18 August 2022

Intermittent Fasting - Update Four and a Half Years Later

Intermittent Fasting - Update Four and a Half Years Later / www.delightfulrepast.com
Why a photo of loose leaf black tea? Because it's the only thing I consume during the fast.
Water, black coffee, and herbal tisanes are also allowed.

Since I've been at this intermittent fasting lark for several years now, I thought it was time to give you an update. It is something I researched for several months before I started doing it more than four and a half years ago (I don't like to rush into things!). 

Other than my emphasis on sustainable, local, organic whole foods, I don’t follow any particular diet or have a lot of food rules. Just three:
    Always interested in maximizing my health and preventing problems before they occur, I’ve always believed something Mark Hyman, MD, said so succinctly: The most powerful medicine is at the end of your fork.

    I do a bit of daily exercise, including weight training, to prevent the loss of muscle mass that starts occurring much earlier in life than you might imagine. According to WebMD: Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you'll still have some muscle loss.

    The other key to avoiding muscle loss is maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity. And that is what got me interested in intermittent fasting, specifically 16/8 intermittent fasting.

    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor of any kind, have no formal education in the field of diet or nutrition, and would suggest that anyone who is under a doctor’s care for any condition should consult their doctor about dietary changes as their medication dosages will likely need adjusting. According to Dr Jason Fung, people who should not fast are those who are: underweight, malnourished, children, pregnant, or breastfeeding. And if you’ve ever had any sort of eating disorder, consult your doctor. I'm not an expert, I’m simply telling you what works for me.

    But there is plenty of information out there from people who are experts. So do your own research before making up your mind. On completion of my research, I knew this was something I would do for the rest of my life.

    This is not “a diet”—I don’t believe in temporary diets—it is a way of eating that can be done for a time or for a lifetime. I spent months researching it before starting it. I learned it has many benefits and is really quite easy to do. You can choose any 16 hours to fast, including however many hours you sleep. If you sleep 8 hours, that’s half of it right there.

    Since I had already stopped after-dinner evening snacking a few years before, it was really just a matter of postponing breakfast until 10:00 in the morning. So I decided to do all my eating between 10 am and 6 pm. This might mean packing a breakfast to have at work or wherever you're going—something with lots of protein, not Starbucks and a donut!

    But no need to get obsessive about it. If the 16/8 schedule won't work for you some days, just make it 15/9 or even 14/10. It's all good! I was not doing it for weight loss, but soon found myself losing weight. Had I continued with the 16/8 regimen, I would have continued to lose weight, which I did not want to do.

    So I switched to 15/9 to give myself an extra hour to eat enough food to maintain my weight. That did the trick. Stable weight for four years and counting! Anyone interested in losing and maintaining, or just maintaining, a stable weight will appreciate that a stable weight means not having to keep three sizes of clothes in their closet!

    Intermittent Fasting - Update Four and a Half Years Later / www.delightfulrepast.com
    Black tea - my beverage of choice during the fasting hours
    (and every other waking hour!)

    Benefits of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

    • Regulates insulin and glucose, lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, fatty pancreas
    • Stimulates metabolism for slow, steady loss of body fat (including that dangerous excess visceral fat) rather than loss of lean body mass
    • Improves lipid profile and heart function
    • Stresses the brain in the same (good) way that exercise stresses the body, reducing amyloids in the brain and lowering the risk of stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia
    • Increases human growth hormone and boosts immune system
    • Reduces oxidative stress and stimulates the body to maintain and repair cells and tissues
    • Increases energy level
    • Eliminates food cravings
    If this is something you think you might like to try but think it's going to be difficult, I'd just like to tell you it's really quite easy. If you like, you can build up the number of fasting hours gradually. It's compatible with any diet (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, keto ...), compatible with any schedule, and doesn't require willpower.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on fasting, dieting, nutrition and health. And don't worry, I'll be back with a really good comfort food recipe next time!


    04 August 2022

    Veering Out of My Lane - Talking About Clothes

    Veering Out of My Lane - Talking About Clothes - Curating a Wardrobe / www.delightfulrepast.com

    A wardrobe post at Delightful Repast? That's right. No food today! For the first time in 12.5 years, I'm posting about something besides food. And that is because the weather has made me lose all interest in cooking and even eating this week, so instead I've been spending time "curating" my wardrobe, weeding out the unworn clothing.

