Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To carb or not to carb...

Whole wheat kernels as a carbohydrate accompaniment to Roasted Vegetables and Grilled Haloumi Cheese
Season with a dash of Balsamic vinegar if desired

A few months ago I posted about the many diet-friendly recipes I was placing on my blog. I had rejoined a weight loss club in August last year and achieved my goal weight by mid-September when my husband came home from Zambia. He stayed home until 4th March when his new contract, this time in the Sudan began. I then returned to my weekly weight loss classes and found that I’d maintained my weight during the six months I could not attend. The reason for this is that I do NOT follow a drastic diet of self-denial, starvation or gimmicks. The diet I follow with this weight loss club is a lifestyle and can be incorporated into every day life.

I ran the weight loss club in our town from 2000 – 2004. I handed over my group to a successful member of my team because I went up to Guinea to be with my husband and at the same time was employed by the gold mine company for three years. Many people achieved their goal weight in my group and have maintained their weight over the years. They applied the correct principles and today they are reaping the benefits. Those who used the group as a quick-fix and followed their own rules of starvation and special diets either never lost any significant weight or regained their weight and a bit more on top of that.

I regularly come across people (especially those in my age group) who are trying to lose weight. Some of them attended my weight loss classes and know the correct way to lose weight, yet now they try every imaginable weight loss gimmick on the market. They also follow the starvation diet or the cabbage soup diet or the apple vinegar diet...
Many of them (mainly men!) come and see me privately and ask me to help them lose weight again. Every time I go through the formula and plan with them and give them diet-friendly recipes and tips. (I’m not a group leader any longer, but I don't mind helping people) Yet when I show them that they have to incorporate enough carbohydrates into their daily eating plan, they immediately tell me that this food group makes them fat! So it’s back to square one with them; they leave here having forgotten everything I shared with them and they decide follow the latest fad diet published in that weeks’ magazine.

Carbohydrates (or starches) are a very important part of losing weight and maintaining that weight loss.. You need to eat five portions of carbohydrates per day. The secret is: WHAT carbohydrates can you eat? No use consuming a cream donut or a meat pie and expecting to lose weight. The ideal carbohydrates are made from unrefined products such as whole wheat, maize grits and rye flour, to name but a few.

In order to avoid boredom with my meals, I have a variety of carbohydrates which I enjoy with my vegetables, lentil stews and tomato and onion relishes. The list is endless: pastas, all types; couscous, wild and brown rice, polenta, coarsely ground maize meal, whole wheat kernels and quinoa, pronounced keen-wa and on which I have a post coming up.

In the vegetable realm you have sweet potato (similar to a yam), potatoes, amadumbe (also yam-like), whole kernel maize or baby corn or sweet corn, potato or baby potato and parsnips. These are just starches to be eaten at the midday or evening meal. I’m not even touching on the wide variety of healthy choices of carbohydrates in breakfast foods (cereals and porridges) or light lunch/snacks: breads and crackers.

So the bottom line is, enjoy a variety healthy carbohydrates daily. Take care to apportion them on your plate – between 50-70g, two to three heaped tablespoons or 1/3 cup when cooked.

Last weekend I cooked a portion of whole wheat kernels instead of the pita I normally have when enjoying my Roasted Vegetable and Grilled Halloumi Cheese.

What is whole wheat?
Modern wheat is descended from two ancient grains, Emmer and Einkorn. These early wheats hybridised with wild grasses to form spelt wheat and bread wheat. Spelt wheat is easier to hand thresh, so it was the more popular variety before the advent of mechanisation. Modern wheat is more suited to mechanisation because once the initial threshing is complete, no further processing is required.

What are the benefits of whole wheat kernels?
A nutty flavour and high nutrient density make it an excellent base for vegetarian meals as well as a substitute for rice.
It is cholesterol free
Low in fat
Slow release carbohydrate food
Excellent food source for diabetics, sportsmen and people on cholesterol lowering diets.
Very high in fibre
Sugar free
Preservative free

Cooking tips:

It needs to be soaked overnight to soften the grain. Then boil in enough salted water until soft and plumped up.

What are its uses?
Whole wheat kernels can be used in place of rice. It can also be sprouted by placing in a jar and covering with warm water. I have a bean sprouter and have sprouted these kernels with great success.

So I urge you. If you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan, opt for a large variety of carbohydrates to enjoy with your meat and vegetables. You’ll be surprised how much energy you’ll have and how healthy you will feel. Just ensure you practice portion control and that your accompanying food is also low- fat, unrefined and sugar free.


  1. I love this post. So full of information to get healthy the smart way.

  2. Wow Jo, you are a nutritionist/dietician as well? lol I enjoyed reading this post. I am not super overweight or anything, but I do have a few pounds I would like to lose. Thanks for the tips.

  3. The more natural and complete the product, the better it is. I am going through a phase of discovering what the food industry has been putting into our foods, and as a result, I find very few temptations in Sweden this year. A few generations ago, one had cake or icecream as a treat once a month, not on a daily basis. I miss my solar cooker in Africa where the flavours were natural and where I would always know that what I ate was exactly what I had put in there; not vanilla essence made of rotten bark or proteins derived from plastic.

    This may be the one summer in Sweden when I don't gain any weight at all, lol!

  4. I really love haloumi...and this meal looks wonderful to me!

  5. From the little I can see on your blog you look very trim. I had part of my bowel removed five years ago. I now eat hugely but don't put on weight! But that's rather a drastic course to take! (I had bowel cancer.)

    Your word verification is 'Aries'. Are you?

  6. Really intersting and useful post.

    I haven't been able to get exercise for a few weeks now, (hurt my knee) so feel as though I could lose a few pounds.


  7. Yummy!

  8. Hi Vicki;) Thanks for your kind comment. I don't "do" diets (starvation and strange eating regime) I rather incorporate healthy eating into my lifestyle and it works!

    Hi Jackleen;) No, I'm not (lol!) but I'm very interested in healthy eating and living and love to write about my discoveries as well. You cannot go wrong if you stick to natural,raw,unrefined foods. Thanks for the visit.

    Hi Esther;) yes, I always found when I came back to "civilisation", I was mightily disappointed: the world has become all fast foods, super refined and super synthetic although many products claim to be just the opposite. Enjoy your holiday in Sweden. (((Hugs)))

    Hi girlichef;) my whole family loves Halloumi (bar my husband-lol!) so I buy huge 3kg buckets of this delicious cheese. It works out cheaper as well.

    Hi Brenda; wow, what a drastic thing to have done. I trust you are completely healed? You are priviliged to be able to eat and not gain weight. Every woman's dream! Thanks for your kind comment.

    Hi GG;) I'm sorry you hurt your knee. Ah, excersise: If I leave off mine for a period I feel horrid. I've been away with my dh for a week and missed out on blogging. A lot has happened and I have a lot of material to blog about. I hope to be back by the end of the week. (((Hugs)))

    Hi Digital Poloroids;) thanks for your visit and your kind comment.

  9. Good reminder. I stop going to the gym lately so I just have to be on a diet :).
    I must try your recipe soon.
    Have a great week!

  10. Hi Regina;) have you just missed gym because you were away and will return. I find to watch what I eat along with regular excersise (I spin 4 times a week and box 5 times weekly)helps to keep the middle-aged spread at bay (LOL!) Have a blessed day. Off to visit your blog. (((Hugs))) Jo

  11. That looks delicious. I really like your blog.

  12. Hi Sandy, I'm honoured you visit my blog. You have such an awesome blog. I'll be there often!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo