Post 1.5 - Portions

The USFDA recommends a 2,000 calorie per day diet, but that is a baseline reflecting a certain activity level. Many of us who work behind a desk all day and do not get the proper exercise we should would probably gain weight at this level. Our kids, however, are an entirely different story, based on their ages, gender, as well as physical activity.

It all becomes quite a balancing act, even before you consider the likes and dislikes of the entire crew.

One of the other devices that I swear by (rather than swear at) is my Food Saver, which allows me to vacuum seal leftovers. The biggest challenge for me in how I eat is not what I eat, but how much I eat, i.e., portion control. My doctors are frankly amazed that I am as healthy as I am, given my weight, but I really do eat a lot of good stuff. I don't sit and watch TV while picking at a family-sized bag of Doritos. I incorporate vegetables somehow, some way into every meal I can, including breakfast.

But it's still a battle because I do love good food, and sometimes too much.

With the Food Saver, I prepare recipes that I like, eat the recommended portion, then vacuum seal the rest by portion. This means when I go to have leftovers, I only make enough for one serving, or one serving per person that is being served. My mother frequently returns home with various single-servings of leftovers of a myriad of recipes, as she has the same problem; when she's hungry, she wants to eat whatever is available and ready immediately, which can lead to processed microwave meals and fast food or basically poorly balanced meals, rather than good home cooking.

There are several advantages to this approach, also.

  • If I prepare a different fresh recipe each night for say a week, we eventually have a stockpile of items to choose from, so we don't get tired of having one set of flavors over and over.
  • Each person can choose exactly what they want, so if one person wants chicken and another wants pasta, everybody is happy, and the designated chef doesn't have to be a short order cook.
  • Most meals are ready in 5 minutes or less.
  • Vacuum-sealed concoctions can be taken to work or school for lunches.
  • If you have to support different dietary and caloric needs, you can start from a prepared entree and work outward, using products like Just for One vegetables by Green Giant, or macaroni and cheese, or anything else that some people may want or need that others don't.
  • Using the Food Saver appliance, there are no preservatives -- and I have to say, without exception, every meal I have reheated from frozen tastes as fresh as the day I made it.
The Food Saver appliance is also great for resealing cheeses, bags of chips, preserving blanched vegetables like asparagus, or lunch meats. We're not a big lunch meat family here, but occasionally, we do like a sandwich or a wrap, and it saves a fortune to have deli meats and cheeses preserved for months by vacuum sealing.

I've also been inspired by prepared skillet meals available from Bertolli, Birds Eye, and other companies, and it really is pretty easy to do. Cook the pasta and let it cool. In an ice cube tray, freeze your favorite plain pasta sauce (I like Classico, which is low in sugar and very flavorful). In a freezer bag, toss in 1-2 servings of pasta, some shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese, a little parmesan cheese, and six cubes of frozen sauce, then seal it with the Food Saver. Homemade pasta and sauce for two with no added salt or preservatives, ready in 5-7 minutes in the microwave. Include a little grilled chicken, and you've got your own grilled chicken parmagiana - lower in calories, fat, and carbs than any of those concoctions in the frozen food section. :-) Or throw in some roasted eggplant, or some sauteed zucchini squash (after it's cooled, of course) - the possibilities are really endless.

Don't be afraid to try new strategies for variety, nutrition, just cutting down on the work you need to do to eat healthy. A little planning and thought can go a long way!

And I should add, I've been on a diet for some time now, and using these methods in controlling my portions, eating home cooked food, etc., I have lost 17.5% of my body weight, and in a healthy, consistent, balanced way.

Have a question or a suggestion for a topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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