I am not a health nut. I am not an exercise freak. I try my best to maintain a healthy-enough lifestyle while still enjoying those things I love: booze, bread, chocolate and cheese, just to name a few. I come from a family that enjoys good food and great wine. My dad’s been a wine salesman for as long as I can remember, and there is a stack of Julia Child cookbooks on my bookshelf, just recently inherited from my grandparents. Some of my first and fondest memories are of food and the atmosphere in which it’s presented. It goes beyond the obligatory holiday associations: My memories primarily revolve around Sunday dinners with my family. The first time perfectly-cooked, buttery Salmon melted in my mouth. Asparagus, the first vegetable besides iceberg lettuce and raw carrots that I would tolerate. I more than tolerated it, I freakin’ LOVED it. My chocolate obsession alone is most certainly inherited from my mother. She is perhaps the best baker/pastry concocter EVER. Long story short: I was blessed to NEVER have to tolerate a Publix cake on my birthday.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned over the years that when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight as my age climbs and my awesome metabolism falls, I find it much easier to make myself work out than to keep myself from eating yet another croissant. This doesn’t always even out, and given my now sedentary job, my weight has slowly crept upwards over the last year. I do what I can though. I’m not fat by any means, and I’m not my ideal weight. But I’ve reached a threshold at this point. There are certain things I love in this life more than trying to be a size 2. After all, keeping your weight isn’t about dieting. Diets don’t work long term. You have to make permanent changes. And guess what: Puff Pastry will always be in my life; this is not a thing I can permanently remove. So, over the years I’ve adapted my diet where I can, and now I try to live a ‘semi-healthy’ lifestyle. If you’re anything like me, and need to find realistic ways to cut back the cals, I’ve compiled a list below of my favorite changes I’ve made thus far:
(In order, left to right)
1. Ziplock 2 cup containers: This is a great portion-sizing tool. I try to make batches of easy-freeze meals when I can, like chili and Chicken Corn Chowder, and portion them out into these lil’ guys. Not only is it easy to defrost a single portion at a time, but they’re really convenient after a long day at work/gym. They’re a lifesaver when all you wanna do is order in pizza rather than cook.
2: Sparkling ICE: These babies go on sale all the time at my Publix. I like them because they’re a nice alternative mixer to boring soda water. We try to cut cals where we can, but goddammit, Mama wants her vodka cocktail! I had to learn to tolerate a standard vodka/soda since that’s basically the lowest calorie drink you can have. But let’s face it, it kinda tastes like shit. But ICE is zero-calories, has beaucoup vitamins, and while it does have a slight fake-sweetener aftertaste, it comes in lots of flavors that pair great with either vodka or rum.
3: Kashi TLC Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies: When I just have to have chocolate but I can’t metabolically afford it, I go for these. They’re surprisingly filling, and only around 140 cals ea (compare that with your run-of-the-mill Chips a hoy….) Plus they’re lower in sugar, higher in fiber and protein, etc.
4: Bolthouse Farms salad dressings: DUDE. their Ranch is hands down the best. AND it’s got 75% fewer cals and 85% less fat than the regular stuff. At 45 cal/serving (2 tbsp), I def don’t feel guilty about pouring some of this gold over my routine veggie salad. NUM.
5: Cool Gear water bottles: Ok, I know you’re all sick of hearing about how we have to drink more water, but it’s kinda important. I made myself start carting around a water bottle everywhere I go. Easiest way to do that? Find one you like. I know it sounds kind of weird… I mean this isn’t a sun dress or anything, but having a container that has features you like makes it easier to bring with you, thereby reminding you to drink more. Reasons why I like this one, you ask?
a): grip. even when covered in condensation, my baby hand still fits securely around it (UNLIKE Nalgenes).
b) It comes with a freeze tube. You pop it in the freezer and stick in it to keep your liquid of choice colder, longer.
c) Tuck-away straw: you don’t dump water all over yourself if you accidentally tip it back too far, and it tucks away, so even if it gets knocked over, the spillage factor is minimal.
d)Handle: still allows for it to be attached to most things a la caribeaner.
6: Clean Eating magazine: A good staple if you’re one who runs out of healthy ideas for meals. You pretty much always have to adjust the seasoning to your taste (I’m sorry, but 1 tsp of sea salt for 1 lb of ground turkey ain’t enough for me), but it’s a great resource to keep you focused on eating as healthy as you can.
7: Misto oil misters: A great control device for oil dispensing. I usually use mine when I’m roasting vegetables. It distributes EVOO very evenly in a thin layer. You’d be surpised how many calories you waste just by accidentally using too much oil.
**Extra bonus: 2 of the easiest ways to add flavor without adding fat? Lemon and Garlic.
If you’ve got a neat addition to the list, feel free! I’m always on the look out for easy little changes to make….
Current Jam: “Yer So bad” by Tom Petty… well, really the entire album Full Moon Fever.