Healthy in 05!
Well, I guess I'll be the first sucker to post the classic "i'm looking to improve my eating" question of the new year. Seriously though, I need some innovative ideas on how to best moderate and improve my overall eating so that I can begin to slim down, as I'm getting married in 05! I'm not looking to starve myself, or even deny myself some treats, but just want to cut back and improve my at-home eating. Looking for some ideas other than the standard grilled chicken w/ veggie. Thanks hounds! Any neat ideas for planning/preparing meals for the week are appreciated.
Easiest and most sensible way IMO: exercise; allow for treats, but the rest of the time, make sure your plate is half full of non-starch veg (that is, potatoes & corn don't count). Keep to one (palm sized) portion of meat/fish/protein and one (1/2 cup/100 calorie) portion of starch (potato, rice, corn, bread). If you want to be strict, keep the protein low-fat, the carb nutritious (whole wheat/long grain), and the fats 'favorable' (nuts, avocado, olive oil). Once you get used to it, it's a pretty mindless way to stay reasonable, but it gives you plenty of latitude for chowhood.
I'm a huge fan of big salads with lots of lettuce, radiccio, endive, and then other veggies because then I feel as though I am eating a lot and get full with relatively few calories. I also like to add some sauted/grilled veggies (carrots, squash/zuccini, onion, mushrooms.) I'm not a huge fan of beans, but that will give you good protein and fiber if you add them. Other options include olives, cheese (a little bit of quality parmesan or feta goes a long way in terms of flavor and doesn't add a huge amount of fat.) I add some good balsamic vinegar, or a combo of red wine vinegar and dijon, and that's dinner (maybe with a slice of whole grain bread.)
This time of year I like to look for stews & chilis which have vegetables, lower-fat proteins and "better" carbs (lower Glycemic Index) like barley, beans and sweet potatos. These are filling and can be made up in large quantities to freeze or eat throughout the week. The Sante Fe Chicken on epicurious (as recommended here by another chowhound - Val?) is a good one, reduce the oil, use chicken breast and I omit the hominy (probably not a good carb as it's made from corn). Chili made from ground chicken or lean ground beef. Beef barley stew.
I'm getting married this year too, so I'm in the same predicament. I've been on Weight Watchers since September, and have dropped about 16 pounds so far. It's a very sensible plan that allows for all sorts of foods--just in moderation.
My most successful strategy has been to eat homemade oatmeal (made from scratch with rolled oats, not the instant mixes) each morning. It's very filling, so I find that I'm not hungry til 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and it's super-good for you.
As for lunch, Boca Burgers or other veggie burgers on whole-wheat buns are satisfying.
And my favorite dinner suggestion is chili made with turkey or veggie burger crumbles. You can have a big, generous bowl and it's full of good-for-you beans, tomatoes and vegetables. I sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top and a big dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (a good sub for sour cream).
If I make a pot of chili on Sunday evening, I can have it for lunch and dinner for days... I'll look forward to seeing other people's suggestions!
My chili is sort of improvised, so I'm not sure of the exact proportions but here's an attempt:
In a large stock-pot, i.e. a Le Creuset:
Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Add one onion, diced, and 2 cloves minced garlic (if desired)
Saute until onion is translucent
Add one green pepper, diced, and one-half a jalapeno, minced (no veins or seeds!), saute until soft.
If using Boca Crumbles or ground turkey, add these with the peppers and saute until brown. You might have to ladle out some of the liquid that the turkey gives off.
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes (or a carton of Pomi)
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, crushed
1 cup frozen corn (optional)
I use liberal amounts of chili powder (probably about 2-3 tablespoons), plus cumin, chipotle seasoning (or a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce that chipotles come packed in), Mexican oregano, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some red wine or dark beer (about a cup); make sure to cook for another 20 minutes or so to burn off the alcohol taste.
Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until flavors blend together and vegetables are soft. If the chili seems thin, you can add some tomato paste to make it richer as it cooks.
Serve in deep bowls with lime wedges, nonfat Greek yogurt, shredded Colby or Jack cheese, cilantro, diced scallions, black olives, and other condiments as desired.... and don't forget the cornbread!
Jessica, I agree with you on the oatmeal...I buy organic regular oats...and I don't overcook them...I usually add raisins and maybe some toasted walnuts and that really does hold me til lunchtime...great source of fiber, too! High-fiber foods help you feel full faster...Low-Fat Triscuits are my "munchie" treat in the afternoons with some natural peanut butter if I get a strong craving at work.
Obviously there's no magic secret except exercise and healthy eating. Combining cardio, weight lifting, and also eating 6 small meals a day is pretty darn foolproof. Each meal should contain a portion of protein and carbs. Add non-starchy veggies at two meals, and a few tsps of fat a day as well.
One of my new favorite protein/carb combos is a mock rice pudding made from fat free or low fat cottage cheese, sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, and brown rice.
Butternut squash is also a great starch, which I like mixed with a little bit of Smart Balance butter and cinnamon.
Also, I've taken to poaching chicken in chicken broth, then allowing it to cool, shredding it and turning it into chicken salad, which I'll either eat with brown rice or Milton's whole grain bread.
Another post-workout favorite is Multi-grain oats from TJ's mixed with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.
Hope some or any of that helps... otherwise it just reveals my tastebuds' ability to adapt to perverse combinations... :)