New Year’s Resolutions: Lose Weight
Judy Bart Kancigor
It’s that time again! According to USA.gov, the most popular New Year’s resolution is (drum roll please)… lose weight! What a surprise.
If, like me, you make this same resolution every year, three books may turn things around, and then maybe next year we can all resolve to reduce carbon emissions and promote world peace.
In the latest installment in the Kosher by Design series, “Kosher by Design Lightens Up” (Artscroll, $35.99), the ebullient, wildly popular Susie Fishbein teams up with certified nutritional expert Bonnie Taub-Dix, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, to bring over 145 new recipes and dozens of tips and entertaining ideas to jumpstart your plan for a healthier, trimmer you in 2009.
“Bonnie commented on every single recipe,” says Fishbein, “pointing out areas that could be lightened up. She confirmed to me that the philosophy of this book was the right one – forget diets, learn what is good for your body, work change in slowly, and eat what you love.”
Pass on the cottage cheese and Melba toast – this is “health food” with pizzazz! Steamed Veal Dumplings, Japanese Udon Noodle Soup, Mile-High Chinese Chicken Salad, Ratatouille Polenta Pie, Chicken Skewers with Ponzu Dipping Sauce, Grilled Reuben Sandwiches, Huevos Rancheros, Pumpkin Barley Risotto and oh, those desserts.
The only one she could not lighten was the chocolate chip cookie. “It just could not be done,” Fishbein laments. “I tried eight times, but there was no getting over the need for butter or margarine. I sadly accepted defeat.”
No worries. Here’s your consolation prize: Coconut-Lime Tart, Fudge Brownie Torte, Banana Chocolate Strudel, Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti...23 luscious desserts in all. And every recipe is photographed in that signature mouthwatering, Kosher by Design style by John Uher. Never did wholesome foods and healthy ingredients look so good!
"These nutritious recipes are easy to integrate into your everyday menus,” Fishbein notes. “Anyone looking to migrate into a better way of eating and living will find delicious options here."
In “The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love & Still Lose Weight” (DK, $17.95) TV and radio personality (and upcoming OU food columnist) Linda Gassenheimer says the key to losing weight and keeping it off may lie in the palm of your hand. Love that burger? A healthy portion is palm sized. Your baked potato should be the size of your fist. And you don’t have to give up French fries if you eat what will fit in two cupped hands (about 20).
“The portions of foods we are eating have ballooned,” writes Gassenheimer. “Restaurants serve extra-large amounts of food, yet we still clean our plates, just as we were told to do when we were children.” This “portion distortion” has completely perverted our sense of normalcy.
Take the bagel, for instance. “Originally the size of a hockey puck, bagels now have the circumference of a CD,” she says. Stick to a palm-size portion and use reduced-fat cream cheese and save 382 calories.
Seeing is believing, and “The Portion Plan” offers dozens of life-size food photos of ideal and not-so-ideal portions of common foods so we can make wise food choices. And learning to distinguish between what Gassenheimer calls “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (choices to savor, choices to watch and choices to avoid) will assure we’re not only losing weight, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well.
The book also includes a seven-day eating plan with recipes, an eating-out guide and oodles of tips for delicious alternatives to calorie-laden foods.
“Food that’s good for you should taste good,” says Norene Gilletz, whose latest cookbook “Norene’s Healthy Kitchen” (Whitecap, $29.95) contains over 600 recipes that prove that we don’t have to sacrifice flavor for nutrition. “My recipes are heart-healthy and weight-loss friendly, offer low glycemic index values (GI) and are suitable for people with diabetes,” she writes.
A lengthy introduction give tips on everything from meal-planning for diabetics to choosing healthier sweets, shaking the salt habit, storing food, cooking and baking substitutions, and even food safety. And like her popular “Healthy Helpings” (originally titled “MealLeaniYumm,”) the book is kosher and includes a Passover chapter.
But you needn't be diabetic to appreciate these healthful and tasty recipes that are short on deprivation and long on flavor. Confetti Vegetable Strudel, Spanikopita Roll-Ups, Chimichurri Chicken, Luscious Lemon Berry Mousse.
