Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zone Meals in Seconds

The Zone Diet wasn't created overnight. We took baby steps as we began to walk to the center of the Zone. Remember that the first thing we did was to eliminate starch from our meals. We noticed an immediate improvement. We were no longer hungry at bedtime, and if we were, we would eat a piece of cheese (protein and fat) and some fruit (carbohydrate). This chapter will allow you to enter the Zone at several different levels as well. Many of you reading this book have already read other Zone books, and are reading this one for new tips and recipes. Others may be Zone experts. Still others may be learning about the Zone for the first time. Jump in where you feel comfortable.

LEVEL ONE: As you read this book and begin to understand its principles, we hope you will immediately begin to substitute vegetables and fruits for much of the bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes that you eat. Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal because some raise insulin levels more than others do. Vegetables to avoid or use in moderation include carrots, corn, and beets. Fruits to avoid or use in moderation include raisins, most tropical fruits, cranberries, and bananas. Berries are the most Zone-favorable fruit. A complete Zone Food Block Guide, listing favorable and unfavorable protein, carbohydrate, and fat choices is found on page 365.

Use what we call the hand-eye method. Divide your plate into thirds. On one-third, place low-fat protein, such as chicken, fish, egg whites, cottage cheese, or soy products. The portion should be the size and depth of the palm of your hand. Fill the other two-thirds with vegetables and fruit. After your plate is full, add a dash of fat, such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts.

You should eat three meals and two snacks every day. For meals use a dinner plate, and for snacks use a dessert plate. Use this little ditty to help you understand which foods are protein and which are carbohydrates: "Carbohydrates grow in the ground, and protein (with the exception of soy) moves around." Make sure you drink lots of water and avoid caffeine and soda as much as possible.

Now, learn the Zoning by-laws. Timing is important. Make sure to eat breakfast within one hour of waking. Don't ever let more than four to five hours go by before eating lunch. Have a snack either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. The timing of this snack depends upon the length of time between either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. For example, you might eat breakfast at 8 A.M. and lunch at noon. Dinner might not come until 7 P.M., which means you'll need a small snack at 4 or 5 P.M. On the other hand, you may eat breakfast at 6 A.M. and not have time for lunch until 1 P.M. In that case have your snack in the mid-morning. Remember, you don't want to let more than five hours go by before your next meal or snack. Use the same hand-eye approach that you use to construct your Zone meals, except use a dessert-size plate to construct your snack. (Check out a list of snack ideas in chapter 6.)

The wonderful thing about the Zone dietary program is that you will never be hungry because your blood sugar is stable. If the brain isn't hungry, then you won't feel hungry. You will never go more than four or five hours without eating, except when you go to bed. And before you go to bed, make sure you end your day with a Zone snack. Remember, even if you are asleep, your brain is still working. A favorite bedtime snack is 1 ounce of cheese and a glass of wine. (Treat alcohol as a carbohydrate.)

To help with the planning, here are a few examples for your first day in the center of the Zone. You'll read many other suggestions in the chapters on breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. This first breakfast suggestion shows how substantial a meal can be on the Zone diet.

BREAKFAST FOR WOMEN (should be eaten within one hour of waking):

Omelet made with 1/2 cup egg substitute, 1 ounce low-fat cheese (feta is great), a couple of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, and a bit of chopped basil

2/3 cup slow-cooking oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and 3 macadamia nuts, crushed

1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

BREAKFAST FOR MEN (should be eaten within one hour of waking):

Omelet made with 3/4 cup egg substitute, 1 ounce low-fat cheese, a couple of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, and a bit of chopped basil

1 cup slow-cooking oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and 4 macadamia nuts, crushed

1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

For people who begin their day with a trip to the gym, here's a simple breakfast to eat before you go.


Blend the following in a blender. Add ice, if desired.

21 grams protein powder

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, defrosted 3 teaspoons slivered almonds


28 grams protein powder

2 cups frozen blueberries, defrosted

4 teaspoons slivered almonds

Still too hard? Try this.


1 ounce low-fat cheese

1 Wasa cracker

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

6 cashews

2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Melt the low-fat cheese on the cracker. Mix the cottage cheese, cashews, and applesauce together or eat them however you like.

Zone Meals in Seconds
150 Fast and Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Copyright © by Barry Sears. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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