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10-Second Recipes: Economical 'Filler' Foods Add to the Sticking Power of New Year's Nutrition Resolutions

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

Making New Year's resolutions this month is easy. Keeping them is more difficult. But, if your family's goal is to lose weight, what if you succeed? Congratulations, but maintaining that achievement has been shown to be hardest of all. Studies indicate that 95 percent of dieters gain back all the lost weight, plus at least 10 percent more. This can set up a pattern of yo-yo dieting, which doctors warn is often more dangerous to the body than simply staying consistently at a higher weight. Therefore, the most important resolution may be to figure out how not to regain the pounds you lost.

Nutritionists have long recommended tips such as having soup or salad before a meal to fill up first.  Pete Thomas won the $100,000 prize on the second season of The Biggest Loser (after shedding most of his 185 pounds in nine months on his own at home after being voted off the show). He's an athlete, physical and motivational trainer, online weight-loss program founder, and diet book author who has kept the weight off for seven years partially through an innovative method that expands upon the "fill up first" philosophy. He calls it: "Fluid. Fill. Feast."  For a meal, first, he and his followers drink a healthful fluid, then fill up on a nutritious soup, salad, or other high-volume, low-calorie food, like a plate of fresh broccoli, and finally "feast" on portion-controlled, healthfully prepared comfort foods that they crave, such as oven-baked crusted chicken that tastes like it's fried or macaroni and cheese prepared with low-fat milk and cheeses. Outstanding, too, is that many of these filler foods, like fresh vegetables, are the most economical the supermarket has to offer. To get the hang of eating in a way that loosely follows these tenets, try some of my quick ideas below.

Strategic food choices like this prove that preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty "home cooking" and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become better chefs, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong mixtures, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows."

Fluid: Three ounces tomato juice mixed with 3 ounces water, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of curry powder.
Fill: Plate of fresh spinach topped with sliced fresh store-bought mushrooms and drizzled with dashes of olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Feast: Cooked ground turkey breast, vegetable or soy burger (made with your favorite seasonings) on toasted whole-wheat hamburger bun, spread with fat-free bleu cheese dressing and topped with romaine lettuce, tomato slices and grilled onions.

Fluid: Six ounces diet soda that includes a natural sweetener, such as stevia.
Fill: Store-bought or homemade butternut squash soup mixed with almond milk (provides creamy results for only about 20 calories per half cup) and sprinkled with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper and salt substitute, if desired.
Feast: Cook store-bought, whole-grain ravioli (usually sold in the refrigerated or freezer section of major supermarkets) according to package directions. Carefully drain. Place in a microwave-safe container or a baking dish, cover with preheated pasta sauce that contains no sugar and top with mozzarella and low-fat cheddar cheese. Drizzle with chopped cilantro and scallions, and microwave or bake just until cheese begins to melt, being careful not to overcook ravioli.

Fluid: Mix 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons (or to taste) of a natural sweetener like stevia, and 8 ounces boiling water. Let cool enough to sip. (Besides this beverage being filling and tasting good, unsweetened cocoa is high in antioxidants and has also been shown to help improve blood sugar levels.)
Fill: Plate of mixed salad greens, topped with watermelon and cantaloupe slices, drizzled with a dressing you've mixed from low-carbohydrate fruit yogurt and olive oil and topped with finely chopped fresh basil.
Feast: Scoop out filling of baked potatoes and mash with minced garlic, nonfat sour cream and chopped chives. Remove skin and breasts of store-bought rotisserie chicken and make a slice in center of breasts to create a pocket. Fill with mashed potatoes and drizzle with a heated sauce that is a mixture of light soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes. Save additional parts of the chicken for leftovers.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Wedge salads are a fun way to add more nutrition to your meals. Popular at upscale steakhouses and other fine restaurants, a wedge salad that you eat with a fork and knife is usually simply iceberg lettuce (about a quarter of a head) served as a chunk with goodies, such as cooked bacon bits and chopped tomatoes, sprinkled on top and draped in bleu cheese dressing. However, some restaurant chains, like Buca di Beppo, sometimes feature an "Italian Wedge Salad" filled with olives and other vegetables, which up the health quotient. Follow suit and drizzle your chunk of lettuce - or better yet, use a chunk of cabbage - with a variety of finely chopped raw vegetables. In addition to tomatoes and olives, you might include carrots, celery, zucchini and green beans. Crumble with bits of cooked turkey bacon or soy bacon and top with a creamy vinaigrette dressing that includes the "super food" ingredient, olive oil.

Lisa Messinger 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 

Tags: 10 Second Recipes, Budget, Diet, Eat Less-Move More, Holidays, New Year's Resolutions, Nutrition, Recipes, Stay-at-Home Mom
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