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For Your Well Being: Dining Lean (and Tasty!)

Feb. 7, 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 3

Dear Friends,

Hearts are in the limelight this month – both romantic Valentines and our body’s hearts that pump our blood. We’re all being exposed to lots of advertising for chocolate and wine and . . . dining out.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to counting calories, as we are constantly reminded, happens every time we sit down in a restaurant, pull up to a drive-in window or pick up take-out food from a grocery store or restaurant. According to the American Heart Association, people who are overweight (especially if a lot of it is at the waist) are more likely than others to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Being overweight can increase your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and increase your risk of developing diabetes. Being overweight can also lower your HDL (or “good” cholesterol). We all know that; what we don’t know well enough is how to eat out and stay slim, let alone lose weight.

Today, we bring you an author and speaker with some answers for you — Joanne Lichten, RD, PhD, (Dr. Jo) is an expert on showing people how to eat healthy in their favorite restaurants without feeling deprived. And, in celebration of Valentines, I’m sharing my husband’s “win-my-heart” recipe for homemade chocolate sauce. Enjoy!

Joanne Lichten, RD, PhD
Dining Lean (and Tasty!)

In the media, fast food gets a lot of the blame for the extra pounds Americans are carrying but in a recent conversation Dr. Jo told me that criticism has now been verified. According to a recent study by Kelley Borradaile, an obesity researcher at Temple University, people who eat three to six fast food meals a week weighed significantly more than people who consumed no fast food or just one or two such meals a week. That got my attention.

Dr. Jo told me not to worry, that she frequently eats fast food – at least three times and up to six times a week – and makes no excuses about it. “It’s not ‘fast food’ that makes you fat. It’s making the wrong choices at fast food restaurants,” says Dr. Jo. “There are plenty of healthy options – both on the menu and through special requests.”

Like Kim Dalzell, the nutrition and cancer expert I wrote about in our last issue, Dr. Jo’s work was inspired originally by her patients’ questions. When she was working in Houston in the early 90’s, she said that her clients started asking her about eating out in social situations and restaurants. “Houston had the highest number of restaurants per capita in the U.S. at that time. I didn’t have the answers so I started asking questions. I went right to the restaurant kitchens.

“I was amazed at what chefs told me. They were simply not calorie-focused, so they nonchalantly told me the secret to things like sizzling fajitas – a 1 oz. ladle of oil added to the skillet when serving it. I was shocked. That is 2 T. of fat – 250 calories. That may not sound like much but it’s huge for someone counting her calories on a 1500 – 2000 calorie a day allotment.”

The idea that started out as a brochure quickly turned into a book, Dining Lean in Houston. People started sharing it with family and friends in other cities and then they wanted information they could apply to their dining out habits. In 1998, she published the first national edition, Dining Lean – How to Eat Healthy in Your Favorite Restaurants (Without Feeling Deprived). It’s in its third printing, and Dr. Jo constantly updates it via e-updates.

Now she teaches people how to ask their own questions. “You can ask for what you want,” she says. “For example, ask the waiter to have the kitchen leave the blob of butter off your pancakes. It will save you hundreds of calories, and relatively painlessly. It’s a simple thing to do.

“Some people have things set in their mind, for instance, that a chicken sandwich would be less caloric than a burger, and it turns out not be so. They make a choice because it’s supposed to be good for them, not because they like it, and yet they end up consuming more calories. That’s what I call the ‘Double Bummer,’” she said. “You don’t get to have what you wanted in the first place and you really blew it because it actually has more calories than your first choice.

“I’m all about small, easy changes,” she said. That’s the focus of her most recent book, Dr. Jo’s No Big Deal Diet. And, for road warriors, she’s written “How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road.” In fact, to prove that you really can eat out and lose weight, she’s developing wallet-cards with quick tips for eating healthy in restaurants plus recommended meal ideas at the most popular restaurants.

