I feel some trepidation putting up this post I mean, what am I thinking posting on a diet in a food blog dedicated to the love of food? Let me say right now that I had never been on a diet before and don’t generally agree with the idea given the evidence that it just makes people’s weight yo-yo. However what appealed to me about the CSIRO diet (or eating plan ;)) was that it uses normal food. There are also some very good recipes in the book that I use regardless of whether I’m thinking of diet food or not. I made two dishes last week that I’ve made several times before so I’m going to boldly post on them along with a little rundown on the diet idea (because we all struggle with excesses in our diets from time to time right?).
My partner, my Mum & Dad and my sister all went on the diet at the same time a couple of years ago (nothing like family support for this kind of thing – like giving up an addiction together). We stuck to it pretty religiously for 6 weeks and I lost 4 kilos. Even after we stopped officially we found it did affect our eating habits (especially how much rice and pasta we were eating per serve) and I lost another 2 kilos in the 3 weeks following.
It is rather heavy on the meat and low on carbs. The idea behind this is that you stay full much longer from protein sources than you do from carb sources so it will be easier to stick to the diet. The diet encourages you to eat a lot of vegetables which was a bit of an eye opener for us. We thought we ate quite a lot of veggies but this made us realise how often we skipped the side dish of vegetable or salad when having things like pasta or curries etc which might not have that much veg in them.
There are two books that describe the diet in detail (the second book is an update that includes an exercise plan and a few modifications to the eating plan – you could just get hold of this one to get all the information on the diet but the first one does have some good recipes in it too). These books also provide quite a lot of recipes and while some weren’t to my taste there were some real gems. I go back to these books regularly for good recipes whether they be diet food or not. I’ve also learned that CSIRO have recently published a third book in the series – a recipe book that adds another 130 recipes to their repertoire.
Two of my favourites are the Beef Vindaloo and the Lamb Saag which produce a pretty authentic flavour and don’t cheat by suggesting a bought curry paste (I’m all for cheating but I’m yet to find a bought Indian curry paste I’m happy with). I made both (again) last week. The Vindaloo is particularly good – not hellishly hot but it does have quite a bit of poke, is fragrant with spices and has a good depth of flavour. The Lamb Saag is good and the flavour develops even more the next day.
The meat/protein focus of the CSIRO diet is not for everyone. If I did the diet again I’d reverse the protein to carb load which suits my eating habits and preferences better. I really couldn’t handle the very low carb allowance being a huge bread, rice and pasta fan that I am. It’s pretty easy to swap the meat (or some of it) for pulses and eggs if you want to. The only draw back is that they don’t provide any recipes for these kind of meals. However one of the features I really like is that you can use any cookbook or food magazine you chose to cook from (although there were some kinds of recipes that just weren’t going to work – like pasta carbonara :P).
Probably the hardest thing (for me at least) is that you really can’t have any take-away and eating out is pretty difficult which means cooking or preparing food for every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner (and snacks). So you need to be dedicated (or you could choose not to be too strict knowing your weight loss would be slower). This is a good diet for people who are committed cooks and want to continue to eat normal food (you can even have wine and chocolate in moderation), cooking from a wide variety of recipe sources.
(from the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet book 2 by Drs Manny Noakes and Peter Clifton, © CSIRO, Penguin Books Australia, reprinted with permission)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbl freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbl olive oil
2 onions chopped
800g lean beef, cut into 4cm pieces
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups cold water
1 green chilli finely sliced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
Mix chilli powder, cumin, pepper, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a small bowl, and set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes or until golden. Add beef in batches and cook for 10 minutes, or until beef is lightly browned. Return all meat to the pan, add the mixed spices plus the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add water (it should just cover the beef) and chilli, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Stir in vinegar and sugar and cook for a further 20 minutes.
I served this with a spinach pilaf I blogged on recently (along with yoghurt and chutney)
(from the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet books 1 & 2 by Drs Manny Noakes and Peter Clifton, © CSIRO, Penguin Books Australia, reprinted with permission)
I make a combination of two recipes, mainly sticking to the Lamb Saag in Book 2 and just adding a couple of extra ingredients from a very similar one for Indian Lamb and Spinach Curry in Book 1.
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 onions finely sliced
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 stick of cinnamon
1 Tbl garam marsala
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
800g lamb leg, cut into 3cm cubes
2 Tbl water, plus 1 cup extra water
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (from book 1)
500g frozen spinach, defrosted
1/2 cup low-fat natural yoghurt
2 Tbl finely shredded mint (from book 1)
1/2 cup coriander leaves roughly chopped (from book 1)
Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan over high heat. Add onions, cardamom pods and cinnamon and cook for 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden.
Add garam marsala, garlic, lamb and 2 Tbl of water and cook for 10 minutes until lamb is browned and spices are fragrant. Reduce heat and add chilli, tomatoes, spinach, extra 1 cup of water and the yoghurt, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until lamb is tender.
I served this with an Indian Green Ginger Cabbage I blogged on recently (along with yoghurt and chutney).
I browned the lamb separately first then removed it, to make sure I got a really good browned flavour into the dish. Then using the same pan, proceeded with frying the onion and spices, adding in the garam marsala to fry for a minute before adding the tomatoes, chilli, spinach, beef and water.