Healthy eating for swimsuit season

The days of hiding are coming to an end. Warmer, sunnier days mean fewer and fewer pieces of clothing. Yes, it’s that time of year when our minds turn to summer living, and that means swimsuits. If your bulges are betraying you, then just as the days are lightening up we need to lighten up too. Altering eating habits helps us get into shape for summer and makes us feel more vigorous.

There are thousands of diets out there, all guaranteed to make you look and feel wonderful. Many of them are scary, encouraging dieters to eat just one type of food and reject others. You may lose weight initially, but will it stay off?  The only diets that work are slow but sure: eat less, load up on fruit and vegetables and exercise more. Like Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, it’s not glamorous but it works. You feel better and shed weight, too. Get in shape for the sun months ahead and enjoy every minute with these helpful hints:

• Starving yourself does not work – don’t skip meals.
• Plan ahead for meals, snacks and social events.
• Substitute, substitute, substitute. Leave out pop, candy and high fat snack foods and substitute with teas,
water, sparkling water mixed with fruit juices and add lots of flavour with herbs, spices and lemon juice.
• Load up on fruit and vegetables.
• Keep busy with activities you enjoy, including exercise you love to do.

Before you know it, you’ll be wearing that swimsuit with pizzazz!


Hearty Tomato Consommé

When I need to feel soothed and satisfied, I make this instant soup. It’s low in calories, filling and nutritious. Serve with whole grain Melba toast or whole grain bread (go light on the butter). Have you ever noticed when you are trying to lose weight you crave warm foods, not cold ones? A crisp celery stick may be zero calories, but it’s not warm and fuzzy. This soup gets you over the initial hurdle of losing the first pounds, and it’s tasty enough to serve at a dinner party. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a lemon slice.

1 can (48 oz/1.5 L) tomato juice
4 whole cloves
1 celery stick sliced
1 slice lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
dashes hot pepper sauce

In a large stainless steel saucepan or Dutch oven combine tomato juice, cloves, celery stick, lemon, cinnamon stick, onion, bay leaf and hot pepper sauce. Bring to boil, simmer about 15 minutes. Strain soup through sieve and return consommé to saucepan to keep warm. Makes six to eight servings. Any left over may be refrigerated and reheated the next day.


Fish in a Package

Simple, nutritious and delicious! Whenever I want to shed a few pounds I make fish. Again, it is satisfying, low in fat and requires little time mooching around in the kitchen. The less I mooch, the less I nibble. Serve with basmati rice, steamed spinach and grilled cherry tomatoes.

You can use any combination of fish such as salmon, halibut, haddock, shrimp or scallops. Allow one 6 oz portion of boneless skinless fish or shellfish per person. Centre fish in a single layer on a piece of parchment paper large enough to encase it and allow for folding.

1 lemon
drizzle of olive oil
sea salt
fresh black pepper
splash white wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Arrange fish centred on parchment paper. Squeeze lemon juice over fish, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and add a splash of wine if you wish. Fold parchment paper over fish to cover and fold in edges twice. Place on baking pan; bake about 15 minutes or until fish flakes. Serve immediately on warm plates. For WOW appeal, uncover the fish at the dinner table.

Ode to an Omelet

Talk about magic! If you are feeling sad, have an egg. If your stomach is upset, have an egg. If you want to lose weight, have an egg. Ninety calories of wholesome nutrition, the egg is a great mainstay when dieting. Fast and easy to prepare, its versatility is endless. It works in countless dishes as simple as hard cooked in a salad or as ethereal as a soufflé. Eggs are a fabulous way of eating high quality protein. Protein at every meal is critical to maintain energy levels. Avoid junk food, have eggs!

2 or 3 eggs
2 tbsp (25 mL) water
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, herbes de province and salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper

Heat a non-stick frying pan large enough for three eggs (about six inches in diameter) over medium-high heat. Meanwhile whisk together two or three eggs, water, herbes de province, salt and fresh pepper until well mixed. Drop a splash of water on pan. When it sizzles it is ready for cooking. Pour in egg mixture, lifting up edges as egg cooks and tilting pan so raw egg flows beneath. Continue to cook in this way until the top seems just done. Tilt pan and fold egg over itself, then gently roll egg onto a heated dinner plate. Two eggs makes a lunch serving for one, three eggs a dinner serving for one.

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer. 416-265-8445

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