Monday, September 9, 2013

The Other "F-Words". 
I used a lot of the F-words in my meals yesterday! Now, before you quit reading this…..keep in mind that I’m a “woman of faith” and am quite unlikely to use a vulgar word in my blog!  The “F-words” I am referring to are Fresh, Filling, and Fiber!  In fact, an important factor in my new eating lifestyle includes a lot of the F-words in every meal!


I love this time of year. It is a calorie counter’s delight to be surrounded with an abundance of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, but gosh, it sure costs a lot of money to eat healthy!  It would be GREAT if I could add a 4th F-word: FREE to my vocabulary. Too bad I don’t have any Farmer friends.


I stopped to the Roadside Amish Farm Stand over the weekend and everything looked so delicious. I had to chuckle a bit to myself though as I was loading up on produce because “at 50 years old, I’ve become my mother!”  I used to just roll my eyes at the dinner table as a teenager because every meal g this time of year included sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and an assortment of vegetables that I couldn’t even name. Mom used to eat tomatoes like an apple….not even sliced, just a saltshaker and she was ready to go.  Last week….I brought a tomato and a cucumber in my lunch bag every week!   But nonetheless, this time of year is great because I just can’t get enough of those fresh tomatoes and cukes.


I’m usually quite busy during the week so Sunday is the day I like to cook a big dinner, with a lot of side dishes, so that I have left-overs to eat all week. Yesterday was no exception, but because I went a bit “overboard” at the farm stand, I had a lot of vegetables to choose from. Just like shoes, I had a hard time deciding so I just cooked them all!  Yesterday’s dinner…(and consequently for the next week)….consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers in a low-cal vinaigrette dressing, Brussel sprouts, green beans, sweet corn, and zucchini…..and….I almost forgot…Turkey and Venison burgers on the grill!  Talk about filling….and fiber…and fresh!!!!!!!   Fortunately, with all those vegetables, I only ate a small portion of the turkey burger and no bun…just a piece of 35 calorie whole wheat bread but in half to make a sandwich.  I ate until I thought my stomach would burst, but likely consumed less than 500 calories for that meal.  And… I have left-overs for the week!


Sometimes people wanting to make a lifestyle change incorrectly assume that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables will automatically cause them to lose weight, but they fall into the trap that I was in for many years. I was unaware about all the “hidden” calories that we often have attached to those fruits and vegetables.  I used to think that I was making a good choice for lunch when I visited the college cafeteria’s salad bar instead of having the grilled cheese & Fries basket. It wasn’t until I began to pay attention to calorie content that I discovered that my “healthy salad” contained about 1400 calories, most of it coming from the ¾ cup or more of blue cheese salad dressing and abundance of bacon bits, ham, croutons, and mounds of several different kinds of cheese!  YIKES!  Now I make my own salad dressing for about 5 calories or so a tablespoon and I know how to make a very large salad for about 200 calories or less.


The same with vegetables.  A baked potato isn’t really all that high in calories, but smother it with sour cream, shredded cheese, and butter and it’s a calorie counter’s nightmare. The same with sweet corn.  I used to avoid sweet corn because it is one of the higher calorie vegetables, but I don’t any more. The season for fresh, locally grown sweet corn in Michigan is short and I no longer can justify “not enjoying it” when I can, but I don’t use butter on it. Instead, I use that 0-calorie spray butter from the store and some salt, and you know what, it tastes the same to me!  I also used to eat zucchini and summer squash a lot when it was in season, only back then, it was breaded and deep-fried, or fried with bacon grease with bacon bits. The same for green beans…smothered in butter, mixed with bacon etc., and cauliflower or broccoli drenched in melted cheese sauce….NOT GOOD for me, either!


These days, I eat the same vegetables, just prepared a lot different than I used to. Spray cooking oil comes in all kinds of flavors….no calories either, an assortment of seasonings, spray butter, and even a bit of no-fat or low-fat cheese on occasion are all ways to make those vegetables both appealing and healthy.  One caution:  Keep in mind that I AM NOT a NUTRITIONIST and am not giving NUTRITION advice here. There are some people that do not like “non-fat…low fat….artificial sweeteners….or sprays, etc.) and opt for the a very limited amount of the “real stuff”.  My way is not better than anyone else’s way; it’s just what has worked “FOR ME” so I share it as such, so please make the choices that are best for “your” health.


Fresh fruit is also in abundance around here.  I’ve already mentioned my weakness for melon….and I’ve had a hard time resisting the urge to eat that entire watermelon…(well, I admit the ½ left; I gave in on Friday night)….that has been in the refrigerator all weekend.  And a fresh honey-rock or honeydew melon….well…forget it, there is no will-power for that, but fortunately they were sold out of them at the farm market!  So…on top of all those vegetables I sampled yesterday, I also ate a fresh plum for a snack, and a peach for breakfast, and another at bedtime.  Yes…..FRESH, FILLING, and FULL OF FIBER…..but certainly NOT FREE!  LOL. 


All in all, I’d have to say it was a delicious tasting day yesterday….all without going over my calorie limit….and for the most part….very healthy and good for my body!  If you haven’t already done so recently, I encourage you to visit the local farm market this week. Just like summer….this season of abundance doesn’t stick around very long; enjoy it while you can!!!!  For me… I just can’t get enough! What are YOUR favorites……and how to you prepare them in a healthy way??????

Thank you God….for the fruits of the field….and for those who work the land to provide us with these delicious, healthy foods!