Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
August 23, 2011    

Changing recipes

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Changing recipes

When people attempt to start a new healthy food plan, they often mistakenly believe they have to make radical changes.  This is an unreasonable expectation.  Trying to do this is overwhelming and leads to failed attempts.

The best thing, as always, is to start with what you know, what you are familiar with.  Keep what works and change what doesn't.

I like cereal for breakfast.  A LOT.  I always have.  What doesn't work is to have a big bowl of sugary, nutritionally deficient kid's cereal.  So, I have oatmeal with a little cinnamon sugar, fresh fruit, and a small glass of milk.  I like it and it satisfies me.  If you like eggs, consider having one whole egg with two additional whites, rather than two whole eggs.  Try turkey bacon, or maybe just cut the amount of bacon you eat in half. 

At lunch time, I like a sandwich.  It's simple and easy.  I used to eat bologna with mayonnaise on white bread with chips.  Now, I use lean lunch meat and 100% whole wheat bread that is about 50 calories per slice.  I like to experiment with different mustards for flavor.  I also will top my sandwich with fresh veggies to add bulk and make it feel like I'm having more to eat.  Instead of chips, I have a pickle spear and an ounce of almonds along with my sandwich. 

If you are in an office, frozen meals for lunch can be really handy and there are certainly a lot of low-calorie choices available.  The only problem is that most people aren't fully satisfied after eating one.  This can cause you to end up at the vending machine later.  Try adding some fruit, either fresh, or canned in its own juices.

Dinners take a little more effort. Some people are the "meat and potatoes" type.  I grew up in a home like that.  There are many lean ways to prepare any meat.  You can faux-fry chicken that's been breaded with egg whites, bread crumbs and your favorite seasonings.  Or, for an even simpler option, you can buy Shake 'n' Bake or something similar.  There is nothing wrong with steak, just choose a leaner cut and keep your portion size to 4 ounces or less.  I like to buy pork loins when they are on sale.  I cut them into small chops and bake them with seasonings.  I get a nice lean piece of meat, very affordably.

Consider rotating your starch selections.  You can have regular white potatoes sometimes, just not every night.  You can make "fries" in the oven, either fresh or frozen.  Try using sweet potatoes one night.  Look for frozen sweet potato fries.  Don't be afraid of brown rice.  I know it tastes different, but it really has a lot more flavor.

Are you a big casserole fan?  Casseroles often contain a large amount of dairy.  Select low-fat cheese and milk to prepare them with.  Calculate the calories for the whole casserole, then divide that by the number of servings to determine what your portion size should be.  Eat a small portion and add some frozen vegetables or a salad to round out the meal.

Also, don't feel that you have to suddenly eliminate snacks.  They are important.  Just watch your portion size and add fruits or vegetables for lower-calorie nutritional satisfaction.  For example, if you like to eat nuts, take a smaller portion and add some grapes or an apple.  If you like chips and salsa, try the baked chips.  Watch your portion size and buy fresh salsa, so there is no added sugar.  Then, you can add in some celery or bell pepper strips for dipping, along with the chips.

One last note, never tell yourself there is any food you can never have again.  As soon as you do, that is the only food you will want.  If there is a food you REALLY like, it's probably better not to have it in your home on a regular basis, but you can have it as an occasional treat.  Let's say you really love ice cream.  Don't buy a half gallon to keep in the freezer.  Either go get it somewhere, like at an ice cream shop, or only buy one single serving size from the store.  One thing that I really can't leave alone is Chex Mix.  I don't keep it in the house.  Sometimes, though, I will buy a small single serving bag and enjoy a treat.

Remember, you still have to be yourself and live your life.  If you try to make too many changes, too fast, you are not likely to follow through with them and be successful.


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