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"Fit for Summer" Meal Ideas


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If most of the participants in Fit for Summer Challenge continue through the spring, the thread set aside for discussion should grow as we shrink and become rather cumbersome as a result.

Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to establish a new thread to deal with mid-day meals and possibly late afternoons around fourish.

Since minimalism is a goal, I won't go and on about the obvious challenges we face between breakfast and dinner. However, let me start out with a rather lame and modest suggestion that worked for me today, a non-dieter, who is rather gullible and able to trick herself into catching the bus on time by setting back all the clocks in the house.

Instead of packing an ordinary tuna sandwich, cut one thick slice of really good bread from a large loaf you baked or bought from a pretty decent if not terrific baker, preferably containing whole wheat. Toast it, cut it in half and wrap it. Put the amount of filling you'd use in a small container and spread each slice of bread, one at a time, separately. It's like eating two sandwiches. I'd top it with sunflower sprouts, except I haven't found a good source here in town.

Filling: one drained 6 oz. can Genova oil-packed tuna, capers, a little over half a cup minced red onion and celery, ground black pepper and 2 T of mayonnaise, for two days or two people. Approximately 285 calories per serving, less if water-packed tuna and Hellman's Light Mayo are used. This figure does not take the bread into account.

Great with carrot or fennel sticks, red pepper strips and a blood orange.

Other good things to mix with tuna, salmon or leftover chicken: fresh water chestnuts (NOT canned) or toasted walnuts for crunch, scallions, artichoke hearts (water-packed or frozen), finely grated radishes and carrots, dill if it doesn't make you gag, roasted red peppers, slow-roasted grape tomato halves, chopped fennel.

Or go minimalistic, but mix the tuna with the extra broccoli rabe or other strong-tasting dark leafy green you sautéed last night in olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes, then squirted with lemon juice.

Instead of mayo as binder, you could add either a minimal amount of olive oil (more calories), or your own lower-calorie vinaigrette.

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Scott's 10 things to do at lunch

1) Buy fruit every week especially apples and banannas and have them on your desk

2) Buy several 1 pound bags of carrots. they will last 2-3 days unrefrigerated at your desk, and eat till your full. Go out on a limb and add celery and other veggies

3) Buy dove chocolate minitures when you need a pick me up (just one at a time please)

4) Take your lunch, take a walk

5) Drink water before during and afterwards

6) Hot sause everything!

7) Order Taco Bell Bean burritos without the cheese. These are Vegan and really filling.

8)find a place to eat several blocks away forcing you to walk to get something to eat.

9) BE GLAD THAT THE GALILEO GRILL IS CLOSED FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER YEAR

10) Find some people and eat with them! Its much more fun than eating at your desk!

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9) BE GLAD THAT THE GALILEO GRILL IS CLOSED FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER YEAR

This alone is probably responsible for 2-3 pounds a month that I don't have to fight off. Of course it has also made the gravitational pull of Kostas' souvlaki that much stronger. It doesn't help that I can turn my head 20 degrees to the left and check out the Greek Deli line.

I've been doing the eat-small-but-often thing, so "lunch" is usually only a reasonably sized salad or sandwich from home or leftovers from the night before. I have a piece of fruit or other small snack a couple hours on either side of that (10:30 and 3:00ish) and it usually gets me to dinner. It's staying away from the damn snack food in the office kitchen that's a killer. Peanut butter filled pretzels + peanut M&Ms are a really dangerous temptation for me.

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I followed his culinary adventures in weight watchers about 2 years ago (I can't believe it has been 2 years!!!!) on egullet and was definitely inspired by his cooking. I hope we can have a thread about meal ideas.

Ask and you shall receive. This would be a good place for people to share their lighter recipes and what you have eaten that works for you.

Just like the dinner thread... with maybe a little less pork fat.

And if anyone wants to chack out the eG thread laniloa mentioned it is here. Lots of good looking food, ideas and encouragement there.

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Ask and you shall receive. This would be a good place for people to share their lighter recipes and what you have eaten that works for you.

Just like the dinner thread... with maybe a little less pork fat.

And if anyone wants to chack out the eG thread laniloa mentioned it is here. Lots of good looking food, ideas and encouragement there.

Excellent.

The mapo tofu you introduced us to is still in my regular rotation. I believe that was a Cooking Light recipe.

