I get this line a lot – You don’t look like a foodie ! or a person who is in the food business ! I may not be Greek God fit but I am definitely not overweight and I do tend to watch what I eat. Thus when I introduce myself as Nonchalant Gourmand to the owner of the food establishment who has invited me or an aficionado like me, it is usually followed by a double take and I can only imagine what they must be thinking (who is he kidding with that frame?)
Being in the food business, especially the type of profile I am currently requires a lot of different foods to go down my system and that too in copious amounts. Whether I am invited to a food tasting or researching and shooting for Nonchalant Insider, or worse, working on one of my consultancy jobs which require me to taste over 40 dishes in an average menu tasting, food, not restricted to healthy and of different kinds is consumed at unhealthy levels.
I was never a gym freak but last year when I got into food seriously and subsequently found an increase in food related (read: eating) activities, I knew I had compensate it by ensuring the effects of this did not remain in my body forever. On insistence of the sibling and as a birthday gift I was shoved to a gym with a one year membership. Though not in my neighborhood (the idea was to probably get me to ride a cycle about 6kms but that never happened) I still made it a point to ‘try’ and be a regular. The timings suited me as being a freelancer I could drop in at anytime and I would slot an afternoon daily to go workout for an hour minimum.
One month, two months, three months passed and I thought I would be teetering on the verge of turning my body into a fit and taut being; unfortunately, the case was I would lose as much as I would have gained had I not worked out. Well on the bright side, I was losing inches and definitely not having one of those unsightly paunches which usually show up to haunt you when indulgence is not controlled.
Till date I continue to eat as I like and with the thought of just about burning it all away at the gym. Nothing more, nothing less
A month ago and with the addition of the siblings wife (my sister-in-law), who was a – should I say “fanatic” of healthy living and broke into a jump or a run at every given opportunity, decided to take our lazy minds and bodies in hand and contacted a personal instructor to come over and whip us into shape. I once again jumped into the dream world of pushing myself beyond limits and embraced this as an opportunity to getting fit in the comfort of my own home.
Well our personal trainer – Robert Rozario ensured we go that extra mile to achieve desirable results. Though the gym continues; three times a week on personal training is now a routine habit.6amwake up call and half and hour to get buzzing is the norm on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A mix of boot camp, core strengthening, physical exercises using virtually no machines or supports except for the occasional therabands or medicine balls makes this an interactive session. Every session is a different ball game and once in a while we get to hit the beach too.
Robert gave us an insight into how our minds think. At the moment atleast he maintains that eating should be guilt free, he explains that while the thought of gorging on that hunk of chocolate may send a health freaks mind into a coma, while actually indulging in it may not be as dangerous as it feels as the more you think about it turning into fat, the more it does turn into fat. He maintains that with proper, mediated eating, anything can be consumed at the right time at the right quantity with the right amount of activity to burn it off and a little more.
I do enjoy this positive-ness especially taking into consideration my haphazard eating lifestyle. I have found a veritable change in my body structure even though it may not be evidently the results I expect off a year of workouts.
Eating healthy makes sense; my advice is to eat all you want but not ‘as much’ as you want. Take this little test next time you sit down to enjoy your favorite dish or meal. Start by eating in small bites, savour and eat an average sized portion of the dish. Usually do not take large helpings and probably even stop eating after two small servings of a mix of the dishes laid out in front of you. The moment you stop and divert your mind to something else the body will respond to a feeling of fullness after a while. Why do you think we were asked not to watch TV as kids? Or try taking a call midway through your meal and you will realize you just cannot get back to finishing your serving. Portion control is crucial in determining your intake and the outcome it has on the body, and it works beautifully with significant results if you learn how to master it.
(The pictures above are akin to vegetable shopping but is an excruciatingly painful heavy bag of sand been traipsed across an uneven sand-walk at the beach)
Since I have got into the work routine too (back on the corporate bandwagon), I start off with a healthy no-holds barred breakfast, followed by a light one-dish-meal lunch (with barely or no dairy or fatty products) and a relatively easy going dinner in the early evening.
A particularly favorite breakfast dish of mine is the discovery of Eggs Benedict. I had this dish which contains the works. A well buttered toasted muffin topped with crispy fried bacon strips, poached eggs and hollandaise (an egg yolk-salted butter calorie laden sauce). Though in this recipe I have done away with most of the fattening elements I have retained the authenticity of the hollandaise which even though is fattening, makes up for all the substitutions in the original version.
