Well, I was busy doing my thing this Sunday and suddenly realized it was lunch time and I was famished. Thoughts of Cheezits ran through my head..my dark self whispered it would be much easier and faster to just grab the box and munch, “after all we’re soooo hungry, just do it”. Then I remembered I had leftovers in the fridge…These leftovers were not a run of the mill soggy casserole that no one wanted to finish, but a fresh salad together with rice and beans. It took only a minute to have a nice bowl of half salad, half rice, beans, hot sauce, cilantro and onions. Whew! I was SAVED. Now sitting here thoroughly satisfied I had to reflect a little on this intervention. If I hadn’t had what I really loved in that fridge and it wasn’t waiting for me I would have been a goner. In diet books I always read that we should keep something ready in the fridge for such times and I think trying to be virtuous we dutifully peel carrots and scrape celery and put them in bags stocking up our Frigidaire with what we think we should eat. It occurs to me that this is a nice idea but if you can’t get excited about veggie sticks then that isn’t going to help you when the hunger pangs hit. Also just having leftovers available really isn’t going to cut it either if you weren’t crazy about the meal the first time around. I am frugal but it finally dawned on me a few years ago what leftovers were going to “sell” in the family and which were going to sit around until they changed their molecular structure and had to be discarded with nose held. Now, the only leftovers that end up on the shelf are the ones we really love. Mexican food is big for us so anything of that nationality gets boxed or bagged. I try and make extra of whatever we love when I am cooking for the purpose of tasty meals later on. Whole wheat pasta, even plain, in a plastic dish has many fast lunch possibilities as long as Olive Oil and Parmesan cheese are around the house. Rice, ditto. Whenever I make salad I make a huge bowlful and then it is ready for a side dish or a meal with cottage cheese, nuts, whole wheat toast or even a slice of cheese. These leftovers can obviously come in handy for a quick dinner too! The point is: have what you really love that is healthy (not what you think you should love) sitting around, prepared in a way that is ready for fast consumption and then just watch the portions (that’s why a side salad helps). You can have a healthy lunch that you can really enjoy and still feel virtuous.
Strawberry Mango Smoothie
1 Cup of strawberries
½ C Mango
1 small or a half banana
Vanilla yogurt or soymilk or just water for low calorie
1 tsp Vanilla extract or more
Well, I have lost another couple pounds and am now the lowest weight I’ve been in years. All the time I wonder if I can keep it up or will it creep back up again? Especially with the holidays coming up. That will be a challenge. I just read an article (can’t remember where!) that said that eating at the same time every day and similar meals for breakfast and lunch helps to keep weight gain in check. I began to do the breakfast and lunch thing more out of convenience and the fact that I don’t like to spend a lot of time on those meals while I am working. Breakfast has always bored me and since I am mostly vegetarian there are not a lot of fast, easy options for lunch without making a study of it. I fell into a routine. Every week day I have 2/3 of a cup of my granola (recipe below) for breakfast, and for lunch a half a peanut butter sandwich (open faced) on whole wheat or whole grain bread and some kind of fruit. My favorite fruit is a combination fruit low cal smoothie (recipe later). On the weekends I eat whatever I want including pancakes for breakfast and leftovers for lunch. I just try and watch the calorie count. The grains in my granola hold me until lunch and the peanut butter is very filling. Peanut butter is not low calorie yet the trade-off is in the hunger department. 2 Tablespoons is 190 calories but you don’t need more than that to feel pretty full. I don’t really get tired of it, it always tastes good and when I change the fruit it is a nice lunch. This has really worked for me. I think the key is to find something you like (if peanut butter is not your thing) that has:
a) reasonable caloric content
b) fairly healthy
c) filling (whole grains really help in departments b and c)
Enjoy it 5 days a week. During hectic weekdays you’ll always know how many calories you are eating and that it will keep you satisfied until dinner time. That’s nice to know.
On my quest for a lower calorie, whole food diet everything I eat these days has become an experiment. For example, I see how little dressing I can put on my salad and still feel fine about it. Some days I’m okay with a sprinkling and other “what the heck” days I pour it out. Here is something I started doing that helps me on those latter days. If you don’t like vinegar, it may not work for you.
I make the “Good Seasons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing” adding Balsamic Vinegar instead of white AND I reverse the oil and vinegar amounts. Of course oil is the fattening part of the dressing. It ends up being 1/4 Cup of Oil to a 1/2 Cup of Balsamic. I’ve tried those low cal store-bought dressings and they are awful. I am sorry but salad dressing needs some oil to be good. Today was a good day because my vegetables were so fresh I didn’t need a lot of dressing. No one is going to be satisfied with a salad for lunch is the veggies are less than tasty and sweet. It’s one of the reasons I grow a garden. I am lucky that I have the place and time (barely) to do it. Still, I don’t have that kind of culinary perfection all year. So what to do in the dead of winter? Surprisingly (maybe not), organic vegetables in the supermarket come really close to having that garden fresh taste. Especially carrots, once you tried organic you’ll never go back. If we have to eat more veggies it’s essential that they be freshest we can find because the flavor will encourage us to go back for more and we won’t need a gallon of dressing to cover it up.