Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dieting: Summer Garden Dining

Summer is the Best Season for Dieting!

How to Get Thin by Eating Fresh Food From the Garden


As a woman over fifty with an activity-limiting autoimmune disease, I must adhere to a calorie-reduced diet if I wish to fit into anything remotely resembling a swimsuit this summer.  However, the good news is that this is the very best season for dieting!  Best part, for me at least, is that most of my diet food choices come from my backyard.  I plant a few vegetable plants in the garden, apply a bit of water, and a flood of ripe, yummy, low-cal treats is my reward.  Interested?  Follow along to get summer thin with me by eating healthy summer foods like these.   

Low calorie summer breakfasts can be colorful and delicious. 

Taking advantage of the plentiful fruit in summer, I begin the day with vibrant color and unbeatable flavor.  My favorites include blueberries and halved strawberries topped with a 1/2 cup of fat-free yogurt--less than 200 calories.  

Dinner is a breeze and much lighter when veggies meet the 'cue.   

One of my favorite dinners is a combo of summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and a chicken breast all grilled to perfection.  It could not be any easier.  I cut the summer squash in half lengthwise while leaving preferred large cherry tomato -- Juliette -- whole.  After cutting the chicken breast in half, I spray both pieces with a light coating of oil, finishing with an herbal rub.   

All ingredients take approximately the same amount of time to cook, so they go on the grill at the same time.  Watching to ensure the squash does not burn, I grill them until they are slightly tender.  Using indirect heat, the tomatoes bake on foil until the skin begins to burst open.  The chicken pieces are so small, they are perfectly grilled by the time the veggies are ready to plate.  Before plating, though, I cut the squash into one-inch pieces, sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt.  A fresh-diced cucumber and tomato salad -- sprinkled with lemon juice -- and small piece of grilled bread rounds out this 300-calorie dinner.  

Snacking saves diets.


One of my favorite low-calorie snacks uses the plentiful eggplants that fill my summer garden.  Cutting one in cubes, I spray it with oil and roast until soft--about 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Once this is cool, I puree it in a food processor with a tablespoon of lemon juice, one garlic clove, one teaspoon of oregano, two roasted cherry tomatoes from a previous dinner, and one tablespoon of olive oil.  Luckily, I also grow carrots and bell peppers to dip into this smoky delicious snack.  For less than 300 calories, I can snack on this all week.  

Chew your water. 

Staying hydrated is vitally important during the summer months.  This is a given.  Nevertheless, water alone does not satisfy the taste buds or hunger.  Consequently, I take advantage of the surplus of watermelon this sunny season offers us.  Beyond the many health benefits, it is water rich and nearly calorie free--drink up! 

Meet my summer food choices and their calories.  

·         Zucchini: 20 calories per cup

·         Tomatoes: 26 calories per cup

·         Eggplant: 20 calories per cup

·         Chicken breast: 128 calories per  4 oz

·         Blueberries: 83 calories per cup

·         Strawberries: 52 calories per cup

·         Fat Free Yogurt: 110 calories per cup