    Some people who know me would call me a minimalist, but I recently saw the word 'enoughism' and decided that I'm really more of an enoughist. Of course, if you could see all my kitchen equipment, you'd question how I could call myself an enoughist! I wrote a bit about minimalism six years ago in this Pasta with Chicken and Spring Vegetables recipe post.

    And the year before that I wrote about conquering a very specific type of clutter in this In My Kitchen post. I hope you'll read these two posts if you're at all interested in the topics of decluttering, organizing, minimalism, or enoughism.

    There are many ways to pare down one's wardrobe. One is the capsule wardrobe, great for some people, but it would take up way more time than I’m willing to spend. I've always limited my wardrobe to what would fit in my small closet and chest of drawers by practicing the one-in-one-out rule, but I decided to take it a step further. 

    My 90-Hanger Closet

    I started by measuring my closet rods. There is one rod for long items on the right side, and an upper and lower rod on the left side for short items. The three rods total 90 inches, so I decided to have 90 hangers. Sounds like a lot, but I also decided to stop storing any clothes in drawers. So now ...  

    All of my clothes—except underwear, swimsuits and coats—go on a hanger. No folded garments on a shelf or in a drawer. Every item, including scarves and belts and my workout pants and tops, is on a hanger. Nothing gets rotated in or out for seasons or any other reasons. It’s all there, all the time. 

    If I want to add a new garment, it has to replace an old garment that will be promptly relegated to the rag bag, if it's worn out or damaged, or donated to a charity shop, if it no longer fills a need.

    It would be grand if I had the "bandwidth" to deal with consignment shops or other methods of selling things, but I don't. So the ordinary items go to an ordinary thrift store and the really good stuff to a special thrift store that is very particular about what they sell.

    A Working Closet, Not a Warehouse

    I purged 13 items that had been taking up space for far too long, most of which were going to require altering if I was going to wear them. Six of those pieces were three rather elegant pantsuits that I wore regularly for years in a business that called for that level of dressing. It was hard to let them go, but it made no sense to go to the expense of alterations for things I no longer needed.

    Three hangers out of the 90 are empty. Three have skirts that need altering. And I have resolved to get that done before the end of the year. If I don't, they must go. The empty hangers can stay empty! If I find I can whittle those 90 hangers down even more, that will be wonderful. I don't want anything in my closet that isn't getting worn somewhat regularly.

    I need business-type dresses or skirts and tops (including blazers, jackets, and cardigans), a few times a week; dresses that can be worn for special occasions every couple of months; dressy-casual (also called, smart casual) pants and tops; casual pants/jeans and tops; workout pants and tops. I am not likely to have need of a ball gown or evening gown ever again, so no need to keep one of those on hand.

    What is your take on this subject? I hope you'll tell me all about how you handle your wardrobe. And then, I promise, I'll get back in my lane—food! The cake above, by the way, is French Almond-Rum Cake, and you need to make it! 


    Veering Out of My Lane - Talking About Clothes / www.delightfulrepast.com

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    14 July 2022

    Salisbury Steak - Classic Comfort Food

    Salisbury Steak - Classic Comfort Food / www.delightfulrepast.com

    Salisbury Steak popped into my head this morning when I was thinking about dinner. Then I thought how nice it would be to make a big enough batch to make four dinners for the two of us, one for this evening and three for the freezer.

    So I scaled up my usual Salisbury Steak recipe. This is what I call streamlined cooking and why I have so many of these Pyrex 3-cup rectangular storage dishes, perfect for my make-ahead freezer meals for two. 

    Wish I'd had them in the freezer last week when I needed to take food to a sick friend. But, no, I had to make a batch of chicken soup when I wasn't feeling all that great myself. Can't let my freezer stash get down to zero again!

    Let me assure you, my Salisbury Steak is good old-fashioned comfort food, not like the TV dinner version with painted-on "grill marks" or like the school lunch version I avoided throughout elementary school.

