic’s comprehensive study just like I have.

Those consumers are a lost cause but there are millions more out there that have been proactive by exercising, counting calories and reducing saturated fats. Their resting heart rate is under 70, their triglycerides are within acceptable parameters and their LDL’s are under 150. Yet they can’t seem to get rid of that fat roll. What gives?

This is the complex part. To write a blog post that explains all of the things wrong with our modern food system would actually constitute a book. Therefore I have collected some video information that may help you learn the truth that our government has conspired to keep from us all in the name of the simple answer, greed.  Both Bushes, Clinton and yes, even Obama have appointed Monsanto cronies to government posts that make policy for food safety.  The track record for all is heinous.

One of the lies is that skinny equals healthy.  What good are those six pack abs if your body is riddled with cancer or your circulatory system is invaded by aplastic anemia?  Oh yeah, so you can live longer and spend more of your life savings on government-subsidized pharmaceuticals that don’t cure anything.

The first is the movie The Future of Food.  “The Future Of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.” If you are not infuriated by the revelations in the movie then you are already dead.  The Future of Food is free to watch on Hulu or right here:

The next film ties in well with The Future of Food and it’s revelations about Monsanto and their holocaustic (New word!) genetically modified corn. It is called King Corn – You are what you eat. And according to the film no matter what you are eating, you are eating corn. It’s not yet available to view on Hulu but you can buy it from amazon by clicking HERE. Here’s the trailer:

The final film is Food Inc. This movie has created quite an uproar since its release this past summer. It has the government and their masters very nervous. It, too, is not yet available to view on Hulu but you can also buy it from amazon by clicking HERE. Here’s the trailer:

ICA: Cora Vs. Ballesteros

After a week off, Food Network brings us a new Iron Chef: America as Chef Julieta Ballesteros clashes with Iron Chef Cat Cora in the halls of Kitchen Stadium.  It should be interesting with upscale Mexican going up against Greek Cuisine with a Southern accent.  Enjoy Battle: Ricotta!

Chef Julieta Ballesteros is a true original.  Hailing from Mexico and toting a degree from the French Culinary Institute, Chef Julieta has put a signature spin on traditional Mexican cuisine.  Ballesteros combines her Latin flavors and French technique to produce Mexican food that is both innovative and classical at the same time.

Shortly before graduation from CFI, Ballesteros was named the chef of Mexicana Mama, a tiny eatery in Greenwich Village.  It didn’t take long for her big flavors to shine as glowing reviews came in from the likes of Frank Bruni and Gael Greene.  Soon Ballesteros’ star outgrew Mexicana Mama and she headed to Chelsea.

Chef Julieta is the chef/owner of Crema Restaurante which is described as, “a higher concept of Mexican Cuisine.”  The accolades continue with eater.com proclaiming, “Makes you want to celebrate” and New Yorker says Creama is “Uniformly Excellent”.  The New York Times calls Ballesteros, “A chef to watch.”

In a convenient coincidence this episode is scheduled to air just two days after Iron Chef Cat Cora made headlines with a statement about the Mississippi Prom Controversy.  Cat, an open lesbian, voiced her support for Constance McMillen and her wish to take her girlfriend to prom.

Judges included actress Claudia Bassols (Spain: On The Road Again), Nina Griscom and a noticeably thinner Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News).

For the outcome click HERE.

ICA: Cora Vs. Ballesteros – Outcome

SPOILER ALERT – the only thing this post contains is the outcome of ICA: Cora Vs. Ballesteros.

Chef Cora defeated Chef Ballesteros in Battle: Ricotta.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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