Tag Archives: what to eat

Small change #14: Buy and/or make a new food

Do your best old lady voice: What’s all this I’m hearing about kale?  What is this here Quinoa (KEEN-wah)?  How do you make an eggplant anyway?  

Buy a little kale, quinoa, or some other food you haven’t yet experienced.  Look online for a recipe or instructions on how to make it and give it a try as a side dish with dinner.  You might discover something you couldn’t believe!  You’ll also round out your diet with balanced, healthy foods.

I was asked recently by a lady in her 60s how to cook fresh broccoli as I was adding some to a bag.  I was so happy she asked! (You can boil broccoli for 2-3 minutes, but I prefer to make a shallow pool of water in a wide skillet, put the lid half on and let it steam for a few minutes.  Add a little grated parmesan over the top, and/or add a tiny bit of butter to the pool of water for serious yum.)

A couple of years ago a kid from my daughter’s school was visiting and wondered if she could taste vanilla soy milk.  She loved it, and I was moved by her enthusiastic response: “I could have gone MY WHOLE LIFE and not had this!”  Tasting one new food made her realize the importance of new experiences.  And she was all of 9 years old at the time.


Small change #11 Split dessert the selfish way

When we dine out and the server delivers dessert in the form of 1/4 of a pie, we have a tendency to abdicate responsibility for our ability to finish whatever is put in front of us (“I didn’t put that on the plate, I’m just the lucky recipient!”).   In fact, this is part of the reason many people enjoy dining in restaurants.

It’s probably a good idea to split dessert.  The caveat: Never share a plate. That thing where they deliver the enormous slab of cake and 4 forks inevitably leads to an eating contest to get the delicate sliver at the tip, then the icing off the back…you get the picture.

Ask for your own plate, or to have the thing pre-split.  Tell the server you aren’t good at sharing.  They always seem to believe me when I say it..

If your partner eats like a raptor and goes after yours, you can always stab at him/her a little with your fork, though I don’t recommend this on a first date (unless there won’t be a second date or they seem litigious about being assaulted with a fork).

What?  You are eating with someone on some diet who doesn’t want dessert or is just not really human and doesn’t have a sweet tooth?  Don’t forgo dessert because of them.  Order dessert and ask to have it split, with the other half placed in a to-go container.  Tomorrow there will be more dessert for you! If, while you enjoy your guilt-free serving, you notice sad-doggy looks, they won’t belong to your happy face.

Always leave a good tip for a server who goes the extra mile.  They’ll be thrilled to help you get that torte into a to go container next time.

Small change #6 – learn how to read a food label

Sure you look at these once in a while, but do you understand what you’re looking for?

Take a minute and have a look at this, from the FDA, which is a launch page.  Here is the actual food label guide.

For every 4 g of “sugars” there is the equivalent of 1 tsp of sugar in the product.  If the product contains fruit or dried fruit, some of this total will come from the fruit, but if there is not fruit, it’s likely just from added sugar.

The DV — the % on the label, does NOT tell you the percentage of fat, sodium, etc. in the product.  It tells the percentage of fat it contributes to the overall diet of a person eating 2,000 calories.  I know.  So just learn the 5 and 20 rule: If the % is 5 or less, it’s low in the nutrient — this can be good if it’s fat or sodium or cholesterol — and if it’s over 20% it’s an excellent source.  Most canned soups come in at about 18% DV for sodium — a bit high, right?  The 5/20 rule will help you decide quickly what’s up.

Look at the ingredients.  They are sorted by weight.  If sugar or fat are at the top, don’t eat too much of this product.

Good snacking!

Well, we’re getting to that time of year where food and socializing are abundant, holiday celebrations at your kid’s school and at home abound, and many of us start the downward spiral that is the source of many lofty resolutions for the coming year.snacks

This applies most of all to your children (if you have any lying around). Since our child entered public school this fall, I’ve been made aware of what many parents consider a proper snack for their child (mainly because my child relays this to me in a “why-can’t-I-have-


Chips-Ahoy!-cookies for snack” diatribe). Let me just say that I’m not entirely against such foods on occasion, but they are not snacks; they are indulgences and should be treated that way.

The average child usually consumes between 1,000-1,400 calories a day (to find out what your child should be consuming, head on over to MyPyramid.gov and on the left, click the “For preschoolers” or “For Kids” link.  If you download MyPyramid plan for your kids and can’t read it, try opening it in Word.  Anyway, my point is that if you’re giving a kid a 200 calorie snack and it’s devoid of any meaningful nutrition, it wastes anywhere from 10-20% of their day’s calories.

So it’s good to find snacks that are healthy, fast and well accepted by your kids.  The ones we’ve been able to agree on: applesauce, carrots with dressing, celery with peanut butter, yogurt, grapes, nuts, bananas, cheese (not cheez whiz stuff, but real cheese) and whole grain crackers.  Buying a fancy little spoon for their lunchbox and a $1.79 refreezable ice (see the butterfly in the pic?) keeps everything cool and makes everything look more acceptable to both your child and their inquisitive friends.  I once made our child a pasta salad with chopped vegetables and a tiny bit of salad dressing.  She loved it, but her friends made fun of her (“what is that?” and that was the end of that).

Since we run out the door like lightning every morning, it helps if snacks are packaged and ready to go.  And cheap.  I know that.  For many people, that seems limited to 10-packs of chips or 100-calorie cookie packs.  These are not great snacks — they contain little if any vitamins and minerals, and they also disregard one very important point: children are a captive audience during snack time at school.  This means that they’re hungry, and whatever is packed (unless positively shameful) will be quickly consumed because it’s available.  Thus, it’s a great opportunity to get some veggies, fruits or other healthy snacks down the hatch.  A  4-pack of applesauce is about $2.00-$2.50, 3 packs of carrots and ranch, or celery with peanut butter are $2 at Trader Joe’s, little packs of Stoneyfield yogurt are about $3.50 for 6.  Motts makes a “natural” applesauce (avoid the original; it’s sweetened with high fructose corn syrup — and the natural costs the same – about $2.50 for 6 at Target).  Theoretically you can do healthy snacks for kids at well under $1 a day.  And that’s for high-end, organic good stuff.

As a rule, read the label for sodium and fat and avoid the product if either of those ingredients is listed as 20% or more of the Daily Value (that’s those percentages on the right).  That’s about 480 mg of sodium and (yikes) about 12 grams of fat.  Keep the cheese low fat; they won’t know if the difference.

All of this, of course, is good advice for you, too.  If you want to start the year healthier and wealthier, bypass that snack machine at work, bring your own snacks and eat just those (squirrel the money you would have spent at the vending machine or the coffeehouse — those frappucino dealies with whipped cream can kill anyone’s diet — into a jar and you’ll have some money for nice clothes during the holiday sales).  Bring a container to work to take home any especially fabulous goodies, but unless it’s the Christmas party, you really need to just say NO.  Try to remember that alcoholic beverages pack up to 200 calories a pop, so try to choose between one of those or dessert (um, and presumably we’re talking after work, unless things are really going downhill at the job!).  Save the snacking and grazing and enjoying for the social occasions when you’ll want to let go a little, and for the rest of the time, polish that halo!