Mediterranean Diet for Health & Weight Loss

Grilled-Salmon

Tasty and delicious, full of healthy ingredients, and the bonus: Weight loss.

Losing 10 lbs. in 4 months – while feeling great and knowing it’s good for my heart and health – I’m a fan of the Mediterranean diet.

Though I’ve been preparing Mediterranean dishes quite often (I collect Mediterranean cookbooks!) for several years now for the taste, health benefits, and the fun of cooking this style of food, I decided that in order to get serious about weight loss, I would incorporate it on daily basis – creating a diet that would work for me – and I’m delighted with the result!

What are the major themes of a Mediterranean diet?

Mediterranean-Montage

  • Protein from fish, chicken, lamb, eggs, and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Heart-healthy fats and omega-3s from olive oil, olives, fish, flaxseed
  • Fiber, vitamins, and minerals from fruit and veggies, nuts, figs, dates, honey
  • Calcium from yogurt, feta, parmesan, and other cheeses. (And some milk).
  • Fabulous assortments of herbs and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, marjoram, basil, lemon, mint, etc.

 

Lamb-&-Lentil-Soup-with-Olive-&-Grilled-Eggplant-Tartlets

So, what does Kim’s mostly-Mediterranean Diet look like?

Here are some examples:

Breakfast:

1 free-range egg sautéed in olive oil, 1/3 cup spinach, and 1/2 spelt English muffin with a dash of butter and honey. 1/2 medium, or one small, banana.

Or:

A smoothie with a combination of a few fruits and veggies such as: peaches, mango, melon, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, banana, avocado, cucumber, plus 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, splash of organic milk, freshly-grated ginger, cinnamon, tablespoon of finely ground flaxseed; add chopped almonds/pecans or muesli sprinkled on top.

Peach-Mango-Avocado-Cuc-Smoothie

Drink:

1-2 cups of hot water  (plain or with ginger and/or lemon in it).

1 cup of a high-quality tea. (For calorie cut-back, I drink it black; though occasionally reverting to my British roots, I enjoy a cup of tea with milk).

Coffee (black, when dieting; white, when maintaining). Cappuccino / latté on weekends.

Mid-morning:

2 squares of dark chocolate or a biscotti  (with a second cup of coffee).

A pot of jasmine pearl tea, 1 tablespoon of honey swirled in the pot.

Lunch:

A delicious plate containing a combination of some of the following:

  • Salmon, kippered herring, or a similar high omega-3 fish
  • Falafel or hummus
  • Avocado – 1/2, sliced
  • Cucumber, slow-roasted tomatoes with olive oil and basil, or other salad veggies
  • Artichokes, cooked and chopped, sometimes in olive oil
  • Olive Tapenade or some Kalamata / Black olives
  • Bruschetta spread
  • Muhammara spread (roasted Red Pepper, Walnuts, Pomegranate juice) – delish!
  • Yogurt with mint
  • Pita Bread – 1/2
  • Sardinian Parchment Crackers – from Trader Joe’s / WholeFoods – how did I ever survive without them?

Mediterranean Lunch - Homemade Falafel

Drink: Juice mixed with sparkling mineral water, or glass of cucumber/ginger water.

Cucumber Water

Cup of Rooibos tea (this time with milk) and a couple of dates, figs, chocolate-covered walnuts, ginger biscotti, or some kind of after- lunch treat.

Mid-afternoon:

Melon, Mangoes, Apple, or other fruit or healthy snack (no more than 100-150 calories).

Drink: Glass of water and/or decaf tea/coffee.

Dinner:

4 oz serving of Fish, Chicken, Lamb, or Beef, with various vegetables, perhaps a Ratatouille or similar use of Eggplant and Tomatoes or other veggies, and small serving of rice pilaf or pasta, or grated cauliflower, with flavorful herbs and spices. An example might be: Lamb Ravioli, Moroccan Chicken with Saffron, Fennel or Rice Pilaf (I have my Persian friend, Zinat, to thank for the introduction of aromatic, anise-flavored, ground fennel spice in rice – fabulous!), Grilled Chicken/Hot Hummus Salad in Pita, or other similar Med-style dishes.

Or:

Lamb and Greek Lentil soup, or another meat/vegetable/legume soup.  1/2 Olive Bread Roll or crackers.

 

Or:

1/2 small Feta and Spinach pizza or 1/4 of a 12-inch homemade Chicken pizza with a variety of Mediterranean veggies on top. Super thin crisp organic flour or gluten-free crust, light on the cheese, olive oil and slow-roasted tomatoes as a base – perfecto!

Dessert:

Serving of Greek yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey, or another healthy dessert, with a cup of Rooibos tea with milk.

Evening Snack:

1/2 spelt English muffin with butter/honey, or small bowl of cereal with dash of milk.

Chamomile tea (2 cups)

Water

That’s it and I’m off to bed, happy and satiated at about 1000-1200 calories per day.

Note: obviously this works for me, but you may need more calories depending on your stature and needs. I also take some important vitamins to make sure I’m getting all needed nutrients. BTW, I keep an eye on my daily calories in an easy little app on my Android phone (Simple Calorie Count).

