Stir Crazy: A healthier life by being mindful of what we eat

News-DemocratJanuary 6, 2014 

Welcome to 2014. If you are like me, you are ever optimistic about a healthy life, even when your own bad habits get in the way. Last week I found myself polishing off a large Christmas cookie I didn't like after the first bite because it was in front of me on a plate. (It wasn't even homemade.) That doesn't make sense. But the result was a bit of an awakening: When did shoveling food that doesn't even taste good into my mouth become second nature?

For me, fighting the battle of the bulge means one foot in front of the other is the best I can do. Here are some thoughts, though, from "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat" (Am I Hungry? Publishing, $19.95), a 2011 book by Dr. Michelle May, a family physician and wellness coach. She writes about eating mindfully:

Don't wait to eat until you are famished. Don't wait to stop eating until you're stuffed.

Eat without distractions. Focusing on the food will help you know when you're really full. Appreciate the appearance, smells, textures and even sounds of the food.

If you're not enjoying what you chose to eat, don't eat it and choose something else.

Pause in the middle of the meal for at least two minutes and estimate how much more food you'll need to feel comfortable.

Don't be afraid to leave food on your plate. Many of us have been indoctrinated to "clean our plates," but that's disrespectful to what our bodies need. Just as we drive different distances each day depending on what needs to get done, we eat more or less depending on how much fuel we've used, so the quantity of food we eat at each meal won't be the same from day to day.

Notice how you feel, both physically and emotionally, when you've decided you've had enough. Don't beat yourself up if you've eaten too much, just acknowledge the discomfort.

For this week's food section, I wrote about old-fashioned comfort food. In her new book, "Cooking Light: Lighten Up, America! Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free" (Oxmoor House, $29.95), Allison Fishman Task puts a Cooking Light-spin on favorite foods. Here's one to try.

Smothered Pork Chops

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup half and half, divided

1 large egg

4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon water

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Combine 1/2 cup flour and pepper in a shallow bowl or dish.

Place panko in a second shallow bowl or dish.

Combine 1/2 cup half and half and egg in a third shallow bowl or dish; stir with a whisk.

Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour mixture. Dip in egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining pork chops, flour mixture, egg mixture and breadcrumb mixture. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chops to pan; cook 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove chops from pan; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Turn chops over; return to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Heat butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms; saute 3 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Add wine to pan; cook until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine 1/2 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add to cooking liquid in pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 1/4 cups (about 6 minutes). Stir in 1/2 cup half and half. Cook 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and chives. Serve sauce with pork chops. Serves 4.

Long before Manwich in a can came along, cooks were making sloppy joes at home just like this. There's no magic to the recipe, other than what happens when you mix ketchup and brown sugar. With more vegetables and real garlic, these sloppy joes from Allrecipes.com just got a little healthier, too.

Healthier Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

3/4 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir beef, onion, green bell pepper, carrots, and garlic until beef is browned, about 10 minutes. Drain off liquids.

Stir in mustard, ketchup and brown sugar and mix thoroughly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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