Fast(ing) Food - Idiot-Proof Brussels Sprouts

Day 41, Feast Day #22

Brussels sprouts have been demonized in popular culture as the vegetable arch nemesis of children. Yes, Brussels sprouts may be frightening to some because they are slightly bitter, green vegetables. My mother won't even get near a Brussels sprout due to her preconceived notion that Brussels sprouts are yucky. This is why I never tried them until I was halfway through college. Like their larger cabbage cousin, Brussels sprouts can also become stinky, soggy, and pretty gross if boiled and overcooked. I have learned that Brussels sprouts can taste awesome, are easy to cook, and like cabbage, are low in calories.

I also did some research and Brussels sprouts are really good for you. Not only do they have a lot of vitamin A, C, K, and potassium, they also are in a family of plants that is linked to lowering your risk of cancer (along with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) by protecting your DNA. Uh, I would love to skip cancer, so bring on the the Brassica veggies!
Basic recipe, plus I added in some dried cranberries.

Idiot-Proof Brussels Sprouts (Yield 4 servings) ~205 kcal/serving
  • 2 lbs of Brussels sprouts ~420 kcal
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil  ~360 kcal
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar  ~40 kcal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut ends of Brussels sprouts and prune off any gross leaves. Cut sprouts in half.

Put sprout halves on a baking sheet. drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over sprouts. Mix up sprouts with hands until evenly coated. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.

Bake Brussels sprouts for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

I added in a 1/4 cup of dried cranberries (~98 kcal) to the batch I ate today and yesterday. These sprouts also taste good when baked with eggplant (~20 kcal/cup) or sun-dried tomatoes too (~70 kcal/half cup).


New Favorite Ready-Made Fast Day Food

Day 38, Fast Day #18

Zach and I renewed our Costco membership this weekend due to the cost-effectiveness of buying bulk lactase pills and allergy medication. For those that are unfamiliar with Costco, it is a company started in my home state of Washington that sells you pretty nice quality stuff (food, clothes, electronics, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, housewares  etc.) in giant warehouses. Many of their products come in bulk quantities, so unless we are having a party, Zach and I have to be willing to commit to any food we buy there for the rest of the week or perhaps several months. Luckily it is easy to commit to lots of fresh produce these days,

My favorite Costco purchase from this weekend is my new favorite ready-made fast day food: Amylu's Sugarhouse Maple Breakfast Chicken Sausage mini links. They are basically tiny versions of these ones:
from the ATK Foods website, the makers of Sausages by Amylu

Why am I happy we got these little chicken sausages? For one, they taste great. I don't normally go nuts over non-pork sausage, but this one has a nice savory and sweet taste combination. I just put them in a little water in a skillet over medium heat then BOOM, after a few minutes I have these tasty little suckers hot and covered in a nice glaze. Second, these sausages are a good source of protein, about 30% of my DRV, for only 90 calories per three mini links. Lastly, these breakfast links are nitrate-free and have no artificial preservatives or MSG.  These links are gluten-free and dairy-free as an added bonus. I will also note that despite their sugary name, there is only 2 grams of sugar per serving. That is less than three of those strawberries I ate.

I had three mini sausage links tonight with one serving of Progresso's Hearty Tomato soup (~110 kcal) for my dinner. The protein was great after my lunch of 11 large strawberries (~63 kcal), a salad with a half bell pepper (~30 kcal), 3 medium celery stalks (~17 kcal), and half of an English cucumber (~22 kcal) topped with some Newman's Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette (45 kcal). I also had a full can of Progresso's Light Savory Vegetable Barley Soup (~120 kcal). So about ~497 calories total.

And no, I am not a paid chicken sausage spokeswoman for ATK Foods, I just really enjoy these breakfast sausages, especially on a fast day.


Week 5 Summary

Day 37, Feast Day #20

Getting calories down on feast days has proved difficult with trips to bars, breweries, and birthday parties with friends. Here are the numbers:

Week 1: 1,437 kcal or 76% of baseline calories
Week 2: 1,938 kcal or 102% of baseline calories
Week 3: 1,680 kcal or 89% of baseline calories
Week 4: 2,196 kcal or 116% of baseline calories
Week 5: 1,829 kcal or 96% of baseline calories

While ADFing: 1,776 kcal or 94%of baseline calories
Baseline Days: 1,896 kcal

All Feast Days: 2,942 kcal or 155% of baseline calories
All Fast Days*: 473 kcal or 25% of baseline calories

For reference
Week 1: 4 fast days, 3 feast days
Week 2: 3 fast days, 4 feast days
Week 3: 3 fast days*, 4 feast days
Week 4: 3 fast days, 4 feast days
Week 5: 3 fast days, 4 feast days
*Includes faux-fast day that was my mama's birthday dinner.

Obviously, our feast days are still too feasty. As usual, this is due to overindulging when eating out, particularly when it comes to a calorie-packed cocktail or beer. I also discovered this weekend while at a friend's 30th birthday bash that not only is mead (honey wine) incredibly delicious, but it is over 220 calories for a 5 oz. glass. It is a good thing I don't have easy access to mead regularly. Luckily his week's social calendar is looking less hedonistic, so hopefully I can make some progress on the following goals:
  • Reduce the sugar I am eating. I was eating 57 grams/day this week. This is below both my original sugar consumption and below the 5-week average of 63 grams. I still would like to cut this down even further since I have a family history of diabetes.
  • Reduce overall carbohydrates eaten. My carb gluttony has me at 196 grams of carbs/day this past week. This is still below what I have been averaging, but again the USDA DRV is 130 grams. That is over a 50% reduction I am aiming for, so this could be tough.
  • Eat more potassium-rich foods. I am still struggling to get even close to the DRV of potassium. Last week I only ate about 1807 mg/day on average, which is lower than the previous 5 weeks. The daily recommendation is 4700 mg/day, to put things in perspective. We bought some mushrooms this week and are still working on using up a bunch of tomatoes. More of our meals need to revolve around potassium. I think eating more legumes might tackle the potassium deficit plus providing iron, which I have also been running low on (55% of DRV).