I am a big fan of winter squash, even more so now that some island-grown varieties are becoming available, including one of my favorites: butternut squash As with many things in Hawaii, butternut squash can get to be an expensive buy at the grocery store, especially considering that most squash weigh several pounds. So, whenever there is a sale, I am the crazed woman buying 5-10 at a time. They keep pretty well for several weeks, even in a tropical climate, and I can always cube and freeze a few if I can’t get to them before they would go bad.
Butternut squash is a great option if you are trying to keep you calorie and carbohydrate intake in check. It is a flavorful and filling way to add a lot of substance to a meal; I often use it in place of sweet potato. When you compare the facts: 45 calories & 11g carbohydrate in 100g of butternut squash versus 86 calories and 20g carbohydrate in 100g of sweet potato, it’s easy to see how this substitution can add up to results. Butternut squash also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects and improves the health of your skin and eyesight and may protect against lung and oral cancers.
So how can you get some of this great stuff into your diet? Roasted, with olive oil, salt and pepper is a classic favorite, but there are a ton of options.
I really like the spice flavor combinations in this Moroccan stew. You can always add chicken, lean beef, or tofu to bump up the protein. I eat this with quinoa instead of couscous; I’d rather have a whole grain.
The New York Times published an article about a study about breakfast this week that left me scratching my head. In the study, subjects were instructed to track what they ate for two weeks. Researchers then determined that contrary to popular belief, the subjects that ate a bigger breakfast did not see any subsequent reduction in total calorie intake over the rest of the day.Therefore, the study concludes, having breakfast must NOT be a helpful weigh management strategy. One of the scientists is even quoted saying, “Eating breakfast is just added calories. You’ll never compensate for them at subsequent meals.” Umm…what!?
Maybe the problem is not the fact that the subjects ate breakfast, but the fact that many breakfast options are not high quality. If you are eating donuts, pastries, candy disguised as cereal, white sugar masquerading as white bread, then yes, you may have a issue keeping your total calorie intake in check. Eating mostly carbohydrates (and refined carbohydrates at that) WILL leave you feeling hungry few hours later and can lead to overeating throughout the day. Also, consuming a huge 1200 calorie breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and a three egg omelet with cheese in the hopes that you won’t eat the rest of the day is not a very good strategy either. Just like with many other things in life, too much of a good thing (in this case breakfast) CAN be bad for you.
Numerous other studies over the course of the last decades have proven time and time again that people who consume breakfast not only maintain a healthier weight than those who don’t, but the also have improved cognitive function as well. Plus, eating in the morning kickstarts your metabolism and gets your body out of the conserve mode it goes into while you sleep at night. I think the key here is to have a QUALITY, SATISFYING meal. Breakfast, just like any other meal, is going to be most beneficial to you if it is a low sugar, high fiber mix of whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This combination will keep you full and give you the energy you need to make it through your morning. Most American breakfast options as I said before are nothing but sugar, especially the most popular and convenient item of all: cold cereal. If you want to find you what you should look for when you purchase cereal, please check out my video below.
I love pasta, and I eat it as a part of my normal diet, not just birthdays and holidays. I have found that the trick to having my rigatoni and eating it too (without gaining those telltale tortellini thighs) is threefold.
1. I make sure I add a ton of vegetables as well as a bit of lean protein to a standard 2oz serving of pasta to fill me up without filling me out. A 2oz serving of pasta looks so sad all by itself, and is really unsatisfying. By making my pasta dishes a complete meal, I still get to enjoy it, but I also don’t find myself accidentally eating 3 or more servings of pure carbohydrates (which is pretty easy to do with noodles and red sauce).
2. I look for a higher quality carbohydrate. I like whole wheat pasta, but I know that it really disturbs some people. Check out soba (buckwheat) noodles; they are a delicious high fiber and high protein alternative to spaghetti. Try to avoid the white flour pasta, which will spike your blood sugar levels and signal your body to start storing fat.
3. I avoid the excessive and gratuitous use of cheese. Can you taste the 4 cups of mozzarella you have mixed into your lasagne filling? I usually can’t. If I am going to use cheese in a pasta dish, I save it for last and sprinkle it over the top right before I bake it (if it’s baked) or right before I serve it. I find that I can use a lot less of a higher quality more flavorful cheese and enjoy it more if I do things this way than if I’m using bags of shredded cheese throughout my dish. An ounce of cheese (about the size of the tip of your thumb) usually has about 100 calories and 10 grams of fat, give or take a few. You can easily slim things down by cutting here.