Tonight I had grilled fresh (caught last night) Gulf shrimp thanks to one of my staffers visiting from the coast. I did a quick brine of salt, honey, and lapsang souchong tea and grilled them with zucchini. Served over brown rice which I make ahead and freeze in individual portions for quick weeknight cooking.

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Argh! I tried to find that in egullet and couldn't. Could you point me to the recipe?
Here you go.

Slice a pound of extra firm tofu into 6 slices and drain well before cutting into cubes.

Combine 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 Tbs cornstarch, 2 Tbs shoyu, 1 Tbs oyster sauce and 2 tsp chili- garlic sauce.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 oz ground pork. Add 1 Tbs minced ginger and 3 cloves minced garlic and stir about a minute. Add tofu and cook 4 until golden, stirring frequently. Add stock mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until thickens.

I'll often add asparagus or spinach as well.

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One of my favorite snacks to have in the fridge is blanched asparagus. You know the drill (try to avoid the real fat ones as they are wiry) drop in boiling water for a minute or minute and a half then put them in an ice bath. Shake them off and sprinkle with some cracked pepper, lemon zest and a light squeeze of lemon juice. I used to snack on these in front of the TV. Nice crunch if you don't over cook them and if you want to add a bit of salt they are a satisfying substitute for nut mixes or potato chips. Just make one bunch of asparagus at a time though. I tried a huge batch one time and if it takes you too long to eat them they eventually do break down a bit and get mushy. I do the same with green beans if they look good at the store.

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Here you go.

Slice a pound of extra firm tofu into 6 slices and drain well before cutting into cubes.

Combine 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 Tbs cornstarch, 2 Tbs shoyu, 1 Tbs oyster sauce and 2 tsp chili- garlic sauce.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 oz ground pork. Add 1 Tbs minced ginger and 3 cloves minced garlic and stir about a minute. Add tofu and cook 4 until golden, stirring frequently. Add stock mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until thickens.

I'll often add asparagus or spinach as well.

Just from an Asian perspective... mix the cornstarch with the shoyu and add that to the pork first... and if you choose a little sesame oil. Pull that out when it's mostly cooked, but not cooked all the way. Then the pork doesn't overcook too much and the cornstarch adds a little tenderization to the pork.

Do the stock with the other stuff combined and cook the tofu up in that with the addition of scallions and cook the tofu for a few minutes and then add the pork back in. Sprinkle some more scallions on the top if you're going for some presentation.

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In case you don't know, quinoa is a whole grain from South America. It's high in fiber, minerals and B vitamins...additionally, quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all 8 essential amino acids!

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad:

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 can of black beans, rinsed

3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

2 ears of corn, cut off the cob with a sharp knife or 2 cups of frozen corn

1 ripe avocados, chopped & covered with lemon juice

Juice of one fresh lime, or to taste

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp ground cumin (to taste)

Hot sauce of your choice (optional)

Directions

1. Place quinoa in a colander with small holes and rinse under cold water. Put rinsed quinoa into a medium saucepan.

2. Add three cups of water to the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed. Fluff quinoa and let cool.

3. Prepare corn according to package directions if using frozen or boil if using fresh.

4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, and cilantro and toss well.

5. Add the lime juice, salt and cumin and stir well.

Here are some great blogs. Disclaimer: I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but I find that it's very easy to eat healthier (esp. when trying to maximize nutrients and limit fat) when I cook without meat. Remember that chicken, turkey or other protein can be substitued for the tofu in many of these recipes. :lol:

Fat Free Vegan Kitchen - http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/

Written by a vegan woman who loves to cook, this blog is stocked with recipes and links. Lots of pictures, too!

A Veggie Venture - http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/

This blog started as an April Fool's joke; Alanna Kellog wanted to cook a vegetable, with new recipes and new vegetables, every single day for an entire month. Alanna has been keeping up with this joke for over a year!

Sweetnicks - http://sweetnicks.blogspot.com/

Compiled by a food writer, this site is stocked with fabulous recipes and great pictures.

Simply Recipes - http://www.elise.com/recipes/

While this site isn't the healthiest cooking blog, it does have a section for vegetarian dishes and one for wheat-free.

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In case you don't know, quinoa is a whole grain from South America. It's high in fiber, minerals and B vitamins...additionally, quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all 8 essential amino acids!

