Fasting for health goes against everything I thought I was sure about. Why would I consciously choose to be hungry when I have unlimited access to healthy food? Preliminary research was compelling enough to make me want to give it a go, proving once again that anything is possible.
Intermittent fasting, also referred to as time-restricted eating, takes many forms, but they all have one common factor: calorie restriction, either for weight loss or longevity. Some methods insist on the importance of when we eat rather than what we eat, while others are geared more toward discipline: If we’re fasting, we can’t take in calories, and if we can’t take in calories, we won’t gain weight. Of course, these methods take for granted that we won’t go hog wild during our feeding times. It’s not recommended.
Many methods involve a daily window of time to eat, which is around eight hours. In that time, you are to eat without snacking. For a lot of us, that looks like two meals — breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. The remaining 16 hours of the day are for fasting, with the exception of unsweetened beverages. It sounds like a long time to go without eating, but a good portion of it is spent sleeping. Very doable.
According to intermittent fasting theory, breakfast may not actually be as crucial as we’ve been taught. And healthy snacking throughout the day as a way to stave off hunger? No good. Snacking, even the healthy kind, doesn’t allow our insulin levels to go down between meals, which is when stored sugar is released as energy. Everything I thought I knew has been turned on its head.
Taking a daily break from eating seems reasonable in the quest for a healthy human body. Each day is not promised, so I’d prefer my body be strong and capable while I’m here. And I could always use practice in discipline. My ingestion of cold-weather comfort food has become borderline hedonistic.
Talk to your doctor before you try intermittent fasting. Try these recipes to break your fast, or try them just because. They’re good for you no matter what.
Crustless quiche with spinach and asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
16 stalks asparagus, trimmed
5 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (sheep or goat milk is best)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (both green and white parts)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus pieces to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then saute them for about 5 minutes until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and allow asparagus to cool. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs.
Whisk in the half and half, sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and nutmeg. Incorporate feta, scallions, parsley and asparagus pieces into the egg mixture with a large spoon. Liberally grease a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie dish with butter or nonstick cooking oil spray. Pour the quiche mixture directly into the pie dish.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the quiche is nicely browned and pulls away from the sides of the pie dish. Stick a sharp knife or toothpick in the center of the quiche to test for doneness — if it comes out clean, it's done. Let quiche settle at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled depending on your preference.
Recipe adapted from www.toriavey.com
Salmon stir fry
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
11 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed and divided
1 tablespoon ginger, minced and divided
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
In a medium mixing bowl, combine salmon with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and set aside. Preheat large deep skillet or a nonstick wok on low to medium heat and add 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Add salmon, 1/2 tablespoon garlic, 1/2 tablespoon ginger and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Increase heat to medium/high and add remaining sesame oil to the skillet.
Add green beans, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon garlic, 1/2 tablespoon ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return salmon to the skillet, squeeze lemon over, top with green onions and sesame seeds. Stir gently, remove from heat and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from www.ifoodreal.com
Mexican cabbage and cilantro soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cabbage head, cut into thin strips
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
8 sprigs of cilantro plus 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add tomatoes and cabbage. Stir for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, water and sprigs of cilantro. Season with salt, to taste.
As soon as it starts to boil, cover the pot and reduce to low heat. Let cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cabbage is completely cooked. Remove from heat. Serve in bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro, onion and optional diced serrano pepper.
Recipe adapted from www.quericavida.com