Exchange dieting

In a  world where the median burger size is about  8 ounces of meat, in a world where a well balanced meal should have about 3 to 4 ounces of meat, just what is this kind of offer – the MONSTER – doing for our belt lines?

The MONSTER is a one pound burger. What ever happened to the Quarter Pounder, which was pretty big back in the day of its introduction?

Coworkers talking, and conversations on the Urbanspoon message boards led to my taking a look at Genghis Grill. It’s a newly opened instance of a chain, sitting pretty close to Madeleine’s near the Perimeter. That puts it very near work and people from work have been going there for a while.

Inside, I find it a little cramped and a little loud. You’re not exactly resting elbows with other patrons, but it’s close enough nothing you say will be private. The signs that pepper the place are a little “in your face” and the signage has the attitude of someone who thinks he’s funny.  Otherwise, though they really don’t have  the space, they’re trying to be a little sports bar-ish. Televisions and a small bar can be found in here. Overall, however, though there are unpleasant edges to the seating, it’s not unbearable. I think Flip Burger Boutique is too cramped for its own good as well.

The routine here is: you’re handed a smallish steel bowl and you select meats, spices, vegetables, a sauce, and when you hand your bowl to the cooks, a starch. They  trade your bowl for a number, which you place on a stand. Then you wait. After a bit, your food comes to you, hot and piping. And though they call it a Mongolian stir-fry, I know this kind of eating as a Mongolian BBQ.

The business end of this chain are the cooks who sit around a donut shaped grill and mass process orders. I found my brief conversations with them quite enjoyable. If the place wasn’t as crowded, that would be the place to be here, watching them cook.

I liked what I ate. I went  back for seconds. At lunch, the basic one bowl is about 9 dollars and unlimited bowls are 2 dollars more. For me, needing plenty of vegetables, the second bowl is a bargain.

Bowls would seem larger if I had added a starch.

If you can control what you eat, this is a good  place for dieters. It would be better for diabetics if the sauces wouldn’t be so sweet, but they have enough dry spices you don’t need the wet ones. A spicy sesame oil would be something I’d add, if I were the wet sauce maestro of Genghis Grill.

Overall? A little rough around the edges, but the core experience isn’t bad. I heard diners comparing this place to “Chow Baby”, saying that this place had more food choices. If I recall, there were perhaps a dozen or more meat choices, including seafoods (one bowl of mine was shrimp and calamari based, the other more chicken, beef, pork), two stations of vegetables with perhaps 20-30 vegetable choices,  and over a dozen invariably sweet sauces. There were perhaps a dozen dry spice options, most good.

I haven’t seen Mongolian BBQ commercialized in this fashion before. The last place I was getting Mongolian in any fashion was  the old Badayori, now long gone. So it’s quite a concept. The action of course, is around that large shared grill, and if watching people cook is your thing, I’d come here during the off hours and hang around the grill while your food is being prepared.

Genghis Grill
1165 Perimeter Center West
Sandy Springs, GA 30338
(678) 587-0050

Genghis Grill on Urbanspoon

One year ago to this day I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and chronic gout. It was an eye opener, a shot across the dietary bow. I had no choice but to get my metabolic house in order. So, over the last year I lost 80 pounds. My gout symptoms disappeared over the summer. In December I went off all diabetes medications and I’m treating my diabetes with just diet and exercise. I can show you one of the best dietary tools I’ve ever encountered:

It’s a miracle of modern civilization, called the stainless steel knife. Using one of these, you can cut your food into reasonable portions. You can then doggie bag the rest, to be eaten later or given to those in need. In the process, you get to practice prudence, practicality, and portion control. The 3 P’s, and a good oft used knife, will put you in good stead no matter how healthy or unhealthy your particular dietary routine might be.

With all due respect to Mark Bittman and his recent Manifesto, the essential issue in American food and health is portion control. Eating enormous quantities of very healthy food doesn’t make you any healthier than enormous quantities of relatively unhealthy food.

In one more week I can lift weights again. It’s a relief, because this is the point I get to put my hernia surgery behind me and start trying to work out the way I was when I was losing weight. It’s been a drag, not being able to do lat pulldowns.

In the meantime a lot of my eating has been circumscribed, the one big meal a week at a nice restaurant, enough to keep the blog ratings going. Not that Fogo isn’t a bad place to eat, just that the big name places sometimes aren’t as fun as the smaller discoveries, the small owner driven shops that make you realize food involves a creative process, and isn’t just evolved from monster corporations with made up names to satisfy brand registration law.

My boonie pepper is looking both worn and fecund. It has more peppers than it ever had. The end of the warm weather seems to bring on a load of fruit and it is more productive now than it has ever been. It’s so big it leans, but I’m just impressed how well a tropical pepper behaves in near coat wearing weather.

Work is a mess, because my whole division was sold to another corporation, so people are wondering whether  they will be downsized integrated into the new corp efficiently. People are quietly leaving, the most marketable of us finding other opportunities rather than face the uncertainties of new bosses and new unfamiliar work habits. That hasn’t helped the blogging process much.

