Food, that is!
Thanks to all of you for your insightful healthy living tips! I covered some of the healthy living basics in my last post, but you certainly picked up the slack. I’ve compiled all of your tips in the “Reader Tips” tab under “Simple Tips for Healthy Living“. Check it out to see your name … well, not in lights. Italics :)
A common theme among your healthy living tips is the idea of portion control. I couldn’t agree more that portion control is an essential part of healthy living. While I emphasize that these healthy living tips (including portion control) are not designed for weight loss, they can help prevent unwanted weight gain. As many of us know, portion sizes have been growing steadily in the last 20-30 years, sometimes quadrupling or quintupling in size. As you can imagine, these larger portions can lead to significant weight gain. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that current portions are much larger than they need because large portions are now everywhere. That 8 oz. muffin at Local Coffee Shop? That’s about 3 – 4 portions. I interact with a lot of people in the community who have no idea that the pasta bowl they ate at lunch contains six servings of pasta.
I mention this portion distortion not to cause a fixation on portions, but to stress that it is important to be educated about what you eat. I think we all agree that free will in nutrition is essential, yes? (If you don’t agree with me, let me know in the comments!) By knowing as much as possible about what we are putting into our bodies, we are actively choosing how we nourish ourselves, rather than letting someone else choose for us.
In addition to the fun portion distortion quiz I recommended last time (if you haven’t tried it, check it out!), here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to portion sizes mostly using your hands (perfect for restaurants):
* The area and thickness of your palm is a portion of meat or poultry (about 3-4 ounces). You can also use a deck of cards if you’re planning on playing canasta later.
* 3-4 ounces of fish may be little larger – about the size of a checkbook.
* Make a fist. That’s about 1 cup.
* Your cupped hand can hold about 1-2 ounces of cereal or a snack food.
* Your cupped hand will also hold about 1/2 cup of foods like pasta, rice, and ice cream. How handy!
* Your thumb is about 1 ounce of cheese (I use this one all the time).
* Your thumb is also about 1 Tablespoon. I often use thumbs for measuring peanut butter and salad dressing.
* Your thumb tip is about 1 teaspoon – great for butter or tub margarine.
Of course, hand sizes vary from person-to-person, so just be aware that if you’re Robert Wadlow, this guide may not apply to you. Be sure to look at nutrition labels for how many cups or ounces is in a single portion, and check out MyPyramid for a guide on approximately how many portions of each good group to eat per day (I say “approximately”, because MyPyramid is an estimation).
In my last post, I also mentioned a concept called “always” foods and “sometimes” foods. I try to balance my “always” and “sometimes” foods by eating the higher-fat, refined flour foods 10-20% of the time (I believe in steering away from a strict percentage to avoid over-restriction), and the “always” foods the rest of the time. So, what kinds of “always” foods do I enjoy? Well …
Lunch! Taken at 5:45 am, this picture represents a typical Jessie packed lunch – a balanced combo, if I say so myself *polishes fingernails* In the sandwich container is a mix of red bell pepper, green beans, and shiitake mushrooms, drizzled in Annie’s dressing (healthy fats and as many veggies as I can fit in my belly). On the side: pomegranate siggi’s yogurt (2 for $3!), to be enjoyed with a crumbled peanut butter oat bar (nonfat dairy and whole grains). To round out the meal: une pomme (fruit).
The siggi’s and oat bar, photographed two seconds prior to consumption:
Thank you, Bri and Taryn, for not giving me funny looks as I hunched over to get the best photo angle in a room full of people :D
Now! Here’s a perfect example of a “sometimes” food:
What’s that, Jessie?? Why, it’s the
“I Meant to Fry Them But I Can’t Handle Hot Oil” Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2007
1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk or skim milk
2/3 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Veggie oil (if you want to fry them)
If you’re baking your doughnuts, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil apple cider in a saucepan for about 7-8 minutes, or until the cider has reduced to about 1/3 cup. Let cool.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix cooled cider, milk, butter, eggs, and 1 cup sugar. Stir cider mixture into flour mixture (the dough will be very sticky).
Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick, adding more flour if needed. Use a biscuit cutter or a rarely-used wineglass to cut rounds.
You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but just be aware that they will be tough.
I baked my doughnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Beautiful! Sprinked with a combination of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon, these doughnuts were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
I’ve fried these doughnuts before and they’ve turned out great. Here are the frying directions for those interested: Heat 3 quarts of vegetable oil to 370 degrees F in a heavy pot over medium heat. Slide 10 doughnuts into the hot oil. When each doughnut floats to surface, turn over nd fry, turning once more, until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Allow oil to return to 370 degrees F between batches (essential!). Allow the fried doughnuts have cooled slightly and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
… Okay, I have to admit something to you guys … I DID try to pan-fry these doughnuts before baking them, because I don’t like to handle large quantities of hot oil – and, because I couldn’t find more than about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil in our kitchen. How did they turn out?
Never, NEVER try to pan-fry doughnuts. It just doesn’t work.
Finally, I am excited to be attending the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston this weekend! Held by the American Dietetics Association, this event brings together RDs and DTRs and other nutrition professionals, as well as fun guests, such as Anthony Bourdain (ever hear of him?) Needless to say, I am thrilled to meet a lot of new people! If you’re going to be in the area, let me know!
This upcoming weekend should be a lot of fun, especially as a special event is happening on Saturday, November 6 HINT HINT. Obviously, I will not be posting until I return from Boston in the middle of next week, but I’ll be sure to give you a recap of the latest and greatest in the field of nutrition!
Until then … zai jian!
Q: What are your favorite “always” foods and “sometimes” foods?