Sunday, April 28, 2013

Salad Bar Offers Healthy Entertaining

Pat G shared a wonderful dinner idea for entertaining a wide range of ages. "The goal was to make it fun and attractive for grand kids and adults who are focusing on healthy food choices by offering a long line of bowls that ran the length of our 9-ft kitchen island."

Pat arranged 20 salad items that presented a rainbow of color with a spread of "greens, grilled chicken, low sodium ham, white kidney beans, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, sweet red pepper, tomatoes, chopped egg, whole wheat croutons, walnuts, raisins, olives, beets, cheese and more."  A homemade balsamic/olive oil herb dressing topped things off. 

It sounded like Pat's salad was a big hit. "I enjoyed watching people taking in the sight and hearing enthusiastic comments as they created their dinners."

Though preparing all the ingredients ahead of time took some time, it was certainly worth her effort. And the bonus: having a refrigerator full of healthy leftovers to create quick meals the rest of the week!

Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea for healthy entertaining, Pat!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

If You Give Yourself a Cookie...

I've always loved to bake cookies. The trouble was, I had major problems staying out of the dough. As I cranked on the kitchen-aid mixer, I'd start by taking a little taste of the butter and sugar after mixing those together. Another little taste after adding the vanilla. Then, after the dry ingredients. And again after the chocolate chips and walnuts. I'm pretty sure the tasting was a written part of the recipe. I did notice that recipes that were supposed to make 4 dozen never did. I wonder why?

Twenty years ago, I began the process of losing more than fifty pounds. It wasn't easy with three active, thin kids at home who loved those cookies. I decided the time had come to learn to bake without tasting...

The first step was to find a way to minimize contact with the dough. I'd start by popping a couple sticks of minty gum in my mouth to keep that busy. Then, I'd fill the sink with hot soapy water. 

As I started mixing ingredients, I'd immediately throw any spoons or spatulas that touched the dough into the soapy water. I found this trick really cut down the temptation to taste. I couldn't go back and lick those spoons after it hit those soap suds.

I'd always made cookies by breaking little bits of dough off and rolling a perfect little ball. My hands ended up with a light coating of dough that tasted extremely good. So, I invested in a cookie scoop. What a revelation when I discovered I could form 48 perfect little cookies of the exact same size without touching the dough at all!

The biggest adjustment was to decide that I was going to sit down at the table and eat two of the best looking cookies myself. You see, I'd always eaten only broken or those less than perfect. It was quite a mental adjustment to decide I deserved to enjoy the best.

And I never ate the cookies alone. Like the photo at the top, I'd drink a glass of milk, eat an apple, or something else loaded with nutrients in order to balance out the sugary cookies and to fill me up. That really made a difference to my success.
And it gave birth to my motto...

If You Give Yourself A Cookie, Don't Forget the Milk

Sunday, April 14, 2013

If You Are What You Eat...

 Shopping Success
On most Saturday mornings, my husband and I pack up the re-usable bags, and we head to the grocery store. We're a pretty good team as we go through our paces up and down each aisle stocking up for the week. At 6'2", he's extremely good at the high shelves and reaching waay back inside the cooler to grab the last few cartons of the yogurt. And we try to really focus on healthy shopping: whole grains, healthy fats, low fat dairy, lots of fruits and veggies, dark chocolate. But, o this week's trip, I did some observing...

Half way down one aisle a mother and her 3 girls clogged the aisle as the selected what they wanted. As I watched, each girl carried 3 boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes and dumped them into the cart. My jaw dropped as the mom sent them back for another load. I couldn't help myself. I peeked into their cart. It was overloaded with chips, cookies, gallons of fruit drink, and Pepsi. And none looked strong, healthy or fit. It made me sad.

Two aisles later, it hit me again. That heavy, sinking feeling of sadness. One very obese man sat in his mobile cart shouted out orders to his heavy female companion. She struggled to get out of her mobile unit to stagger toward the Lays. Grabbing 4 big yellow bags, she placed them in the basket as she sat back down. Sadness.

I don't judge people by their body size. Hey, I was obese 20 years ago. The body isn't the soul. I simply feel for the mom and her kids, and that older couple. The food they chose food provides anything but nutrients to build healthy, strong bodies.

Is there a direct correlation between the food in our homes and what we eat? If you bring home foods you can't stop eating and aren't good, healthy choices, how well do you do with your weight loss plans? If you're out of fruits and vegetables, what do you eat?

And I wonder...If you are what you eat and you eat what you buy, does that make you a little Debbie Swiss Roll?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Healthy Market Gem

Walking into the small local grocery store in San Francisco, I expected crowded, narrow aisles and high prices. After all, it is a nice, quaint, older area. What I didn't expect was beautiful displays of incredibly fresh, healthy foods at Andronico's Market

I felt spell bound looking at the rainbow of fresh colors so artistically displayed in the produce section that it could have been in an art museum. It was amazing to 
me that such a large area of this tiny market was devoted to fruits and veggies. I whipped out my phone and started snapping photos as we wandered around the store. (While I did this, my husband wanted to wager how quickly the store manager would ask me to leave.)

The huge array of so many different types of fresh, wild caught fish on display put our stores in the mid-west to shame. Of course, you'd hope that more fresh fish would be much more readily available near all the coastal towns across the country. 

Even their expansive olive bar was beautifully displayed; encouraging a Mediterranean diet.

A store emphasizing fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and olives. A store where snack foods don't pop up everywhere you look to encourage unhealthy impulse buys. This store is certainly not the norm.

In memory of Roger Ebert, I give Andronico's Market two thumbs up for nutrition and wellness.