The healthy column

Aug. 06, 2013 @ 11:00 AM

Don’t ever go shopping on an empty stomach.
I had to run over to Brier Creek. I hadn’t eaten lunch, but I was only going to be gone for a half an hour or so. The plan was to go to Best Buy, and come right back home.
But that darn Jeep of ours had other plans.
First it took me to Lowe’s Foods. I grabbed a carton of milk. On the way out, there was a sample table set up with big pieces of lemon cake. My hand reached for one, but I slapped it away, and headed to the parking lot.
At this point I tried to turn for home, but the jeep still wasn’t finished. It pulled in at Gigi’s Cupcakes and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company. Against the advice of my growling stomach, I only window shopped.
I was definitely on my way home when the Jeep spied a space right in front of Barnes and Noble. And of course, my disobedient conveyance pulled into it.
I was looking for a magazine, but it wasn’t in. On the way out the door my feet betrayed me, and headed for the coffee bar. In addition to the selection of Cheesecake Factory items, the coffee bar had a salted caramel chocolate tart.   
Despite the nefarious temptations, my head finally won the battle of wills; empty-handed, I dragged myself away and drove home.
Where I had a sensible lunch.
From my heaviest weight I’m down 105 pounds. I’ve gained and lost and gained a kindergarten class worth of weight over the years. But I’ve been at the same weight now for more than a year, and I like to think I’ve figured out the secret for keeping it off. I haven’t changed my diet, but the way I eat. Low-cal, no-fat food just makes me sad and grumpy. So, I practice what I call mindful eating. I eat less, I don’t waste calories on food that I don’t enjoy, and when there is no sacrifice of flavor, I swap in healthier alternatives.
A couple of months ago, after finishing the last of our white rice, Petey and I made the switch to brown. It’s way better for us, and I think the flavor and texture are vastly superior. But there are differences in preparation.
Brown Rice
2 cups brown rice (not instant)
3 ¾ cups water or stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Put all ingredients into pot with lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes. When all the liquid is absorbed, take off heat, leave covered, and let sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Fluff and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
I try to be vigilant, but every once in a while I go overboard. When I step on the scale, and it decides to be mean to me, I cut back for a few days. I move more, and reduce sweets and fats.
We eat green salad as part of our meal almost every night. Lately, we’ve been eating a new salad I invented. It goes well as part of a meal, but when I’m feeling a bit puffy, I eat it for a meal. The next day I feel less puffy and very virtuous.
Detox Salad
1 5oz container of salad greens (I like a 50/50 blend of baby spinach and mixed greens)
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 2 lemons
½ pint grape tomatoes
¼ cup shaved red onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt & ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Put greens into large bowl.  Cube avocados and drop in.  Pour the lemon juice over the avocados now, to keep them from turning brown.  Place in tomatoes and onion.  Season, and drizzle in oil.  This may not seem like much oil, but with the lemon juice, and the bits of avocado that break down during tossing, I promise there’s plenty of dressing.  With clean hands, gently toss.
Serve immediately.  Makes 4 portions as side salad or 1 as a meal.
It isn’t always easy, but I strive to be the master of what I eat. I’d like to write more, but right now I’m arguing with my ears about a siren song that a Milky Way in the kitchen is singing.
Thanks for your time.
Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is