About Preheat to 350°
What I love: making delicious, nutritious food that’s also pretty quick and easy.
What I avoid: food that isn’t good for me, mediocre food (including brown health food that almost always tastes vaguely of curry), and food that takes forever to cook.
Eating healthy has changed my body, my energy level, my overall health, and my quality of life. Since I love great tasting food, I’ve worked hard at making healthy and delicious go together. Preheat To 350° is for people interested in eating well in every sense of the word.
The art of the “Hidden Vegetable”
We all know that we’re supposed to eat more vegetables. That’s something that everyone agrees on no matter what dietary principles they follow. It used to be 5 servings, then 7, and now I think it’s 9 a day. I used to wonder how in the world I was supposed to accomplish that for myself, let alone get that much vegetable matter into my kids when they were young. I’d stand in the vegetable aisle of the grocery store wondering what to buy, feeling momentarily adventuresome, then realizing that I needed to get dinner made in the next hour and I didn’t actually know what to do with most of those vegetables. So I’d end up with the usual broccoli or lettuce, saving my best intentions for another day. In any event, I was nowhere near 5 servings, even if I did count the ketchup as a serving of vegetables.
The trick, as I’ve learned recently, is to hide ’em. I say that with the greatest respect for vegetables, because I really do love their taste. It’s just that a little goes along way. After a few bites of steamed broccoli or sauteed kale, I’m pretty much done. However, if you incorporate them imaginatively, the food ends up tasting even better, and you end up healthier.
What about dessert?
I have a serious sweet tooth and love a little dessert after dinner sometimes. OK all the time (not that I’d recommend doing that). Desserts made with sugar and wheat flour are definitely not on the program. So now what? Surprisingly, there are many fabulous desserts that can be made sugar free and very low carb.
My previous experience with low carb and sugar free dessert was generally terrible. I’ve had my share of wanna-be dessert that’s not sweet enough or is dense and unappealing. When I say healthy dessert, I’m not talking about that. I mean real chocolate cake, lemon tart, and brownies that need no settling for. It can be done and you can learn to do it!
Cooking Tips – Delicious and Fast?
I’ve been cooking for 45 years. I love it but don’t like taking forever to do it. I really enjoy being as efficient as possible in the kitchen and have accumulated and invented some great time-saving techniques that I explain in my section on How-To.
So let’s get started! I’m very excited to share my recipes and thoughts with you. I welcome your comments and would love to hear from you.
My family and I moved from Manhattan to Kailua, Hawaii in 1986. I live in this beautiful place with my husband and two grown children. I’m a professional architect and a cook at heart.
My husband, Mike, and I have our own firm, Kelso Architects. If you’re interested, you can learn more about our firm at www.kelsoarchitects.com.
About 4 years ago my life took a wonderful and unexpected turn when, on the recommendation of a good friend, I attended my first yoga class. Although my intention in going was just to get a good workout, by the end of the class the emotional benefit outweighed the physical. I felt a stillness and a joy that was new to me. The teacher emanated an energy that I’d never felt in anyone before, and she clearly had a connection to something essential and genuine. As I continued practicing yoga and listening to her words, I began feeling that connection within myself.
The teacher spoke about one’s being as opposed to one’s mind, a distinction that I was unfamiliar with. I’d always thought that who I am was the sum of my experiences, my opinions, my actions, and my emotions – essentially my personality. What I now experience is that who I am is found within and has nothing to do with circumstances or personality and everything to do with a timeless connection to my essential being.
What does that have to do with a cooking blog and why am I telling you this, you may wonder? Well, from that seemingly inconsequential event, I can trace transformations which have profoundly affected how I feel, what I look like, and the way I eat and cook
Meditation is at the root of these transformations. As a result of meditation, I feel a stillness and connection to myself that is beyond opinion and judgement. For example, instead of the disapproval that I used to approach my body with – “Something in my body needs fixing in order for me to feel OK about myself “- I have been able to shift to a more loving attitude. Coming from love instead of judgement allowed me to learn about and incorporate new and more beneficial ways of eating. Instead of focusing on fixing myself, I focused on nourishing myself properly. As a result, the 20 pounds that I’d wanted to lose for a long time, gradually dropped away.
This starting of this blog has been a journey and I thank my family and friends for encouraging me and for their wonderful advice. I’m also indebted to innumerable incredible cooks, starting with my mother. Her joy of food and her recognition of the importance of mealtimes as a way of bringing people together formed the foundation for my love of food and cooking. Thank you also to many others who, by way of their recipes, have also taught me to cook. They all gave me the knowledge and expertise to create my own dishes. Dishes that are now inspired by my drive to make food that is both delicious and healthy.
I feel enormous gratitude for everyone who has shared these gifts with me, and now I share them with you.
What I Eat and Why
Why am I writing about this?
I’m writing this for those of you interested in finding out more about the way I eat, how it developed, and why it works. This path has enabled me to lose 20 pounds, decrease my blood sugar, increase my energy, and feel a hell of a lot better!
Just a note before I continue – for those of you who are already content with the way you eat, my recipes are still for you because they are nutritious, well-rounded, and incorporate lots of vegetables… all desirable things no matter what nutritional principles you prefer.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist and am not trying to make dietary recommendations for anyone. My goal is to share what’s working for my family, my friends, and myself. If it resonates for you and you’d like to learn more about it, I’m including links to the references I’ve used. I’m aware that there are lots of conflicting theories on nutrition, so this is just an accumulation of information that is working for me and came from trusted sources.
