All posts by Niyaz

Week 2: Pork, figs and wine

It was all about chicken and apple last week, so Chef Brian decided to switch it up. We’ve got a new protein (pork!) and new fruits to experiment with too (figs and pears).

Plus, you can’t go wrong when you’re cooking with wine:

Meal 1: Thyme-crusted roasted pork over Gruyere polenta with caramelized pear, shallot and ginger pan sauce

Meal 2: Thyme-crusted roasted pork panini with balsamic fig jam, bacon and arugula

Meal 3: Grilled pork chop with grilled asparagus over wild rice with almonds and fig, port and balsamic reduction

Our list is good for two portions of each meal. I double mine so I always have leftovers for the next day.

The shopping list is after the jump. Continue reading Week 2: Pork, figs and wine

Everything I learned about losing weight, I learned at McDonald’s

A couple of weeks before I started this blog I took a trip to my local McDonald’s for a McRib.

Between bites of the elusive pork rib-shaped patty, I read over the nutritional guide provided by McDonald’s for its customers.

Not surprisingly, many of the sandwiches weren’t easily incorporated into a healthy diet — a burger, fries and a Coke can suck up nearly all of one’s daily calorie allotment if you get the right wrong things. Surprisingly, there was some legit information to be taken from the guide as well.

Overall, I read that a person should eat, on average, three 600-calorie meals and two 100-calorie snacks per day.  I’ve been asked by people what diet plan I’m following, and I’ll happily tell them I’m on the McDonald’s plan, though I have altered it a bit.

I try to start my day with a few glasses of water, just to get everything in there moving around. I’ll border on giving a little too much information in saying that you really know what you’re eating once it makes its way out.

I’ve noticed the difference fruits and vegetables have on my body in comparison to chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. So what am I eating? Fruits (grapefruit, apples, bananas, grapes, pomegranate), vegetables (carrots and celery sticks, broccoli, and whatever veggies Chef Brian puts in the recipes) and nuts (one handful of almonds each day). I finish each day off with a 100-calorie dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s.

I’m not counting calories because I don’t care about calories. As long as I stick to portion sizes of non-processed foods — mostly fruits and vegetables — I don’t have to worry much.

Other than constantly eating, I make sure to walk at least 30 minutes six days a week. That’s it. It’s literally the laziest I’ve ever been while trying to lose weight. And, though it’s only been a week, it’s already working a little.

I started at 258. And this morning I was at 252.6 lbs. That’s a loss of 5.4 lbs.

Healthy weight loss should be between 1 and 2 lbs. per week, but everyone is different, and people who need to lose weight tend to lose bigger chunks up front.

Week 1 is in the bag. Week 2 here I come.

Where should I eat on free day?

Tomorrow is my first day of non-healthy eating, and I’m wondering if you guys have any suggestions on where I should go and spend my free calories.

I’m planning on starting the day at the farmers market, and I know I’ll end up at Medieval Times for dinner, but I have no plans for the in-between time.

I’m kind of thinking Bruxie, but who knows where the day will take me.

Regardless, I’ve got 51 more free days after this one (or 50? Who’s really counting, right?) so where should I go?

Recommendations in L.A., O.C. and San Diego would work.

Week 1, Meal 3: Grilled herb chicken with sauteed spinach over wild rice and chicken sausage stuffing

The last meal of Week 1 was a gentle end to the chicken-and-apple series as it struck the balance between the hard work I put into our first night’s sweet potato/kale/chicken dish versus the relative ease of making night two’s chicken/apple/onion panini.

It was also my first encounter with wild rice which I’ve learned 1) is not rice, but grass; 2) takes about an hour to cook; 3) is nutty, delicious and filling.

Keep reading for the recipe and directions to make Week 1, Meal 3: Grilled herb chicken with sauteed spinach over wild rice and chicken sausage stuffing. Continue reading Week 1, Meal 3: Grilled herb chicken with sauteed spinach over wild rice and chicken sausage stuffing

Week 1, Meal 2: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and gruyere

I went through a phase where all I ate were paninis.

Bacon and egg paninis for breakfast. Turkey and salami paninis for lunch. Media noches for dinner.

So, needless to say (but I’ll say it anyways), I was quite excited to put together this week’s second meal: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and Gruyere.

Sounds good doesn’t it? IT WAS. And easy too!

