Partly as a result of turning 60 (and a subsequent increase in my sense of mortality), and partly as the result of a recent physical which revealed elevated LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and elevated blood pressure, I've doubled down on my eating habits and exercise regimen. I've always been very healthy and active, and intend to stay that way for as long as I can stave off the inevitable decline. I don't view this as frightening, or even sad. In fact, at the moment I'm having fun with it.
I'll describe my revised exercise regimen in a future post, but one of the more fun things about embarking on this project is menu planning. I love to cook, and I love to plan menus and shop for ingredients.
One decision I made was to make breakfast my central meal. The criteria I've set is low fat, low sodium, high fiber, and densely packed with nutrients, including a wide range of phytochemicals. Variety is good from a nutritional standpoint, but I'll shift most of the variety to dinner, since that is the meal my wife also eats, and I don't want to create monotonous meals for her. For breakfast and lunch, the important thing for me is the highest nutritional value packed into the fewest possible calories.
Here's my current regular breakfast. I'm still working on lunch.
The meal consists of a warm cereal, a smoothie, a tangerine or banana, and a glass of herb tea mixed with psyllium husk.
The warm cereal consists of the following ingredients:
1/4 cup steel cut oats (aka "Irish oatmeal")
1/4 cup oat bran
2/3 cups blueberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons olive oil
I just cook the steel cut oats (it helps to presoak overnight so that the cooking time is faster, mix in the bran and cook for another five minutes, then add the other ingredients.
The smoothie is a particular point of pride for me. Despite ingredients that may seem bizarre, it actually tastes quite good. The ingredients as my current recipe stands are:
1 cup raw kale
1 medium tomato
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon raw cocoa nibs
2 cups soy milk
1 tablespoon vegan protein powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon.
I grind the flaxseed, chia, and cocoa nibs before adding the other ingredients.
My plan for lunches is to emphasize legumes and whole grains. I don't have the complete details worked out, but yesterday for lunch I ate some hummous I'd made on whole wheat pita. Along with that I drank a smoothie consisting of:
2 cups raw kale
1 gala apple
1 medium tomato
1 cup water
I intend to keep tinkering with the breakfast menu, but it will generally stay somewhat invariable. The lunch will consist of similar elements (eg, beans and grains with a vegetable smoothie), but will vary somewhat in the specifics.
So far, so good. I have an appointment in four months to revisit the blood work. If the numbers are still less than optimal, it won't be from lack of effort.