Every now and then, there comes a point in time when you’ve indulged just a bit too much, you’ve put on a few extra pounds … and now, you know what you have to do. It’s time to hit the gym and cut back on all those “bad-for-you” foods.
But that’s okay! As a matter of fact, it’s good! Who says that “good for you” can’t taste good? Even great? In my opinion (and it may only be mine, but hey, I’m voicing anyway!), this is an excellent place. This is the time when you need to really begin thinking about what goes into your mouth, how it is prepared, and how it effects – and affects – the rest of your diet.
We’re at this point (right now) in my home. My husband and I have indulged. And indulged. Dare I add, and indulged. We will now start again. A total of thirty pounds worth. Gone are the chocolate bars, white chocolate peanut butter cups, ice cream, as well as the overindulgence in butter, fried and carb-filled foods.
We simply begin thinking and cooking differently, and then we will eat differently. This does not mean starving. It means choices. That’s it. So, after a one-year-long orgy of fried chicken, pizza, and Chinese food, what does one eat to ”begin again”? How about amazing fresh vegetables, sushi (sashimi for die-hards), great salads, chicken or turkey, and even lean meats; we eat them baked, grilled, slow-roasted, charbroiled, or pan seared – just not fried.
I usually turn to my garden for fresh herbs and veggies, but currently, I must report, we are in a slow growing mode – summer is upon us and it’s getting hot. Fast. My plants do not like it. I am now turning to the Yellow Green market, local farms (in Kendall or Homestead), and for a quick fix, my local Fresh Market, which I actually prefer to Whole Foods (at least here in Aventura).
Veggies have endless preparations and are the best thing now only for meals, but for snacking. They are good for you and quite often, are low in calories. Think about it, you can cut up cucumbers, celery, green peppers, etc. and dip them in vinegar (there are a wide variety of vinegars to try). Stay away from Balsamic glazes, these tend to be thick and delish – but contains calories. Remember, every extra calorie counts!
If sugar is not an issue, grape or cherry tomatoes are as sweet as candy. Sold in little pint-size “bushels”, as is or with a little salt and that’s a great snack. I know many of you are like, “whatever. Boring. That won’t satisfy me,” – but it’s simply a frame of mind!
Now, let’s face it. We are conditioned by society to eat junk food and need a fix from time to time. That’s when it gets tough to stay on track. But never fear. There are ways to get “junk food adjacent”. What is this? What do you need to do it? It is a healthy way to snack with crunch (think potato chip but not) while keeping it low calorie. All you need is veggies, fruit, spices, olive oil or cooking spray, and an oven. To make “chips” you’ll need zucchini, yellow squash, potatoes, yams, green beans, and/or tomatoes. Cut into thin, same size pieces. Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a bowl, add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the veggies. Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you’d like. Toss. Place mixture on a cookie sheet and cook for an hour or so. Keep checking. The point of the oven is to slowly cook the moisture out of the veggies, leaving a “crunchy” treat.
You can also make fresh salsa – three large beefsteak tomatoes, half red or sweet white onion, juice of one lime, one bunch cilantro, chopped, salt and pepper (a pinch each). Add jalapeño to taste. Chop. Combine. Mix. Eat. It’s that easy. Now, the tricky part – don’t eat with chips! Try a home-made veggie chip or by itself.
Anyway, this is just the beginning. Remember, the key to eating well is choices. And then, doing everything in moderation. It’s making a great big salad – and eating it without calorie-laden salad dressings. It’s eating two 30-calorie ice pops as a treat – not 10 – because calories add up quickly. Think natural, no preservatives. Think light, and not heavy. And when all else fails, less is always more. See you (of less of you) next week.
Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and travel for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.