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Calculating the portions

February 29, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
The sprouts are sprouting and I think I need to get another batch started right away.

Once again I look outside and pine for signs of spring. But instead, I am greeted with falling snow and freezing temperatures. It makes me want to stay inside and huddle by the fire, but I have to go out in it and get going. By keeping busy, I can keep my mind off of the weather.

I’m not going to say I wish it were April because my husband would just tell me not to wish my life away. Perhaps he is right. We need to take each day as it comes and be thankful we have this day at all. I’m sure the snow will seem very far away when we’re complaining about the heat and high air-conditioning bills.

Although I am showing you my menu for Thursday, I am writing this on Friday afternoon. Thursday was its usual busy day at work and I managed to hit the gym afterward for a short aerobic session and weigh-in for the weight-loss contest going on there. On Tuesday, you should be able to read how the Tribune Chronicle Fitness Challenge contestants are doing as well. I’ve been a part of the fitness challenge in past years and it is lots of fun.

After quick stop at the store Wednesday evening, I picked up a good supply of bananas for my morning oatmeal. Thursday morning, I was excited to have a bowl and instead of the usual ½ cup serving I usually make, I followed the directions on the box for a heart-healthy serving instead. The recipe increased the liquid by a half-cup and the oats by a quarter-cup. For the liquid, I like to use half water and half fat-free milk. While that cooks, I coarsely mash a whole banana in the bottom of my bowl. When the oats are done, I pour them over top the banana and mix it around. I weigh the nuts each morning before I chop them to make sure I’m not overdoing my one-half ounce. I recently discovered I was calculating the nuts wrong, thinking that one ounce of nuts was equal to one ounce of meat, according to the USDA food pyramid program. Unfortunately, one-half ounce of nuts is equal to one-ounce of meat or beans. In addition to the meat portion, nuts are also fat portions. That same one-half ounce of nuts contains one and one-half teaspoons of oils. They are healthy oils, but oils just the same and should be limited due to their high calorie content.

It takes a while of perusing the Web site, to figure out what constitutes a serving size. I often have to revisit the site and the recommendations for portion sizes to keep in tune with what a person my height should be having each day to maintain a healthy weight. Sometimes my calculations are bit off (I was never good with numbers), but I have had good results on the program so far with few instances of hunger pangs or desires to go too far overboard.

But I am realistic. If I choose to have that occasional dessert or if I am a guest in someone’s home and am offered a piece of cake, I will accept and enjoy, knowing that this treat will not send me into a feeding frenzy. If you find that your meals aren’t carrying you through until the next one, it might be time to rethink your choices, including eating healthier things more often. Basically, let your body tell you when it wants something and when it has had enough.

I had a hard time deciding what to take to work for my lunch on Thursday, so I tossed a two-ounce can of tuna and a frozen pita in my bag and left it go at that. When lunchtime rolled around, I found I wasn’t in the mood for tuna. As it was, I had a small amount of sliced turkey left in my work refrigerator and I thought if I didn’t eat it soon, it was going to have to go in the trash. Instead, I channeled my daughter’s favorite lunch; chicken in the garden from Saratoga Restaurant in downtown Warren. I made my own version, tearing the pita into pieces on a plate and chopping the sliced turkey. I walked to Subway for a plain salad with my favorite vegetables and tossed it all together with two teaspoons of regular Italian salad dressing and a couple more teaspoons of fat-free Italian salad dressing. Mixing the two will give you just a little oil, but a lot of flavor. I was so busy the rest of the afternoon, I didn’t have time to think about being hungry or having a snack.

By the time I got home, though, the hunger hit me. I had gone all the way from lunch to dinner with nothing more than a salad with a bit of fat and protein. That was a really long time and my stomach was telling me it was ready for some fuel. Since my husband at work and not home for dinner, I thought a quick way to satisfy my hunger without grabbing something unhealthy was to make a quick frittata. I beat together two whole eggs and one egg white while sauteeing a handful of fresh green beans, mushrooms and onions. Once the vegetables were tender, I poured the eggs on top and let them cook until set on the bottom. I placed the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until the eggs were set on top as well and sprinkled about two tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese on top. Back in the broiler for a few seconds until the cheese was melted and it looked and smelled so good I couldn’t wait to dive in. Who says you have to stop for fast food on the way home?


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Breakfast: 1 ½ ounces grains; 1 ½ cups milk; 1 ounce meat/ 1 ½ tsps. oils; 30 discretionary calories (sugar in tea, not shown)