Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring = Fear of the Terrible Bikini!

     I’m not sure if it’s the change in weather for the warmer (and perhaps the terror sparked in me by even the word “bikini”) or my return to the gym after about a month of doing exclusively yoga and running, but lately I’ve been having some serious meat cravings. My dreams are haunted by burgers and yesterday I considered changing my Facebook status to merely “carnivore.”

     As I’ve mentioned before, I have serious problem with the meat and agriculture industries in this country. I usually try to avoid eating meat except on rare occasions when I can choose my own, know exactly where it came from and that, before my plate, the animal was happy and well nourished. I don’t want to eat meat from a cow standing in its own feces, pumped with hormones and steroids, or a chicken that has been plumped with cornstarch. Meat dyed to change the unappealing grey color it was, reshaped, ground and mixed with salts, or frozen. If I’m going to eat it, it better not be a health hazard. I also find comfort in the notion that whatever meat I’m enjoying be it cow, chicken or deer, it was happy and healthy before.

     If you feel grossed out by all the problems commercial meat can bring with it, then you understand why I usually abstain. My protein intake comes from nuts, seeds, beans, brown rice and whole grain starches, yogurt, milk and cheese, plus tofu a few times a week. Balancing the varieties of proteins to get all 9 essentials takes some work, but I do OK. Plus, if I need to, I can always balance my diet by adding meat (which is a complete protein). This is why I don’t call myself a vegetarian.

     Lately, however, I’ve been indulging in that fail-safe, adding meat pretty much constantly. I’ve been buying as much chicken, steak, burger and fish as I can get my hands on. The Union Market and Fresh Fish of Carroll Gardens are my dealers. They provide delicious animal and fish protein sources. The free-range, no-hormone chicken they sell at the Union Market is perfectly firm and flavorful. Irresistible!

     So long as I buy quality products, I feel free to give in to what I crave. I assume that my body will let me know what I need. If I’m craving meat, I probably need the nutrients in meat. There are some exceptions. Chocolate for instance I crave for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is simply mood enhancement. Trying to substitute exercise or some other mood enhancer for chocolate is a difficult proposition.

     Anyway, here is the first protein laden recipe from me this week, but probably not the last.

Fresh Fish and Vegetable Papillote
Difficulty:Ant Icon 32x32px
Makes: 3-4 servings
Time: 45 minutes, active time: 10 minutes


1 lb. fresh fish: salmon, halibut, tilapia, trout, sole but not steaky fish like ahi or swordfish or an oily fish like catfish. I used tilapia.
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 lemon wheels, optional, add a little bit of flavor, but mostly just pretty
Salt and pepper to taste


     Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fish in large tin foil wrapper. Top with other ingredients. Seal foil. Bake 30 minutes. Serve over brown rice (if you use rice, it's best to start that before the fish as good brown rice takes about 30 minutes) or salad.
Juicy tilapia coming out of the oven
     This is the simplest version of this recipe. I often add Old Bay. Sometimes I want a little spice and I add some paprika and a dash of cayenne. Sometimes I use fresh basil, in place of or in addition to cilantro. I like the way sweet peppers poach in this dish as well. 
Roasting brussel sprouts and cauliflower
     This time, I roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts in the oven, but not in the foil pouch.  These vegetables need to be crispy to be tasty, so I roasted them uncovered with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Flip once half way through baking.

     The papillote is sort of a catch-all. You can season and use whatever you want, throw it in the oven and forget about it for a while. When it comes out, it is tender and juicy, creating a nice broth to spoon over the rice.

     It is also very low in calories and fat, a really good way to eat protein without regret (think: bikini bikini bikini bikini).  And while I’m on the topic of healthy, weight-loss foods, I saw this article today: It is informative and right in line with my notions about nutrition. My additions: be careful about whole fat yogurt. 2% is good, but whole fat is just too much. Also, roasted and seasoned almonds and nuts not only come with increased salt and sugar content, but the roasting changes the oils they contain. It’s best to stick with raw almonds as a filling snack.


  1. What a lovely, gorgeous plateful of yumminess! As usual, makes me want to "replicate" and eat immediately!

  2. I think I look funny in a bikini anyway.