Animated and energetic, Dr. Jo loads her presentations with graphic examples that hit home with her audiences. “Dining lean doesn’t have to mean deprivation,” she says. “There’s more to it than salad, grilled chicken and dry toast. That’s why I wrote the book and share these ideas.” I heard her speak at a conference here in Portland last fall. Everyone went home inspired with quick tips to cut fat and calories in just about every meal – without cutting back on taste.

For women’s conferences, she’s created a special topic: “What Every Woman Wants: More Energy, Great Looking Legs, and Peace of Mind.” This motivational program is designed to send attendees home feeling relaxed, in control of their food choices, and ready to make some simple “no big deal” changes. While having fun, they will find out how to:

  • Feel more energized throughout the day with just a few simple changes
  • Get in control of their weight without having to succumb to another diet
  • Cope with those aggravating little things in life that cause so much of our mental and physical distress
  • Find needed time for taking care of themselves.

Dr. Jo is a registered dietitian who earned her Masters in Human Nutrition from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and her doctorate in Adult Education from Texas A & M University.

Learn more about Dr. Jo at our website.

Visit our website for more heart health speakers, or give us a call at 503-699-5031 and we’ll be happy to make recommendations to fit your budget, as well as your objectives.

Love is in the Sauce

My husband and I were having a discussion about our food preferences (okay – differences) earlier this week. Give me a chicken (cut-up parts) and I’ll bake it or, in the summertime, barbecue it. I like my food simple (and tasty!). Give my husband a chicken and he’ll sauté it with lots of vegetables (to his credit!) and smother it all in a sauce that might include Greek olives, capers, tomatoes, prunes, etc. — this is not a recipe, just miscellaneous ingredient examples – making it VERY tasty. He loves it saucy. I like to be able to identify my vegetables in the dish. We take turns cooking, and you gotta love a husband who cooks. As we were talking, however, I discovered it isn’t that I don’t like sauces – it’s from years of conditioning (Weight Watchers, etc.) that sauces add calories, so I’ve trained myself that simpler is better.

There is, though, a sauce we agree on. As soon as he identified that one of the ways to my heart was through the chocolate channel, he’s been making me homemade chocolate sauce – to put on my low-fat yogurt ice cream. This beats anything you can buy in the store, and like anything homemade, at least you know the ingredients you’re putting into it.

Winning Barbara’s Heart
Chocolate Sauce

by Jim Newcomer (Barbara’s husband)

In a saucepan mix:

1 cup Dutched cocoa (Saco blend is the cheapest and best kind)
1 cup of granulated sugar and
1 cup of water

Bring them to a boil. This last time I also mixed in a good dollop (which translates into about three Tablespoons) of maple syrup, and it made the final sauce smooth. Take the pan off the heat soon after it boils (to avoid it getting too thick) and add:

½ teaspoon of vanilla or brandy or bourbon.

When it has cooled a little, pour it into the brown plastic bottle that held your last commercial chocolate sauce. Place the bottle in the refrigerator. Try to follow these directions as I wrote them, and avoid standing there and eating all your fresh sauce on ice cream you took from the freezer while waiting for the sauce to boil. You can get into real trouble with this stuff.

Barbara’s Note: The real trouble is with the stuff that was in the store-bought brown bottle. You know that can or bottle many of us grew up with – Hershey’s Syrup. That’s what it is – syrup. Read the label. The first three ingredients on Hershey’s Syrup “special dark” are sugar, high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. Yes, you read that right.  Now, I’m not saying our recipe is low calorie or necessarily healthy, but I think it is a better alternative for those of us with a true chocolate sweet tooth, and best of all, I know mine is cooked with lots of love.

Until next time, be good to yourself, take care of your heart in all ways, for your good health and those you love.

Yours truly,
Barbara

PLEASE NOTE: The information shared in this e-news is designed to help you make informed decisions about speakers and the programs they offer. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, seek competent medical help.

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