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A diet based on good foods, healthy foods enjoyed together
on February 20, 2014
The Daniel Plan is different that diets that ask you to exclude so many foods, you lose weight because you simply can't find enough things to eat that are permitted. This isn't really even a diet--it's a plan to eat healthy foods in a healthy way--excluding processed, overly-sugared foods and enjoying the best nature has to offer with friends and family. It's about positive motivation to live a healthy and enjoyable life, not being deprived.
Since I like breakfast, I went right to the breakfast chapter to see the lay of the land. There were several great recipes that I went to right away--a gluten free pumpkin waffle and an avocado and fruit breakfast. I like waffles now and then as a treat, but I find they make me feel sluggish afterward. I actually use a gluten free waffle mix already and adding pumpkin puree adds fiber and vitamins and makes them really delicious. On the same theme, there is a blueberry French toast with whole grain bread. So this is not a "no-wheat" "no-grain" plan, in case you wondered.
There are also recipes for alternative "milks" including chia seed, hemp seed and almond.
The "American Classics" chapter is equally appealing. There are a number of turkey recipes (turkey burgers, turkey sloppy joes.) We're fortunate to have local, no-antibiotic raised turkey here and the poultry growers sell dark-meat only turkey. If you have a source of local turkey, I suggest you try dark meat turkey for these recipes. It makes a different--and since they exclude the skin, you are not getting a lot of fat and you are getting Omega-3. If you have no source of fresh ground turkey, I really recommend you get boneless turkey thighs, or bone them yourself (it's not THAT difficult) and grind them in a food processor. It takes less time than you think and the result is amazing. I stopped eating beef pretty much after I tried ground dark meat turkey. It cuts a tremendous amount of saturated fat out of your diet.
There are also veggie burgers (lentil-quinoa, high in protein) and lasagna (using zucchini noodles--they are really good) and best of all, mac & cheese. I love mac & cheese but don't let myself eat it very often. This recipe uses brown rice macaroni. I've used this before and this kind of non-wheat pasta actually tastes best when baked--in fact, a bit better than wheat pasta when baked. The cheese portion has real cheese, but it's lightened up with cottage cheese and some cauliflower, which provides the thickness and creaminess with far less fat.
What's interesting about this book is that no food is actually excluded; there is wheat but many recipes use gluten-free breadcrumbs or flours or pastas instead. There is meat--but there are alternatives like turkey instead of beef and legumes instead. There are desserts--ice creams, a coconut-chocolate pudding, even brownies. But the twist is that they are made with the healthiest, freshest foods and even though they are classic American fare, they full of nutritious choices.
The book also emphasizes enjoying family time at meals and in the kitchen, encouraging mindful eating, being aware of what you eat and enjoying every mouthful. (Or as Warren Zevon put it, enjoy every sandwich.) Rather than mindlessless chomping as you are doing something else, The Daniel Plan advises people to make mealtime a time for family fellowship or friends to share together.
What I love about this book is that it is not extreme, it doesn't deprive you, but it gives you so many alternatives for healthy choices, you can adapt how you eat to suit your personal needs. For example, if you DO want to limit wheat, there are pages of gluten free pizzas, all of them delectable. If you don't want to eat beef, there are recipes with turkey and chicken. If you want to limit animal foods, there are plenty of legume alternatives.
What this book doesn't have is a totally vegan or even vegetarian outlook. If you want no grain, no animal sourced foods, this isn't the book for your. If you do want a system of healthy eating that lets you and your family enjoy American style classics but with a healthier version, I highly recommend it.