You might think this takes a bit of discipline to stay on this type of diet for several months – but it’s SO easy and delicious that I’m not inclined to stray from it too much.

It took a few weeks before I saw any change, then – ‘wham’ the pounds started falling off. Now I have the next ten pounds in my sights, a dream I had all but given up on!

The wonderful thing about the smells and flavors of the Mediterranean diet – it’s as if you’re exploring the villages of Tuscany, the markets of Jerusalem, or the shores of Sardinia, without leaving home.

Tuscan-Street-Cafe

So, if you want to lose a few pounds and maintain a healthy diet, while enjoying great taste,  may I recommend the Mediterranean diet?

And hey, after you lose your desired weight, why not celebrate with a latté and teeny chocolate éclair? Latte-and-Chocolate-Eclair

Cheers, my friends. I raise my sparkling water glass to you and hope you’re enjoying the blessings of a bountiful harvest yourself. We have much to thank God for!

Bon Appétit!

Kim

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The Lost Art of Quiet Time

The stillness of the morning. The mist is rising and the dawn is breaking…

You stretch a little upon waking, then wander to the window and gaze out in quietness, while down the hall the coffee pot brews your morning coffee. Maybe you sit up in bed for a while to think, or put on your robe and find a cozy chair to focus in quietness and contemplation before the day begins. Winter-Scene

Sound like you? No? Does it sound like any of us anymore?

Or, do you wake, stretch, and then check your smartphone for text messages, switch on your tablet or laptop and begin scrolling social media sites, perhaps turning on the T.V. on at the same time, while somehow reaching for your morning coffee in the haze of so much ‘noise’.

My question is this – if quiet time is becoming a lost art, are we losing something precious in this age of ‘always-on’ technology?

I’m convinced we are. We could say this is the ‘neglect of our time’ (excuse the double-entendre). And it’s causing a multitude of problems. It’s time we stopped the craziness and evaluated exactly what is happening to us.

I’m as technology-savvy as the rest of us, and even teach social media strategies as part of my job, but I also know that our brains need some rest and quiet time. Our body, soul and spirit need it too. And yet, we are giving them very little of it.

I, for one, have decided not allow this trend of ‘always on’ to steal my soul. By not turning on my electronic devices, checking social media or email, etc., upon waking, until after I’ve had time to gather my thoughts, read, pray, think, listen, evaluate and renew my spirit, I can truly have some important quiet time. Then let the business of the day proceed.

Man-in-ContemplationThere are some things too precious to be side-lined by the ‘always on’ social media phenomena. If we don’t have some quality time daily to renew mind and soul, we will be nothing but robotic tech-captives, empty on the inside, and with little to give others of true value. We can’t run forever on empty, and live a fulfilling life.

Perhaps you, too, have a quiet time each day. If so, that’s awesome. If not, and you long for one, this might be a good time to start and watch how it contributes to your quality of life. For me, early morning works best, but it could be different for you – perhaps mid-morning, noon, or late in the evening, for instance – whatever time you choose, creating a quiet time habit will contribute greatly to your peace of mind in this busy time we live in.

I challenge you to discover, or re-discover, the lost art of quiet time for yourself and watch what it does for your physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being – and for those people that you interact with each day. You, and they, will notice the difference!

Here’s to you, and joy on the journey!

Does God Speak to Us Individually?

Have you ever heard God speaking to you? Whether you have, or you haven’t, I think you’d like to hear this amazing story…

At the recent International Convention of the Familia de Dios in Seattle, the Rev. Francisco Zuniga shared this:

Around 20 years ago, when visiting Seattle from Chile, he was struggling with a major decision.

As he visited a church where his daughter and son-in-law, my mother, and my husband and I attended, something awesome happened…Francisco-Zuniga_

During the worship service, Bro. Francisco was standing somewhere in proximity to my mother. He didn’t speak any English, and my mother, didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. However, all of a sudden, while she was worshipping, he heard her speak clearly IN PURE AND PERFECT SPANISH: “What you are thinking of, do it!”

A seasoned man of God, he knew immediately that the Lord God was speaking an answer directly to him. He made his decision, went back to Chile and put the vision that was in his heart into action. Over the next two decades through prayer, hard work, perseverance, and the blessing of God Almighty, he trained and raised up hundreds of passionate men and women, young people and adults, who have, in turn, taken the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spread the Good News to multiple nations, including Chile and the United States, but also to several others.

As this gentle servant of God looked over this international convention with tears of joy…he smiled at my elderly mother seated in the back row – a woman who had spoken the message God had given her, in a tongue she didn’t understand, 20 years ago!

This testimony, and a million others like it, verify that God speaks to mankind, and speaks to us as individuals. I know He has been so kind to speak to me so many times.

So, the question isn’t “Does God speak to us?” but “Are we listening?”

 

What God Thinks About Me Is Infinitely More Important…

What-God-Thinks-About-Me-Is-Infinitely-More-Important

In this hyperconnected world in which so many people spend so much time in social media, do you find yourself wondering what your network thinks of you?