So I work a lot on skills these days, trying to be up to date, to be marketable if our new overlords don’t find us to be efficient enough to please them. I’ve been through this before, in a job where we were promised we would be retained. Six months later, half of us were gone. A year later, I was  gone too. I can’t rely on the good intentions of my managers when dollars are on the line. I’m a cost, and unless I make more money than I cost, I’m out the door.

So in that vein, since my body and my health is part of what I market, I’m looking forward to being able to pump iron. In part, because oxygen is a euphoric, and a healthy exercise regime is the closest I can come to a 19th century oxygen party.

Oh yes, the lamb lollipops from Gary’s Bistro, because they’re fun and they’re good – we need at least one picture, don’t we? That superb Gary’s service carries over into dinner as well as the lunch hour. It turned out to  be a nice place to take my wife, while my daughter was attending her homecoming dance.

Step on the scale and I’m around 175.8. And I had told my wife yesterday that I would try to stay between 175 and 185, or maybe  that was one of these totally internalized conversations; hard to tell presently. But I’m concerned. I’ve not been placed in a situation where I’m supposed to gain weight. Thing is, I look pretty good at 175. A lot more definition in my legs, for example, without losing shape anywhere else.

But still, how to slow or stop the weight loss? I dig into my very neglected cheese drawer, skim past the three unused chunks of parmesan cheese, past the cheddars, past the Dubliner. There it is, a nice chunk of Kerry Gold Ivernia, and I cut off a slice, estimate it to be 2 ounces. Then I weigh it on the scale. 0.55 ounces. So I shave more off, until I have a whole 1.3 ounces of good rich cheese. The bite has salty overtones I had forgotten, the rich cheesy aftertaste lingers. Then its back to Fiber One, milk, flax seed oil and the low fat Baby Bels for the rest of breakfast.

Web MD says I have to eat 2800 calories a day, if I’m exercising lightly, to gain 1 pound a week. I can do it easily, but can I do it safely? Saturated fat is ‘teh ev1l’ to my doctor. My maximum carb intake is fixed. Proteins above a certain point (along with calorie richness) lead to gout issues. Left behind are monounsaturated fats: oils and nuts. Thing  is, I can demolish a can of cashews in an  hour, much less a day.

Got up, weighed myself. 177.5 pounds. Instead of the diet being virtually over, it is over. Maintenance from now on. I haven’t been posting much because I had surgery for a hernia last Friday. It was relatively pain free within a couple days, though coughing and laughing still hurt, a lot.  Now I’m in, as Mike Stock of 285 Foodies puts it, in a “livit” from now on.

I lost most of my weight using Cheerios as my mail morning cereal. I’ll note that I was lucky in this regard, as many diabetics can’t handle the sugars in the combination of cereal and milk. I’ve found three more cereals I can use in the mornings, two oldies and one that’s new to me.

The new one is Fiber One, which has 25g of carbs per serving, 14g of that dietary fiber (and therefore, depending on the rule used, can be subtracted from the total carbs of the day, or half the fiber can be subtracted). The second is a version of Special K called Protein Plus, which has only 2g of sugars. The third is any of the kinds of Shredded Wheat, which can be used if you will cut the serving size in half. Sugars in the Shredded Wheat category are exceptionally low, but the standard serving has well over 40 grams of carbs. Half the serving falls into a tolerable range, with milk.

I’m having a bit of writer’s block. I have enough information to do three restaurant reviews at least, but when I look at my screen, I just can’t write a review these days.

Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, cashews. If you haven’t checked out how they are grown and harvested, you should. It’s another food that amazes me. How did anyone figure out you could eat these things? I’m half of the belief it comes from the nature of man: to put anything into his mouth to see if it is edible. That’s the only way I can explain (other than hunger, which is a powerful motivator) how we eat so many of the things we eat.

I really like the taste of cashews, and pre-diet, I could demolish a can of these in about 1-2 days. These days:

6 cashews is a fat exchange. I can have 4-6 fat exchanges total in a day (more if I miss a meal and need to replace lost carbs). In that I’d also like some olive oil (or olives), flax seed oil, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and maybe a bit of peanut butter every now and then. To note, this serving of cashews has almost no omega-3 fatty acids and a nice whole gram of omega 6 fatty acids.

The profile is pretty similar to that of the almond.

Two to mention. I’ve grown fond of this frozen vegetable side from the Jolly Green Giant brand:

It’s about 40 calories per serving, one diabetic exchange, 0 weight watcher points, and can fill holes in your vegetable intake when everyone is tired or exhausted. Second item: Publix and Kroger are selling carrots in 4 4ounce bags. They also have roughly one exchange of vegetables, and can add that vegetable content when otherwise your diet is full of burgers and bunless ham n’ cheese sammiches.

Weight this morning was 191.0 pounds. Yesterday was 191.3. Not much exercise at the moment, but something of a renewed commitment to sticking to calorie goals and not allowing those extras.  When I can exercise, it’s largely been aerobic.

Scary to think that in less than 10 pounds, I’m no longer formally overweight.

As I lose weight, though, I’ve been less and less affected by gout symptoms. Diabetes allows some alcohol, though one glass is considered 2 fat exchanges (I get 6 exchanges a day). Is it time to break out a bottle of Anchor Steam, or perhaps find Mike Stock for a Friday at Summits Tavern?

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