My fridge and pantry have been purged of all the rich holiday foods. Mountains of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins have taken their place. Sparkling water bubbles tantilizingly in my wine glass, adorned with an attractive lime twist because it's January and Extreme Healthful Eating has begun.
After seven or eight weeks of frivilous feasting, it is refreshing to eat food that you know is beneficial to you. I need a break from the hors d'oeuvres preceding dinner and the dessert following. Those should be once-in-awhile foods - not everyday fare.
Whether or not you are intent on losing weight, it is rejuvenating to slow down and contemplate what you need in your body rather than what looks tantalizing on the buffet table. Most Americans are focused on losing weight at this time of year: Losing weight is the number one New Year's resolution, year after year after year …
Keeping your resolve to eat well and exercise regularly is hard work - even if those were your habits before the holidays hit. A girlfriend was lamenting that she had been working hard at the gym and eating carefully, but was seeing little change on the scale. 'Why can't the weight just drop off?' she wondered.
Remember that the weight didn't creep on overnight and it will take time to come off. A wise person shared a great illustration of how much weight you could lose if you lost just one pound a week. If you started at New Year's, by Valentine's Day you would be eight pounds lighter, by St. Patrick's Day 12 pounds lighter. The Fourth of July would see you about 27 pounds lighter, and by Christmas you would be 52 pounds lighter!
The weight loss process may be slow and, at times, frustrating, but consistent efforts are always rewarded. Keep with your program and in time you will achieve the results you want for a stronger, healthier, slimmer body.
There are literally hundreds of approaches to weight loss. Some will promise you the moon, but alas, there is no miracle diet. The best programs tell you in plain and simple terms that in order to lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more. No hocus-pocus, no instant results. Just be realistic and get on task.
Bob Greene, trainer to Oprah Winfrey, has a new weight loss book that you might find interesting. You can learn about his program on the Web site www.bobgreene.com.
It's hard to beat the ol' tried and true Weight Watchers Organization for successful weight loss. Check their web site at www.weightwatchers.org for details.
Discovery Channel has issued a National Body Challenge for 2007. It incorporates fitness, nutrition and weight loss. It is free and begins Jan. 15. You can learn about it at www.discovery.com/nationalbodychallenge2007.
Recipes from the above-mentioned weight loss programs are included today. Try all three - you never know what will inspire you!
Bon Appetit - Eat Locally!
Orange Beef Stir-Fry Favorites
POINTS Value: 7
Preparation Time: 22 min
Cooking Time: 8 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serve this beef and veggie stir-fry with steamed brown rice for a complete meal.
1 1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth, reduced-sodium
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp McNeil Nutritionals Splenda No Calorie Sweetener
1/2 tsp orange extract, optional
1 spray cooking spray
2 Tbsp orange zest, freshly grated, or 1/4 cup fresh julienned orange peel
1/4 cup ginger root, fresh, peeled, julienned
2 medium garlic clove(s), slivered
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
1 pound lean sirloin beef, boneless, trimmed, sliced against grain into 1/8-inch-thick strips
4 cup sugar snap peas
1 Tbsp arrowroot powder, dissolved in 1 Tbsp of water
Whisk broth, soy sauce, Splenda and orange extract together in a small bowl; set aside.
Coat a large nonstick wok (or skillet) with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add orange peel, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until softened and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir-fry 20 seconds.
Add beef; stir-fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and continue stir-frying until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
Pour in broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover wok (or skillet) and cook 1 minute more.
Stir in arrowroot mixture; cook just until thickened, less than 10 seconds. The moment sauce thickens, remove pan from heat and serve at once. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.
To 'julienne' means to cut into thin matchsticks. To julienne orange peel, press the peeled rind sections as flat as you can on a cutting board and slice them into long matchsticks. To julienne fresh ginger, cut the peeled stalk into thin, even slices and then cut each of these into matchsticks.
If you like your food spicy, add 1 teaspoon of Chinese red chili paste to the recipe before serving.
From Bob Greene's 'The Best Life Diet'
Strawberry-Peach Chicken Salad
This recipe serves 4
Strawberry Yogurt Dres-sing
Two 6-ounce containers Yoplait Original Strawberry yogurt
1 cup slice fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 cups bibb lettuce leaves or mixed salad greens
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into strips.
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 medium peach, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 medium green onions, sliced
Place the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend on high speed for about 15 seconds or until smooth.
Arrange the salad ingredients on four serving plates.
Drizzle with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate any remaining dressing.
Per serving, about: Calories, 274; protein: 30 g.; carbohydrates: 28 g; dietary fiber: 3 g.: total fat: 5 g.; saturated fat: 2 g.: cholesterol: 74 mg.; calcium: 211 mg; sodium 114 mg.
Discovery Channel's National Health Challenge:
This recipe serves 6
Preparation time : 20 minutes
Cooking time : 1 hour 45 minutes
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 medium size pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
about 1 quart Basic Chicken Stock (see recipe), or low-sodium canned
2 tablespoons Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (see recipe), optional
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Pierce the pumpkin several times and cook in the microwave on high power for 3 to 5 minutes until the shell softens. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and reserve them for making the Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. Place the pumpkin halves cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Let cool. Reserve the juice on the baking sheet.
3. Scoop the pulp out of the pumpkin skin with a spoon and set aside.
4. Heat the peanut oil in a deep saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the pumpkin pulp and the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
6. Reduce the heat and simmer until the onion and celery are completely tender, about 15 minutes.
7. After removing the bay leaf, puree the mixture in a blender, in batches, being careful not to overfill the blender.
8. Reheat the bisque. Add stock if it is too thick.
9. Serve hot, sprinkled with the Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.
Serving sze about 1/2 cup
Amount per serving
Total fat 4 g
Saturated fat 1 g
Protein 4 g
Total carbohydrate 19 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Sodium 628 mg
Percent calories from fat, 30 percent
Percent calories from protein, 11 percent
Percent calories from carbohydrat, 58 percnt.
Substitute canned pumpkin puree if you would prefer to not deal with fresh pumpkins.
Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at bran