With the holidays come cookies, cheese logs, quick nut breads, feasts and champagne. We enjoy these treats and luxuries because they usually include family gatherings and good times. But when the partying is over and the jeans don’t seem to want to button quite so easily, what can we do?
My January blogs will give you ideas on how to get back on track and cut out some unnecessary calories.
THIS WEEK’S TIP: SKIP THE OIL/THINK LEMON
Most all oils, butters and margarines are 120 calories per tablespoon! If you do nothing else this year, think about how you use oil and how you can find alternatives to those unnecessary calories. Just being aware of the hidden uses of oil can really help you refrain from temptation. Nut breads are full of oil and a single slice can approach 500 calories (i.e. Starbucks Banana Nut loaf is 490 – www.starbucks.com). Salad dressings can have several tablespoons of oil per salad. It’s possible that more than half, or more, of your salad’s calories are coming from oil. You can significantly reduce your calorie intake with this one change. Here are some ideas:
- DRESSINGS: Make your salads without using oil at all, or a teaspoon at the most. Most calories in a salad come from the dressing. Most vinegars have zero calories. There are many flavored vinegars, such as champagne and tarragon, that you can drizzle over peppery arugula or watercress. A simple squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper just before serving is enough flavor. But if you want a fancier dressing, blend the lemon with mustard and agave syrup, which will help it cling to your salad.
- SALADS: Enhance your salads by adding flavorful, but low-calorie, ingredients: fresh herbs, shallots, tomatoes, fresh corn, edamame, mange tout, cucumbers, micro herbs, grapefruit segments, capers, peppadew, peperoncini, and green onions. For those items higher in calories, like cheeses, deli meats, and olives, just add enough to satisfy your taste buds. Read the calorie count on your packaging as a guide.
- DINING OUT: Avoid dipping your bread in olive oil when dining out. Be happy with just dipping it in balsamic vinegar, or better yet, avoid the bread altogether.
- PACKAGED FOODS: Eat foods not packed in oil, but rather vinegars, water, or other low-calorie liquid.
- GRILLING MEATS: Rub a few drops of oil on your meat then pan sear or grill it on a preheated, dry pan. Your meat does not need to swim in oil when you cook it. Just a few drops of oil rubbed over the surface of the meat itself is all you need to keep the meat from sticking to the pan while allowing the meat to brown beautifully.
- NUT BREADS: Avoid quick nut breads and other cakes. Moist cakes are moist because of their high fat content, which comes from oil. If you want to make a nut bread, consider using applesauce instead of oil.
NEXT WEEK’S TIP: STEAMING WITH FLAVOR
ROASTED SHALLOT & HERB SALAD W/ NO OIL LEMON DRESSING
4 ciopillini onions, peeled and halved
2 shallots, peeled and halved
1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
1 tsp finely chopped sage leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon flakey sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
NO-OIL MEYER LEMON AND MUSTARD DRESSING
Juice and pulp of one Meyer lemon (12 calories) (about 5 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons agave syrup (40 calories)
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot (3 calories)
1 teaspoon grainy mustard (10 calories)
1 tablespoon gorgonzola cheese (37 calories)
1/8 cup fresh dill (0 calories)
1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley (0 calories)
1 cup loosely packed arugula (15 calories)
1 4 oz package fresh watercress (40 calories)
1 English cucumber (about 30 calories)
9 kalamata olives, halved (135 calories)
2 slices prosciutto cut in half (70 calories)
1 English cucumber (about 30 calories)
2 peppadew, thinly sliced
sprinkling of toasted pine nuts
ROASTED SHALLOTS: In a small bowl, combine the onions, shallots, thyme, sage, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the shallots and onions. Transfer to a shallow roasting dish, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Roast at 350” for 30 minutes. Uncover, roast for another 15 minutes to brown the shallots.
SALAD: Toss together the dill, parsley, arugula and watercress. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the dressing.
PRESENTATION: Slice the cucumber thinly and fan on a plate in a circle. Top with the dressed salad. Sprinkle with papadew, a few pine nuts and olive slices. Add a rolled up wedge of prosciutto and a few wedges of Roasted Shallot. Drizzle with a little more dressing, and sprinkle with flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
CALORIES PER SERVING: 150 (approximately)
Some calorie information from www.calorie-count.com