Healthy New Year Recipes

Eating right and eating well needn't be at odds. Get your dietary habits moving in a better direction with these delicious but healthy new year recipes.

| December 1993/January 1994

To me, diet has always been synonymous with self-discipline (as well as starving and suffering). I'm glad to see that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that diets simply don't work. The idea from years past of "eating like a bird" actually slowed down our metabolism by making our body think it was starving (which of course it was) — and everyone despises deprivation.

So this year, make a resolution for a nutritionally responsible, healthy New Year that you can actually live with. Make the switch to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate lifestyle. To get you started I’ve put together a few New Year recipes in that vein.

I won't preach about consistent exercise, except to say it's the best way to increase our metabolism, burn body fat, release stress, and give us more energy. I have come to love my time on the bicycle, which gives me a chance to escape family members who want to know if they have any clean socks or where the milk is.

Now, let's talk low-fat eating. The U.S. government guidelines recommend that no more than 30% of our daily consumed calories come from fat. As illustrated in the USDA food pyramid (which replaces the obsolete four food groups), fats and sweets are the no-no's at the tip of the pyramid while carbohydrates make up its foundation. This is where our government finally got smart; complex carbohydrate calories are rarely stored as fat because they're the body's main source of energy.

The fat you eat is converted into body fat more efficiently than the carbohydrates and protein (unfair but true). Fat has the highest calorie density of all foods — nine calories per gram of fat. This compares with four calories per gram for both carbohydrates and protein. A single tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories — all of them fat calories. We could eat the same number of calories by eating three-fourths cup of oatmeal, six cups of air-popped popcorn, or four cups of green beans.

Does this mean that if we normally consume 2,000 calories per day but want to shed a few pounds, we can still eat the same number of calories and lose weight? Yes, but all those nasty, old fat calories must be replaced with complex carbohydrates, protein, plus fruits and vegetables. This creates a bit of a challenge because most people are used to "enhancing flavors" by throwing butter, sauce, and plenty of disguised fats on top of their meals. Here are some suggestions to ease into a healthier 1994.

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