Back to the basics

Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Skillet

I like to think my cast iron griddle pan is somewhat symbolic of the life changes that we have made.  I no longer use non-stick pans.  I have a cast iron frying pan and the skillet in the picture. They handle most of my cooking chores.

First a little history will shed some light on our changes.  My first career after graduating with a concentration in history from Harvard was that of a cattleman.   While the story is too long for here, my wife and I ran a commercial farm in central New Brunswick, north of the capital, Fredericton.

We had a huge garden and grew much of our own food.  In addition to two hundred head of purebred red and black Angus, we had one Guernsey cow for milk and a half dozen chickens for eggs.  My wife baked most of our bread, and the nearest restaurant was over twenty miles away.  While I am sure that I ate too much beef in those days, I weighed a lot less.  However, I suspect that had more to do with sixteen hours a day of hard physical labor.

Ten years later, I ended up in a desk job, and eventually working for Apple.  My job with Apple involved a tremendous amount of travel and stress.  There were many business meals and little time for exercise.  I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of a car or in the seat of an airplane.

Over the years at Apple, I worked hard at exercising when possible.  I tried a number of diets, and I lost a good deal of weight, but it always seemed to come back. My last job as vice president of sales in another company had less travel but more desk time and stress.   It was not a good way to live.

After a few years of decompression from those jobs and the tech world, my wife and I decided we were ready to really change the way that we eat.

We gave up things like deli-turkey, most canned soup, and almost all snack foods.  I absolutely love Cape Cod lower fat potato chips.  In fact I am so addicted to them that I can and have almost eaten a whole bag.  I think we have had one bag at the house in the last year.  If they are not here, I cannot eat them.

I have always been an eggs and meat breakfast lover.  Long ago I converted to egg beaters, but I am also a lover of great breads so it was not unusual for me to have a huge slice of Panera bread for breakfast along with an egg beater omelet.  My omelet just didn’t seem right without a slice of 2% Kraft Deli-Delux Cheese. Of course I had light whipped butter on toast, but it was a huge piece of bread.  I have used a variety of breakfast meats including chicken.

Unfortunately that way of eating was part of the problem.

One of the first revolutions in my diet was the decision to count everything that I eat.  I tried a couple of services before signing up with  I got a 2000 calorie target from them along with recommendations for fat, sodium, fiber, protein, and sugar.

One of the first things to go was cheese with my breakfast.  It was impossible to make it work and live within my goals.

It did not take me long to modify my breakfast, but there was a lot of trial and error.   While I eat sometimes eat rye toast as pictured, most of the time I try to do without the toast, egg, and butter.  I stick with egg whites, homemade low sodium turkey sausage, a low calorie soft taco, and lots of vegetables.   If you click on this link, you can see a snap shot of the ingredients and quantities in 501 calorie breakfast.  It has 19 ounces of vegetables.  I love it, and my wife thinks that I am crazy but it works for me.

My breakfast turns out to be a very good one that keeps me from being hungry well into the morning.  It took a lot of shopping time to find the right ingredients.  Occasionally I find a turkey sausage low enough in sodium to use instead of taking the time to create my own.  I have recently eliminated the Jalapeno spread and replaced it with red pepper flakes. My breakfast gives me plenty of fiber and protein.

In the next post I will talk about lunches.

One of the books that has helped us a lot is Eat What You Love.  We use a lot of the recipes.