    What is one of your favorite comfort food meals when life has gotten hectic or stressful?

    Salisbury Steak - Classic Comfort Food / www.delightfulrepast.com

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    Salisbury Steak

    (Makes 8 servings)

    The Steaks

    2 pounds (32 ounces/ grams) lean ground beef (organic and grass-fed, if possible)
    1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 3 slices/3.5 ounces/99 grams good sourdough or white bread)
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons ketchup
    2 teaspoons dry mustard
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon marjoram
    1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    The Gravy

    1 small (4 ounces/113 grams) yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 pound (8 ounces/227 grams) mushrooms, sliced
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    1 quart (32 fluid ounces/946 ml) lower sodium beef broth
    2 tablespoons ketchup
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water

    1 In medium bowl, mix together ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, ketchup, dry mustard, salt, pepper, marjoram and Worcestershire sauce. Using 2/3-cup measuring cup, divide mixture into 8 equal portions and shape into oval patties about 5 inches long and 3/4 inch thick.

    2 Heat (I mean really heat!) a large skillet*, add butter and oil, and brown the steaks well (I mean really well!) over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer steaks to a plate and pour all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Do not clean it or scrape it! Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping up the tasty brown bits in the pan, until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms (and a little more butter or oil, if needed) to the pan, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes.

    * I use this All-Clad 6-Quart Saute Pan (12-inch, 2.75 inches deep, straight sides). Being stainless steel with no nonstick coating, you can get it really hot to put a brown crust on things. I can't imagine that my gravy would have turned out so beautifully brown if the steaks hadn't been browned really well, leaving fabulous fond in the pan. And its straight sides mean a large surface area for cooking.

    3 Add beef broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to skillet. Mix well, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in cornstarch mixture. When sauce begins to bubble and thicken, add steaks back to pan. Cover loosely and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to heat through. When 2 or 3 minutes remain, taste and adjust seasoning.

    4 If you're making meals for two for the freezer, put 2 steaks in each of 4 Pyrex 3-cup rectangular storage dishes, use a slotted spoon to divide the mushrooms between the 4 dishes, then divide the sauce between the four dishes. Put the lids on and allow them to cool for 1 hour, then transfer them to the refrigerator until they are thoroughly chilled before placing them in the freezer.

    Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.


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    30 June 2022

    Apricot Upside-Down Cake

    Apricot Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

    Apricot upside-down cake, especially this one made with almond meal (also called almond flour or, in the UK, ground almonds) and just a dash of almond extract, is the perfect midsummer dessert. If you don't eat almonds, simply replace the almond meal with an equal measure of flour and leave out the almond extract. 

    Apricots and almonds have an affinity for each other, so unless you're allergic to almonds I hope you'll try it. Just don't increase the amount of almond extract as it can be quite overpowering. As you know, I appreciate subtlety rather than being slapped in the face by heavy-handed flavors. 

    As I poured the batter into the pan, I was regretting putting "plus 2 tablespoons milk," thinking the cake was going to be too light to support the apricots. I needn't have worried. The cake didn't collapse even a smidge when I turned it upside down and lifted the pan away. 

    Summer fruit is just about the only thing I like about summer! How about you? I hope you're having a super summer!

    Apricot Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

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    Apricot Upside-Down Cake 

    (Makes one 8-inch/20 cm cake, 8 servings) 

    3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, melted
    6 packed tablespoons (2.625 ounces/74 grams) dark brown sugar
    10 smallish apricots, halved and pitted
    3/4 dip-and-sweep cup (3.75 ounces/106 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/3 packed cup (1.75 ounces/51 grams) almond meal or finely ground almonds
    2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
    2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon mace or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fluid ounces/148 ml) milk, room temperature
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    1 large egg, room temperature 

    Note: For a gluten-free cake, replace 3/4 cup flour with 1/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. 

    1 Halve and pit the apricots. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray the sides and bottom of a 2-inch deep 8-inch round cake pan with vegetable spray, line bottom with a round of parchment paper, and pour the melted butter in the pan. Add the brown sugar to the butter and blend. Starting at outer edge, arrange apricots, cut side down, in single layer in bottom of pan and press lightly to make them stick; set aside.