The workout style eggs benedict not only does away with the smothering of the muffin / bun with butter, but also substitutes’s bacon with healthy spinach and mushroom toppings. .Poaching is the best way of cooking and eating eggs as it requires no fat to cook in and retains the nutrients in the eggs. It is literally just ‘boiled’ without the shell and of course the hollandaise adds that extra edge to complete the dish. A little fat never killed anyone anyway and you can still control how much you spoon over.
Carbohydrates in the form of the bread, Iron derived from Spinach and B-Vitamins from Mushrooms followed by proteins from the poached egg and lubricant for your body from the hollandaise makes this the perfect combination of ingredients for your body. Attempt this after a workout for the right absorption of nutrients and you will be on a road trip to fit world.
Workout Style Eggs Benedict
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Large Muffin (Split into two) or 1 Large Bun (Split into two)
- 1 Bunch Spinach Leaves
- ½ cup Button mushrooms (sliced thickly)
- 1 tsp Garlic (paste)
- 1 tablsp Olive Oil
- 1 tablsp Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 Egg (separated – only yolk to be used)
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 6 peppercorns crushed
- 6 tablsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ cup Melted Salted Butter
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Start by preparing the hollandaise sauce. Take vinegar, chopped onion and peppercorns in a small heating bowl and simmer over a low flame. Wait till the onions turn translucent and the vinegar concentrates in quantity (to about half its quantity).
Heat a pot of water and let it boil.
Place the egg yolk in a heatproof glass bowl and whisk it, immediately strain the hot vinegar into the egg and whisk quickly. The heat has to disperse or the egg will start to cook.
Now keep whisking and add the melted butter to the mix (again remember to keep the whisking going) one teaspoon at a time in a thin trickle. The mixture should resemble a cohesive light yellow sauce while adding the butter and by the time all the butter is used up it should resemble a golden yellow paste.
Gently lower the egg paste bowl into hot pot of water which is simmering on the stove, ensuring no water enters the bowl and continue to whisk. After about 3-4 minutes of whisking you will notice the sauce turning thicker as the egg starts turning into custard. When you get a good pasty consistency, remove the sauce and season with Worcestershire sauce and a little more pepper, check for salt and keep aside. The sauce will thicken further on cooling so ensure you remove from the bowl once its thick enough.
Prepare the mushroom spinach topping by heating the olive oil in a pan, throw in the garlic and toss in the mushrooms. Stir on high heat till the mushroom turn a little glossy and toss in whole spinach leaves. Season with salt and pepper and stir fry till the spinach leaves wilt, keep aside
The main part about this dish is poaching the eggs.
A step by step procedure will ensure you have a perfectly poached egg to top the dish.
Heat a large pot of water (about 7 cups atleast) over high heat, add the vinegar and let it come to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to a simmer once it is on a rolling boil and you are ready to poach the eggs one at a time.
Crack the egg gently into a large and deep ladle.
Gently get the base of the ladle to the simmering surface of the water (right in the middle of the pot) and quickly tip the ladle 180˚ till the egg slides in perfectly.
Give the pan a gentle shake and do not disturb the egg while it is being poached. Lower the heat further as you do not want the white to cook faster and turn elastic
Once you see the white enveloping the yolk into a thick covering (you can play around with the white with a spatula once it turns opaque), lift the egg with a large holed spatula and swirl the water around it. The egg should be poached in approximately 4 minutes for a good runny yolk (once it is pierced) or about 6 minutes for a slightly thicker yolk
Spoon the poached egg in a small bowl or plate and set aside to plate your dish.
To plate: Grill the muffins / buns cut side up in a griller smothered with a little olive oil or in the oven for about 5 minutes. Place the muffins / buns on a plate, top each piece with equally divided mushrooms and spinach mixture, place the poached eggs gently on each muffin / bun and spoon on the hollandaise sauce (as much as you like). Serve immediately.
- The fresher the eggs, the faster they poach, so add a minute more for every day of your egg sitting in the fridge
- Eggs should be at room temperature before poaching for best results
- The vinegar acts as a catalyst in cooking the white, try to use simple white vinegar instead of flavored vinegars like cider or white wine vinegar which could alter the flavor of the poached egg
- The sourness of the hollandaise sauce depends on the quantity of vinegar, so make sure you reduce it to atleast 1/3rd of the amount you first started with while at the boiling stage
- You can add any of your favorite breakfast additives instead of mushrooms and spinach. Corn, Baked Beans and even Salad Greens make an interesting variation
- Try substituting muffins or buns with a whole wheat or multigrain variant for an even better health option