Some people find quinoa to be a bit bitter. I have found that roasting it and then cooking it makes it sweet and nutty. I make it and then add lots of chopped parsley, tomatoes, lemon juice, onion and cucumber with a bit of olive oil. Be sure to season with salt, pepper, red chili flakes (if desired).

For a hot dish, I roast it, and cook it with broth instead of water, pine nuts, onions, currants.

Also, I think that bean salads are a great way to avoid the tendency to eat too much lettuce. I seem to remember that they were very low in points when I did weight watchers.

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Had 4 oz. of fresh mozzarella in the house to use up, so for dinner last night:

3/4 of a pizza, dough made with whole wheat & AP flour. Divided dough into thirds & froze 2 circles for later meals.

Topping: red onion sautéed in 1 T EVOO, then torn head of escarole, water clinging to leaves added to pan with red chili flakes, garlic, and salt. Wilted w cover on. Lid off to evaporate. Balsamic vinegar & black pepper to taste. This was enough to reserve portion for soup or side dish, though the entire amount would serve a couple or family if accompanied by soup or a second pizza.

Also used 1/4 lb. Italian sausage meat from Whole Foods which you could do without if so desired. (Original vegetarian recipe calls for toasted walnuts.) Sprinkled with minimal amount of microplaned Romano and minced parsley.

On the side: an entire red bell pepper in strips. No dip. Salad seemed redundant.

Dessert: a very crisp apple, sliced into eighths.

Leftover slice is for lunch with soup.

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Slice a pound of extra firm tofu into 6 slices and drain well before cutting into cubes.

Combine 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 Tbs cornstarch, 2 Tbs shoyu, 1 Tbs oyster sauce and 2 tsp chili- garlic sauce.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 oz ground pork. Add 1 Tbs minced ginger and 3 cloves minced garlic and stir about a minute. Add tofu and cook 4 until golden, stirring frequently. Add stock mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until thickens.

I'll often add asparagus or spinach as well.

Thanks, bilrus, laniloa and synaesthesia! You're right, this is a fantastic dish. I had some tofu I needed to use up last night, so went to the store to pick up the couple of ingredients that weren't already lurking in my pantry. I figured the absence of pork permitted me to use some sesame oil, and the resulting sauce was fantastic (leading me to wonder why I don't use oyster sauce more often; it's got a great flavor!). My sauce got too thick (the +1 and babe didn't return home until later than I expected), but that's an easy one to fix.

Thanks so much for pointing me towards this!

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One thing that I'm doing to help with portion control is to pack my leftovers in single-portion containers rather than all in one large container. It also makes it easier when packing my lunch to take to work - I just grab and go.

My staple "good-for-me" food this winter has been vegetable soups. Last night I made roasted butternut squash soup. Roasted the squash for an hour at 375 and scooped flesh from peel. Sweated an onion and three cloves garlic (minced) in 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil and less than a tablespoon of butter. Added cumin and coriander (approx 1.5 teaspoons of each) and about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. To that mix I added the roasted squash and covered with a quart of chicken broth (I've been getting the Trader Joe's low sodium - the sodium per serving is super low). Brought everything to a simmer for a bit and then pureed it with my immersion blender. Seasoned with salt and pepper.

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For those of you who like sugar or honey in your drinks, etc. I was at Whole Foods and picked up some agave nectar (in the honey section). I'd heard about it for a while, but it was the first time I tried it.

It's 20 calories per teaspoon, but I needed only a few drops to sweeten my tea to my liking. It also has a lower glycemic index so it "does not stimulate digestive insulin secretion as do other sugars." It doesn't have the nasty flavor of artificial sweeteners.

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Regarding the recipe for mapo tofu, see links to Harvard on protein & GH on tofu (& other recommended diet-enhancers) that I just added a few minutes ago to the main thread.

Extra-firm tofu has 120 calories vs. around 80 for regular, if that matters to you. 4 oz. serving, I believe.

If you're using tofu, here's the recipe I ate all the time in grad school and then some: Jaffrey's Spicy Tofu. I always added things like zucchini, red pepper strips, toasted peanuts, slant-cut carrots to make it a compete meal with rice.

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I just had a lovely, simple, and filling lunch of mixed greens tossed with a 1 tablespoon of a light balsamic vinaigrette and topped with strips of the leftover chicken breast from dinner last night that I had reheated just enough to remove the chill.

