Calorie Restriction (CR) Diet

What do you eat on CR?: Anything you want. Here are some recipes.

February 13, 2011

The 2 CR diet rules say nothing about the type of food you should eat. As long as you get all your nutrition and cut calories, you are home free.

Since CR says nothing about your food choices, you can follow diets like Atkins, Ornish, McDougal, low carb, low fat, etc. You can eat cuisines of India, Greece, the United States, France, China, etc. Just make sure you get all your nutrition and eat fewer calories.

My Own Food Choices

For really good fast food, I like fruit. Some of my own favorites are persimmons (our next door neighbor here in Santa Rosa, CA, has a wonderful persimmon tree, which got me hooked), mangos, papayas, apples (in particular, pink lady apples), kiwis (good source of vitamin K and E), oranges, bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, blueberries, actually, I guess just about whatever is available.

I also like two vegetables as snacks in particular - red bell peppers and carrots.

On the other hand, I love the chocolate torte with raspberry jam layers we get from local bakery, Andre's Confiserie Suisse. Any occasion is an excuse: birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day... Of course, the torte has a lot of calories per gram and little other nutrition. You don't want to eat too much of it. You have to save calories for food that will provide you vitamins and minerals. We don't buy a whole cake, just individual dessert size servings.

Here is a daily diary of foods I ate for 16 weeks in the first half of 2009. So far this year I have been on CR for 24 of 28 weeks. I consider myself on CR for the week if I record everything I eat, my daily average for the week meets 95% of the RDA for vitamins/minerals, and I eat less than 2,005 calories. In fact, I am averaging 1,900 calories a day for the year.

For this daily diary I also included a ranking of foods I ate over the 16 weeks based on number of calories, and a ranking of the type of these foods. I was a bit surprised that my number 1 food was banana, until I thought about the fact that I usually have a banana on my cereal in the morning, along with another one during the day. It did not surprise me that my number 1 food type is fruit, number 2 is vegetable, number 3 is cereals, and number 4 is seeds/nuts. They are all very nutritious.

Favorite Recipes

Besides the recipes I have below, you might want to check out Vaguely Southwestern-ish CR Friendly Zoned Lunch provided by April on her blog April's CR Diary. Also, visit Willie's blog CRONing for a future... which has wonderful sounding recipes just about every day.


I never liked spinach much until I tried this. Now it is a favorite dish. It takes just a few minutes to prepare. And spinach, particularly if not cooked in oil, could be sold as a multi-vitamin pill, it is one of the most nutritious foods you will find (see Nutrient Density: Junk Food vs Healthy Food):

Spinach, one bunch
Soy Sauce
Fresh ginger
Fresh garlic
Mushrooms (optional, and see Shiitake Mushroom Warning)

Lightly steam spinach, just enough to soften the leaves a bit.
Grate about a teaspoon or two of ginger (we just buy a ginger root and freeze it, taking it out to grate as needed).
Crush a clove of garlic.
Combine the above, then pour a tablespoon of soy sauce over the spinach.

If you like mushrooms, cut some up and put them on raw, or boil some for a few minutes first, then put them on.

Summer Salad

Modify this with just about any summer vegetable you like. Definitely a free for all, but I would always keep the potato, the chick peas, and the tomatos.

One cup of this is typically about 110 calories and provides over 250% of your Vitamin A for the day, 50% of your vitamin C; 30% manganese; 20% potassium, B6 and K; 10% to 15% of niacin, folic, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper; plus lesser amounts of other nutrients.

Potatos (white or sweet, 1 or 2 medium, I use sweet)
Chick Peas (1 15 oz can)
Tomatoes, a pint basket of grape tomatoes
Celery, 3 or 4 stalks
Onion, 1/2 sweet
Green onions, 3 or 4
Red bell peppers, 1 or 2 large
Carrots, several
Any other vegetable you feel like throwing in
Mustard (2 tbsp or to taste, soy sauce (2 tbsp), and squeezed lemon juice (2 tbsp).
Spice with dill seeds, oregano, basil, rosemary or whatever you like. The taste varies with each preparation, but always is good.

