Welcome 2013! As the saying goes, life really is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes. Here's to a happy and healthy new year! This is going to be Part 1 of 2 columns sharing ideas and recipes to help you work toward better health in 2013.
Because I'm always fighting the battle of the bulge and because I always set out to eat healthier when a new year begins, I so appreciate thoughts like these, found at www.sparkpeople.com that give me something concrete to wrap my mind around. Enlisting some of these ideas into our daily lives, one change at a time, will help jump-start our healthy New Year's Resolutions. And somehow, it always helps me to have something in print to refer to often for inspiration.
We all know we should be eating our fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably heard recommendations for meeting a 5-a-day quota, or seen the USDA’s recommendation to fill half your plate with fruit and veggies during each meal. You probably already know that eating fruits and vegetables provides a number of important health benefits, like reducing the risk of chronic diseases and heart disease and helping you manage your weight. Eating a diet filled with more veggies and fruits might also protect against certain cancers and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. With all of those benefits, you’d think the entire human population would be chowing down on bok choy and snacking on spinach.But not everyone has a built-in love for the produce department. If you struggle,as I do, to fit in your fruits and vegetables, read on for some tips and tricks to make eating a healthier diet easier than ever!
Snack smart. Instead of hitting the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, start snacking on fruits and vegetables. Cut veggies and hummus or sliced fruit with yogurt dip will satisfy you more than a candy bar will.
Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. If half a plate of fruits and vegetables seems like an overwhelming goal for you right now, start by simply adding one fruit or veggie to each meal. You can eat them as a side -- think a cup of green beans with dinner or a banana with breakfast -- or simply start adding them to foods you already eat. Fruit is a cinch to add to oatmeal, yogurt and cereal in the morning. Add onions and peppers to meat dishes or omelets or pile a few of your favorite vegetables onto your sandwich. Once you start working them in, you’ll welcome the new additions!
Drink up. While you should limit the number of calories you get from beverages, if you have trouble fitting fruits and vegetables into your busy life,work them into a drink that you can take on the go. Try out smoothie recipes until you find a few you love and work them into your rotation as a breakfast or afternoon snack option. You can easily get several fruit and vegetable servings in a yummy beverage. If you simply want juice, look for 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice for it to count as a serving, but limit yourself to no more than one serving of fruit or vegetable juice per day, as the calories are concentrated and juice removes some of the other benefits of produce (such as fiber).
Slurp some soup! Soups and stews can be a nutritious, filling way to get lots of vegetables into a meal. Soup is an easy way to increase the variety of veggies you eat as it can make some of your least favorite options more palatable. If you don’t make your own, make sure you know the healthy soup options at the grocery store.
Be ready at all times. Have cut fruits and vegetables in the fridge ready for munching at all times. Whether you buy the pre-cut options in the produce department or take the time to cut and bag it yourself, you’re more likely to eat it if it’s readily and easily available. Have hummus, low-fat ranch or fruit dip on hand, too, if it’ll encourage you to eat up.
Keep them in sight, in mind. Just like you keep sweets out of sight to discourage incessant snacking, keeping fruits and veggies in sight will help you think of them as an option for eating. Stock a fruit bowl at work each week and keep a bowl on the kitchen counter at home so you’ll be more likely to eat it when you’re hungry.
My husband and I love this delicious soup from the Skinny Kitchen website. It makes a large batch (12 cups), but it freezes well. You can easily cut the recipe in half too. Try using chicken instead of turkey--butternut squash instead of the sweet potatoes.
TURKEY BARLEY SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES
10 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 c. dried pearl barley (I use quick)
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic,minced
1-1/2 c. carrots, sliced
1-1/2 c. celery, sliced
1-1/2 c. onions, chopped
2-1/2 c.sweet potatoes (or butternut squash), peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 lb. cooked turkey breasts or chicken,cubed
In a large pot,add the chicken broth and barley.Bring to a boil,reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.In the meantime,in a nonstick pan add the olive oil, garlic, carrots, celery and onions; sauté until soft,about 5 minutes. Add the sautéed vegetables to the broth. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, thyme, sage and fresh ground pepper. Continue to cook uncovered for 25 minutes. Add the cooked turkey and stir with a rubber spatula so the squash doesn’t get mushy. Cook for 5 minutes more.Yield: 12 cups. 1 cup= 142 calories; 1 gr.fat, 13 gr.protein, 22 gr.carbs, 5 gr.fiber
STUFFED PEPPERONI PIZZA MELT
1 (whole wheat) Deli Sandwich Thin
1 tsp. Smart Balance Light or reduced-fat butter
1-1/2 Tb. pizza or marinara sauce
7 slices Hormel’s 70% less fat turkey pepperoni
1 slice light provolone cheese or light mozzarella
Preheat Panini maker, George Foreman grill or stove-top skillet. Spread the outside of the sandwich thin, both top and bottom, with 1/2 teaspoon of butter on each. Split open and spread the inside of the bottom slice with pizza sauce. On top of sauce, place pepperoni slices and top with 1 slice of cheese. Place remaining top piece of sandwich thin,butter side out. Place in preheated grill or skillet; cook for 4 to 5 minutes until melted and golden brown. Remove with a spatula as the cheese oozes out a bit while cooking. De-Lish! Yield: 1 serving= 215 calories, 8 gr.fat, 14 gr.protein, 26 gr.carbs, 6 gr.fiber