I detest food limitations, so you can imagine how I fare on the HCG Diet, but I felt it necessary and it works* so here we are. Luckily I live in France so the little food I DO eat tastes great, but it is still necessary to tweak it as much as possibe so I am not miserable! I have made some great discoveries that I thought I should share to help people like me to make this great but narrowed down diet more palatable, here you go.
1) Using the classic food technique of deglazing to make a sauce.
Of course you have to have a non stick pan with a very strong (non teflon) coating.........then you can deglaze it with a bit of stock or Jerez sherry vinegar (I have a vinegar collection which includes Balsamic of course, red wine, raspberry, apple cider etc) or even a teeny bit of Organic pure Apple Juice and add herbs to make sauces which are totally necessary when you are serving very lean meat!
2) Flavor sprays and flavored salt add much needed oomph.
As a Perfumista I have been acquainted with Mandy Aftel's wonderful natural perfumes for a long time, and this year she added flavor sprays to her offerings, which are indispensable on this diet.
Just a spritz or two of Black Pepper or Blood Orange spray -elevates the boring plain chicken or roasted fennel to another level. I make myself Mocktails using Mineral Water and a spritz of Yuzu and Orange. I wish I had more, but I will next time!
I also have an arsenal of flavored salts from The Spice Sage that I use on everything I cook on this diet: Vanilla, Merlot, Jalepeno, Curry, Smoked salts make a huge difference.
3) Don't forget to use contemporary cooking trends and techniques.
If you are an Ottolenghi fan like me, his recipes can be very instructive. I use his recipe for roast turkey breast (not the industrially produced stuff) which utilizes a wonderful marinade of vinegar, white wine (omit if it seems like a bad idea on the diet, I just use a soupcon if I have it), lemon, tons of cilantro, mint, parsley and cumin, which your poultry (use chicken if turkey seems wrong for your version of the diet) rests in overnight for a flavor packed roast. It is the acid which really brings out the flavor (see below). Then I throw in my vegetable choice of the evening with the roast, and reduce the marinade for my sauce. Almost like not dieting!
4) Cooking with citrus juices.
My hands down favorite recipe for fish is in aGarlic and Orange sauce from the fantastic Persian cookbook A Taste of Persia by Najmieh Batmanglij. Just sautÃ© garlic in your pan then add a cup of fresh orange and lemon juice into which you have dissolved saffron (ground with a mortar and pestle is best), with a bit of turmeric and cook the fish in this sauce.
I add the teeniest bit of Arrowroot to thicken it which yields a velvety sauce. I mean teeny, like 1/8 tsp!
Preserved lemons are great to have on hand, if you don't have them handy, just chop up a nice organic lemon (including the skin) and simmer in some water with some salt until it turns into the consistency of jam and use it as a flavoring or condiment.
I just remembered a Duck with Orange Sauce a French friend made for me, cooking down an orange the same way (I will finish it with a bit of vinegar) which I will try this week. Any poultry will do.
I am two weeks into the diet (10 lbs down) with about ten days to go (then the dreaded maintence for three weeks) wish me luck!
*the controversy about this diet is silly, the (homeopathic drops in my case) HCG instructs your body to burn its own fat and you supply the protein and vegetables. Check Sherill Sellman's site for more useful info.