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Originally published: 2013-01-08 15:02:06
Last modified: 2013-01-08 15:02:06

Lovin’ Spoonful - It’s not tool late to start a healthy, happy New Year

Sherrie Norris / (news@averyjournal.com)

The majority of us begin a new year with resolutions to eat smarter and put in more time on the treadmill.
Most of us could write a book on healthy-eating, and most would agree it would be much easier to write it than practice it, but let’s look at a few ideas that will help us kick-start this “new beginning.”
• Eat five fruits and vegetables daily: When planning meals, take meat off center stage. Think of meat, poultry and seafood as complements to fruits, vegetables and grains.
• Broil, bake, grill or steam food rather than fry it.
• Sauté food in a nonstick skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
• De-fat dairy foods: While they provide essential calcium and protein, they can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead of regular dairy products, buy skim or one-percent fat milk; nonfat or low-fat yogurt; low-fat or fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt, reduced-fat, fat-free or part-skim milk cheeses, low-fat or fat-free sour cream and cream cheese.
• Restock your pantry: In addition to limiting fat, avoiding excess sodium is a heart-healthy step. Too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Reduce dependence on fat and sodium to enhance flavor. Have a ready supply of onions, fresh garlic, ginger root, Dijon mustard, fresh lemons and limes, flavored vinegars, sherry or other cooking wines, evaporated skim milk, cornstarch, vegetable cooking spray and plenty of herbs and spices.
• Snack smart: When you reach for a snack, it’s often a food’s characteristic — crunch, creamy or cold — that appeals to you, rather than the food itself. Once you’ve identified what you’re looking for, choose a healthy food that can satisfy your craving. Examples: crunchy: reduced-fat or fat-free crackers, chips, air-popped popcorn, raw vegetables, rice cakes, frozen grapes. Creamy or cold: nonfat frozen yogurt, fat-free ice cream, sorbet or fruit-sweetened juice bars.

“Miracle Soup”
(Recommended for short-term use only to jump-start your weight-loss)
Ingredients:
• 1 (46 oz.) can V8 juice (regular or low-sodium)
• 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1/2 medium cabbage, red or green, chopped (approx. 6 cups)
• 1 cup chopped onions
• 1.5 cup chopped carrots
• 2 medium red, green and/or yellow peppers, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
The above ingredients are suggested for best results. The following are optional but will improve the taste of your soup:
• 1 envelope of Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix
• 1 can lower sodium beef or chicken broth
• 1 beef bouillon cube
• 1 tsp. garlic powder
• Black pepper to taste
Preparation:
Add any other seasonings such as curry, parsley or any other spices or herbs to suit your taste. Before adding salt, be sure to taste it since many items are already salty enough.
Chop and dice veggies. Add ingredients to a large pot. Add water, if necessary, to bring liquids to almost twice the depth of the veggies in the pot. Bring to a boil, and stir as needed. Cook on low heat for about 1.5 to two hours or until veggies are soft.

Bran Muffin Breakfast Trifle
Ingredients:
• 3 cups coarsely crumbled low-fat bran muffins, (about three medium muffins)
• 4 cups assorted fresh fruit chunks
• 2 cups nonfat or low-fat vanilla or fruit flavored yogurt
Preparation:
Place half the muffin crumbs in a 2.5-quart glass bowl or airtight container. Arrange all the fruit on top. Cover with remaining muffin crumbs. Spoon yogurt evenly over the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Ingredients:
• 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into strips or wedges
• 2 tsp. canola oil
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss sweet potato strips/wedges with oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and tender, turning once, about 20 minutes total.