Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When you're retired, losing and keeping off weight becomes full-time job

We bake, roast or grill a variety of fish fillets from Costco Wholesale, but inexpensive whole whiting seems to taste best when it is pan fried in olive oil, and served simply with fresh lime or lemon juice. Side dishes here are string beans with fresh garlic and black pepper, and sweet plantains. An organic spring mix salad completes the meal.

Editor's note: I am the head of a family of four who go through an enormous amount of food, much of it organic and naturally raised or grown. We are divided among meat eaters and non-meat eaters (3 to 1), and on many days, prepare two different breakfasts and dinners. Since I retired, I've also struggled to lose and keep off weight. 


When I retired, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to fill my time.

But I faced a bigger challenge: 

I not only was less active, but I wanted to lose close to 40 pounds I had put on from the stress of a sedentary copy editing job at a daily newspaper in northern New Jersey.

I got a big boost from a trainer at my gym: 

He told me that if I really wanted to lose weight, I should cut out bread and pizza, and substitute such filling foods as sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

I also was ahead, because I rarely ate dessert, and satisfied my sweet tooth with fruit.

Stopped eating meat

I had already lost about 5 pounds from giving up meat and poultry, and eating only seafood, so my starting point was 223 pounds.

Bread was my real weakness, even though I had long ago stopped eating one of those enormous Jersey bagels for breakfast every day. 

Favorites were Middle Eastern pocket bread from Fattal's in Paterson, and baguettes from Balthazar Bakery in Englewood.

Part-time jobs

I picked up part-time work, including driving cars into Manhattan, walking and taking mass transit back to New Jersey.

I was eating only two meals a day -- substituting a snack bar for lunch -- and the pounds started to come off.

I lost more than 40 of my original 223 pounds in about a year, but when I gave up the part-time work and started volunteering more, I eventually put on about 10 pounds.

Eating at home

I never leave the house without eating a big breakfast, relying on leftover pasta, quinoa or brown rice to go with an egg-white omelet or a wedge of frittata.

Omelets can be stuffed with a little reduced-fat grated cheese and marinara sauce, salsa or slices of smoked wild salmon.

At most, we eat out once a week and order takeout another night.

But when I cook at home, I prepare large amounts -- 1 pound of pasta, 3 pounds of sweet potatoes or 2 pounds of fish, ensuring a variety of leftovers for breakfast or snacks.

I cook and dress salads with olive oil.

I never eat butter, cream or full-fat cheese or milk, and avoid buying pasta sauces and other prepared food with added sugar.

Bread, pizza

Instead of eating bread two or three times a day, I may have some once a week or when we eat out.

Pizza still is a guilty pleasure every six months or so, such as the 18-inch Veggie Combo I picked up recently at the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack.

The leftovers are in the freezer.

Now, I see men in the gym who work out week after week, but still are grossly overweight, because they don't follow a diet, such as the one that has worked for me in the past five years.

A 10-inch frittata uses 4 cups of whole eggs and whites, a little low-fat milk, scallions and garlic. Wedges can be served with a spoonful of pesto or organic salsa.

Baked or mashed sweet potatoes are a favorite side dish at breakfast. Here, an egg-white omelet is stuffed with slices of smoked wild salmon and Mexican-style salsa, both from Costco Wholesale.

I often saute organic spinach from Costco or conventional spinach from the salad bar at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center with olive oil, sake and seasonings. Here, I added reduced-fat grated cheese and ate the spinach over leftover organic quinoa with organic beans and diced tomatoes prepared in an electric cooker.

Easy to assemble Icelandic Haddock with Organic Diced Tomatoes, Spinach and Olives is ready after 15 minutes in a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Fresh wild haddock is $7.99 a pound at Costco. Photos below show four easy steps. 

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, add fresh spinach and drizzle with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. An option is to use sliced mushrooms with spinach.

2. Cut up about 2 pounds of fish fillet, season with Aleppo red pepper and a little sea salt, and place over spinach. Add whole or chopped pitted olives with or without pimientos.

3. Open a can of organic diced tomatoes and spoon over fish. Squeeze juice from whole lemon or lime over pan. An option is to add shredded or grated cheese. Put in oven and set timer to 15 minutes.

4. Plate fish, spinach and olives and spoon sauce over them.
For a pasta-and-eggs breakfast, poach two organic eggs in leftover Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce from ShopRite, and serve with leftover organic whole wheat fusilli. I added olive oil to the sauce, and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese over the eggs.  

Radish kimchi and other low-fat or no-fat Korean food, including prepared tofu, can be purchased at H Mart and other Korean supermarkets in northern New Jersey.

A 32-ounce jar of Radish or Kahkdoogi Kimchi can be purchased for $15 at Arirang, 1 Remsen Place, Ridgefield, in the H&Y Marketplace Shopping Center, below.

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