The reason I really liked the dish was the amount of flavor in the breast. I had brined and seasoned the breasts with plenty of salt and pepper and then left it alone for a while in a fairly hot cast iron skillet with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. So simple, yet so good.

Last night, I used the other breasts in a dijon chicken fettuccine inspired by a recipe found in a Weight Watchers cookbook. It is one of Jlock's favorite meals.

I own several Weight Watchers cookbooks that specialize in fast cooking, and they are some of my most frequently used books. If you follow the recipes exactly, the results are often dry and tasteless. So I don't. I incorporate preparation techniques that I have learned elsewhere; I use much better ingredients than the recipes indicate; and, I add more seasoning. But, other than substituting 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil when the recipes call for Pam, I don't ever add any more fat, and I never miss it.

I find that one of the big advantages to basing my cooking on these books (while referencing other - some would say better - books) is that it really helps with serving sizes. My tendency is to eat much larger servings than I should. These recipes tell you exactly how much more pain that will add later. So, I serve according to the servings listed in the books and always serve with a salad and often with another vegetable as well. If I am hungry when I start cooking, I serve the salad (or a vegetable soup that I make in big batches and keep frozen in serving sized containers) before I even begin cooking. That way, I never want to give up and order a pizza instead. And, I don't feel the need to eat everything that has been prepared.

(contrary to popular belief, I do eat at home on occasion)

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I own several Weight Watchers cookbooks

Most Weight Watchers recipes these days are better than the ones here.

I find that I like the recipes from Cooking Light more than most Weight Watchers recipes, as they generally do a good job of boosting up the flavor and acknowledge that you do need to use at least a little fat for both flavor and proper results.

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I find that I like the recipes from Cooking Light more than most Weight Watchers recipes, as they generally do a good job of boosting up the flavor and acknowledge that you do need to use at least a little fat for both flavor and proper results.

In aiming for a very similar goal, Weight Watchers and Cooking Light use much different approaches. While the new Weight Watchers recipes tend toward simplicity (too much in fact), Cooking Light recipes are often extremely time consuming and require a ton of ingredients. Thus, a Weight Watchers recipe almost always needs doctoring, and a Cooking Light recipe rarely does. But, Cooking Light does have its flaws.

Cooking Light has way too many clunker recipes, which is rather disappointing after investing so much time and effort into them. And, it tends to turn off CL Newbies. That is why, although I have been a subscriber for many years and I own several Cooking Light books, I find the website much more useful. The website has a user rating and comment section similar to that on epicurious. I have had great luck when using that section to help me pick recipes. Unfortunately, the website is only available to subscribers and those that have the code from that month's magazine.

Also, with Cooking Light, you should be a little careful because, although the recipes are often lower in fat and calories than they would typically be, they are not all what I would call "light." So, more attention has to be paid to the nutritional information than with the Weight Watchers recipes.

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In aiming for a very similar goal, Weight Watchers and Cooking Light use much different approaches. While the new Weight Watchers recipes tend toward simplicity (too much in fact), Cooking Light recipes are often extremely time consuming and require a ton of ingredients. Thus, a Weight Watchers recipe almost always needs doctoring, and a Cooking Light recipe rarely does. But, Cooking Light does have its flaws.

Cooking Light has way too many clunker recipes, which is rather disappointing after investing so much time and effort into them. And, it tends to turn off CL Newbies. That is why, although I have been a subscriber for many years and I own several Cooking Light books, I find the website much more useful. The website has a user rating and comment section similar to that on epicurious. I have had great luck when using that section to help me pick recipes. Unfortunately, the website is only available to subscribers and those that have the code from that month's magazine.

Also, with Cooking Light, you should be a little careful because, although the recipes are often lower in fat and calories than they would typically be, they are not all what I would call "light." So, more attention has to be paid to the nutritional information than with the Weight Watchers recipes.

This is all true. One thing I've learned is to always stay away from the "Reader Recipes" and the Quick Meal ideas.

Oh, and I'm happy to share the website code with anyone who wants it.

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Also, with Cooking Light, you should be a little careful because, although the recipes are often lower in fat and calories than they would typically be, they are not all what I would call "light."

I have also found this to be the case. Cheese biscuits and cannoli and all that are fun, but you've got to stick to the serving size, or it adds up fast.

