Dukanning

Since before Easter, I’ve been experimenting with the Dukan regime. I’ve lost over 10 kilos / 2 stone, and although it has slowed down it’s still dropping off.

There are several books you can buy – it doesn’t matter which one, really, as they do tend to repeat whole chapters. Or websites – the official ones and ones set up by followers / hangers-on / added value sellers. I’d been unsure about whether to try this diet – as a rule I avoid commercial “diet” advice, there are health risks attached to it, friends who’d tried it said it worked brilliantly but could be very restrictive and boring. What convinced me was doing the true weight calculator on the official website. Instead of the constant “9 and a half stone” target I get from the Wii / bmi based systems, Dukan suggested a working target of about 12 and half stone, which actually felt achievable, and a weight I would be happy at.

It is also clear, as is Lighter Life although few people pay attention, that once the weight is off you need a long consolidation / re-education phase to embed new habits.

You start with an Attack, which can vary from a few days to over a week. Doing the calculator will tell you how long yours should be. Low-fat meat or poultry, skimmed or fat-free dairy, fish and seafood, eggs, tofu, aspartame, odd bits of flavouring (garlic, vinegar, mustard, herbs, spices). That’s it. No fruit, veg, nuts, beans, grains, sugar, fat, salt. Plus a spoonful of oat-bran, and at least 1.5 litres of water (which if you’re used to healthy eating advice, is not actually a lot). You can count tea, coffee and diet soda in the water – anything to keep your kidneys as active as possible. Eat as much as you want, at least 3 meals a day. 20 minutes walking.

At first it sounds horrendous, but to a girl brought up in the calorie-fixated 70s, it’s really liberating. Grilled steak flopping off the sides of the plate? check. A tub of sandwich filling without the tiresome bread or salad? check. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast? check. Starbucks skinny latte with extra shots and sugar-free vanilla syrup? YAY.

I got into the habit of mixing my oatbran with a giant pot of fat-free greek yoghourt and some sweetener. Sometimes cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa powder, mint. Leave it to soften for about half an hour (or as long as you can keep the cat out of it), and it’s a really filling evening pudding. Or using oat bran and egg to coat chicken or fish to bake.

After your initial Attack, you move to the Cruise phase, where I am supposed to spend about 10 months, and during which you are supposed to lose weight slowly but steadily until you hit target. This alternates days from the Attack model with days where you can add foods from a short list of veg. It’s a very stupid and French-centric list.

For me, that’s been part of the fun. Isolating what is French prejudice and habit, and deciding whether to ignore it or not. Lamb is excluded from the protein list as being too fatty – but how much could you reduce by choosing older meat butchered differently? The text of the books waffles on about the Liver, that French health obsession. And it’s very misogynistic – almost any stage of a woman’s life or fertility cycle causes water retention, apparently. Vegetarians are grudgingly allowed to exist, but vegans can just naff off and die.

Rhubarb and tomatoes are on the approved list of veggies, but not strawberries which are relatively low in carbs. I can understand the logic behind not eating bananas, cherries, grapes etc which are very high in sugar, but allowing onions and red peppers which are around the 5/6% mark and not watery fruit which is about the same seems silly. Especially to someone like me who is far more likely to add a handful of allotment strawberries to a spinach salad than mourn a creamy sweet pastry.

There is also the wide variety of veggies / meat that he hasn’t thought of – goat, for example. Chillies, okra, tomatilloes, jicama, virtually anything “ethnic”. Luckily there are forums where people are discussing these – especially where there are halal / kosher issues with traditional French food. And websites publishing recipes adapted to local tastes and ingredients – I particularly like the ideas on DukanItOut but I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet.

So, verdict so far – successful, not boring, actually quite relaxing. Although there are some downsides – see the next post …

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Restaurant Review – Jabu

We're going to Jabu tonight, we haven't been for quite a while. Last time we went, I wrote this:

 

Can't believe I haven't mentioned Jabu before, but it seems not, or at least I can't find it. Went out with John, Guinness, the Lawsons, Julia, and Julian, for a pre-Eastercon gathering as some people are heading up today and will miss the regular pub this evening.

