When I worked as a weight loss counselor, it used to make me smile. The mournful look on people’s faces and the heavy sighs when they told me that they knew they needed to give up everything that they enjoyed in order to lose weight. I would start with a diet history- What do you eat? Often, the diet recall would consist of the bland restrictive foods that they had been eating for the past week in an attempt to change. Dry oats made with water, plain vegetables. Grilled chicken breasts. Bland. Unseasoned. Tasteless crap that no one wanted to be eating…is it any wonder that people would lose all will power and resolve when faced with decent food? I repeat: Eat Healthy…but don’t give up your favorite foods. I do my best work with an honest account of what you like to eat. I can tell you how to modify it and make it work for you. No one wants to give up flavor or taste. No one wants to eat things that they don’t enjoy. Look closely- my IPad doesn’t do it justice. Sweet turkey Italian Sausage, Gnocchi, green peas, caramelized shallots in fig balsamicvinegar, basil and Parmesan. Does it look miserable? I’m eating everything that I love–in moderation. I added veggies to increase portion size without contributing a ton of calories. The whole bowl is roughly 500 calories. Not too shabby!
Recipe: Gnocchi with Sweet Italian Sausage and Caramelized Shallots.
1 package Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links- sliced into rounds
1 package vacuum packed Gnocchi- typically available in the pasta section
1 package frozen Green Peas
2 shallots- sliced thinly
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fig balsamic vinegar (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
fresh basil (1/4-1/2 cup shredded)
4 tbs Parmesan cheese
salt and Pepper to taste
* brown sausage while preparing gnocchi and peas according to package directions. In small skillet, heat oil over medium and add shallots. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, until shallots are caramelized- approximately 10 minutes. Add vinegar, continue to stir until liquid absorbed. Combine all ingredients and top w basil and Parmesan. Serves four.
I have been very mindful about my food choices this week. Last Sunday, I’d hopped on the scale after my pants felt a bit snug and was floored to discover that my winter hibernation had caused me to pack on about 8 lbs.
So, I’ve been paying attention. Whole grains. Loads of veggies. Drinking lots of water. I knew I’d see some result–but was thrilled to see 4.5 pounds gone this morning!
Behold, the power of clean eating.
Surprisingly, I have not stopped eating meals! I have not felt hungry. I’m just eating better.
Remember the batch of lentils from Sunday? Turns out Lentils are a source of something called “resistant starch”. Resistant starch is tougher for the body to break down–causing a spike in metabolic rate as well as an increased level of satiety, or feeling of fullness.
I’ve been choosing loads of foods that contain higher amounts of resistant starch. Lentils, oats, quinoa, bananas, black beans, sweet potatoes. The result? Less hunger-more results!
Not to mention, these super foods are easy on the wallet. Nothing fancy or expensive.
Today, I threw the lentil and quinoa mixture (3/4c total) into a bowl with a diced carrot, a few cherry tomatoes, green onion, red bell pepper and some lime juice. I topped that with a spoon full of coconut cream and some salt and pepper. Voila! Southeast Asian inspired lunch for approximately 300 calories.
I’m often amazed at the yummy meals you can put together with raw veggies and small amounts of cooked beans and grains. You merely choose a flavor and season–Mexican, Italian, Asian, middle Eastern… So easy.
Foods to keep on hand:
Greens (spinach, collards, kale- use raw or cooked)
Cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats)
Lemon, Lime, Orange
The possibilities are endless
Let’s not kid ourselves. Portion control and healthy eating in general is easier when you live alone. As a single gal, it was ok to stock my fridge with single portion healthy dinners…lots of veggies…and fruits.
Now, with two kids and a husband, my pantry overflows with foods that single me never allowed in the house! Chips, crackers, granola bars…etc.
They have to eat. I have to eat. It’s even better when I can make us all happy at the same time!
Enter the term- portion control. You can be healthy and happy eating family friendly food if you exercise portion control.
