Skating Uphill

Living A Healthy Lifestyle

My dear fellow Uphill Skaters, last month I talked about healthy breakfasts and promised to share a few tips and ideas for healthy lunches and dinners. I do not like to draw lines between meal choices. To clarify, I think pancakes for dinner are a great idea, and reheated meatloaf or leftover vegetable lasagna for breakfast is perfectly fine. It isn't so much when you eat a particular dish, as what you are eating that is important. If you have prepared a healthy dinner and have leftovers, they are still healthy at lunch the next day, or, yes, even breakfast!

Lunch is often a grab and go affair, so the foods we eat are often of the fast food variety. We can conquer that with a few simple plan-ahead strategies. You can always take something from home. Nothing elaborate-a yogurt or packet of soup or cottage cheese with fruit. I do not advocate it, but I am not necessarily against a Weight Watcher's type frozen microwave meal or even a shake, like the Atkins or Kellogg's types. However, with a little forethought, it's easy to do better. When I used to eat like this it was not enough; I was still hungry and tempted by whatever else was around. If this is the case with you, too, consider adding a piece of fruit or a leftover. My friend, who always cooks too much, calls her leftovers "planned-overs." Then she has containers of delicious, healthy foods at the ready.

If you have time to prepare something, think wraps. With fat free, low carb, high fiber and spinach tortillas available, it's easy and healthy to fill them with your favorite ingredients and call it lunch. They are filling, too. One of my favorites is vegetarian chicken nuggets sliced in three, grated reduced-fat cheddar, lettuce, tomato and a bit of vinegar and oil. A friend of mine loves rinsed black beans, Perdue Short Cuts Grilled Chicken, pepper-jack cheese, and salsa, topped with a teaspoon of ranch dressing. Another favorite is the Perdue Short Cuts Chicken topped with chopped broccoli, carrots, reduce-fat cheddar and a teaspoon of ranch. The beauty of wraps is filling them to the brim with healthy, lo-cal ingredients. You can practically eat all the broccoli, lettuce or tomato you want.

Salad is another winner at lunch. I have started getting creative beyond tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots atop my lettuce. I add fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and even bananas. Nuts are delicious, too. It is another way to incorporate fresh fruits into your diet. Speaking of which, a big bunch of grapes with a tub of cottage cheese or yogurt is tough to beat. Whether you choose a wrap or salad for lunch, not only will you be eating healthy, you will also avoid the afternoon slump that hits most people about an hour after lunch. All of these suggestions are balanced and not heavy on carbs, therefore your blood sugar will remain steady, which means you stay alert!

I am of the opinion that people like to make dinner more of an occasion than lunch, especially to sit down together as a family. Tacos are a fun "do together" meal, as the whole family can help with the preparation and assemble their own. It's easy to lighten-up tacos by using lean ground turkey instead of beef or chicken breasts cooked with peppers and onions. Then it's up to you as to what toppings you want to include on yours. In fact, I provide both hard and soft taco shells, but I usually make a delicious taco salad for me, leaving out the shell. It's quick, easy, and great for "planned-overs" because these ingredients can be put in your healthy wrap the next day. Fish is also a favorite-grilled with a little spritz of lime, pineapple juice, butter-flavored Pam, or white wine. Add a vegetable and you have a great healthy meal. Remember, you can grill anything, including pineapple rings, which by the way are great with grilled ham slices.

I have a friend who is a long-time Weight Watcher who advocates what she calls "pizza control," which implies that pizza can easily get out of control. Buy pizza dough and simply make your own. Use your kind of sauce, your kind of toppings, and your kind and amount of cheese. It is not hard and it is a very satisfying dinner because it is just as YOU like it.

Finally, my all time favorite is pasta. Yes, pasta can be a healthy dish with very little extra effort. Buy whole wheat pasta and add sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, pine nuts, shrimp, or whatever suits your taste. Add herbs to taste and some light olive oil. Now that is really yummy! Remember portion sizes-that's the key to eating pasta.and anything, really!

Cinderella once said that a really good makeover can change your life, and next month we will explore this concept! Look for tips from what I call the OVER 40 group, too-a collection of ladies I know who have all lost over 40 pounds. Be sure to tune in-these gals are a real inspiration.

Judith's Recipe: You say potato, I say potahto, But no matter how you say it, honey, a yam is a sweet potato, And a real hit for a summer salad.

Sweet Potato Salad A very simple and really healthy dish.

There are two ways to prepare the sweet potatoes for this cold salad. First and easiest is to simply put the sweet potatoes in the microwave and cook until al dente. They should be firm enough not to get mushy when you mix them. The other way, and I really like this one if you are grilling anyway, is to slice the raw potatoes about º inch thick and grill on the BBQ. Either way, the prepared potatoes should be cubed as you would for a regular potato salad.

3-4 Sweet potatoes, cooked al dente
Ω Red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 Stalks celery, chopped
2-3 Green onions, chopped, use white and green parts
Combine vegetables in a bowl and toss with suggested dressing.

Juice of Ω Lime
1 Tbsp White wine vinegar, add more to your taste
º cup Olive oil
Chopped cilantro-this is a strong herb, so use it to your own taste
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 packet Sweet and Lo sweetener

Pour dressing over combined vegetables, toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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