My favorite Cooking Light recipes are the pineapple-chili glaze that bilrus pointed out back in this thread, and a very tasty Jaleo-esque recipe for goat cheese and oranges on endive with balsamic dressing.

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Spent most of yesterday cooking, to plow through a bunch of produce from the online farmer's market and clean out some of the meat from the freezer. How does this relate to the Challenge? I made up a batch of lentils and chard from The Best Light Recipe, which I recommend for all cooks who enjoy the exhaustive Cook's Illustrated style of recipe ("first we tried red onions, yellow onions, Mayan Sweets, white onions, and shallots, in various batches where the onions were minced, diced, sliced thinly, sliced thickly, sliced vertically, or left whole, sauteed in a teaspoon, tablespoon, or two tablespoons of canola oil, olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, or butter...").

Anyway, it's pretty tasty for a low-fat high-fiber recipe. You dice up the stems of the chard with an onion, and sweat this all in a teaspoon of olive oil. Then you add a cup of lentils, a can of chicken broth, and some thyme. Simmer, covered, about half an hour, til the lentils are mostly but not quite cooked. Then toss in the leaves of the chard, cut medium, and cook for another eight minutes or so. Finish with a tablespoon of olive oil (I imagine this is optional) and the juice of a lemon. Six servings as a side dish, three as a light main.

I'll try to get into the habit of taking pictures. Although you definitely would not want to have seen the fatty, lumpen seven-bone pot roast I braised and picked over as part of the twelve-hour cooking extravaganza.

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My downfall is a combination of bad habits and lack of imagination that leads me to order breakfast and lunch every day at work from the local delivery places, which do not emphasize healthful eating on their menus.

I need to learn to plan ahead, so that on Sunday I make sure I have food I can grab and go. I've thought of hard-boiled eggs and moderately fat (not fat-free) lunch meats or cheese for breakfast. I find that eating carbs first thing in the morning does not do right by my blood sugar, so I need protein and (moderate amounts of) fat for breakfast.

I also don't do well with salads on a regular basis, but I want to think of higher-protein lower-carb foods that would make good lunches at work. I can heat things up in the office microwave, although I prefer not to do that too often.

Anyone have great ideas for packing breakfasts and lunches for work (or school)?

I should say that I am so very not a morning person, and it is all I can do to get out of bed, get my dogs pottied and fed, and get clean clothes on my body to get out the door to work. If I can discipline myself to put my insulated lunch sack in the fridge the night before with stuff in it, and remember to take it out of the fridge in the morning, I might succeed in this challenge.

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I've thought of hard-boiled eggs
I have been eating a hard-boiled egg (2 points) with my low-fat cappuccino every morning for the past couple weeks, and I have been amazed by how satiated it has made me. I bring a instant oatmeal and an apple for midmorning snacks if I am hungry, but honestly, most days I don't need anything. Prior to this, I was eating a bowl of cereal (5 points) and always thungry by midmorning. In sum, I recommend the weekly batch of hard-boiled eggs technique.
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I should say that I am so very not a morning person, and it is all I can do to get out of bed, get my dogs pottied and fed, and get clean clothes on my body to get out the door to work. If I can discipline myself to put my insulated lunch sack in the fridge the night before with stuff in it, and remember to take it out of the fridge in the morning, I might succeed in this challenge.
I am also not a morning person and also need protein in the morning. I feel a little queasy if I eat breakfast right when I get up. This was making it tricky for me to find healthy options since the ones that came to mind -- omelet, oatmeal -- don't travel well. I find that instant oatmeal works pretty well in the microwave. I don't like the prepackaged kinds as they tend to be sweetened and the flavored ones taste kind of plastic to me. I dish out a few servings in individual ziplocs and keep them in my desk. I also keep a few microwavable bowls. The other score was talking to the kind people in the very small cafeteria in my office building. They'll make me scrambled eggs without tons of butter. Sometimes I bring in some spinach and toss it into the container. I bet wherever you order from would make you a lighter version of a breakfast sandwich.
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I find that eating carbs first thing in the morning does not do right by my blood sugar, so I need protein and (moderate amounts of) fat for breakfast.

The things you learn on dr.com. I have that problem, too, and I've never met anyone else who has. If I eat mostly carbs at breakfast, regardless of volume, I get a sugar crash a few hours later. (But I'm not hypoglycemic.) If I eat mostly protein, I'm fine. One or two eggs will hold me hours longer than anything else. If I eat a bagel or oatmeal, a single hard boiled egg as a mid morning snack will help me last til a late lunch. What's behind this phenomenon?

