By: Kayla Butts Photos by: Rachel Benavides
We made it. 2020 is now in the record books as one of the suckiest years ever.
Each new year offers the potential for a new beginning: envisioning new goals, throwing out bad habits, and reimagining ourselves into the people we wish to be. In 2020, our nation endured raging fires and calamitous hurricanes, an over-heated political environment, volatile personal and financial markets, and, of course, an epic plague. The tribulations of last year make our modest New Year’s resolutions look like a cakewalk!
This year, let’s be kinder to ourselves and gentler to others. Let’s begin by honoring our bodies with foundational good health. As a dietitian, I offer the following suggestions to my patients, especially those suffering from serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But these tips are good for everyone!
Skip sugar for a week. Drink your coffee black, skip the after-dinner dessert, and no late-night ice cream. When you try sugar in seven days, you will immediately taste how much sugar is in your diet and know how easy it is to limit it.
Cut back on the cocktails. Last year, many of us drowned our sorrows in booze – and we have the extra pounds to prove it. Alcohol is a depressant. It is hard on the mind and body.
Drink more water. Studies show that most people don’t drink enough water. H2O supports our brain and heart function and also helps with weight loss. Not a fan of the clear stuff? Infuse your water with cucumbers, raspberries, or other fruit for a healthy sweetener.
Cook more meals at home from scratch. Cooking from scratch eliminates nearly all the over-processed, GMO, and chemically tainted foods from your diet. Source local farmers for most of your ingredients. The simple steps of buying local and cooking at home have the power to radically transform your health and state of mind.
Pack a lunch. Cooking meals at home makes it easy to plan for and pack lunches. Skipping the drive-thru or food delivery saves money and pounds from the waistline. Packing a lunch gives you real food and solid nutrition, to boost your work throughout the day.
Eat a nutritious breakfast. The most important meal of the day is the one most often missed. A healthy breakfast fuels the metabolism and gets the brain and body primed for the adventures of the day.
Let these recipes help you with your New Year’s nutrition goals. They are more formula than recipe. Substitute any of the ingredients with items you find fresh at the farmer’s market.
The old year is gone and this lovely new year holds such promise! Let’s resolve to be kind to ourselves and to every person we meet in 2021.
Economical stew meat is tenderized using the traditional Chinese “velveting” method, which is appropriate for boneless cuts of chicken, pork, and beef. If time is of the essence, one can skip the step and have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Inactive prep time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb fresh ginger, grated
2 large carrots, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 lb sugar snow peas
1 small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized stalks
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp honey
To tenderize meat, stir baking soda into 1/3 cup water until mostly dissolved. Massage mixture into meat and let tenderize for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Heat oil in a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Once oil becomes fragrant, add beef and cook for 3 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, carrots, and bell pepper, cooking for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for two minutes, or until crisp and tender. Serve with brown rice or lo mein.
Greek Buddha Bowl
Makes 1 large bowl
Buddha bowls gained popularity as a meatless meal offering after being featured in an issue of Martha Stewart Living in the ’90s. This combination of complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats makes for a delicious take-along lunch, right out of the Mediterranean.
Prep time: 7 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup spinach, fresh
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, a.k.a. “chickpeas,” drained and rinsed
1/3 cucumber, sliced
2 ounces feta, crumbled
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 ounces kalamata olives, pitted
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Fresh oregano, chopped
Heat 1 cup of water on medium high in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa has swelled. Remove from the heat and cover, letting steam an additional 5 minutes. Add parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, mixing well.
In a large bowl or storage container (2 cup capacity), assemble bowl with tabbouleh, spinach, garbanzo beans, cucumber, feta, red peppers, olives, and tomatoes. Drizzle mixture with remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
Chai Overnight Oats
Makes 1 serving
Chai overnight oats are thickened with chia and infused overnight. (Say that five times fast.) A mason jar of this nutritious breakfast is sure to start any day off right.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Inactive prep time: about 8 hours
1 chai tea bag
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Microwave milk for one minute (or heat it in your tea kettle until half-boiling if you’re a purist) in a mug or portable glass storage container without the lid. Once heated, insert chai tea bag into milk and let steep 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Store in the refrigerator overnight.
The following morning, remove thickened oatmeal from the refrigerator and enjoy as is or heat until desired temperature is reached.