As an avid watcher of Alton Brown‘s Food Network show Good Eats, I have always been intrigued with the science behind foods and cooking. Brown uses his show as a basis to explain the science behind classic dishes, both old and new. The only issue I always found in watching, however, was the unhealthy content of what an abundance of his recipes contained. Apparently I wasn’t the one one.
In 2009, Brown took notice in his weight gain during his Good Eats series run, and took on a new, healthy approach to eating. 50-pounds later, Brown emerged healthier, happier, and wanted to let his viewers know how he had accomplished it. Brown did this in a 2009 episode titled “Live and Let Diet”, when he explained the basics behind his new lifestyle.
Brown called his new diet “The Plan of Four Lists”. He used the idea of everything in moderation to make sure he intakes the right amount of nutrients and calories on a weekly basis. They consist of the following:
“Eat Daily” List – fruits, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green tea
“Eat Three Times Per Week” list – Oily fish (wild salmon, tuna, sardines, etc), yogurt, broccoli, sweet potatoes, avocado
“Only Once per Week” list – pasta, one alcoholic drink, red meat, dessert
Alton Brown’s “Zero Times per Week” list – fast food, soda, processed meals, canned soups, “diet” anything (no artificial sweeteners)
Brown’s eating plan is very similar to the diet that I try to follow on a regular basis. It’s very balanced, filling, and provides the adequate nutrients for our bodies function and well-being. In addition to Brown’s list, I try to keep these things in mind when shopping for groceries, cooking my own meals, and filling my pantry:
– The more color the better. Try to incorporate the full color spectrum every week (different colors mean different nutrients).
– Yes, some oil is GOOD. Healthy oil provides more good than bad in a diet (avocados, nuts, oily fish, fruit and nut based oils).
– Protein should be eaten from different sources, not just meat (soybeans, dairy, nuts, beans, tofu, etc.).
– If choosing to take vitamins/supplements, use them to complement a healthy diet, not replace it.
– Carbs are not bad, they are essential for energy production…just try to consume mostly whole grains.
– Fiber promotes healthy weight & digestion. This means little to no “hunger pains”. Take advantage. (Fruits & veggies, grains, fortified foods).
– Shop the outside of the grocery store first, the majority of a full cart should come from the outer walls (Fresh produce, meats, grains, dairy, etc.). The interior aisles are likely to contain the majority of highly processed foods.
– Don’t depend on the same mundane, regular foods. Mix it up, rotate meals, try new things, eat with the seasons. & different doesn’t mean eating a baked potato, french fries, and mashed potatoes. They’re the same thing. Trust me, it’s worth it.
– Eat Breakfast. Even if it means prepping beforehand and grabbing it on the go. (protein or granola bars, baggies of healthy cereal, smoothie made the night before, piece of fruit, etc.). It’s essential to keep metabolism in check.
With breakfast in mind, I’ll end with this Buff Smoothie recipe from Brown’s diet episode. For those on the go, the ingredients can easily be put in a blender in the fridge the night before. In the morning, it can be thrown on the blender and poured into a to-go cup without a hitch. Try it out, mix it up, make it your own.