Okay. Over-indulgence is over. An abundance of sweet, salty, fatty foods has left me feeling bloated and I long for simple food with lots of greens and a little lean protein.
My first thought is salads, but even they can be too heavy on the dressing side, so watch those dressings and let the ingredients underneath shine through. They’re just an adornment, not the whole meal deal.
Second is stir-fried dishes, with just a little lean meat, fish, poultry or tofu and lots of fresh, colourful, crisp veggies.
Third is sushi, with its elegant simplicity and cool calm.
But, I think the key in all of this is that we need to focus on our portions of vegetables, because they’re far more important in our diet than most of us give them credit for, and should take up much more room on our plates than the starch and protein parts of the meal.
Plus, there’s so much you can do with vegetables to make them interesting—not all of which involve a cream sauce. Some of them can even be substituted for the meat as a protein, and you’ll find you are enjoying a vegetarian meal.
Try planning on at least one all-vegetable meal a week and just see how much you will enjoy them done up different ways. There are all sorts of legumes that are a great source of protein which you can enjoy with other vegetables for a meal.
You can use protein-rich white beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans or lentils as the base for a casserole, in a salad or soup, or as a side dish for lean, nutritious meals.
For dessert, think of fresh fruit and fat-free yogurt instead of cake and ice cream.
In my book, Jude’s Kitchen, I’ve reduced the fat in most of my recipes and opted for less sugar as well, so you’ll find lots of healthy meal ideas within those 200 recipes. It’s available at Mosaic Books, the B.C. Wine Museum and wherever books are sold.
Oops! I made a typo in a recipe for Potato Pancakes in last week’s column. The list of ingredients should include a half-cup of flour.
Caeser and the Bird
This is not your pub lunch version, with deep-fried chicken and over-dressed, oily lettuce leaves, but it’s just as good. Actually, it’s much better. There’s far less oil and no egg in the dressing, but you’d really never know. I get the lower fat parmesan cheese too.
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
2 tsp. (10 ml) water
2 tsp. (10 ml) parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) dry mustard
2 drops hot sauce
sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
boneless cooked chicken
bits of bacon or pepperoni
fresh parmesan cheese
Mash and then mince the garlic clove and combine in a small jar or cruet with all remaining dressing ingredients and shake it up well.
Barbecue or poach boneless chicken thighs or breasts, or use leftover roast chicken or turkey. Let it cool and slice it into strips.
Squeeze a little anchovy paste around your serving bowl. Tear washed and dried romaine lettuce into the bowl and toss well with the dressing. Sprinkle a few finely-chopped bits of bacon or pepperoni, a bit of freshly-grated parmesan cheese and add a few low-fat croutons on top.
Lay chicken strips alongside.
Skinny Scrambled Eggs
These are great in the nutrition department as well as providing a tasty but lean protein-rich breakfast that will hold you until lunch. You may add finely-diced sweet red peppers or sliced mushrooms too.
If you are already skinny, go ahead and have bacon or sausages with this along with buttered toast!
1 tbsp. (15 ml) grated parmesan
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) chili flakes
pinch fleur de sel
fresh ground mixed peppercorns
2 green onions
2-3 c. (500-750 ml) spinach
2 tsp. (10 ml) butter
Beat eggs in a small bowl and add parmesan cheese, chili flakes, fleur de sel and pepper.
Mince green onions and chop fresh spinach.
Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat and saute mushrooms, if using, then begin to wilt spinach in the pan. Add white parts of the green onions, stir and add the green parts.
Pour egg mixture over the vegetables and mix well, stirring gently until just cooked. Don’t overcook.