The most popular New Year’s Resolution is — you guessed it — losing weight. Those extra yummies over the holidays have translated into extra pounds and your favorite jeans are just too tight in the waist. The lines at the local Weight Watchers are long, and fitness centers are packed with “newbies.”
It’s hard to lose weight, and I am a veteran dieter. You don’t need an expensive piece of gym equipment to begin to lose weight, but you do need to get moving. Daily workouts, or adding steps/activity will contribute towards increasing your calorie burn, but drastic starvation diets are not a healthy choice for a long-term solution. Just trimming daily calories, eating healthy meals and in-between meal snacks, watching your portion sizes, and eliminating sugary drinks and processed sugars go a long way towards tipping the scale in the other direction.
Skinned boneless chicken breast can be grilled with a sprinkle of fresh seasonings (I use Montreal Steak Seasoning). I also top fresh-baked fish filets with a slather of finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green peppers, a bit of fresh chopped jalapeno pepper, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Fresh is always best for flavor. Learn to shop for the intense dark colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, as the darker greens (fresh spinach and dark leafy greens), tend to have the most nutrients. Plus, cooking your own food, with fresh ingredients, is a key to keeping the pounds off once you begin a weight-loss journey.
The homemade hummus is much healthier than diving into the sour cream and onion dips and chips during football parties.
I have many lower-calorie recipes, but these are my favorites. I also brew my own green tea and decaffeinated tea and keep it in a pitcher in the refrigerator for a quick, refreshing no-calorie alternative to water.
Low-Calorie Tuna Salad
5 oz. can white tuna
1 1/2 Tbsp. diet Hellmann’s
1 Tbsp. Mt. Olive no-sugar relish
1/4 oz. (scant Tbsp.) minced white onion
1/2 oz. minced celery (about 2” of stalk)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 leaf lettuce
Combine first 6 ingredients and serve on a lettuce leaf, and this recipe is better made at least a day ahead. Makes one serving (approximately 160 calories).
Sylvia’s Three Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
2 large red bell peppers
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 (28-oz.) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place pepper halves in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and chop peppers. The peels will usually slip right off after this step. (If you are short on time, buy a jar of roasted peppers and rinse them well and chop up for this step.)
Using a large nonstick pot over medium-low heat, add oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add onion and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the beans and green onions, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and simmer 20 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Serve sprinkled with green onions. This soup is even better chilled and served the next day.
Kipp’s Homemade Hummus
15-oz. can garbanzo beans, keep juice
1/4 cup tahini paste
3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Drain garbanzo beans, reserve juice. Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth, adding 1/4 cup of the reserved juice as it blends. Add more if needed to get to desired thickness. Serve with sliced fresh vegetables or pita wedges. (Editor’s note: Tahini paste is difficult to find in some grocery stores. It is sesame seed paste.)
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