Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing, My Ass

I’m not a good dieter. I don’t like tracking calories or eating from restrictive food lists or ingesting lab-created zero-calorie chemicals. But nor do I care for the way mindlessly inhaling chips (brain food, you know) while writing has dramatically increased the size of my ass. Dilemma.

That’s why I’m drawn to the 5:2 Diet. Unlike conventional weight loss plans, the 5:2 requires dieting commitment only 2 days per week. Yep, just 2 days. And on those 2 days one can eat absolutely anything one wants – chips, chocolate, champagne* – as long as the total calories for the day is less than 500 (600 for men). So there is some measure of calorie counting, but it’s minimal compared to most diets. Plus, following this sort of intermittent fasting can potentially forestall all sorts of age-related diseases.

Calorie counting twice weekly I can cope with, but “diet foods,” I cannot. Partly because they’re gross, but also because I’m trying desperately to shed my role as a short order cook in which I prepare a different meal for each member of the family. Having at least some of us all enjoying the same foods for at least some of our meals clears up a tremendous amount of time. (All of you who regularly partake of the same meal, well, bully for you.)

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So with these thoughts swirling in mind – the size of my ass, writing, brain food, cooking – Nik and I took a short break from our novels and put together a cookbook of 5:2 Diet friendly recipes. The focus is on real ingredients and tasty meals, the type of recipes that don’t feel like diet foods. Muffins, waffles, breakfast casseroles, and my absolute favorites, eggs benedict and huevos rancheros. Stuff that at least one of my sons will eat (both of them if it’s muffins).

We’ve got plans for another handful of cookbooks, too. Writing up the recipes is a nice mental diversion for when my characters start wandering about aimlessly, waiting for me to give them direction (they’re as bad as children, I swear) when I’m mired down with other things. And although I have some ways to go, developing healthy, low calorie recipes has really helped to focus on better nutrition during the writing process.

So stay tuned for book two, we’re hoping to release it by the end of May.

In the meantime, here’s a bonus recipe that I’m betting will bring even my youngest to the family breakfast table:

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Makes: 8 pancakes
Calories: 140 calories in 2 pancakes (about 88 g per serving**)

The key to keeping these pancakes light and airy is the beaten egg white. Use an electric mixer and whip until stiff peaks form.

2/3 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ Tbsp. sugar
2 egg whites
2/3 cup milk, fat-free
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips
Spray oil

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, then add the milk and whisk until very smooth. In a separate bowl, sprinkle the egg whites with a pinch of salt and whip into peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter, stirring until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray a griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium. Pour a scant ¼ cup of batter per pancake and cook.

* If you want to blow your calorie allotment on chips, chocolate, and champagne, here's what you get for 500 calories:
  - Chocolate: About 3-1/3 ounces
  - Chips: About 3-1/3 ounces
  - Champagne: About 23 ounces (5.5 flutes)

** How much is 88 grams? Well, one serving of frozen waffles (2 waffles) is about 70 grams and 180 calories. So two of these pancakes are about 25% more food, but with about 20% less calories. And way tastier!

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