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By: Rosemary Collins, RDN

CalendarScaleBe good to yourself. It is January, and the holiday parties are over. With snow on the ground, and winter in full force, it is a good time to turn inward. Consider using this time to resolve to focus on you and to find your way to better health.

Rejoice in the lifelong health benefits and longevity that come from weight loss; forget about exactly how many pounds you need to lose but focus on something you would really like to do if you were a few pounds lighter. Smaller, short-term weight loss goals are much easier to achieve.

Losing weight becomes easy when you invest your energy in making positive healthy changes for yourself. It’s easy to set a weight loss goal but most important to have a plan on how to get there.

One way to get started is to set a goal that is ”specific, measurable, realistic and trackable.” You’ll see progress toward if you simply walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week, and add an extra serving each day of fruits and vegetables. Healthy lifestyle changes do not happen at once, but gradual changes in what and how much you eat, when you eat it and how much you exercise will help you to lose weight over time.

By focusing on changes you can easily make part of your every day lifestyle, you will be able to sustain them for the long haul.

Next, start working out at home, or become a member of a gym where you feel comfortable. Try to start on January 1, but it is never too late! Try to develop you plan and have it enacted by mid-January. Pick some classes, find a trainer, and have a friend join you.

Have a friend hold you accountable. The resolution that goes, “I can do it all, eat better, lose weight and start exercising,” can be difficult to achieve! Initially, focus on one or two areas. For example, start to eat a healthy breakfast every day. The second focus might be to team up with a friend, relative or personal trainer who will make sure you stick to the plan. It is much easier to go to the gym twice a week if you know a friend is waiting for you.

The Five Diet Solutions

These are the top five diet solutions that I have found to be successful:

BreakfastEat Breakfast

It’s a great start to the day and helps to keep you from feeling hungry later in the morning. Oatmeal with lower fat milks, with some added fruits such raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or a sprinkling of nuts such as almonds is winter warming and fiber rich way to start the day. Can also double up as a healthy snack after a visit to the gym.

Fill up on homemade soups

These are absolutely the best lower calorie choice for a midday or evening, meal. Choose some fresh or frozen vegetables such as butternut squash, spinach, kale, or tinned green beans, and start being creative! Also they are much lower in salt than canned store bought varieties.

Try out a new healthy casserole recipe

One pot is easiest to make and can be used for a couple of days during the week to save time in the kitchen. Double up on vegetables on your plate.

teaFeeling hungry?

Try a hot refreshing drink instead of a snack. Green tea and flavored herbal teas are calorie free and have health giving anti oxidants. They are both warming and comforting.

Leave the temptations

Leave the temptations, ice cream, cookies, candy, chips and snacks at the grocery store. Give away any Holiday goodies that might still be in your kitchen cupboard!

Here are some new healthy recipes for you to try:

SoupSpiced Winter Squash Soup

(this is one of my favorite soups!)

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs of butter nut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ large onion chopped finely
1-tablespoon mild curry powder or 1 tsp. curry paste
2 tbs olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
Low fat Greek yogurt or sour cream to garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. Take a large stove top casserole dish and add 2 tbs olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion and butternut squash and sauté over low heat until the squash is soft and slightly browned. About 10-15 minutes.
3. Add 4 cups of broth cover and cook on low until the squash is thoroughly cooked and soft.
4. Turn off heat and use hand held blender to pulse the squash once the soup has cooled slightly. Add extra broth if needed.
5. Add curry spice gradually and adjust to taste.
Serve hot with a dessert spoon of low fat Greek yogurt.

SoupBean Soup with Greens
This hearty vegetarian soup can be made with any type of canned beans, which you may have in your cupboard. If you wish, add some chopped, cooked chicken breast for a complete meal in one.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped celery, ½ cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
4 cups vegetable broth
7 cups stemmed, chopped kale, about 1 bunch of greens
1 (15 ounce) can no-added-salt cannellini beans, rinsed drained and divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh Rosemary or other fresh herb of your choice

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat a large stove top casserole dish over medium high heat. Add olive oil, onion, carrot and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender.

2. Stir in crushed garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in 3 cups of vegetable broth and kale or other greens. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the greens are completely tender.

4. Place half of cannellini beans and remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth in a food processor or blender, process until smooth. This will give a nice thick and creamy taste to the soup. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans, black beans and pepper to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in red wine vinegar and fresh herbs.

Vegetable Gratin

(This photo comes to us courtesy of Sainsbury’s Live Well for Less October 2014)

GratinINGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 oz. plain flour
12 oz. 2% lower fat milk
1½ oz. grated mature or sharp cheddar cheese
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese or equivalent
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
7 oz parsnips, peeled, halved and sliced on the diagonal
7 oz carrots, peeled halved and sliced on the diagonal
8 oz. cooked beets, cut into wedges
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 oz. Breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400º F, 350º F for fan-assisted oven.

2. Make the cheese sauce. Heat the canola oil and stir in the flour. Cook for one minute before whisking in the milk, a little at a time. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes before stirring in ¾ cheese, ¾ Parmesan and the mustard.

3. As you cook the sauce, put the parsnips and carrots in a large pan to boil for 8 minutes, adding 1 of the sliced leeks for the last 3 minutes. Drain and tip into a baking dish. Scatter over the beet wedges, and then cover with the cheese sauce.

4. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the gratin, along with the remaining finely chopped leek and cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden and lightly browned at the edges.

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