    2 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and mace; mix on low speed for 1 minute to "sift.". Add the softened butter; mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add milk and extracts; mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the egg; mix 1 1/2 minutes longer. 

    3 Spread the batter carefully over the apricots with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for just 3 minutes, loosen edges with knife and invert onto a platter. Carefully peel off parchment paper. Let cool about 45 minutes, or up to several hours, before serving slightly warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

    Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.


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    26 May 2022

    Chocolate Tart - Tarte au Chocolat

    Chocolate Tart - Tarte au Chocolat / www.delightfulrepast.com

    Mr Delightful doesn't usually comment on food when we're watching a movie or video, but he did so when a travel vlogger was eating and describing a chocolate dessert on a train journey. So I knew it had been too long since I'd made a Chocolate Tart.

    I've made it with chocolate pastry before, but to me that is overkill. A filling with this much chocolate does not need a chocolate crust. To fancy it up for a dinner party, I might garnish with a bit of whipped cream and a few raspberries; but they are not needed and I've photographed for you the plain-jane slice that can stand alone.

    Not just intensely chocolatey, this tart is ethereally light. Take a bite, put it in your mouth and the chocolate filling seems to disappear in your mouth. I hope you'll try it soon and let me know if you agree!

    Chocolate Tart - Tarte au Chocolat / www.delightfulrepast.com

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    Chocolate Tart - Tarte au Chocolat

    (Makes one 9-inch/23cm tart, 8 servings)

    The Pastry - Pâte Sucrée (a sweet shortcrust pastry)

    1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 large egg

    The Filling

    1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 7 chunks
    10.5 ounces (298 grams) bittersweet (68 to 78%) chocolate, coarsely chopped
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3 large eggs, room temperature
    2 large egg yolks, room temperature
    1/3 cup (2.33 ounces/66 grams) sugar

    1 Add flour, powdered sugar and salt to work bowl of food processor; turn on for about 3 or 4 seconds to combine. Add chunks of butter; pulse to a crumb texture. Add egg; pulse until the dough starts clumping together. This is to be a crisp, more cookie-like crust, rather than a flaky pastry; so there's not quite the concern about over-processing. Flatten slightly into a 5-inch round disk, wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

    2 Lightly butter a 9-inch/23cm tart tin and set it on a baking sheet. On lightly floured 12-inch square of aluminum foil, roll out the pastry to a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to tart tin, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit the tin. Save the foil; you're not done with it. With scissors or knife, trim the overhang to 1/2 inch all around. Fold it in and press it to the sides to form a thicker side crust. Trim the edges by rolling the rolling pin over the top. Press the pastry into the flutes so that it rises a bit above the edge (in case of shrinkage). Pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5.

    3 Cover chilled pastry with reserved piece of foil, clean side up, pressing it to fit well. Spread 2 cups of ceramic pie weights (that's two packages of Mrs. Anderson's ceramic pie weights) over the foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights; continue baking for 10 minutes, until lightly browned to a pale golden.

    4 While the pastry is baking, start the filling. In a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the butter until melted and small bubbles begin to form around the edge. Remove from heat; add the chopped chocolate and stir until thoroughly smooth. Stir in salt. The melted mixture needs to be tepid when you fold in the egg mixture. If at some point it begins to solidify a bit, you might need to apply a bit of low heat just to thin the mixture, not warm it.

    5 Remove tart shell from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325F/165C/Gas3. While the pastry is cooling, continue with the filling. In a 2-quart bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is light and airy and doubled or tripled in volume. You may also use a heavy-duty stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and it may take less time.

    6 Fold about a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, gently but rather thoroughly. Then very gently fold in the remaining egg mixture, just until no visible streaks of egg remain. Try not to deflate the eggs.

    7 Pour filling into prebaked pastry shell. Bake (with tart tin on baking sheet) for about 25 minutes, until just set but still with a bit of a wobble. Do not overbake. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for at least 2 hours. If you make it a day or two ahead, refrigerate it until 2 hours before serving time; allow it to come to room temperature. Cut into 8 to 12 wedges and serve with a dollop of unsweetened or barely sweetened whipped cream.

    Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.


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