Post Christmas Cheer with Kiwi Salsa

26 12 2010


Kiwi-Avocado Salsa

bright, tangy and not a sweet potato!

The Holiday season is coming to its natural end, and so is your desire to keep eating holiday foods. Right now the idea of eating sage-laced stuffing or baked yams holds very little appeal. No, now it’s time to lighten up and detox from all those cookies. And to build your immunity to make it through the long part of winter.

So, forgive me locavores, but I’m buying kiwi. Fresh fruit has some travel miles on it these days, but a little indulgence will brighten your day. The unassuming little kiwi is a tangy powerhouse of nutrition, with one fuzzy fruit containing 1 ½ of your days vitamin C, as much potassium as a banana, and good amounts of A, E and beta carotene.

For a bonus, those crunchy black seeds contain a good fat called Alpha Linoleic Acid, which vegetarians need. Of course, you can’t really eat enough kiwi to get a whole lot of ALA, but it adds up.

Kiwi has been shown to help prevent asthma attacks, protect DNA and protect your colon.

It’s also got a sprightly sweet-tart flavor and lots of juice. Start by peeling and slicing it over salads or into your cereal bowl. I like to throw some in the blender to make a vinaigrette, using the sourness instead of vinegar. The beautiful slices make pretty tarts and fruit salads, too.

My biggest craving, for about a week now, has been for a kiwi salsa. I had some kiwis sitting on the sill in the kitchen, calling out with their little fruity voices. I kept waking up thinking about it, and then, because I am a private chef, I would go out and make hearty winter roasty food for my clients. The craving for the salsa kept building until today. Diced kiwi, fresh red chile, diced avocado, a pinch of sugar and a squirt of lime, and some cilantro if you’ve got it makes a delicious dipper for some baked chips.

Yum, and not a sage leaf in sight!

Kiwi-Avocado Salsa

3 ripe kiwis, peeled and diced

1 small avocado, diced (see photo below for a tip)

1 large Red Fresno Chile, diced

squeeze of fresh lime


pinch salt

2 tbs cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients, and taste, adjust the tart/sweet balance with a little more lime or sweetener to taste. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


dice the avocado in the shell, then scoop out!

Papaya-Kiwi Vinaigrette

here is a recipe for an interesting kiwi vinaigrette!


Are You a “Resolution-er”?

12 12 2010


After The Champagne, the Resolutions?

I apologize for my poor use of the language. You see, every January at my gym, the parking lot gets crowded, the locker room gets jammed, and suddenly strange people are mobbing the classes that the rest of us attend the rest of the year. The gym staff refer to these new attendees as “resolution-ers”. They are the people who make those New Years resolutions to get in shape.

It’ll be back to normal by the end of February.

I’ve never understood the whole New Year’s resolution thing. I suppose it’s a traditional response to the overindulgence of the holidays, and a psychological new beginning in a new year. It also seems like it doesn’t work. Especially come February, when all those committed people have stopped coming to the gym.

Most of us do want to change something for the better, like eat more vegetables, or eat less desserts. But will we?

For a behavioral change to take, it really takes some thought and planning. Psychologists have defined the stages of change. The first is called “pre-contemplation.” That is the period where you get really, really sick of yourself. You are in denial about the issue, but it’s there. Some people never get to stage 2, as they rationalize the status quo.  It’s part of the process, because this motivates you. Looking in the mirror and saying “I am so sick of  ____” is the unpleasant beginning of many great transformations.

Stage 2, “contemplation,” is when you start consciously thinking that you can do something to turn it around. You see all kinds of reasons not to make change, but you start working it through in your mind.

Stage 3 is “preparation.” It’s essential to start collecting information and trying out some initial steps. This would be when you start forming realistic goals and the ways that you will achieve them.

Stage 4 is “action,” when you full-on commit to the new program. Now that you have laid the groundwork and set yourself up with new habits, you are ready to act.

Stage 5 is “maintenance,” the stage at which all those gym-goers lose their way. It’s one thing to start a diet, and another to finish it, you might say.

