By Lisa Messinger
Author of: The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine
In addition to specific dietary guidelines, for decades nutritionists also have had tricks up the sleeves of their lab coats. Some of the most repeated have been about plates, not only what foods in what proportions should be on them, but also the advice to try and fool yourself that you are eating more by using smaller plates.
Eating a trimmed-down meal off of a salad plate rather than an entree one is still a great idea in order to trim yourself down. I usually do just feel like I am unwillingly eating less, though. However, I stumbled upon some additional items for a cheat sheet that are as close as your kitchen's silverware drawer. They help keep things in control during the busy holiday season, also often known as the busy eating season.
Like for me, it could start as innocently as waiting on a dishwashing load and therefore running out of dinner forks and resorting to a salad fork for your meal. Eating with the smaller fork means it automatically takes you longer to eat, which is another longstanding dietician tip. It also fits in more with today's philosophy of "mindful" dining for weight loss, where one focuses on and enjoys every bite. Ditto when you use a teaspoon instead of a larger soup spoon. Now it's my salad forks and teaspoons that are the ones filling up the dishwasher, as I never use the larger versions anymore.
Also emerging from my cupboards are metal measuring cups, which, unlike the roomy extra cheat space in many glass measuring cups, have not a speck of additional room at the top. Layering snacks is the trick. Fill more than half the cup with the least caloric, least fat-filled snack and then divide the rest in descending order, ending with just a smidgen of the least nutritious or most caloric (and often most crave-worthy) as a topping only.
Following are a few ideas to fill a one-cup measure that for me have meant satisfaction guaranteed. All ingredients are to taste.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
- TREAT DRIED FRUIT LIKE RARE GEMS
Dried fruit is some of the most nutritious foods on the planet, however, it's high in calories and concentrated natural fruit sugars --- or added sugar if you have discovered the treat of dark chocolate-covered raisins. Therefore, generous layer one for me is cinnamon-coated, whole-grain crunchy cereal that is nonfat and low calorie. I top that with a few crunchy raw cashews and then even fewer dark chocolate-covered raisins.
- GOING GREEK
Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than many other yogurts. Generous layer one is nonfat plain Greek yogurt, layered with a smaller portion of sliced fresh strawberries and sliced black olives that have been marinated together in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then drained. Top layer is a very small amount of broken-up pieces of white chocolate.
- PRETZEL PERFECT
Ham is usually very lean. Use paper thin slices as the generous first layer and top with a smaller portion of bite-sized chunks cut from light mozzarella string cheese (available next to regular string cheese in many supermarkets and less in calories and fat than the already desirable string cheese, which can be substituted), drizzle with spicy mustard and top with very small portion of peanut butter-filled or plain pretzels nuggets.
QUICK TIP: What if you could have not just one physician guiding you and your family as to what to eat for good nutrition, but 65? The tips they follow at home, plus give to their own patients, as well as their own superfood-packed recipes fill What Doctors Eat by Tasneem Bhatia, M.D., making it one of my favorite go-to resources. If you think doctors' healthy recipes might be boring, plan to be delighted with choices like Sweet Potato Ravioli, Chicken Tacos with Charred Salsa, Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins and Dark Chocolate Bark with Cranberries, Almonds, and Pecans.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.