Last summer, I read a story on golf pro Karen Stupples in the Prevention magazine on how she took off pounds that had accumulated over the years, and I thought of this as I started writing this column.
The golfer who started playing professionally at age 25 found that the profession did not provide enough exercise to keep the pounds off, especially when grabbing fast food on the run.
She found that "small tweaks" brought big results in losing weight, and that is what I want to do starting today.
YOU CAN DO IT — This is the first day of a new year. It is easier to make a resolution to drop pounds or inches by learning to eat healthy, enjoying what you eat and being leery of large portions, unless it is low-calorie veggies. Happy New Year. -- Esther McCoy
Stupples swapped walnuts and nut-type protein bars for doughnuts and other sweets, ate brown rice for extra energy and went to Twitter to tell about her progress and frustration. It worked. She lost 45 pounds and improved her golf game.
Greens are a staple of lower-calorie eating, but I am told that leaving salad greens in store-bought plastic bags helps them to loose nutrients, flavor and crispness. Prevention magazine advises to prep greens so they'll stay fresh and keep their vitamins longer.
Pull the leaves apart and soak them in very cold water for 10 minutes. This lowers their temperature and will keep them fresh longer, according to the story on doubling antioxidants in a salad. Dry the greens with a towel or a salad spinner because moisture left on the surface makes them spoil more rapidly.
Tearing lettuce leaves before storing them doubles antioxidants as plants respond to insults by producing phytonutrients to fend off predators such as insects and animals, according to the magazine. When humans eat torn greens, they benefit from the added antioxidant protection, only eat them soon because tearing the leaves also can hasten their decay.
Put greens in a plastic bag, squeezing out as much air as possible without crushing the leaves, seal and use a pin to poke between 10 and 20 evenly spaced holes in the bag. Make it 10 pin holes for quart bags and 20 for larger ones.
Put the bag in the crisper drawer, and the holes will provide the humidity level inside the bag and enable the beneficial exchange of gases.
Learn to take a timeout when stressed, rather than reaching for a peanut butter cookie. Do this simple technique, suggests Prevention magazine in a story about "Setting Yourself Up For Joy." Inhale for a count of five. Hold for a count of five. Exhale for five. Hold for five and repeat seven times.
A way to get exercise while doing a needed task at the same time is to shovel the driveway for 40 minutes, if the drive is that long. It will burn 300 calories. If using a snow blower, it will be 125 calories. When returning gifts, park at the farthest end of the mall. Walking to the store and back will burn 75 calories.
Gradually start walking at least three times a week, working up to 30 to 45 minutes with each trek outside. It can be walking the dog, where both get good exercise; taking in the beautiful sights of a new snowfall; or to visit a neighbor.
Okay, now some groundwork has been established, so let's try some recipes that are made lower in calories but high in taste.
This recipe is from Prevention magazine and is for a barbecued chicken breast with a zesty sauce. The grill can still be used throughout the winter - just wipe off the snow and get it fired up.
Smokin' Barbecued Chicken Breasts
6 boneless chicken breasts with skin, 6 ounces each
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup ketchup, sugar free, if desired
1 cup brewed black coffee
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon canned chipolte in adobo, optional
Cook onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce in separate bowl for basting. Prepare lightly oiled grill for medium heat. Grill until cooked through, internal temperature 165 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes, turning occasionally. Baste generously with reserved sauce during last 10 minutes of cooking. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve chicken with remaining sauce for dipping. This is about 275 calories for one serving, 300 with 2 tablespoons extra sauce.
Technically, the holiday season is still in progress. Which way does the 12 Days of Christmas go anyhow, 12 before or 12 after? Here are some finger foods that are healthy because they feature veggies.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
24 grape tomatoes
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pesto
12 toasted baguette slices
Small slices of mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange grape or small cherry tomatoes on small baking sheet coated with olive oil spray. Spray tops and season with salt and pepper. Roast, shaking pan occasionally until tomatoes are just wilted, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto evenly over tops of 12 toasted baguette slices and place small slices of mozzarella over toast. Top with roasted tomatoes, spooning some of the juices remaining in pan over top. Garnish with two small fresh basil leaves, if desired, and season with freshly ground black pepper. This is under 50 calories per baguette slice.
This is a hummus-type dip, with Greek-style yogurt and other seasonings. It is from Prevention magazine.
Spiced Chickpea-Yogurt Dip
15-ounce can chickpeas
6 tablespoons 2 percent plain Greek-style yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Moroccan seasoning
Salt and pepper
Rinse and drain chickpeas. Add to food processor with yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic and Moroccan seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes 1 1/2 cups. Serve with pita chips, raw vegetables or crisp crackers.
How about some steaming-hot chowder after shoveling snow or walking in the frosty air? Healthy Exchange Newsletter has a recipe that is 286 calories per cup serving.
10 3/4-ounce can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
12-ounce can evaporated fat-free milk
8 ounces reduced-fat frankfurters, thinly sliced
8 ounce can whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can sliced potatoes, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
In medium saucepan, combine mushroom soup and evaporated milk. Stir in frankfurters, corn and potatoes. Add mustard, Cheddar cheese and parsley flakes. Mix well to combine. Cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is heated through and cheese is melted, stirring often.
This is a frozen broccoli and cream-style corn bake that is 142 calories for each serving. This is from the Healthy Exchanges Newsletter.
Iowa Broccoli Bake
15-ounce can cream-style corn
1 egg or equivalent in egg substitute
1/4 cup fat-free half and half
2 1/2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons real bacon bits
4 slices reduced-calorie white bread, toasted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine corn, egg and half and half. Stir in broccoli and onion. Add bacon bits and toast pieces. Mix well to combine. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Place baking dish on a wire rack and let set for 5 minutes. Divide into six servings.
There are some members of the newsroom staff who are avid Mount Dew drinkers. Maybe this low-fat and low-calorie dessert would be to their liking. It is from the Healthy Exchanges Newsletter.
Lemon Supreme Cheesecake
Two 8-ounce tubs fat-free cream cheese
4-serving package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups diet Mountain Dew
1 cup lite whipped topping, thawed
6-ounce graham cracker pie crust (There are low-fat ones.)
4-serving package sugar-free vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix
4-serving package sugar-free lemon gelatin
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs, optional
In a large bowl, stir cream cheese with a sturdy spoon until soft. Add dry instant pudding mix, dry milk powder and 1 cup diet Mountain Dew. Mix well using a wire whisk. Blend in 1/4 cup whipped topping. Spread evenly into pie crust. Refrigerate. In a medium saucepan, combine dry cook-and-serve pudding mix, dry gelatin and remaining 1 cup Mountain Dew. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Place saucepan on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread lemon mixture evenly over set filling. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Spread on remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, optional, or 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes. Cut into eight servings. This is 227 calories per serving.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)