Not-so-boring solutions to the boring salad

By Kay Harrod Published:

With the holidays behind us, now it’s the guilt ads – join the gym, buy the newest exercise equipment, get Botox. Whatever, you need to change the way you look.

It’s the New Year and one of the most-made resolutions is losing weight. It is also the one resolution with the most disappointing results – making those who vow to lose a few pounds feel guilty when they abandon whatever method they chose. Subsequently, if they had any success, they quickly regain whatever they lost – maybe even more.

I hate the word “diet.” In its truest definition it means the foods we eat to sustain us. Birds have a diet – berries, nuts, seeds and even peanut butter.

“I’m on a diet,” you hear folks say.

Well, I think, “You have been since you were born.”

The word diet makes us apologize for things we eat. There should be no apologies when you eat; there are even those who refer to the wrong choices as “sinning.”

Please, I don’t think a dish of ice cream should ever be considered a sin. Now a half gallon borders on self and over indulgence, but I hate it when I see people with remorse because they enjoyed a food.

Let’s retrain our brains and our thinking. Let’s adopt lifestyle changes that we are comfortable with, enjoy or help us be healthier; and if it is necessary for self-esteem make us feel better about our looks.

A few changes

I’ve put a few changes in place toward becoming healthier over the past few years and they are proving good results for me – but it is taking years, nothing immediate as we all hope.

I think the best thing I have learned is replacement – skim milk for two percent, olive oil replacing butter where it can, whole grain bread and pasta and dessert only when it is a one-of-a-kind and more fruit in place of the sweet stuff.

What does that mean?

Think of it in these terms. If you went to a buffet every day and it had banana pudding and cherry pie on it, it becomes very commonplace. You can have it anytime.

But if it is something that you’re only going to have perhaps once or twice a year, such as a velvety cream brulee or a rich homemade ice cream, then have some. Not every night, not every week, but when it feels special and becomes a real treat.

Here’s an analogy I learned years ago.

I love pizza and when I have it, I can easily eat three pieces. Oh, yum, if it is a good, hot pizza.

Those three pieces are equivalent to over a thousand calories. If you don’t believe me, check acaloriecounter.com.

Could you eat four dozen eggs, apples or Clementines at one time? That’s how many you would have to eat for the same amount of calories.

So let’s all start thinking about the changes we can put on our plates. Add a fruit and a green vegetable to every dinner or a dish or piece of fruit later for a snack.

Tricks like using smaller plates, teaspoons for serving spoons, baking smaller potatoes, putting the food away immediately do help.

And when it comes to our kids, be tough enough to be the bad guy. Consider their activity level and the foods they need for brain building and serve accordingly. One serving of mac and cheese is plenty. A friend of mine takes the bowl off the table after it is served.

Thinking salads

A salad bar can be a very dangerous thing. I heard a man in a restaurant that had a salad bar say to a friend, “I’m trying to cut back.”

Good for you, I thought. Then I watched him take a dinner plate and fill it with potato salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, a few veggies, some lettuce, a cup of cheese and enough salad dressing to fill a small soup cup.

Okay, I thought. Hope this works for you.

Salads do not have to be boring; neither do salad dressings. All it takes is a bit of creativity and they can have you smacking your lips.

Ranch dressing is now the proverbial favorite. Thinking a bit healthier, it can be on your table every time you serve a salad.

Buying the dry package mix is a start. Make it with low-fat buttermilk and no one will ever know. If you want a richer feel, mix the package ingredients with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and then stir in the buttermilk.

You can make your own and the Internet is filled with recipes for the homemade variety, but most call for a cup of mayonnaise and sour cream with just buttermilk for thinning.

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