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The things you learn on dr.com. I have that problem, too, and I've never met anyone else who has. If I eat mostly carbs at breakfast, regardless of volume, I get a sugar crash a few hours later. (But I'm not hypoglycemic.) If I eat mostly protein, I'm fine. One or two eggs will hold me hours longer than anything else. If I eat a bagel or oatmeal, a single hard boiled egg as a mid morning snack will help me last til a late lunch. What's behind this phenomenon?

I don't know what is behind it, but my nutritionist has me eating protien and carbs in the morning to avoid being too hungry come lunchtime. I'm not a big daytime snacker, but I can feel the difference. I have always eaten a piece of fruit on the way to work in the morning in the past (at least after I stopped eating 2 pacakges of pop-tarts the first time I lost a significant amount). No I am eating a light english muffin or mini-bagel with a slice of canadian bacon and/or a light yogurt smoothie.

It apparently has something to do with the protein helping you properly digest or burn the carbs on a more gradual curve.

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The things you learn on dr.com. I have that problem, too, and I've never met anyone else who has. If I eat mostly carbs at breakfast, regardless of volume, I get a sugar crash a few hours later. (But I'm not hypoglycemic.) If I eat mostly protein, I'm fine. One or two eggs will hold me hours longer than anything else. If I eat a bagel or oatmeal, a single hard boiled egg as a mid morning snack will help me last til a late lunch. What's behind this phenomenon?

What's behind it is eating simple carbs alone- these raise your blood sugar incredibly. If combined with protein and/or fiber (ie having oatmeal with milk, or high fiber cereal with yogurt) your body will digest and absorb the sugars in the carbs more slowly. Bottom line- glycemic index. Stay away from refined carbs and sugar, and you will feel fuller longer, without a sugar crash. White flour has the same effect as simple sugar on the bloodstream.

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I find that one or two slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter keep me full until lunchtime. Be sure to go easy on the peanut butter, though. Sometimes I'll also add some sliced banana to the PB toast. I've seen recipes for making "egg muffins" ahead and freezing them for quick on-the-go breakfasts - just reheat in the microwave. Variations I've read include adding lean meat and veggies to muffin tins, adding egg and baking to create the muffins. Then freeze and reheat as needed.

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Not a breakfast thing, and not really a recipe, but for lunch today I had chicken, carrots, and goat cheese over spaghetti squash. If you don't go into it expecting the spaghetti squash to actually taste like pasta, it's a good meal. I had frozen and reheated it, which took some of the crunchiness out of the "noodles."

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SALMON

Of course, there are a lot of different possibilities with any kind of fish, and with salmon, the least caloric is what will be welcome when the temperature rises again: poached with cucumber or a shaved fennel salad or asparagus.

However, two good at this time of year:

1) Coat a thick, center-cut fillet with drained, plain lowfat yogurt, a little salt, Szechwan pepper and fresh dill. Marinate for half an hour, then bake in preheated oven at 450 F for 10-11 minutes.

Good w a couple of small, smashed Yukon Gold potatoes (skins and all) mixed with lowfat buttermilk and 1 t butter. Or grain of choice. Snap peas, steamed.

2) Crispy skin salmon w gingery greens

Bittman's How to Cook Everything book, p. 301, which can be modified to reduce calories somewhat. When finished, you lift fillet out of pan without the skin, losing most of the 200 calories in a T of EVOO; you could also use far less oil.

Basics: trim dark greens of choice, removing thick stem, cutting leaves into ribbons. Braise with a little oil, water clinging to leaves, garlic, minced ginger and onion until tender. Alternate: steam or boil till tender, then put in pan with even less oil and just flavor with ginger, etc. Drizzle on half t soy sauce and 1/4 t Asian sesame oil per serving at end.

Heat cast iron skillet for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, score skin of salmon in cross-hatch fashion, cutting through till flesh revealed through slits. Put 1 T or less EVOO in skillet, heat, then put fillet in pan, skin side down, covering immediately. (Bittman uses a grill or suggests broiling.)

Leave 5 minutes, then check. 10 mins. at most. Don't turn over. Use spatula to lift out of pan, minus skin, and place on bed of greens. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top, a little soy or salt and 1/4 t sesame oil.