I think, if we’re honest, most of us would say “Hmm…yes…” to that.

The more important question, however, is “What does God think of me?

We know that God loves us. And wow, what an amazing and wonderful truth that is.

But what does God really think of the way that we live in this world? And does it matter?

The scripture says that God knows our hearts. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves.

He also told us that if we are to spend eternity with Him, we must return His love, with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. So, yes, it matters.

Fortunately, when you fully realize how much He loves you, what He has done for you, and the amazing plan He has for YOUR life, it’s easy to surrender to His love.

It might not be so easy, however, to fit your actions to your intentions. That is why He offers us His Spirit to lead, guide and empower us to do what we know we should do.

So here’s a couple of reflective questions to finish this thought today:

Knowing that He knows your heart, your thoughts, your attitudes, and your actions:

Would you say that your life is spent pursuing the applause of Heaven or the applause of people?

Which means more to you?

And which do you think means most to Him?

 

I think you know…

 

 

P.S. ~ Hat-tip to the person who coined the phrase: “What God thinks about me is infinitely more important than what others think about me.” If you know who they are, feel free to let me know in comments below…

 

 

I Said To the Man Who Stood at The Gate of the Year

God Knows – Poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

This beautiful and famous poem has been read and quoted by many, including HRH The Queen, the Queen Mother, and George VI, for its timeless message. It was also inspiring to the British public during World War II.

My mother often quoted it to me and I loved it. Until now, I had not, however, heard the second part and find it just as tremendous as the first few lines. Here is the rest of this powerful poem:

So heart be still;
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will Is best.
The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest:
Until God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

As you stand at the gate of the year 2014, I pray God will lead you and direct your steps. If we walk in His will for our lives, there’s no greater joy we can find.

Blessings,
Kim

Autumn Serenade

Autumn's Serenade: Roses, Birds fly south, Leaves change color, fruit trees and rain, heather

When like a tune, late afternoon
Sunlight plays on roses
And crisp, fall air, becomes a stair
To walk from summer’s poses.

And with the fade, a serenade
To mark the changing season
The sound of flight, as birds alight,
Warmth and south, their reason.

As colors change and leaves arrange
In such extravaganza
You’ll hear and see, a melody,
That creates September’s stanza.

As nights draw in, the gentle rain
May soothe the soul and heart
And harvest gains of fruit-filled lanes,
Play a harmonizing part.

Embrace the autumn serenade
Hear what others miss!
Let sweet notes of fall, fill your soul
Raise your cheek to nature’s kiss!

~ Kim Batson

Sometimes I wax a bit poetic and this first week of autumn seems to be one of those times. My hope is that through these few verses you would take a moment to pause and reflect on the gift of God we are given in the changing seasons. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

If you prefer to hear this poem spoken, with visuals attached, check out the video version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pkJSmRtRoU

Autumn Serenade – Video version

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A short poem for this first week of autumn – my hope is that through these few verses you would take a moment to pause and reflect on the gift of God we are given in the changing seasons. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

~ Kim Batson, Joy on the Journey

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The Goodness that is Good Friday

It was hard, cruel and excruciating. There was blood, sweat and thorns. The air was filled with bitterness, hatred, and anger. And amidst the rancor, the condemnation of an innocent man to die a humiliating death on a Roman cross. Darkness descended on the whole land in the middle of the day. An earthquake shook the people. The veil of the temple in Jerusalem was ripped in half from top to bottom at the hour of Jesus death. They pierced his side and watched as blood and water flow out from his broken heart.

And we call it Good Friday. Where is the goodness in that, you might say? Well, there is. An amazing amount of goodness.

Explore with me the goodness that is Good Friday…

At first glance, it seems that all is lost. That good has been overtaken by evil. That the mean, debauched and loud majority has won. That the voice of kindness and love has been silenced. That the Man of Galilee is no more and the hope that He brought, gone.

But that Friday was planned by God to bring about a better day. It was truly His goodness that was about to be shown to the whole world. Through the sacrifice that we see in the voluntary laying down of His life, Jesus was sending us a message: “For greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.” He was, in essence, saying: “The goodness of God is wooing you back to your Creator. I am making a way for an unholy people to be redeemed back to a holy God. This is love personified.”

He-Is-Risen

Good Friday was a prerequisite to Sunday morning’s Resurrection. Without the first, there wouldn’t have been the second. Jesus said as much to the disciples: “It’s dark now, but wait, Sunday’s on the way.” He promised to rise again and He did. And the Resurrection brought hope to all mankind. Good Friday wasn’t a defeat, it was a victory. A victory over sin, over self, a victory over death, hell and the grave! Wow…goodness, hope and joy!

That’s why we call it Good Friday.

Life is like this too. There is pain, agony and hurt. We may sometimes wonder if we’ll make it through. Whatever happens, hold on, it is often darkest just before dawn. And today I encourage you to think about the goodness that is Good Friday, embrace it – embrace God’s goodness – and you’ll feel the joy when Sunday dawns.

Happy Easter everyone!