We’re into our third month of including new behaviors to support a healthy lifestyle. In January and February I discussed getting enough sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, including more colorful produce in your diet, and watching the calories from beverages. This month I’ll discuss how controlling your environment and eating mindfully can help you eat more healthfully. If you’d like help incorporating these ideas into your life, please click here to contact me for an appointment.
Controlling your environment
I can’t tell you much this helps people avoid munching and snacking. If Mint Milano cookies are your downfall (as they are mine!), leave them out of your grocery cart. If ice cream calls to you at night, don’t keep that quart in the freezer (just get a scoop occasionally at one of the ice cream shops). If you’re buying chips because “the kids need them for their lunches” but you end up eating half the bag, keep them out of the house. Some people may have a problem with this concept, thinking they “should” be able to use their willpower to avoid eating the foods that call to them. But there’s a lot of psychic energy that goes into avoiding them and it’s just so much simpler not to have those foods around. If you do opt to keep problematic foods in the house, place them in opaque containers in the pantry or refrigerator where they’re not constantly in view. In addition, add in those foods that help you eat healthier: a fruit bowl on the table instead of a bowl of candy, veggies already cut up in the fridge, plain popcorn, etc.
This goes for the foods you keep in your car and at work. Some of my clients have told me they keep bags of chips and a case of soda in the trunk of their car “just in case.” And then there are the bags of cookies, granola bars, and crackers in the desk drawers at work. I suggest cleaning all that out and starting with a fresh slate. Since I recommend only eating while seated at a table, that means no eating in the car…this is just safer and helps people avoid mindless eating. I’m all for having healthy snacks at work so how about a fruit bowl on your desk filled with apples, oranges, tangerines, bananas, and pears---these keep well all week without refrigeration. In your desk drawer you could keep small baggies of almonds (about ¼ cup per serving) and if you have access to a fridge, put a bag of part-skim mozzarella string cheese.
How many times have you finished eating and then wondered when you took the last bite because you were distracted by other things you were doing at the same time? Studies have shown that when people slow down, take time to enjoy and savor their food, and stop doing other things at meals, they eat less and get more pleasure from eating.
For next month, why not try these tips?
- Eat only while seated at the kitchen or dining room table.
- No eating in the family room, at the kitchen counter, in front of the open fridge, at your desk, or in your car.
- Plate all food you’re going to eat—that means taking out a reasonable portion of food and putting it on a plate before you eat (no more eating out of the bag!)
- Take a moment to be thankful for the food you are about to eat.
- Savor the flavor—the first 3 bites are the best!
- Eat slowly—be the last to finish.
- Make mealtime more enjoyable by:
- Turning off the television
- Adding soft mood music, candles
- Using nice plates, a tablecloth, cloth napkins
- Keeping the conversation pleasant –that means no arguing or haranguing
Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating is a wonderful resource for more information about this topic.
These luxurious macaroons are a perfect finish to a Passover meal. You can often find unsweetened coconut in the Asian section of your market. For a variation, substitute chopped crystallized ginger and mini chocolate chips for the pistachios and cranberries.
About 55 cookies | Active Time: 50 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- 1 14-ounce can nonfat sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 2 cups coconut flakes, preferably unsweetened
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped shelled pistachios
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped shelled pistachios
- Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Whisk condensed milk and almond extract in a large bowl until combined. Pulse almonds in a food processor (about 10 quick pulses) until broken unto small pieces. Stir the almonds, coconut, 1/2 cup cranberries and 1/2 cup pistachios into the condensed milk mixture.
- Beat egg whites and salt in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Fold 1/2 cup of the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Add the remaining egg whites, gently folding into the mixture until just combined. Drop 1 teaspoon of dough onto a prepared baking sheet and top with another teaspoon of dough, making a double-tall macaroon. Repeat with the remaining batter, spacing the macaroons 1 inch apart.
- Bake the macaroons, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until the coconut is lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes (sweetened coconut will brown faster than unsweetened). Let cool on the pans on a wire rack until cool to the touch, 30 minutes.
- Optional garnish: Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave on Medium in 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst to ensure even melting, until completely melted. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water, stirring constantly.) Stir the remaining 1/4 cup chips into the melted chocolate until smooth. Drizzle or spoon the melted chocolate over the top of each cooled macaroon; sprinkle with cranberries and pistachios. Let the chocolate dry completely before storing or packing.
Per cookie (with garnish) : 85 Calories; 4 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 7 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 21 mg Sodium; 81 mg Potassium
1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1 fat
Nutrition Note: Per cookie (without garnish): 69 calories; 4 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 21 mg sodium.
Make Ahead Tip: These macaroons are best eaten fresh, but will keep for up to 5 days at room temperature.
Arugula & Chicken Sausage Bread Pudding
Try this delicious bread pudding for Easter brunch. Chicken sausage comes in a variety of flavors these days and the flavor will vary depending on which one you use. Sweet Italian, apple and Chardonnay sausage, and sun-dried tomato and spinach sausage are examples that work great for this recipe.
6 servings | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 3/4 hours
- 4 large egg whites
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup skim milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil
Bread & filling
- 4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)
- 5 cups chopped arugula, wilted (see Tip)
- 3/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts, frozen (thawed) or canned
- 1 cup diced cooked chicken sausage, (5 ounces)
- 3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
- To prepare custard: Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Add mustard, salt, pepper and basil: whisk to combine.
- Toss bread, arugula, artichokes and sausage in a large bowl. Add the custard and toss well to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
- Bake until the custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Per serving : 272 Calories; 11 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 174 mg Cholesterol; 24 g Carbohydrates; 20 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 696 mg Sodium; 435 mg Potassium
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 medium-fat meat
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the pudding through Step 3; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed in Step 4.
- Tip: To wilt greens, rinse greens thoroughly in cool water. Transfer them to a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in the wrap. Microwave on high until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the greens before adding them to the recipe.