(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Kaiser Permanente conducted a study that made headlines: Keeping a food journal doubles weight loss. Those of the 1,700 who kept track lost an average of 13 pounds in six months.
That's an easy tip for those of us who are so busy we can't even schedule time for dieting. However, there was another kernel buried within the study literature that didn't make it to many headlines, but is also welcome news for busy bodies.
More than two-thirds lost at least 9 pounds. This was deemed enough to make significant dents in health risks. It prompted study co-author Victor Stevens, Ph.D., to recommend, "If we all lost just 9 pounds, our nation would see vast decreases in hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke."
In fact, previously Stevens found that losing 5 pounds can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure by 20 percent.
Journaling can be, but doesn’t have to be, old-fashioned. Pull out your cell phone and text yourself a shorthand version of what you just ate, or jot it down on a Post-it note (even brief scribbling was shown to work). Chronicle how 5 pounds drifts away, and know that you've made major strides without the time commitment.
Quick-cook guides help. Try "speed-read dieting" by following recipes condensed to a paragraph or less. The excellent Cooking Light Complete Cookbook is full of them. For example, the recipe for Italian Broccoli: "Steam 1 pound broccoli spears, covered, 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Toss with 3 tablespoons fat-free Italian dressing; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for a yield of 4 servings."
Harley Pasternak, nutritionist/physical trainer to the stars as well as creator of the best-selling Five Factor Diet, also has losing 5 pounds down to an easy science thanks to his five meal-a-day plan. The meals feature five ingredients per recipe with just five minute prep times, which has helped tone ultra-busy folks, from celebrities to moms with action-packed schedules.
Pasternak also proves "dieting" doesn’t have to be drab. Here’s a condensed version of his fun "pink pizza":
Heat large, whole-multigrain or whole-wheat tortillas in a 375 F oven for no more than 2 minutes. When carefully removed from the oven, spread with tomato sauce and nonfat ricotta cheese, and then sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes and shredded preferably nonfat mozzarella cheese. Heat until cheese is melted, making sure tortillas don’t begin to burn.
Special fare like this proves cooking can be easy, nutritious, economical, fun – and fast. Such recipes take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you – or your kidlet helpers – choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Take-out portions (even filled with healthful foods) can seem deceivingly smaller when served in single-serving deep Styrofoam or other containers. To get a real handle on the amount of food you and your family are consuming, consider the simple act of ladling out the food onto a plate (or a few plates if it’s a combination meal). It just may surprise you to see the goods in front of you – enough even to do what nutritionists often suggest for those watching their weight: Eat half of restaurant portions and save the rest for another meal.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.