Every New Year I am flooded by emails asking for my advice on diets. I feel bad that I do not have the expertise to advise, so I avoid doing so. Truthfully, most diets I have tried have not worked for me in the long term, but have on a short-term basis. I am not a skinny girl and never will be. However, I am very aware of what I eat and enjoy good food in moderation. Ironically, when I do not consciously think of dieting that is when I lose a little weight. To be honest with you, for 2013 I have purposely avoided a diet resolution. Not what you expected me to say, right? I have been guilty in the past of breaking them, so this year I wanted to free my mind from any dietary obligation and just continue to be mindful of what I consume.
However, if you do like to keep resolutions, I encourage you to go with what works for you. There are many commercial diets out there, so carefully research them to see what it is that you want to achieve, then decide which one works best with your lifestyle and budget. Here are a few tips for general wellness which will help you with your weight loss goals if you are not going for a specific diet type.
Write out a weekly menu of what you are going to make. This will help you become disciplined in making the right choices at purchase point as well as give you an idea of what your diet will cost. Make it a habit to buy more fresh produce than processed foods. I've said this so many times, but I am saying it again. Check all labels and don't be fooled by jargon such as low fat. What are the sodium or sugar levels included? Are there any artificial sweeteners and dangerous preservatives? Know your labels and the sources of your food.
Secondly, keep a food diary of not only what you are consuming but also your emotional state, whether or not you are doing any exercises and how these foods make you feel. For example do they make you tired or give you more energy? I know my next point has become a bit cliché, but it's an important one. Keep hydrated! Drink water. It flushes you out and detoxifies your body. So make a note of how many glasses of water you drink, and if you need to increase your intake, then take a bottle to work which you can refill at the office cooler. Many times when we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty.
Regardless of the lifestyle diet you choose this year, remember it is not one size fits all. A plan that may work for a family member or friend may not necessarily work for you. Don't succumb to peer pressure, it happens a lot, especially with women. Do what you are comfortable with, eat sensible portions from each food group and do your own research. Eat slowly, digest your food properly, don't overeat and become uncomfortable. Remember food is not the enemy; it's the abuse of certain foods and misinformation that is the problem. Food is meant to nourish and to be enjoyed, always keep that in the back of your mind. Don't let others dictate what is on your plate, just be smart about your eating habits by arming yourself with the necessary information applicable to your specific needs. Good luck with your 2013 diet resolutions.
JuicyChef's Fast Eggplant, Red Onion and Tomato Bake
This 30-minute meal is delicious if you are trying to incorporate more meat-free meals in your diet. My dish comprises four main ingredients and seasonings. I love making vegetable bakes for a light supper. I keep receiving a glut of eggplant and they are divine paired with tomatoes and cheese. To make this dish healthier you can use olive oil cooking spray and a low-fat version of the cheese.
4 eggplants, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1 large red onion, sliced into rounds
350g/11/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400oF
In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and fry eggplant on each side for a couple of minutes or until just browned.
Next, in the same pan, fry onion slices until brown.
Mix dried basil with diced tomatoes.
Lightly grease a casserole dish and layer half the eggplant then half the red onions.
Next make a layer of half the sauce and half the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Repeat above steps.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
JuicyChef's Basic Chicken Sauté
This basic sauté comprises golden brown chicken cooked in wine and chicken broth. It's very light, not spicy at all, maybe bland for the Jamaican palate, so add extra spice if you wish. I enjoy its tasty simplicity because I don't like overly spiced food all of the time. It's perfect with vegetables on the side for those watching their waistlines for 2013. If you don't want to use wine, substitute with lemon or lime juice, likewise if you don't want to use breasts use thighs.
4 chicken breasts, lightly pounded to flatten
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
125ml/ 1/2 cup white cooking wine
125ml/ 1/2 cup hot chicken stock
Chopped parsley or thyme, for garnish
Generously season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add butter; once melted and bubbly add the olive oil.
Add the chicken breasts and leave them to cook for 5 minutes undisturbed; don't worry about burning, you want it to get to a nice brown colour.
Turn them over and leave for another 5 minutes, then remove.
Next add the wine and reduce liquid by half and deglaze by scrapping up the lovely bits in the pan.
Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil then simmer.
Add the chicken to the sauce and cook for a couple more minutes to make sure chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with herbs.
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