Monday, February 28, 2011

Sugar Free Sweet & Sour Meatballs

It's the last day of February, which means we're almost upon National Nutrition Month, coming up on Lent, and on a side note, I'm celebrating the fact that my local Costco now carries low-fat Mori-Nu tofu. So much to blog little time!

Today I'm thinking about a healthy recipe for Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. If you've taken "Luscious," you may have already prepared meatballs in a sweet-and-sour sauce in the slow cooker with me before. Here's a different, but equally delicious and sugar-free version, with just 21 grams of carb per serving.

Fifteen grams of fat per serving is considered "lower-fat," but if the 17 grams of fat in this recipe is too much for you, put the meatballs in a colander and run hot water over them until they thaw. Or, you can use soy-based meatballs instead...although that takes all the Fat Tuesday fun out of it!

Sugar-Free Sweet & Sour Meatballs


2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced)

1 tablespoon sugar substitute (such as Splenda)

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

¾ cup sugar-free orange marmalade

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 pound pre-cooked meatballs


Combine garlic, sugar substitute, soy sauce, marmalade, and tomato sauce in slow cooker. Add meatballs. Cook on LOW for 3 – 5 hours, or on HIGH for 2 – 4 hours, until sauce thickens.

Nutrition Information

Makes about 6 servings. Per serving, 262 calories, 21 grams total carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 7 grams sugars, 17 grams total fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 1 gram trans-fatty acids, 8 grams polyunsaturated fat, 8 grams monounsaturated fat, 318 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams protein, and 1183 milligrams sodium.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Taming Nighttime Noshing

Picture it: You get up early to hit the gym, eat a healthy breakfast, drink several liters of water, take several breaks to do some stretching and deep breathing, say no to the gang as they head out for a high-fat lunch, make a healthy dinner when you get home, and spend time preparing for the following day. Whew!

After spending all day working so hard to meet your weight management goals, you'd think the evening at home would be easy, right? Unfortunately, many people find that evenings are the most challenging time of day, and after all that effort, succumb to nighttime noshing.

What can you do? Here's a laundry list of ideas:

1) Start by making a list of nurturing activities that will keep your hands busy. Crafts of all sorts, from crocheting to scrapbooking, are an excellent way to enjoy some creative down time and keep your hands occupied. Light exercise while watching TV -- lifting light weights, doing gentle cardio, enjoying simple stretches, getting on a bike or similar apparatus -- is a great way to make TV time healthier, and separate it from the noshing habit.

2) If you're actually hungry later in the evening, consider planning ahead for a healthy snack. For many people, a snack with lots of protein, non-starchy veggies, and a little carbohydrate and fat is ideal.

3) Make sure you're hydrated. If you're not drinking at least 2 liters of plain water daily, you might need to up your water intake.

4) Check in with yourself to see if your needs are getting met. Many people neglect their feelings and needs all day long, then fall into indulgence in the evenings. If this sounds familiar, make a list of ways you can connect with your feelings and meet your real needs, rather than indulging yourself with food.
5) Take a look at how you view TV time. For many of us, TV is an indulgence -- that is, we're thinking, "At last! I get to sit around and do nothing but vegetate for a while!" If that resonates for you, consider finding another way to relax your body and mind.

TV is not designed to be relaxing -- it's meant to be stimulating. If what you need is relaxation, TV is going about it the wrong way, and your needs never get met. That can make it much easier to turn to eating to meet the need. When eating doesn't meet the need, either, people tend to watch more TV...then eat more...and so on. So, instead of viewing TV as your time to veg out, consider connecting TV time with exercise time. That way, you'll break the nighttime noshing habit and meet your exercise goals, too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Are You Hungry...Or Thirsty?

My schedule has been more hectic than usual this past week, and I've been struggling to get in my 4 liters of water every day. My first and second liters are still on schedule, but that third liter has been tricky, and the fourth liter just hasn't been happening.

Happily, things mellow out this week, and next week should be even calmer, so the worst of the tempest is behind me. And there's been an interesting up side to all this focus on hydration. I've been thinking about the connection between hunger and thirst.

You've probably heard that sometimes, when you're hungry, you may be thirsty. I've never heard anyone speculate as to why this might be true. It doesn't make much sense on the surface, does it?

My theory is that because fresh, clean water has historically been challenging to find, a food source of water would be a safer option. And because it's only been recently, historically speaking, that starvation wasn't around the next corner, following up on thirst by eating instead of drinking just might help keep humanity alive.

So, the next time you satisfy your hunger with a big glass of water, you can think to yourself, "Ha! I just overrode thousands of years of genetic programming!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fun With Food Recording

It's February already! How are you doing with weight management? If you're struggling, maybe it's time to think about going back to the basics -- beginning with food recording.

Few people find food recording fun. For some, it's not so much taking the time and effort as it is feeling as though the food record is a harsh, judgmental presence. If that's the case for you, I urge you to consider your food record as your friend and ally instead. We're each doing the best we can for ourselves with the tools we have in each moment. Discovering what we're doing with those tools is the first step in realizing that we need to make a change.

Of course, for many people, food recording is unpleasant because it requires time and effort. While that's true, I've had hundreds (maybe thousands!) of people tell me, "I'd do anything to get this weight off!" Food recording is one of those "anythings" that practically everyone can do -- and it's been proven in study after study to be one of the most important things you can do to lose weight.

Food recording is a daily hassle, but it's really not much more difficult or time-consuming than flossing and brushing your teeth, once you get the hang of it. If you've ever taught a young child to floss and brush, you know it takes time and practice to get good at flossing and brushing. It takes even longer to instill in a young child the value of daily dental hygiene. But with consistent encouragement and reminders, you and I have learned to floss and brush daily -- without even thinking about it, really. For most people, food recording becomes easy enough that they can do it in their head. (That's what I do, actually.) Of course, the trick is...practice, practice, practice!

So, whether you prefer an iPod app, a computer program, track in your daily planner, or use a pocket-sized notebook, keep in mind that your food record is a simple-but-powerful tool in your weight management arsenal. Happy recording!