Here is a photo of the baked penne that my daughter and I made a few nights ago. Comfort food and cheesy goodness at its finest. Notice that I am eating a small portion that covers roughly 1/4 of a ten inch salad plate. Then, I filled the rest of the space with fresh, low calorie veggies. I filled up on low calorie, high fiber veggies which are high in water content. Then, I also enjoyed the same meal that my family did.
Ps- they enjoyed the exact same meal. They just chose different portion sizes of entree and veggies. We gave the kids salad dressing or hummus to dip. My kids love crunchy raw veggies or fruit as a side dish.
Portion control is the perfect way to indulge in foods that you really love that might be higher in calories and fat. You can eat anything you like–in moderation. Being healthy is not about diet and deprivation. It’s about balance.
If you look closely, you might just be able to pick out the lentil quinoa salad that I had yesterday. If you were my stomach…you’d be fooled into thinking you had something new and different for lunch. Surely, this fresh salad isn’t a clever disguise for leftovers?
Zesty tuna and lentil salad with lime (roughly 500 calories)
1 can tuna drained and flaked
1 tbs capers
1 cup lentil quinoa salad
Juice of 1/2 lime
Handful of baby spinach
1/2-1 c chopped veggies ( I used red bell pepper and radishes)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chile sauce* if you are a nut for spice like moi!
Mix it up and enjoy! Use what you have to put a new twist on yesterday’s dish. I’ll stop now :)
Woke up this morning and realized that my winter eating habits are not going to cut it for swimsuit season.
What am I enjoying for lunch? A roasted beet, 1/2 roasted sweet potato, a cup of sautéed baby kale, and a cup of simple green lentil and quinoa salad.
Vegan. Loaded with vitamins, fiber, and protein from the quinoa. I added a drizzle of chile sauce to spice things up. Yum.
All of these things are easy to make and keep well in the fridge.
For the roasted veggies: combine peeled whole beets, sweet potatoes, and onion in a ziplock bag with 1 tbs olive oil and shake to coat. Roast at 375 for approximately 30 minutes until veggies are tender. Season with coarse sea salt and pepper.
For the kale: add 1 tsp oil to pan and heat over medium. Add several handfuls of clean baby kale and cook and stir- I add 2-3 tbs water after a minute or so to steam the kale. When it’s wilted–it’s done!
For the lentil salad:
Seriously hating wordpress on the iPad today- hope this makes sense!
I’ve found my favorite winter squash recipe of all time. Full of flavor and very satisfying for a hearty winter meal. The gruyere cheese adds a salty, almost mushroom-like flavor. Yummy!
I came across this recipe quite by accident. L bug requested chocolate pudding (from scratch) last weekend and grabbed a cookbook off of the shelf and thumbed through it saying “hmmm…here is the recipe we need!” Total three year old cuteness.
The cookbook remained on the counter over night and this recipe was dog eared when I opened the book this morning while enjoying a cup of coffee.
It sounded yummy- seasonally appropriate and husband friendly.
Butternut Squash Gratin with Onions and Sage
From: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
1/4 c olive oil divided
4c thinly sliced onion
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 large butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes (6 cups)
1/2 c flour
1/2 c grated Gruyere
1/2 c plus 2T heated whole milk
1 c fresh bread crumbs (I used a local sourdough)
Preheat oven to 350
Heat 1/2 oil in large skillet over med heat. add onion, thyme, sage and cook until onions are lightly caramelized- about 15 minutes. Place onions in a buttered baking dish.
Place squash in a gallon ziplock bag with 1/2c flour- toss to coat. Add remaining oil to skillet over med heat. Shake excess flour off of squash and add to heated skillet. Sauté 7-8 minutes-or until lightly browned.
Place squash on top of onions in baking dish.
Top with 1/2c gruyere cheese. Add hot milk.
Cover and bake 25 minutes.
Add bread crumbs. Uncover and bake additional 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top.