So, for the January 1st date to really work as a starting point, you need to have started this thing by now. Let’s say that you want to eat better, and you are good and sick of the results of your current habits. What does that mean in practice?

Are you somebody who needs to get a menu plan and follow a diet, or can you just adopt a few new resolutions, like eating a salad every day and only having treats on the weekend? How can you work your new commitment into your schedule, so that it becomes a habit?

We all work a little differently, but we are all brought down the same way. To see your positive changes through to stage 5, you have to make them easy to do. When it comes to eating better, the absolute most important thing is planning.

You can have all the best intentions, but unless you plan out your shopping, cooking and snacking, you will be swimming against the current. We are surrounded by unhealthy, easy options and advertising that urges us to indulge. If you come home too tired to cook and order pizza alot, find some foods that you can keep on hand for those nights. If you skip breakfast and end up eating donuts mid morning at work, stock up on better breakfasts.

So if you, like millions of other people, want to make some healthy eating resolutions for 2011, let the planning stage begin. When will you do your menu plan, shop, and cook? Be realistic, that always helps. Have some better options in the pantry, in your desk at work, in the glove box of your car, if need be, to keep you from falling into the hunger trap. Make the right choice the default, so that you don’t have an excuse.

Whether you are resolving to eat less, eat better, or just eat more plants, you can do it. You just have to make it as easy as possible for yourself while you are feeling energetic and committed, so that when you aren’t feeling that way, it’s easier to just stick with the plan.

And if you need the month of January to get to stage 4, that is ok, too. It’s far better to make a change that you will be ready to stick to at any time of year than to take another failing stab at it just because everybody else is.


Low Fat Vegetable Soup

Go Wholly Whole for the Holidays, Whittle Your Waist By Eating

4 12 2010


Tasty for your Heart and Belly

I know, talking about losing weight during holiday season gets tiresome. I hear that I should nibble on celery sticks and drink water at parties, if I want to avoid the dreaded December fat gain. But you know what? I won’t.

If someone invites me to her home, and goes to all the work of making some good food, and I care enough about it to emerge from my winter cocoon and drive there in the Minnesota weather environment, I’m going to eat some. Not the cocktail weiners, but certainly some rich, tasty treats. I can’t wait.

So, I’ll work on balance, eating light some other day, getting up early for spinning class, all that yadda yadda weight management stuff. One day of indulgence does not obesity make.

But the best strategy by far has now been exposed. The latest study on whole grains was conducted at Tufts University. The participants logged their whole and refined grain consumption, and they had their fat measured. Researchers looked at both subcutaneous fat, the kind that you can pinch as it spills over the top of your jeans, and visceral fat, the kind that lurks inside your belly cavity. While the jiggly fat you can see is not exactly good for you, it’s that lurking stuff that really hurts.

Visceral fat, which builds up around your organs and bloats out your midsection, is associated with high blood pressure and heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Compared to this fat,  jiggly thighs and muffin-tops are a blessing.

So, it turns out that the people who ate at least three servings of whole grains, and limited their refined grains to one serving a day had 10% less of the visceral fat. This is not the first study to find this association. But the big difference this time around was that the researchers found that the effect of eating whole grains was diminished when people still ate lots of refined grains.

That means that your three servings a day isn’t as effective for making you healthier if you still eat three servings a day of white stuff.

I know, we are not supposed to make this too hard. When we talk about healthy eating, we have to live in the real world, and help people make gradual changes.

But here is the thing. If you go whole grain almost all of the time, you can get away with indulging in some treat foods. Whole grains are daily detox, soaking up cholesterol and toxins as they pass through the system. Whole grains keep the healthy bacteria happy, and have the kinds of fiber and complex carbs that keep you humming along.

And they keep that insidious fat from gathering in your midsection.

So here is my big holiday diet. Eat all whole grain breads, cereals and pastas. Cook whole grains instead of white versions. Eat lots of veggies and fruits.

And when somebody offers me pie, smile, thank them, and enjoy the heck out of every bite.

Brown Rice For Dessert