About 3 years ago I went in for a routine checkup and was diagnosed with high blood sugar and told that I was pre-diabetic. I was pretty surprised. I thought I was a super healthy eater. I never ate fast food and very rarely ate junk food. I followed the low fat, lots of whole grains, lots of fruit and vegetables rules, and cooked what I thought were nutritious meals for my family. I only ate dessert occasionally. So how in the world did that happen?
As I was looking for an answer, I met Skya of Ola Loa Wellness www.olaloawellness.com, a nutrition consultant and food coach. He clearly and patiently taught my family and me the nutritional principles described below. He held our hand as we went through the transition to a more healthy diet, by helping us meal plan and providing recipes. He also introduced us to foods that were new to us and now play a big role in our diet.
In addition, a friend coincidentally sent me an email recommending 4 videos about blood sugar and diet posted on YouTube by Dr. Marleen Merritt of the Merritt Wellness Center.
In them Dr. Merritt clearly explains the connection between carbohydrates and blood sugar. Quite an eye opener. My husband and I decided to try eliminating most carbohydrates from our diet. We started with a “7 day challenge.” I lost 2 pounds that first week and felt great. So we did it for another week and another, and well…here we are 2 years later.
After 6 months I had another blood test and my blood sugar had decreased into the low normal range. I continued to lose 2 pounds a week for awhile. Then 1 pound a week until my weight was at the optimum level. And I was eating lots of food. As much as I wanted actually. And by food I don’t mean rabbit food. I mean eggs, cheese, meat, butter, and sausage, along with lots and lots of vegetables and a little bit of fruit.
We shared our experience with our close friend, Monir Hodges, who had been trying to lose the 25 pounds she’d gained over the years. She decided to make the dietary changes along with us. Monir had the same experience I did – she lost 2 pounds a week, then 1 pound, until she reached her optimum weight and the weight loss stopped. She looks and feels great! She’s even wearing skinny jeans.
The Changes – What we used to eat:
We basically used to follow the recommendation of our doctor and the conventional wisdom as represented by the government’s food pyramid:
- Low fat: skim dairy products, as little oil as possible, almost no butter
- Lots of whole grains: brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread, pasta, quinoa,
- Vegetable proteins such as tofu and beans
- Lean animal protein like chicken (no skin) and fish, and only a little bit of red meat occasionally
- Fruits and vegetables, with no distinction between the two. So eating a banana or grapes was as good as eating zucchini. Potatoes were fine as long as they weren’t fried. Dried fruit was fine too and considered very nutritious, the only problem with it being that it’s high in calories.
- Sugar in moderation. The problem with sugar was that it was usually in dessert type things that also had a lot of fat in them, and fat was the culprit, not the sugar.
What we eat now:
- Lots of vegetables: A few servings of vegetables with every meal. Mostly cooked, some raw.
- Animal protein: red meat, chicken with the skin, fish.
- Lots of good fat: organic butter (preferably grass-fed), unfiltered organic olive oil, coconut oil (refined and unrefined), animal fat such as bacon or chicken fat.
- Very minimal amount of grains, beans, bread, pasta, and potatoes. Whenever posssible, the grains and beans are sprouted. By minimal I mean a serving once a week. As Dr. Merritt put it to us: “You are allowed a certain amount of carbs in your lifetime and you’ve pretty much used them up.”
- Minimal starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, corn, or yams.
- Minimal fruit. Maybe one or two pieces a week, depending on the season.
- No sugar or honey. We use xylitol, erythritol, and stevia as a sweetener.
At first I was at a loss as to what to actually cook and eat. How can I eat eggs without toast? And dinner with no pasta, rice, or potatoes? My friend and food consultant Skya, of Ola Loa Wellness www.olaloawellness.com came to the rescue. He taught our family simple, practical, and yummy recipes that followed these guidelines.
The process of transformation was gradual. It began with cutting out white sugar, then all sugar, then refined carbohydrates, then eating full fat, then finally doing away with grains. It took a lot of getting used to and very close attention at first. Are we allowed to eat this? What can we eat for breakfast? Are you sure it’s OK to put that much butter on this? We gradually got the hang of it, and now this healthful way of eating has become second nature.
The recipes on this blog are examples of this way of eating. I’m also planning on having future posts which describe great breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas
There are an overwhelming number of articles out there on this alternate way of eating. Since I’ve slogged through many of them, I thought it would be helpful to point you in the direction of the ones that helped me the most. Here are links to articles and videos that I found really helpful. They explain the science behind the concepts, in case you want to read further.
- Ola Loa Wellness
- Merritt Wellness Center
- Gary Taubes
- Weston A. Price Foundation Has a wealth of videos and articles under “Health Topics.”
- The video that got the ball rolling: Dr. Merritt youtube
Does eating saturated fat cause heart disease?
From The Merritt Wellness Center:
From Gary Taubes:
Are whole grains and beans important to eat?
- From The Merritt Wellness Center: “Myths About Whole Grains and Vegetarianism”
Is eating fruit important to do and is it as good as eating vegetables?
From The Merritt Wellness Center:
Why is sugar bad?
- From Gary Taubes: “Is Sugar Toxic”
Why do we get fat and how can we get thinner?
- From The Merritt WellnessCenter: “Why We Are Fat: It’s More Than You Think”