Keep going for the recipe (good for two portions) and directions. Continue reading Week 1, Meal 2: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onion and gruyere

Week 1, Meal 1: Grilled herb chicken with quick-braised kale over caramelized apple and sweet potato puree with sweet and sour apple reduction

Behold! Grilled herb chicken with quick-braised kale over caramelized apple and sweet potato puree with sweet and sour apple reduction.

It took me nearly four hours, mostly because I’m in a small kitchen and because I was watching football and talking to my dad during some of the time. One the plus side, Wifey Nadia and I got to spend a lot of time together.

And then she fell asleep, halfway into dinner, just after 10:10 p.m.

I didn’t have the timing down for making dishes, ran into some problems with equipment and ruined more than one component, but I’m okay with that. This is a learning process and Brian chose to start me with the final exam.

Keep reading for the recipe and directions. Remember, this recipe makes two portions. I doubled mine for leftovers. Continue reading Week 1, Meal 1: Grilled herb chicken with quick-braised kale over caramelized apple and sweet potato puree with sweet and sour apple reduction

Week 1: Chicken and apples

Update: Grab some extra chicken stock.

Chef Brian thought he’d kick off the festivities with recipes that celebrate fall flavors.

I’m a fan of Thanksgiving so I was all ears until he informed me that “pumpkin pie” isn’t a flavor.

His first menu features lots of apples paired with rosemary-and-thyme-marinated chicken breast.

It’s not pumpkin pie, but it’ll do:

Meal 1: Grilled herb chicken with quick-braised kale over caramelized apple and sweet potato puree with sweet and sour apple reduction

Meal 2: Grilled herb chicken panini with apple butter, caramelized onions and Gruyere

Meal 3: Grilled herb chicken with sauteed spinach over wild rice and chicken sausage stuffing

Our list is good for two portions of each meal. I doubled mine so I always have leftovers for the next day.

The shopping list is after the jump. Continue reading Week 1: Chicken and apples

Diets suck.

My name is Niyaz Pirani. This is at least my fifth time trying to lose weight.

In the past, it’s always been for superficial reasons. But when you figure out that being funny also gets you laid, being fit isn’t much of a priority. But at 28, I’m starting to feel the effects of my 258-lb. frame. My back hurts sometimes so bad that I can’t leave the house; it’s even starting to creep into my knees. These are undoubtedly the results of years of bad eating and little exercise.

At Dad’s house curries and spicy meat dishes overwhelmed my sensitive taste buds. Family dinners were the worst. I would stuff down just enough so I could leave the table, and if I could, I would hop on my bike to hit the nearest burger joint/pizza place/convenience store or gobble up one of the few stockpiles of candy I hid in my room.

Mom’s house was different. While she did cook — and incredibly well many would say — we also went through the drive-thru on a regular basis. Even when it wasn’t KFC, Taco Bell or Burger King, it was fried chicken, tacos and burgers at home.

As an adult, I read more from menus than cookbooks and I prefer the greasiest, cheesiest, meatiest anything. I’m also usually on the couch, glued to the computer, or the TV, or both at the same time. I’m at the point where that’s not going to cut it anymore.

So I’ve decided to take back my diet, and eventually my body too. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Brian Miller, a high school friend who went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, will design healthy, seasonal meals that I’ll cook at home. As a private chef he cooks like this daily, so I know I’m in good hands.

Every Monday I’ll post the shopping list for three different meals (coming today at 10 a.m.). They’ll be designed to incorporate some of the same ingredients, so shopping for multiple meals can be economical for myself and those who want to cook along. I plan on eating healthy and walking 30 to 60 minutes a day, six days a week. I’m allowing myself a “free day” every Saturday to indulge in stuff like cheeseburgers, or pizza, or cheeseburger pizza.

I’m going to eat fruit in the morning, cereal or an egg as a snack, lunch, an afternoon fruit and dinner. Only water if I can help it. I’m not going to count calories because realistically I’m not going to count calories for the rest of my life. I want to focus on eating real food — food that is natural, comes from the ground or is processed as little as possible.

I’m taking such a simple approach because I’ve learned that I’m not going to keep this weight off going to the gym, taking expensive diet pills or counting points.

Those things won’t stick because I’m just too lazy. Truthfully, I’m pretty nervous as I write this because it means I have to do it.

I started this blog to force the issue, because I’m a writer and I’ve never been afraid to push myself when writing. I’m pretty mild-mannered in reality, though. Call me the fat Peter Parker.

I think of Fat Dude On A Diet as my far more confident alter-ego, some dude in a headband with crazy determination because he’s now put his money where his mouth is.

This is the best worst idea I’ve ever had.

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