Jabu is a Chinese Fondue and Dumpling house, a dark pine and orange plastic cafe. Each table has an electronic hotplate. First course is a choice of fresh steamed dumplings, Northern Chinese style. Lamb and Coriander is one of our favourites, there are beef, pork, chicken and veggie based ones, heavy on the seasoning and with lots of interesting textures. £4 for 12, with dipping sauces, one soy/vinegar, one chilli/sesame. Then they bring a wok-style pot, with a divider down the middle. You choose two flavours of broth (chicken and spicy for us), they fill the pot and put it on the hotplate. Little plates of goodies (from a long, long list) arrive and you cook your choice in the broth. More dipping sauces – sesame paste, sweet chilli, garlic, wasabi/soy. Goodies last night included squid, salmon, scallops, chicken, paperthin sliced beef and lamb, assorted veggies, udon and slim noodles, and a softshell crab. You can also have a range of tofu, meat and fish balls, mushrooms, seasonal veggies, more seafood including about four types of prawns, and tripe. After you've played the cooking game for a while and run out of things to experiment with, they bring small bowls and you have the last of the noodles with the now concentrated and flavoured soup. A few pieces of cut fruit for dessert. Tea to drink throughout, they have a full menu of Chinese teas and will explain the differences. The main waitress is a phenomenon, permanently bouncy, enthusiastic about everything, will show you how to cook things if you're wary, and scurries around refilling tea, soup etc  as necessary. It was a fun evening, it's a highly social event with lots of messing about. Seven/eight is about the maximum number, though, even then people were having to stand up or stretch to reach the pot. And stunningly cheap – it worked out at £10 per head for a good 2 – 3 hours entertainment and gorgeuous food. Healthier than your average Chinese meal as well, with no deep-frying or overly sweet sauces. Yum Yum.

EDIT – I did mention it before, just didn't tag it properly. Fuller review here – nothing much seems to have changed, though! http://frandowdsofa.livejournal.com/77301.html

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Blueberry Muffins

DrGourmet has changed the Blueberry Muffin recipe, which I used to have a lot for breakfast. The new one has loads more fibre, and I'm sure will be very nice. But I like the old one too! good job I printed it off. This quantity made 6 big muffins, at 174 cals per muffin. It doubled up easily, and you could freeze them individually, they defrost overnight in the fridge.

 

  • 3 tbsps light spread
  • 0.5 cup Splenda
  • No-fat dried egg subsitute, 1 egg's worth, plus the liquid to make it up
  • 2 tbsps non-fat yoghourt
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 cup non-fat buttermilk
  • 0.5 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5.

Cream the spread and Splenda til smooth, whisk in the yoghourt and vanilla.

Sift in the dry ingredients. Gently fold together, adding buttermilk and the required amount of water for the egg substitute. (If you're out of egg substitute, put 1 whole egg in with the yoghourt.) Don't overmix. Fold in the blueberries last.

Put in a muffin tin, with papers if you can get them.

He says bake 12-15 minutes, but that was never enough, I found half an hour was better.

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Two-way Tofu Salad

A recipe in Sainsbury's magazine from June 1999. It's very complicated, but boils down to this:

Puree some toasted sesame seeds, sake, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, fresh ginger, tofu, and a little salt until smooth and creamy, chill.

Take some block tofu, cut into small fingers, coat in cornflour, eggwhite, then sesame seeds and deep fry, three fingers together on little skewers.

Make a salad with Chinese leaf, asparagus, mangetout peas (blanched), cucumber, enoki mushrooms, carrot ribbons, spring onions, and finely chopped chilli.

Top with the tofu skewers, and a drizzled dressing of sake, soy sauce, plain oil and sesame oil. Serve with the tofu-sesame sauce to dunk.

I think it's messy and overly fussy, but there's a good idea lurking in there somewhere. You could cut the calorie content by grilling or baking the tofu, combining the dressing and sauce and making it sharper. The salad itself could be simplified as well.

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Crusader Salmon

An old idea, and I've usually followed the Glynn Christian version for a whole salmon. But there were only three of us, so I changed it a bit. Well, quite a lot, actually.

Start with 5 – 6 indiividual fillet boneless portions of salmon, skin off, and lay on a foil-covered baking tray, that's been drizzled with a little olive oil. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5, and the grill to high.

