CLEVELAND - We’re nearly two weeks into the New Year, about the time many people begin to struggle with resolutions they made to improve themselves and their lives. We are on your side with some easy-to-follow advice for keeping your resolution to eat better.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, promises to ourselves to lose weight or to eat a healthier diet, top the list. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Americans are weight conscious. We know we have a weight problem but we have a love/hate relationship with our food. We love to eat, we hate to give up anything. But, maybe that approach just needs to be reworked.
Cutting portions is a good idea, but don’t sacrifice flavor. After all, flavor is where the real satisfaction comes from, and the 25th bite doesn’t taste any better than the first, the fifth, or the tenth. Even if we changed none of our favorite recipes, but just ate smaller portions, it would result in significant calorie reduction.
How significant? Consider this: the average dinner plate in an American home measures a foot across! Twelve inches! In Europe, the average dinner plate only measures nine inches across. Europe doesn’t have the weight problem that we do. Portion size is one reason why. If we made the switch from 12-inch plates to nine-inch plates, and filled them accordingly, it would result in an automatic 25 percent calorie reduction.
Small Plates, Big Flavors
If we make the decision to “go small” on plates, then we want to “go big” on flavor. We’re not eating as much, but what we are eating needs to be memorable and satisfying. Food, at its barest essence, is just fuel for our bodies, but we’ve made it more than that; a source of enjoyment that is very much part of our identity, culture, and social fabric. We want our food to taste good. For that reason, we don’t want to skimp on ingredients. We want to buy and cook with quality. Remember, we’re going for small plates, big flavors. We’re eating smaller portions. When it comes to quantity, we don’t have to cook as much, and that means without spending any more, we can afford to buy higher quality ingredients to go into our dishes. Remember that at the grocery store.
One problem we all have is a lack of time. Life is busy and hectic, and that can make it tough sticking to resolutions, especially when it comes to cooking. But this recipe is as easy as boiling water, and packs a healthy flavor punch courtesy of garlic, lemon and Pecorino Romano cheese. And, get this, it takes about 15 minutes to make.
Spaghetti with Garlic and Lemon
½ pound spaghetti
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh basil, rough cut
salt & pepper
Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. Heat the olive oil over medium in a skillet. Cook the garlic until soft. Remove skillet from heat and add the lemon juice and basil. Stir well. Drain the pasta and toss it in the skillet with the oil/garlic/basil/lemon mixture. Sprinkle in the cheese and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. This recipe will yield four main course servings, or six side dish servings.
Trying to work more fish and seafood into our meal plans is a good thing. Fish and seafood are full of flavor, easy to prepare, and relatively low in calories. Here’s a simple preparation that incorporates the flavors of Asia.
1 pound white, firm fleshed fish filets such as walleye, yellow perch, flounder, cod, or tilapia
1 cup soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cooking oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with the cooking oil. In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the garlic and green onion. Place fish in baking dish and pour soy sauce mixture over filets. Bake fish for 10 minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the filets and bake for 10 minutes longer, until the fish is opaque. This recipe will yield four main course servings.
Here is a tasty side dish (that would work really well with the Sesame Fish!), or if you just add a bit of chicken, shrimp, turkey, or beef, it would easily turn into a great main course.
Cashew Coconut Rice
1 cup uncooked rice
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon coconut, shredded
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Cook rice, fluff with a fork, and reserve. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cashews and cook until browned, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until soft. Remove from heat and add the coconut and soy sauce. Incorporate well. Toss the reserved
rice with the cashew mixture. This recipe will yield about four side dish servings.
Sometimes you want a burger. There’s just something soulful about that slab of ground meat between two bun halves. Of course, in the spirit of “small plates, big flavors” we’re going to make the recipe fit the plate, and the solution is sliders. While most of us are used to eating them by the sack full, two should be enough to satisfy that burger craving.
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground turkey
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup low fat beef, turkey, or chicken broth
¼ cup onion, minced
1 tablespoon honey
8 slider buns
Turn on your oven’s broiler. Combine beef, turkey, bread crumbs, broth, onion and honey. Form meat mixture into eight patties. Cook patties under broiler, about four minutes a side. Serve on slider buns with your favorite condiments. This recipe should yield eight sliders.
Need an easy-to-make side to go with those sliders? We have you covered. Try these tasty oven fries. Even better, they only have about 130 calories per serving.
Sweet Potato Oven Fries
2 sweet potatoes cut into half inch wide strips
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 can cooking spray
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet and bake them for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the dried rosemary on the potatoes and return them to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are browned and crispy. This recipe should yield about four servings.
Who doesn’t want something sweet in their life? Fresh fruit should do the trick. This recipe is easy and practically makes itself.
Fresh Berry & Basil Compote
1 pint strawberries, stemmed and halved
½ pint blueberries
½ pint raspberries
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped into strips
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. Dish out in half-cup servings.
Next week: Don’t count calories - make your calories count!