Gilletz is in the kitchen with you, encouraging you with tips and advice. “Did you know that if you eat a bowl of vegetable soup, you will feel full for a longer period of time than if you drink a glass of water and eat the vegetables separately?”
This “multivitamin in a bowl” is a dieter’s friend. Follow Gilletz’s tips: Cut the fat by using a mere tablespoon of olive or canola oil to sauté three to four cups of vegetables. Use nonstick cookware or cooking spray, or even chicken or vegetable broth instead of oil.
Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family” and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.
RATATOUILLE POLENTA PIE
From “Kosher by Designs Lightens Up” by Susie Fishbein
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 3/4 cps cornmeal
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) honey
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 zucchini, with skin, sliced paper-thin
1/2 small eggplant, with skin, sliced paper-thin
1/2 yellow squash, with skin, sliced paper-thin
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Heat the stock, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium pot over high heat. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low. Keep whisking until the mixture is fluffy and not grainy. If the heat is too high, the polenta will get too thick before it is fully cooked. Add the honey and whisk continuously until the polenta is pulling away from the sides of the pot, about 7 minutes total. Remove from the heat.
Spray a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Press the polenta into the bottom of the pan, forming a base.
Top with tomato sauce. Scatter the slices of zucchini, eggplant, squash, and tomato over the top of the pie. Season with the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter on the oregano and remaining pepper.
Set the broiler to high. Place the pie 8 inches from the heat source and broil for 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from oven. Place on a plate and carefully release the sides of the pan. Garnish with basil leaves. Slice and serve.
From “Norene’s Healthy Kitchen” by Norene Gilletz
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen or fresh spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
1 package (8 ounces) imitation cream cheese (such as Tofutti)
1 large egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh dillweed or 1 teaspoon dried
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup additional olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. In a medium skillet sauté the onion, red pepper, and garlic in the olive oil on medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. (Or microwave in a glass bowl on high for 3 to 4 minutes.)
2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the cooked and drained spinach until finely chopped. Add the imitation cream cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and dillweed. Process just until mixed. Add the onion mixture and process with quick of/offs, just until mixed (scraping down the sides f the bowl as needed).
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil sprayed with cooking spray.
4. Place 1 rectangle sheet of phyllo dough on a dry work surface, with the long side facing you. (Work with 1 sheet at a time and always keep the remaining phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.) Brush the phyllo sheet lightly with oil. Top with a second sheet of dough and brush lightly with oil. Spoon 1/4 of the spinach filling in a narrow band along the bottom edge of the phyllo; leave a 1-inch border on the bottom edge and on both sides. Fold both sides inwards and then roll up the dough into a long, narrow cylinder, starting from the edge closest to you. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and filling. You should end up with 4 rolls.
5. Lightly brush the tops of each roll with oil. Using a sharp knife, mark 1-inch slices along the top of each roll, cutting partially through the dough but not through the filling. (This makes for easier slicing after baking. If you slice completely before baking, the filling will dry out.) You will get about 15 slices from each roll. (The rolls may be frozen at this point. There’s no need to thaw before baking or reheating – just add 2 or 3 minutes to the baking time.)
6. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until golden. Slice and serve.
Yield: 5 dozen hors d’oevres. Reheats well. To reheat, bake uncovered at 325˚F for 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Freezes well for up to 3 months.
FUDGE BROWNIE TORTE
From “Kosher by Designs Lightens Up” by Susie Fishbein
Nonstick cooking spray
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, like Bosco
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I like Droste)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 egg white (from large egg)
2 tablespoons low-fat or nondairy sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
Low-fat whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a double boiler, or metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, sugar, margarine or butter, chocolate syrup, and oil. Stir until melted and smooth.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk the cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, egg white, sour cream, vanilla extract, and coffee. Mix until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate mixture. Combine.
With the machine running, add in the cocoa mixture in two parts. Mix until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Do not overbake and don’t test with toothpick. Release the sides of the pan. Allow to cool. Top with whipped cream and strawberries.
Makes 12 servings