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Make foods appear pretty and appetizing and everyone will enjoy their food more!
Learn to use spices and fresh herbs to add aroma to both savory and sweet foods.
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Week of December 28, 2003

Food Portions

You have been watching what you are eating. You are eating healthy but you are still slowly gaining weight. What could be the problem?

It could be several things, but more than likely you are just eating more than regular portions. You are overeating! We live in a time when everything has been "super-sized". Your ideas of what normal portions are have been skewed. When you go to a restaurant, you are not served on a dinner plate, but a PLATTER. And people eat it all and wonder why they feel "stuffed" and have trouble even getting up from the table. At home, when you sit down to dinner, how many "seconds" do you pile on your plate? Do you fill your plate twice?

So what is in a portion? You can not always go by what is on the outside of a box of cereal, bread or pasta. Serving portions on labels have increased in past years, right along with obesity in the U.S.

The following recommendations should be used as a general guideline, as individual nutrition needs vary widely according to factors such as age and activity level. This means if you are a couch potato, you need to go with the lowest level and really cut back (You are not burning enough calories).

Grains and Cereals: 6 to 11 servings per day

  • One serving of cooked rice or pasta is only 1/2 cup (Restaurants usually serve as much as four times this amount.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal is a serving
  • 1 cup of ready to eat cereal is a serving
  • Only one slice of regular sized bread is a serving (A jumbo bagel served at most coffee shops, however, may contain as many as five servings).

Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings per day

  • One serving of leafy green vegetables like salad greens or raw spinach is 1 cup.
  • One serving of chopped raw or cooked vegetables like green beans, broccoli, squash is 1/2 cup.

Fruit: 2 - 4 servings per day

  • A medium banana, apple or orange each make a serving.
  • Or 1/2 cup of fruit juice, canned fruit or dried fruit is also equivalent to one serving.

Dairy and Protein Sources: 2 - 3 servings for Adults

  • One cup of milk is one serving
  • One cup of yogurt is one serving
  • One and a half ounces of natural cheese or two ounces of processed cheese all equal one serving. A serving of cheese is roughly the size of a one-inch cube

Meat, Fish, Poultry, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts: 2 - 3 servings

  • A serving of cooked lean meat is equivalent to two or three ounces, which is roughly the size of a deck of cards.
  • A serving of beans is 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans
  • One egg is equivalent to one ounce of lean meat; therefore, a serving of eggs would be about two or three eggs.
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter or one-third cup of nuts are also equivalent to one ounce of meat.

Fats, Oils and Sweets: Use Sparingly

  • 1 teaspoon of butter is considered a serving.
  • 1 teaspoon of oil is one serving

Week of December 21, 2003

Steaming food wrapped in leaves is a popular Asian culinary technique: not only does it help keep the food moist, but the fragrance from the leaves is transferred to the food. (The leaves are not eaten). Meats, dumplings and vegetables can be steamed in this manner.)

In fact, the Filipinos actually have a term - Pinais - which means food wrapped in leaves (banana or alagao), and steamed.

You can use lettuce leaves, Chinese cabbage leaves, banana leaves, fig leaves or grape leaves to name a few.

Try steaming fish steaks wrapped in large romaine leaves. Any type of non-oily fish can be used. It will turn out wonderfully moist.

Wrapped Sole

1 tablespoon diced red onion
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
Zest from 1 medium sized lemon
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried sage or fresh
2 teaspoons dried thyme or fresh
1 egg white
Salt and pepper
6 large romaine lettuce leaves
2 (8 ounces) fillets (sole, snapper, lemon sole, yellow tail, other white fish fillets 1 inch thick)

Mix onion, bread crumbs, lemon zest and juice, sage and thyme together in a small bowl. Add egg white and blend well. Place 3 romaine leaves in bottom of a steamer or enough leaves to cover steamer rack. Lay fish fillets on top. Spoon crumb mixture on top of fillets. Pack down with spoon. Cover fillets with remaining romaine leaves. Place over boiling water, cover with a lid and steam 10 minutes for 1-inch-thick fillet. Increase to 15 minutes for thicker pieces of fish. Serve fish still wrapped in lettuce on individual plates.

Per Serving (nutritional data based on sole): 336 Calories; 4g Fat (12.1% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 49g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 447mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain (Starch); 6 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat.

You can also wrap fish in leaves and grill-steam fish over coals. The leaves don't form an airtight seal; therefore, foods develop that grill flavor that you won't get with an airtight foil package. Leaves also have some moisture of their own to contribute to the cooking process. This is very important because the biggest problem with grilling seafood is to overcook and dry it out.

Week of December 14, 2003

Have you ever wondered what is considered small, medium, and large potatoes or onions? Many recipes leave that judgment to the cook's expertise and let's face it; not all people following a recipe are experienced.

If you've ever been in the produce department when the gigantic sweet yellow hybrid onions, such as Texas 1015's are in season, you know full well how dramatically onions can differ in size. Generally, I prefer recipes that call for a specific amounts of onion, rather than relying on an eyeball judgment of size. But not all recipes are so precise, so here are the sizes that you can go by.

According to Onions USA, onions less than 1 inch in size are called creamers or boilers, small onions are 1 to 2 inches, medium are 2 to 3 ¼ inches, large are 3 ¼ to 4 inches, and above that the definitions get a little outlandish, up to "super colossal."

Potatoes are usually graded by lot, meaning the sizes are approximate and applied to each bag, rather than individual potatoes. Large potatoes are over 6 ounces, or at least 2 ½ inches in diameter. Mediums are 1 ½ to 2 ¼ inches, and smalls (or "baby") are anything less than 1 ½ inches.

Week of December 7, 2003

Enhancing Aroma and Appearance

The taste and acceptance of a new dish by you, your family or guests can sometimes depend on two other senses other than taste. Those two senses are smell and eye appeal.

The aroma can greatly enhance the essence of food. If it smells bland, to many it will appear tasteless. To enhance savory foods, use herbs, garlic and spices to heighten the aroma which in turn will boost flavor. Favorite herbs that have a lovely fragrance are thyme, rosemary, basil and tarragon. Garlic, if not overpowering and too pungent can also augment the flavor of foods. Spices too can add delicious smells to foods. No one can refute the lovely bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves that fill homes during the holiday season.

Even though a food can taste and smell wonderful, it will not be palatable if it looks bad. Your mind forms an instant judgment that you will not like this because it doesn't appear appetizing.

Dress up main dishes with sprigs of parsley, cilantro, basil or other fresh herbs to make it pretty. Use nice dishes for presentation; don't just plop it in a bowl and put a spoon in it. I know taking the baking dish from the oven to the table is easier, but not always an enhancement of eye appeal. Bring down those pretty serving plates from your top shelves. Make it appear pretty and appetizing.

Add lemon, lime or orange peel curls for both sweet and savory dishes. Add snipped chives on top of soups and savory dishes. Sprinkle dark spices on light colored dishes (paprika on scalloped potatoes or cinnamon on low fat flan). Make flowers or roses out of carrots, tomatoes, onions and radishes. These add color and instantly make it eye appealing. Squiggle sauces to make pretty designs on the plate; then add the food a little to one side of the plate. Notice the garnishment of food when you go to a nice restaurant and take heed. Usually those restaurants that have a prettier presentation also have "big dollar" prices and with good reason.

And the result will be that you, your family or guests will savor the food, eat more slowly and even enjoy the company because you have created a festive air and ambiance that transcends mere eating.

Before you begin any exercise or diet program, you should have permission from your doctor.
Contents in this web site are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counsel .

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