Archive for February 10, 2011

Advisor, Advise Thyself

Last week, after days of being enveloped in blankets of gray above and white below, my e-messages to friends in southern states must have started sounding pretty pitiful, from the tone of the responses I got. “I almost hate to tell you about our weather. Yesterday was an almost perfect day with a high of 73 and a cerulean sky,” wrote a longtime family friend in Tucson. And from my BFF in Mount Dora, Florida, “I hate to rub it in, especially when blizzards are blowing across the country, but it’s flat-out gorgeous here!” 

And then, a blessedly cloudless Minnesota sky mercifully releases huge doses of sunshine to we seasonally affected types here below, and my mood leaps within me. Suddenly, I am inspired to do things I have been vowing to do, like unshelving major writing projects set aside for the holidays, introducing metabolism-revving activity breaks into my desk-sitting stints, and limiting myself to more reasonable serving sizes. 

It is so darned easy to let that morning bowl of cinnamon-laced, raisin-studded oatmeal morph into two+ servings and the weekly sugary treat bloat its way into a cake and ice cream lollapalooza. Dessert splurges aside, lumberjack-size portions of even the most healthful of foods can still bring on sluggishness, adding to the winter lethargy syndrome, and can push that scale needle up incrementally but significantly over the long, cold span of winter. Let’s not even talk about where the excess poundage will – and won’t – end up settling, come ski parka-shedding time. 

I recently reminded my slim but cholesterol-challenged brother-in-law that what he does eat is just as important as what he doesn’t eat. Cutting out deep-fried foods is a good move, I instructed, but adding in lots of fresh fruits, leafy greens, and fiber-rich good stuff – like legumes and whole grains and pears, oh my – is equally essential. The bottom line? Substituting a bowlful of Good and Plenty candies for his usual three-Hershey-Bar bedtime snack isn’t exactly the kind of swap that’s going to contribute to a goal of good health. Cliff Notes version: “Fat-free” isn’t necessarily “okay.” 

Well, I may be preachy but I also have a conscience, and my loving lecture to my brother-in-law really did intensify my focus on my own errant habits. I vowed to stop fooling myself into calling that mound of peanut butter into which I am dipping my sliced apple “two tablespoons” when the application of measuring utensils belies it to be more like four, and I committed to revamping our favorite winter comfort food menus to fit everyone’s needs for both taste satisfaction and a nice result on their next lab reports. 

A good start on that promise was a very simple menu of Boneless Roast Pork Loin, Steamed Sugar Snap Peas with Roasted Red Peppers, Second-Thought Twice-Baked Potatoes, and Pear, Apricot, Pineapple Bake. And for that slender but misguided brother-in-law who dines with us once a week, I pulled out a whole hatful of tricks for amping up the nutrition in a batch of Trail Mix Cookies for the road. The how-tos follow.  (more…)

February 10, 2011 at 4:21 am Leave a comment

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