How hard is it to “eat like Thomas Jefferson”, our personal diet hero who outlived his generation’s average life span by at least 30 years? It’s really not hard at all; it just seems that way when you first hear his prescription. And the magic of the TJ diet is immediately apparent as you eat. Your body will tell you - this is the way to eat.
For our most recent customers who may not know the TJ diet plan, a quick review. Jefferson insisted on 5 different foods on his dinner plate each night: 1 meat (that included fish and chicken as well as beef and pork in his lexicon) and 4 fruits and vegetables, all 5 items portioned roughly equally on the plate.
Sounds like a lot of work each evening, doesn’t it? It really isn’t if you put just a little thought into it. Let’s consider some examples.
Tonight you have a boneless pork chop which takes about 10 minutes to cook in the skillet. While it is cooking, you slice an apple and include 3 pieces for the plate. You add 5 roasted almonds and a small chunk of good chocolate. Count the apple, nuts and chocolate as a fruit. You have added a lot of anti-oxidants to go with your meat that is already rich in protein and Omega 3's, and your pork chop is not even finished yet.
How about 2 vegetables and a glass of red wine to finish off the TJ meal? This can be as simple as a lettuce and tomato salad, dressed in olive oil and vinegar and your wine as a second fruit.
There you have it - a meat, apple, nuts, chocolate, lettuce and tomato salad, olive oil, vinegar and red wine. Lots of different colors, even more variety than TJ recommends. I’ll bet your other sides will be on the plate about the time your pork is cooked. You are eating like TJ in 10 minutes. Double the time and it is still less time than shopping for a manufactured meal at the grocery buffet or a drive through fast food line, much better for you, and no more expensive.
How about some easily available substitutes? I love beans and southern peas, made with a mirepoix (see recipe from last newsletter). It’s as easy to make 20 servings as to make 2. Freeze those not eaten the day of cooking in appropriate serving sizes to be thawed the morning of your coming dinner.
Consider soups as the TJ meal in a bowl and a glass of wine or fruit slices on the side. Vegetable beef being a way to cover all of the elements of the TJ dinner, or a chicken and vegetable soup made from the carcass of your big fat hen. Or a pot roast with a mirepoix and chunky vegetables cooked in the broth. Soups and salads can cover the entire array of TJ elements if you add a fresh fruit on the side.
Vegetables that are fresh frozen from your grocery freezer case are probably your best choice if you do not cook fresh - and you cannot always do that. They take almost no time to heat up, and you can add some chopped onion, jowl, bacon, or hock for more flavor and a wider variety of nutrients. Again, your southern peas (or English if you like), or broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, collards, corn - all mix in nicely. If you are needing more direct energy food, try the starches - add a brown and wild rice to the plate, or potatoes, carrots, turnips.
I promise you this - eating like TJ will leave you satisfied with fewer calories. You will be satisfied but not stuffed because you have given your body a wide variety of foods that will turn off the body’s “I need this” alarm.
Eat like TJ with your loved ones. Take a short walk. Teach it to your children. Sleep like a baby.
That’s the TJ way.