Restaurants have come a long way in offering healthier options, but dining out when you are trying to lose weight can still be challenging. Sometimes the problem isn't a lack of healthy options but the temptation to stray from your plan due to the environment and your peers.
Do your research.
You know how it goes when you dine out with others. People arrive and the conversations begin, leaving you little time to closely review the menu. The need to make a quick choice puts you at risk for ordering an unhealthy option, especially if others at the table are doing so. Most restaurant menus can now be found online, so take the time to research before you sit down at the table. Have an idea of 3 or 4 healthy options before you arrive. Then, if you are put in a position to make a quick decision, you can make a smart choice.
Don’t skip the appetizer.
A major goal while dining out should be to avoid eating excess food, but that doesn’t mean you should skip a course to do it. If you show up hungry and everyone else orders an appetizer, you will have to sit and wait while they begin eating. You will likely be offered a bite, and there is a good chance it won’t be a healthy choice. Satisfy your hunger and resist giving in to unhealthy choices by ordering a nutritious option like a house salad or a cup of broth-based soup. You will feel less deprived and in better control of your food choices for the entire meal.
Read the menu description.
Some menu options look healthy at first glance until you read the full description. Buzzwords, like vegetarian, gluten-free, or light, don’t automatically mean a food is more nutritious or lower in calories. Instead, look for healthy keywords like broiled, baked, and steamed. Keep an eye out for heavy sauces and excess dressing. Ask how foods are prepared. Don’t be afraid to request less butter or ask for sauces on the side. Many times, chefs are willing to accommodate. Servers can also make suggestions that fit your dietary needs better.
Much like ordering an appetizer, it can be difficult to watch everyone else eat a dessert. If you’ve saved a few calories to enjoy something sweet, split a dessert with a friend and eat a few bites, just until your sweet tooth is satisfied. If you want to steer clear of dessert altogether, turn to the drink section. A decaf espresso or hot tea will allow you to have something to enjoy so that you don’t feel completely left out of the final course.
Potatoes aren’t the only option when you want a mashed side dish for your meal. Mashed beans pair well with a main course like grilled fish or chicken, and they provide extra protein and fiber. These mashed white beans are flavored with fresh herbs and smoked paprika.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans low-sodium white beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
¼ tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
Warm the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook for 1 more minute.
Pour in the vegetable stock and let simmer for 3 minutes, stirring the beans occasionally.
Remove the beans from the heat and add the chives, rosemary, lemon zest, smoked paprika, and salt. Use a potato masher to mash and stir the beans until almost smooth, but still slightly chunky.
Return to low heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until the mash thickens and is heated through. Serve warm.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 132; Total Fat 1.1 g; Saturated Fat 0.2 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 211 mg; Carbohydrate 23.4 g; Fiber 7.2 g; Sugar 0.5 g; Protein 8.3 g
Health experts recommend that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Adults should aim for at least 35 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily for weight loss. This need for regular exercise provides an opportunity for families to be active together. Instead of simply exercising alone, make exercise a priority and create a family activity calendar.
Make it big and bold.
Create your calendar on a dry erase board or poster board, and place it in a prominent place in the house. For each day, list the activity you will do as a family. Making the calendar visible to everyone will help the family make exercise a top priority.
Allow everyone to choose activities.
Give everyone in the family a chance to add his or her favorite activities to the calendar. When everyone is invested in the process, the willingness to participate increases. Every month, encourage each family member to come up with at least one new activity they want to try together. The more variety there is, the more excitement there will be about being active as a family.
Think outside the box.
Your active time does not have to be reserved for structured exercise like walks or bike rides. Dance competitions, scavenger hunts, and backyard circuit workouts will get your heart rate up, and you’ll be surprised how quickly an hour will fly by. Take advantage of local trails with a nature hike, sign up to walk or run a 5K as a family, or create games for the pool. Grab the soccer ball or basketball and head to the park for a family game. The goal is to make exercise fun for everyone.
Sticking to an activity schedule is an accomplishment that should be celebrated and rewarded. An afternoon movie, a healthy cooking class for kids, new books, puzzles, educational games, and new sports gear are all rewards that support a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Green smoothies have gained popularity because they help you easily add fruits and vegetables to your diet and they can taste great. They are easy to make, but you need to know a few tips to make the most delicious and nutritious shake possible.
The type of blender can make a difference.
There are many blenders on the market and most smoothie recipes are tailored for high-powered, professional-style blenders that have multiple blades. These blenders finely chop greens and pulverise fruits like berries and bananas for a super smooth shake. If you plan to make smoothies often, these blenders can be worth the investment. Some also come with single-serve cups that make it easy to take your drink on the go. These blenders aren’t a requirement for smoothie-making, but without one, you may need to blend longer and stir the ingredients often to get the right consistency.
Beware of bitterness.
Greens add a slight bitterness to smoothies that is pleasant when paired with naturally sweet ingredients. But too many vegetables might make your smoothie unappetizing. If you try a green smoothie and dislike it, don’t swear them off for good. Experiment with the recipe and try adding fewer greens or more fruit until you get a flavor you enjoy.
Use what you like, then experiment with ingredients.
If you don’t enjoy eating a specific vegetable, you may not magically like it once it’s added to a smoothie. The sweetness from other ingredients can help, but it’s best to start with a small amount of greens you enjoy. Try a mild flavored green like spinach. Once you find a combination you like, then start experimenting. Kale, chard, or a small amount of mustard greens or parsley can all be delicious when you strike the right balance and don’t overdo it.
Get the right consistency.
Everyone has preferences when it comes to smoothies. Some want it completely pureed, and others don’t mind tiny pieces of greens or seeds from berries. Start with about 1 cup of greens and 1 cup of liquid. Leafy greens work best in smoothies because they are tender enough to puree. The liquid can be all milk (such as dairy, nut milk, or coconut milk), 100 percent juice, water, or a combination of the three. Begin by blending the liquid and greens together until the greens are pureed. You can then blend in bananas, pineapple, additional greens, herbs, or protein powders.
Try frozen ingredients instead of ice.
Ice can thicken and chill your smoothie, but it can also reduce the creaminess and leave it watery. Freeze fruits ahead of time. Frozen bananas, pineapple, or mango create a thick and creamy smoothie and eliminate the need for ice.
Add some protein.
Leafy greens and unsweetened fruits will provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but if you want your smoothie to be nutritionally balanced and keep you feeling full, add some protein. Milk, yogurt, nut flours, bean flours, seeds, and nut butters are all ways you can increase the protein of your green smoothie.
Soba is a Japanese buckwheat pasta that is lower in calories and contains fewer carbohydrates than most white pastas. In this recipe, it’s paired with nutritious stir-fried broccoli and peas.
Yield: 2 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
¼ cup raw cashews
½ tbsp olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 ½ cups small broccoli florets
¼ cup water
¼ cup fresh peas
½ tbsp low sodium soy sauce
½ tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
2 cups cooked soba noodles
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high and add the raw cashews. Toss the cashews around the pan for about 3 minutes, until they begin to brown. Transfer the cashews to a bowl and remove the skillet from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the olive oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and continue to cook for 6 minutes, until it turns bright green and starts to become tender.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the water. The water and steam will cook the broccoli further. Continue to stir and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. Sprinkle the vegetables with black sesame seeds and the reserved cashews.
Divide the soba noodles between two serving bowls. Top each with half of the vegetables and serve.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 320; Total Fat 11.4 g; Saturated Fat 2.1 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 318 mg; Carbohydrate 45 g; Fiber 6.6 g; Sugar 6.4 g; Protein 14.4 g