Take:

  • 3 knobs of stem ginger in syrup
  • 2 tbsps the ginger syrup
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • half a lemon, peel shredded
  • 50 gms shelled pistachios
  • 1 onion that's been baked slowly for a long time
  • ground cinnamon, allspice, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic puree

Whizz in a processor the first three ingredients, to a rough mix. Tip out and mix with the peel, grind the pistachios coarsely and add. Whizz the onion to a coarse paste (this happens really fast, watch it), and stir in with the spices, tasting as you go. You want sharp, sweet, slightly hot. It will be v. wet. Add salt-and-sugar-free muesli, sprinkling on a bit at a time until it feels like porridge and looks like it will hold together well. If you're using a muesli base, you probably need some raisins or sultanas.

Spread the topping on the fillets to make a crust. Cook 10 -12 mins in the oven, then under the grill to crisp the topping and make it nice and brown. This took 5 – 7 minutes. We had a mix of thick but narrow pieces, and wide flat ones. The thick ones had less topping per portion, but the salmon was done about right. The wide ones were surplus to requirements, and are in the fridge.

Served with plain boiled rice and some fresh green beans stir-fried in a garlic and chicken stock sauce, with toasted flaked almonds.

Didn't really need a sauce as the topping was so moist inside, but maybe a wetter vegetable dish to go with it? or a more pilau style of rice.

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Curried Fish with Pistachio

Tonight we tried a new DrGourmet recipe, Pistachio Crusted Grouper Braised in Curry . Grouper isn't easily available over here, but our fishmonger had caught it in Florida, and recommended if we were after something similar but not too ordinary, we could try barramundi. And very edible it was too. The basic recipe involves coating 2 x 4oz fillets of fish in 3/4 oz pistachio nuts, ground, and baking in a very hot oven (gas mark 9) in a sprayed pre-heated skillet, 8 – 10 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile you heat in the microwave:

 

1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp. salt
  fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp garam masala
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. fresh lime juice

and pour it over the fish and bake for about another 4 minutes.

I was quite concerned as I don't usually think curry spices do well unless dry-fried or heated in oil first. And the amount of acid looked a bit iffy. I left out the salt as I use bottled chicken stock concentrate which is salty anyway. When I took the fish out of the oven the sauce had dried away, and had to be resurrected with some additional hot water. I'd tipped the remainder of the pistachios from the fish-coating plate in with it, and it was definitely trying hard to be a korma. It was vaguely curry-tasting, but overall a bit bland – a lot of his curries are far too mild for British tastes. We'll definitely have it again, but I'll pick a more robust fish, monkfish would do well I think, or just a plain white fish block. The remainder of the nuts could be ground finer and heated with the sauce separately to thicken it more, and keep it softer. The fish coating would have been crunchier, which would have made more it more interesting in terms of texture. Extra heat, either from some fresh chilli in the sauce, extra curry powder, or some dried chilli flakes in the pistachio coating.

We had plain basmati rice with it, and some melon on the side because I couldn't be bothered to do a real fresh chutney or raita. It does need a fresh savoury crunch with it though, something with tomatoes and red onion maybe. And you could blitz a load of fresh coriander into the sauce to make a pesto-sort-of-thing. You've got plenty of calories to play with, the fish dish comes in at 204 per serving.

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Carrot and Coriander Muffins

I lik muffins for breakfast, and most of the recipes I have are sweet. These looked interesting and different, and come out at 204 cals per muffin. My normal blueberry muffins have 174, but I use non-fat yoghourt, low-fat buttermilk, sunflower spread, Splenda and non-fat egg substitute. So I expect with some tweaking I could get these down. Recipe makes 9 deep / large muffins. From delicious, September 2005.

 

  • 2 tsp cumin seed
  • 175 gms carrots
  • 50 gms pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 150 gms plain flour
  • 100 gms wholemeal flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • some black pepper – doesn't list it on ingredients but is mentioned in recipe
  • 200 ml milk (it doesn't say, but go for semi-skimmed)
  • 1 egg (try soy egg replacement)
  • 4 tbsps olive oil (think this might be necessary … the lightest you can find)

Preheat oven to Gas 5. Line 9 holes of a deep muffin tray.

Dry fry the cumin seed until toasted. Put into a large bowl, and add the carrot (coarsely grated), the pumpkin seeds and coriander.

Sift and add all other dry ingredients.

Add milk, egg and oil, stirring lightly until just mixed.

Fill each muffin hole 2/3rds full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and firm. Cool 5 minutes, turn onto wire rack. Best the day they're made but can be frozen.

 

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