Contrary to popular belief, many dietitians (like myself), do not spend their entire lives prepping and planning meals. While we may peruse the grocery store a bit longer than the average bear, we like short cuts just as much as the next shopper. We’re busy wives and moms with work to do, too!
It was probably a few years ago that I discovered the simplest trick to seasoning my food. I am, hands down, a ginger junky. I’d always loved the spicy taste of ginger but found fresh ginger root to be a wee bit too spicy and less than convenient to use to grate and add to food. While buying “jarlic” (minced garlic in a jar), I found ginger paste!
Ginger paste (made by Spice World or Garden Cuisine) is a combination of ginger, fructose, vinegar and salt. It has a few other innocuous preservatives and contains 15 calories per tsp. It’s available in a 10 oz. tube or 4 oz. tube in the refrigerated section of the store, depending on the brand. Ginger paste has the consistency of applesauce and has a fairly long shelf life. I prefer the 10 oz. version because you get much more for your money.
This simple spice trick can be used in oatmeal, marinades, vegetables, fish or sweet potatoes. I’ve added it to leftover quinoa with cinnamon and chopped almonds for breakfast or tossed it in my stir fry. It’s one spice I always have on hand.
Arugula Salad with Raspberries in Citrus Dressing
Now that spring is here, it’s time to get your salad spinner out and get your greens on! Raspberries pair nicely with local greens and arugula and fresh lime vinaigrette. Add feta cheese or blue cheese or any variation of nuts or seed you have on hand. You can add quinoa, barley or other whole grain, and grilled chicken or fish to make the salad a meal.
3 cups baby spinach leaves or local microgreens
3 cups arugula
2 pints fresh raspberries
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (~2 limes)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. honey
- Wash and spin the greens in a salad spinner and place in a large salad bowl.
- Clean and dry the raspberries and add to the greens.
- Add pecans and blue cheese
- Whisk together lime juice, canola oil and honey
- Dress salad prior to serving
Makes 4 (2 cup) servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 164 calories, 12.5 grams fat (1.8 grams saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 11.3 grams carbohydrate, 2.4 grams fiber, 3.7 grams protein, 103 mg sodium.
If you’re a working parent, you recognize that some weeks, the bottom just falls out. Maybe your kid started a new sport and you’re running him/her to practice right around dinner time. Or you have meetings every other night of the week. This is what happened in our house recently.
I was determined to have dinner ready before I left for a meeting Thursday night. I had rice in the Instant Pot and started a chicken at 4:15 to be cooked by 5:45 when my husband got home from work. I knew a friend was picking me up at 5:30 for a meeting, so I told my 14 year old daughter to “turn off the oven when the timer went off” since I wouldn’t be home.
My husband texted me during my meeting and asked if I was being fed at the meeting or if I’d be eating at home. “Home”, I answered. “Chicken and rice for dinner”.
I got home about 8:15 PM and was famished. He said, “chicken is in the frig, rice is still out”. But when I went to get the baked chicken out, I discovered it wasn’t there. There was some shredded chicken left from 2 days ago. The only reason I baked a whole chicken was that it had been in my frig a few days and needed to be cooked.
I asked, “where’s the chicken I baked”? His answer- “what chicken”? Imagine his surprise when I opened the oven door and there was the dutch oven with dinner I had prepped a few hours before. “UGH”, I exclaimed, clearly exasperated.
Note to self. I need better communication. I should have said, “there is a chicken in the oven that IS FOR DINNER” to my daughter. I should have also told my husband, “I baked a chicken for dinner, it’s in the oven”. Either way, I ate the chicken. It was delicious.
There’s a push to eat more “pulses” (read beans, lentils) because they are so damn good for your gut and heart in addition to being convenient and easy on the wallet. Beans are loaded with fiber, especially the soluble type that lowers blood cholesterol, helps manage blood sugar and keeps good gut bacteria thriving. Love them or hate them, this bean trend is not going away any time soon. Know how I know? Chocolate hummus. That’s right. A Shark Tank product called “Delighted by Hummus” is being copied by a few other brands. Boar’s Head (the maker of lunch meat and cheese) was the brand I found at my local Kroger.
I was skeptical at first. I pictured traditional hummus (full of garlic and lemon) being blended with cocoa and/or coconut oil and tasting WEIRD. But with all food, I kept an open mind and decided to try it. Here is the run down:
The hummus contains 80 calories for 2 Tsp. and 4.5 grams of fat, which is 50% of the total calories, but most of the fat is unsaturated (not harmful saturated or trans fat). It’s low in sodium with only 40 mg and provides 10 grams of carbs, 6 of which are sugar (1 1/2 tsp). It contains 3 grams of fiber, which is a nice dose for a “dessert”. It’s not very high in protein, but most people don’t think of protein when they think of dessert.
I would liken the taste to pudding. It was soft, smooth and creamy. It paired well with strawberries, bananas and graham crackers. I could see adding some cashews, pecans or other nuts mixed in to give it some texture.The cost was higher and container smaller than traditional hummus ($3.99 for 8 oz. or 2 for $7.00 with a Kroger card).
Would I buy it again? Maybe. It would make a nice substitute for chocolate pudding if that’s your thing. But like any other dessert, moderation is key. Eat the whole thing and you’ve consumed over 600 calories in hummus. My next move? Stay tuned while I attempt to make the stuff myself!
We’re two months into 2018, the time of year when everyone is either into a groove of new habits or have completely given up. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to reach the goal you set out for yourself (weight loss, more water, fill in the blank…), maybe it’s time to re-evaluate?
It would be awesome if we could just wave a wand, swallow a pill or blink our eyes and pray and our goal would be magically accomplished. But unicorns are not reality and it’s time to dive into the real work.
Changing habits takes TIME. While fad diets like the Whole 30 or Keto plan may give you temporary results, they are not sustainable practices that will yield long term success. Are you always going to be able to read every minute ingredient on a food label when traveling, or is it better to learn what the best choice is for YOU given the current situation and move on? Will you consistently never have white rice again or will you forgive yourself for eating a small portion when you went out for Indian food with your family?
Rather than being militant with your habits, how about a little grace and common sense? Are cake, ice cream, soda and candy bars daily going to lead to poor health? Likely. Will a slice of cake on your birthday ruin your waistline? Probably not.
When changing any habit, try to use the SMART approach. Here’s what I mean:
- Be Specific. Weight loss is not a goal- it is an end point that will only happen when baby steps are taken. Walking 3 days/week for 30 minutes is a specific goal.
- Make it Measurable. Wear a watch and measure how many minutes you have exercised.
- Make it Attainable. Is giving up chocolate for life attainable? Probably not. How about reducing your desserts to 1-2 times/week? That might work.
- Keep it Relevant. The change in habit has to matter to you.If you’re trying to prevent diabetes, reducing dessert is relevant goal.
- Given it Time. This is the only part of “Whole 30” that I like. It has a specific amount of time allotted to a task. The key is to ask yourself, what happens AFTER the 30 days?
Habits take time to change. Allow some time for you to make sustainable, realistic changes- not over the top, punitive short term fixes. Your body and mind will thank you.