This is the week that every food writer in the country gives advice on New Year’s Resolutions
My advice — DON’T MAKE THEM! It is a recipe for frustration, guilt and failure.
One usually throws in the towel around March 1st [if not before], goes back to the couch and comforts oneself with a couple of Twinkies.
This is not to say you cannot embark on a healthier way of eating. But to be successful –and this is the hard part – you should be prepared to make changes slowly.
I had a favorite cousin who battled her weight all her life. She went to Durham for the Rice Diet – she clipped every column on losing weight. She once informed me she HAD to lose 12 lbs in a week so she could fit into a dress for a party. She went on drastic diets and lost weight quickly – then the minute she went back to normal eating – the lbs came back, and more. I begged her to lose less than 2 lbs a week – but that was ‘too slow’. She eventually got her wish. She was as thin as a rail when she died. She had dementia and could no longer eat.
So this is my advice…. Make a few small ‘changes for good’ every week.
Here are 12 suggestions – which will get you on the right track.
1. Work at including three vegetables on your plate [remember you want a ‘rainbow on your plate’]. 5 – 8 servings of vegetables per day is recommended.
2. Substitute fish for meat – adding some very valuable nutrition at very small calorie cost.
3. ‘Eat Mor Chikin!’
4. Substitute whole grain bread/rolls for white.
5. Replace the ‘Apple Pie’ with a ‘Baked Apple’. Opt for fresh fruit instead of cake or pie.
6. Include soups in your meal plan. They fill you up …not out!
7. Divide your daily calories into six small meals a day so you will not overeat from hunger. Do NOT skip a meal
8. Eat breakfast [I had an aunt who never ate breakfast – but then had a piece of cake at tea time [‘because I did not have breakfast’] and dessert at lunch [because I did not have breakfast] and a little snack at night [because I did not have breakfast’]. Could not understand why she could not lose weight.
9. Halve the portions you normally eat.
10. Drink water instead of diet drinks.
11. Eat slowly and chew thoughtfully
12. Eat with chopsticks!
And since I believe in rewards…. Treat yourself to 1 oz of DARK chocolate every day.
And of course you have to include some healthy activity in your makeover plan.
While you are signing that 2-year contract for gym membership, and hiring a physio ’terrorist’, or looking for affordable exercise equipment, try the following at NO COST:
1. Park your car at the far end of the supermarket parking lot, [instead of driving around trying to find one that is as near as possible], and WALK to the store.
2. Walk up and down stairs instead of taking the lift.
3. Walk the neighborhood. Meet your neighbors.
4. Garden – all that bending, cutting and weeding – and the bonus – you get flowers!
5. Do housework – all that bending, stretching and lifting – and the bonus – you get a clean house!
6. Walk your dog – Walk someone else’s dog.
7. Walk the Mall. My father was one of the first Mall walkers in Dallas. He used to walk Northpark Mall early mornings, when he visited us in Texas, and the side benefit was that he was able to alert us to all the sales before they were advertised! The family celebrated his 80th birthday party by walking the Mall!
Promise yourself that by the end of the year you will have made small changes which will result in a healthier and fitter and maybe even thinner you!
To get you started, here is a menu which is delicious, easy to prepare and [shhh] healthy.
CHINESE SHRIMP WITH COCONUT RICE
1 ½ lbs frozen shrimp
4 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed [or 1 teaspoon from the jar]
Mix together all the ingredients except the shrimp and set aside for an hour.
[Note: You can prepare the marinade ahead – and store it in a jar in the refrigerator.] Defrost the shrimp according to directions – peel and devein them.
Blot dry with kitchen towels.
Pour the marinade into a bowl and add the shrimp. Toss well to coat.
Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
Turn on the broiler.
Set the shrimp on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil for about 4-5 minutes on one side – then turn them over and broil another 4 minutes.
The shrimp are done when they are opaque.
1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ shelled pistachios [optional]
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the salt.
Add the rice – bring back to the boil and boil for 13 minutes.
Drain and return the rice to the pan.
Add the coconut and nuts and toss to combine well.
If you want to have a little fun – serve the shrimp over the rice in Chinese rice bowls and eat with chopsticks! [See suggestion #12!]
1 bunch baby spinach [rinsed and dried] [green] 1 cup baby carrots [orange] ½ cup grated yellow squash [yellow] 1 cup grape tomatoes [red] ½ cup dried cranberries [dark red] ½ cup blueberries [purple] ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Vinaigrette dressing of your choice
Arrange the vegetables and fruit in a ‘rainbow’ on the plate. Scatter the walnuts over.
Serve with vinaigrette dressing.
1 cup assorted dried fruit – chopped fine
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup apple juice
Pre heat oven to 350.
Core the apples and peel skin halfway down the fruit.
Set in a baking dish.
Fill the cavities in the apples with the dried fruit
Spoon the honey over the apples.
Spoon the apple juice over.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes then remove foil. Bake uncovered for another 30 – 45 minutes, spooning the juice over occasionally to keep the apples moist. The baking time will depend on what type of apples you use.
Serve at room temperature with….
½ cup Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir all together until well blended
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?