Microwave or bake the potatos and cut them up. Put in very large bowl with chick peas. Cut up and add all other vegetables. Add spices. Makes any number of cups depending on what you put in. 5 to 12 is typical.

Cilantro Hummus

This is my favorite of all my wife's recipes. I inevitably eat way too much and have to cut calories the next day to make up for it.

I spread 1/4 cup over a slice of Healthy Choice, 7 grain bread. A quarter cup of hummus is about 75 calories. That provides 18% of your vitamin C for the day, 15% manganese, 12% B6, 9% folic, and 4% to 5% of several other nutrients.

Garbonzo beans, 1 can, 360 g (1.5 cup)
Oil, 2 tsp
Lemons, 2 (58g;2-1/8" Diam)
Onion, medium, 1
Garlic, 1 clove
Salt, table, 1/2 tsp (3g)
Fresh cilantro, 1 cup (this is the critical ingredient. Get it fresh and get it tasty with a strong aroma. Crush a leaf between your fingers, it should smell great.) Red pepper, 1/2 tsp or Paprika, 1/2 tsp

Use a blender to combine the beans, onion, and cilantro. Crush the garlic and add with other spices. Squeeze the lemons and add the juice. It makes around 2 cups.

I originally ate this with Baked Tostido Chips, which taste very good with it, but have few nutrients. Now I spread it over Healthy Choice, 7 Grain Bread, which is my favorite bread.

Cranberry/Orange Relish

This recipe originally had 1/2 cup of sugar, but then I cut it to 1/4 cup, 1/8 cup, then none. Now I like it without sugar, other than what the orange and orange juice adds.

Cranberries, raw, 1 bag (340 g)
Orange 1 to 2, large, all commercial varieties, 315 g, no skin
Orange Juice, 3/4 Cup Calcium Enriched

Peel and cut up the orange into pieces. Dump it into a blender with the OJ and the cranberries. Grind it up until you like the consistency. You are done. I like it less smooth, myself. If you are fastidious (I am not) before starting drop the cranberries into a large bowl of water and rinse, throwing away the bad ones. It makes around 2 cups. A 1/2 cup serving using for ingredient values has:

  • 49.9 calories
  • 0.8 calories fat
  • 0.7 g protein
  • These RDA's: 55.8% Vitamin C, 8.4% Manganese, 5.2% Calcium (mostly from OJ Supplemented), 4.4% folate, 4.3% potassium, 4.2% Vitamin E, less than 4% for the rest.

Apple/Napa Cabbage "Zinc" Smoothie

Update (February, 2011): I removed this recipe because it was based on erroneous data for Napa Cabbage and zinc. At one point, the USDA listed napa cabbage as being high in zinc. Now it is listed as quite low in zinc. Since the point of this recipe was to give a source of zinc, I am removing it. I am leaving this note in as a warning not to depend on a single source of food to obtain any nutrient, but instead to eat a wider variety of foods, so that as science advances you are covered.

Shiitake Mushroom Warning:

One day I woke up, had a mild itch on my foot which I was rubbing. I looked down and saw odd little red dots across the top of my foot and up my ankle. I checked on my other foot and there were a few there, too. I wondered about it, figured it was some weird athlete's foot or something. I washed them and put some athlete's foot medicine on them.

The next day the dots were on my hands and wrist. Not many, but starting to show. And they were climbing further up my legs. Still not itching much, but a bit worrisome. My wife asked me if I had put on any new lotions or maybe eaten something.

With that suggestion I looked back at my food tracking charts. I remembered that I had been looking for good sources of Vitamin D and Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5). Shiitake mushrooms fit the bill wonderfully well. They did not even need to be cooked, or at least nothing on the package said to do so.

My wife is an academic reference librarian. I asked her to search for any reactions to shiitake mushrooms. She was a bit skeptical and at first found nothing. But as she kept digging deeper into her various data bases, she came across an article in an Australian medical journal. It was about "Shiitake Dermatitis". One of the photos matched my symptoms almost to a T. Some people, when they eat raw shiitake mushrooms, get this reaction.

I was lucky. For some people the reaction is far worse: bad itching, the little dots coalesce and become large open sores.

My own doctor had never heard of it and did not find it in her medical texts.

Cook your shiitake mushrooms!

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