Serve with small sweet potato of choice, cooked in jacket, slit, and eaten just with salt.

Delicious.

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SALMON

2) Crispy skin salmon w gingery greens

Bittman's How to Cook Everything book, p. 301, which can be modified to reduce calories somewhat. When finished, you lift fillet out of pan without the skin, losing most of the 200 calories in a T of EVOO; you could also use far less oil.

Leave 5 minutes, then check. 10 mins. at most. Don't turn over. Use spatula to lift out of pan, minus skin, and place on bed of greens. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top, a little soy or salt and 1/4 t sesame oil.

By leaving the skin in the pan, you may save a few calories, but you are missing out on the primary source of Omega-3 oils (very beneficial fat). I'd suggest oiling the fishskin with EVOO--maybe just a teaspoon's worth, and cooking in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a nonstick pan. And eat the crispy skin--the HDLs help lower your cholesterol.

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Last week, my trainer recommended Chris Carmichael's Fitness Cookbook not only for its nutritional advice, but also because she found the recipes to be delicious. FWIW, Carmichael is Lance Armstrong's longtime coach.

I haven't had an opportunity to try any of the recipes yet, but they look a lot more interesting than I've seen in most "diet" cookbooks...it's not all steamed rocks and boiled twigs, although there is a strong theme of fresh whole ingredients. Carmichael's unheralded other coauthor, chef Mark Tarbell, developed the recipes. Written for a rather more athletic audience than me however, the most relevant section for now is the 30 pages of "foundation phase", which are built around fish and alliums. Further sections of the book address the phases of a serious training regimen.

Not knowing much about nutrition myself, it was interesting to read Carmichael's ideas on aerobic/anaerobic exercise and nutrition. Specifically, he finds that aerobic exercise at the 20-35% effort level is the sweet spot for burning fat (approx. 3:1 vs. carbs), beyond which any additional effort basically only burns carbs. So I infer: if you need to burn calories, go for it, but if you're targeting fat, there's no point to killing yourself to try to up the burn rate.

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I have found the following to be a really delicious, quick and satisfying low fat, high flavor meal. I would eat it often when I was doing my own slim down challenge a few years ago.

Grilled lemon chicken (serves 2-4)

2-4 chicken cutlets

juice of one lemon

1 T. olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Place all ingredients in a freezer bag and bash the crap out of it using the sides of your balled up fists. You may insert thoughts of a damning nature against all the wrongs done to you that day if you wish. The resulting mild heart elevation can count towards cardio workout. Cook chicken in hot skillet (no addt'l oil) or grill pan, or actual grill 2 mins on each side.

Yogurt Salad

1 c Total 0% Greek Yogurt

1 small red chile (determine your own heat tolerance)

green onion

parsley

cilantro

Chop herbs, onion and chile, stir in to yogurt. Serve alongside chicken. I am a pig about this salad, so for me this serves one. It would probably be enough for 2-4 depending on who's dining.

Couscous (serves 2-4)

1 c. couscous

1 c. water

1 handful toasted pine nuts

1 handful toasted sliced almonds

1 handful chopped pistachios

salt

Mix couscous and salt in bowl, add boiling water and cover to steam while chicken is cooking. Once water is absorbed, fork through, add nuts, stir again and serve.

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By leaving the skin in the pan, you may save a few calories, but you are missing out on the primary source of Omega-3 oils (very beneficial fat). I'd suggest oiling the fishskin with EVOO--maybe just a teaspoon's worth, and cooking in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a nonstick pan. And eat the crispy skin--the HDLs help lower your cholesterol.

That's what I did, Zora, thinking I was adapting a go-to recipe to the Challenge. It hadn't occurred to me that I was depriving myself of the O-3, but of course you're right. I guess I'll grind up some of the flax seeds in the freezer and put them in my oatmeal...

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Ah, the beauty of Asian supermarkets.

Because of Asian supermarkets, I was able to make chicken, duck and white beef stock for not very much money.

Our standard dinner most night now is a broth made from stock and aromatics (usually ginger, shallot, thyme, sometimes galangal and lemon grass), lots of blanched veg, some rice noodles, and some slivers of thinly sliced beef, pork or lamb from the "thin-sliced for shabu-shabu/sukiyaki" packages of meat that are all over the freezer cases of Asian meat departments. Add a bit of lime, some basil and/or parsley and/or cilantro leaves, fresh chili or sriracha, and you've got a highly aromatic, highly interesting, kinetic meal. Salad and/or kimchee on the side.

