In the past this blog has been about random things, mostly about my addiction to and love for the internet and all the cool things I can do with it. But as my life has changed so drastically over the past year, I find that I’m wanting to blog a lot about my weight loss journey. I’ve lost nearly 35 pounds this year just counting calories (sticking to a range of 1200-1550 as prescribed by SparkPeople.com), trying to eat intuitively as much as possible and making better food choices.
As a result of my huge lifestyle changes, I’d like to start sharing some of the tips, recipes, and products that have helped me shed the weight thus far. I’ll just post them randomly as I think of them rather than sticking to a certain day of the week.
So today, let’s start off with my weight loss silver bullet. The fattoush. Not the fat tush. Fattoush. It’s a salad. A Middle Eastern salad to be precise, and it’s the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten.
Although my palate is getting used to vegetables, I’m not a vegetable craver and generally have to
force myself make a conscious effort to incorporate fruits and veggies into my diet. I’m a carbasaurus mostly and feel somewhat that it doesn’t matter what I eat as long as I stick to my calorie range each day. That said, I do believe that I lose weight faster when I reduce carbs and increase plant foods, green or otherwise.
Enter the fattoush. I first learned about this salad living in the Detroit area where there is a very high concentration of Arabic residents, thus a whole lotta really great Middle Eastern restaurants to enjoy. One of the most delicious things they create is the fattoush salad, which varies from restaurant to restaurant, but is usually quite similar wherever you go. It is my weight loss silver bullet because it’s loaded with super healthy ingredients and nothing at all bad. When I eat this salad, it totally fills me up, it’s satisfying and delicious, loaded with flavor, and the weight just falls off.
The last time I lost a good amount of weight I had lost about 20 pounds in 2 months and eating fattoush every work day was a big part of that. I used to order a dinner size fattoush every other day, dressing on the side so I could split it into 2 lunches. It got to the point where I’d call La Shish restaurant to place a carry out order, give my name, and they’d say oh hi Paula, we’ll have your salad ready in 10 minutes. Yeah, I literally ate it every day for 2 months and never tired of it. That’s saying a lot for a carbasaurus.
I can’t find good fattoush down here in Maryland so I’ve tested out a few recipes I found online, tweaking it slightly til I got a really close match to the fattoush salads from Detroit. I hope you will try it and enjoy it. I make mine with chicken, marinated in a second serving of the dressing, and grilled. If you give the recipe a try, please let me know how you liked it.
2 T white vinegar
2 tsp sumac powder (I order mine from Penzeys.com)
1 clove garlic, pressed or crushed
1 T olive oil
Dash of salt or garlic salt
Pepper to taste
1 Romaine heart, chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 small white onion, slivered, chopped or however you like it
1 cucumber, diced
Toasted pita chips
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Mix all dressing ingredients together then pour over veggies and toss. Add toasted pita after tossing so it doesn’t soak up too much of the dressing.
- I always make the dressing a few hours before I’m going to make the salad to allow the dressing flavors to meld. I usually add the vinegar, sumac, and garlic together, let it sit for a few hours, then add the olive oil right before serving. It’s good if you mix everything together right before serving, but if you do it a few hours ahead of time, the sumac softens up a bit and releases more flavor. Otherwise it can be a little crunchy and I don’t like that.
- I buy the lowest calorie pita bread I can find and toast it in the toaster oven at 400 for about 8 minutes, checking regularly to make sure it’s not getting too brown.
- Cucumber – I usually buy an English cucumber as it’s less seedy and a bit more mild than a thick cucumber.
- Chicken – I always serve my fattoush with grilled chicken. I make a second serving of the dressing and marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts overnight then grill it.
- There are a lot of ingredients to this salad so if you like it, it’s best to do all the prep one day and store everything in containers. I bought all my ingredients on Saturday and did all the prep work on the weekend. Saturday I washed 4 romaine hearts, chopped them, and stored in a big Tupperware. Also washed the mint and parsley together and stored that in a container. Chopped the onions, tomatoes, and cucumber and stored those in separate containers. Toasted batches of pita and stored in a plastic bag. Marinated the chicken and stored in the fridge til Sunday when I grilled it, cut it into 4 ounce portions and fridged some, froze some.
- Then on weekdays I just make up the dressing after breakfast and when I’m ready to eat my salad lunch I get all my containers out and put the salad together from there. It’s just quicker to do all the chopping ahead of time so I can just grab and go. The only thing I’m preparing before eating is chopping the mint and parsley as they tend to get wilty if I chop them before storing.