Spring Slim Down
  (Part I)

If you’re like me, every year I make a new year’s resolutions to do better and stick to a good exercise and diet routine.   This year it is working and there are a few things I have discovered that helped me lose weight. Here are some tips I’d like to pass along to you.

Part I – come back to see more about your Spring Slim Down soon.

‘Good’ Carbs vs. ‘Bad’ Carbs
There are ‘good’ carbs which you can add to your diet to help you lose weight.   I always tried to stay away from carbs because they were touted as ‘bad for you’ and added no nutrition only starchy calories.  Those ‘bad’ carbs or starches can increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.  The ‘bad carbs’ are from refined grains like white breads, cakes, donuts and cookies. I have now realized that there are some ‘good carbs’ that can be quite beneficial.  These ‘good’ carbs are whole grains. These are a great choice and will help you feel fuller longer because it is more difficult for your body to break down, staying in your system longer.  A study in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that eating 3 servings of whole grains a day helped people reduce their abdominal fat as well as their total body fat.

Whole-wheat pasta, for those times when you just want pasta, has 2 to 3 times more fiber in it than the refined varieties.  This is also true of whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Be careful in picking breads or crackers, and check the ingredients list, if the first ingredient is not whole wheat or whole grain the manufacturer is adding the whole grain in a much lesser amount and the item is not really whole wheat of whole grain and you will not benefit you in your quest for weight loss.

Chicken and Ham Tetrazzini
Tomato Basil Penne Primavera

Quinoa is a very versatile whole grain which has been cultivated by the Incas for thousands of years.  Quinoa provides some fiber (2 grams per half cup) and a good amount of protein (4 grams).  Cooking in about 10-12 minutes it creates light and fluffy side dishes. It can also be incorporated into soups, salads and baked goods.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops

Barley is great in soups and stews.  This is one of the oldest cultivated grains and is evident in Egyptian times.  . Barley is available “pearled”, the bran has been removed or “quick-cooking”, and it has been parboiled.  It is believed to help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy more effectively than oat fiber.

Barley with Asparagus and Shiitakes
Barley Minestrone

Wheat Berries are my favorite and I like to add them to everything from chili or salsa to rice pilaf and stuffing.  Wheat berries are whole unprocessed kernels that are used to make whole wheat flour. They're a terrific source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and, fiber.  There are 2 varieties ‘red’ and ‘white’ (also called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ or ‘winter’ and spring’), both can be used interchangeably the white only refers to the color and does not mean the grain has been refined.

Wheat Berry and Lentil Soup with Cumin
Chicken Divan

To learn more about whole grains visit the whole grain council at www.wholegraincouncil.org