It's working so far (it's even getting my wife to eat vegetables!).

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I've been liking Trader Joe's chicken tenderloins or any sort of chicken (but the tenderloin helps me reduce my portion), cut up with thin spread low fat mayo on a whole wheat hot dog bun with cucumber and sriracha sauce. Basically a sort of simplified, smaller banh mi. You could also go the full effort and add the cilantro and jicama or white radish.

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Not an entire meal, but a VERY enthusiastic endorsement:

The light yellow sweet potatoes at Whole Foods :lol: . They are absolutely delicious and after bite number three, there's a moment of satori when you finally understand why Japanese school children sell hot roasted sweet potatoes to passersby in the winter time as a way to raise money.

I usually buy Jewel or any of the darker varieties, especially when I'm in the mood for salmon and greens. Last night I baked the pale yellow type to go with leftovers and felt for the first time that I really didn't need the 1 t of butter I added, though I do find trans fat in moderation one of the best ways to get over the Angst of dieting.

Sizes range quite a bit, but a quick online search offers caloric value per gram along with approval of the starchy vegetable as a means to both losing (filling, lots of vitamins) and gaining weight (at 200 for mine, many more calories than grapefruit).

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Now that it actually feels like winter around here, I felt like having chili last night. So I dug out an old-favorite recipe from Bon Appetit - Turkey Chili with White Beans. You'll find it if you do a recipe search on Epicurious. It's easy to make, tasty and low-cal. Obviously you can spice it up more if you like. Hits the spot in cold weather. (I particularly like to use the Goya Small White Beans.)

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I put together a hodge-podge salad for lunch today to use up some produce and ended up with a pretty tasty lunch. I started with hearts of romaine and added roasted beets, orange segments, walnuts and some crumbled gorgonzola. Finished it off with some crab meat and a couple dashes of pepper.

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Again, not a full menu, but a recipe or tip for salad eaters. I usually prefer eating green vegetables cooked at this time of year instead of making salads. However, a big plate full of lettuce compensates for smaller portions of a main dish and complements soup, so I've been trying to find alternatives to the 300 plus calories of vinaigrettes.

I opened an old copy of The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two whose pages are falling out of its binding and noticed several recipes for sour cream dressing. So:

Daisy Light Sour Cream: 2 T have 40 calories

Lemon or lime juice

1 garlic clove, minced, then mashed with salt

From there, alternatives are endless and could include Tahini or a minimal amount of grated Parm or Romano if you're good about everything else you eat that day.

I added chopped cilantro and green Tabisco sauce.

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One of our most frequent lighter meals is ham with pineapple salsa, which is derived from a WW recipe. It is great because it doesn't take long to prepare, and most of the ingredients last a long time so we always stay prepared to be able to make it when we have nothing else planned (such as for lunch today).

1 (15 oz.) can pinepple tidbits, chunks, or cut-up rings, undrained

1/3 cups chopped green onions

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons good soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 pounds ham steak

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Combine pineapple, 2 tablespoons pineapple juice, and everything other than the ham. Stir to make pineapple salsa.

While doing that marinate the ham steak with the rest of the pineapple juice. Then, either place ham in cast iron pan or on grill for about 4 minutes a side. If in pan, make sure a little juice goes in the pan also. If using grill (which is much better, but much more inconvenient for us currently), baste a few times with the leftover pineapple juice.

Serve with a side salad or steamed broccoli for a great, fast, light meal.

WW lists this as four servings for 3 points each. We usually just split it between the two of us and make it 6 points, which is still pretty low.

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Been experimenting with quinoa this week, inspired by the folks upthread. It is Weight Watchers-friendly and quite filling, especially with roasted vegetables. So I did one batch plain, then boxed it up for lunch with a little beef broth and some roasted parsnips, carrots, and rutabaga. And last night I made more of a quinoa ratatouille (okay, YOU spell it) with red pepper, onion, and zucchini. I cooked the veg with spices (ginger, garlic, cayenne, cumin, coriander) and then added red lentils and broth, cooked for a while, then added quinoa and more broth, and cooked til the curlicues showed. The lentils sort of melt away into a general sauce. The amount of this you can eat for 5 WW points is truly astounding.

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