Category Archives: Tuesday Tips

Coupon Crazy

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By now I’m sure you’ve seen Extreme Couponing.  I won’t comment on the practice of extreme couponing.  Everyone needs a hobby.  From a dietary standpoint however, I have noticed something regarding coupons.

They’re all for processed food.  No shocker there.  Mega food companies work really hard at establishing their brand.  Coupons help in that regard.

Alas, no one worries about building a brand for sweet corn or shallots.  I wonder, how different a world would it be if we did?

Unfortunately, couponing just pushes the cheaper, less-healthy food into your shopping cart.  And it shows how branding and marketing have effected how we eat.  And how we view a good food “deal”.  More for less isn’t typically the best value.

My humble advice:  Coupon like crazy for personal care and household products.  Get a roll of deodorant for 5 cents?  More power to you.

Limit what food you use the coupons  for.  A box of Coco Puffs for 5 cents is well, slightly CooCoo.

 

Get stuck in a healthy lifestyle

We’re creatures of habit.  We do things our way.  Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.  All of these habits added together make up our lifestyle.  Changing our lifestyle is difficult.  It can seem daunting.  But that same fact offers hope for healthier living.

You know it’s hard to change your habits and lifestyle; it’s probably been a major roadblock in your efforts to get healthier previously.  That’s because you viewed it as a negative.  An obstacle to overcome.  This time, look at like this:

Once you make changes to your lifestyle, it will be just as hard to go back to your old ways.  I say a diet is never-ending, but that doesn’t mean the struggle of living healthier doesn’t end.  Get yourself stuck with healthy habits, and eating smartly becomes the norm.

Put forth the effort to remake a part of your lifestyle and you come out on the other end a person who curmudgeonly hangs onto their new way of doing things.  Like always having breakfast….

$5 Foot Wrong

Five….Five Dollar…Five Dollar Footloooong….  Did you start humming the jingle?  Yeah, me too.  The $5 footlong deal from Subway is a good value for your money.  Except for one thing…

You don’t NEED a footlong sub.  I know you can probably eat one.  But, the human stomach was not made to hold 12 inches of sandwich.  If you can eat one without feeling bloated, you’re doing something wrong in the rest of your diet.  Elite athletes and rigorous laborers are the exception.

I thought of this at work recently when I sent my coworker to grab us some subs at Subway.  I requested a 6 inch variety.  He looked at me quizzically,

“But, for like a dollar more you can get twice the amount of food.” He paused, eyebrows arched, “Why wouldn’t you do that.”

Because, my good man, I don’t need the whole thing.  No matter how good the deal.

And therein lies the problem.   We tend to make our food choices based on amount of food for your money.  It’s natural, we’re capitalists.  We judge value based on getting more for your money.  It works for cars, not food.

How do we fight this natural tendency?  It’s not easy.  Start by adjusting how you view food value.  In the long run isn’t a healthier, organic option more valuable?  It will save you money on future medical bills.  And bigger clothes.

And, just think, you can save up that extra $1 on a footlong sub and visit the more-food-for-your-money center of the universe….Golden Corral.

Ten Essential Tools for the Home Cook

I’m assuming you already have an oven and stovetop.  And hopefully a grill.  A microwave is not necessary.  Outside of those appliances, here are the tools I’ve learned are absolutely necessary to cooking at home effectively. 

  1. Three quart pot:  For boiling water, making soup or stew, and steaming veggies.
  2.  12 inch non-stick frying pan:  For sautéing veggies and protein, making bacon and eggs, and frying burgers, chicken, and fish.
  3. Tongs:  For flipping protein, tossing veggies, and just generally grabbing stuff.
  4. Flat Spatula:  For flipping fish, grilled sandwiches, burgers, and eggs.
  5. A really sharp chef’s knife: For slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, and general cutting.  Not to mention self defense.
  6. A cutting board: To cut stuff (see above) without destroying your knife or countertop.
  7. Strainer: For draining pasta and washing veggies.
  8. Medium mixing bowl: For mixing ingredients and, most importantly, tossing chicken wings in sauce.
  9. Baking Pan/Casserole Dish:  For baking, broiling, and roasting.
  10. A Fork:  To get food from plate to mouth.

The Bathroom Scale is a Checking Account

Whether we’re starting a diet and exercise program or trying to maintain what we have, we often put too much emphasis on the number on the bathroom scale.  It’s time to adjust how we view this number.  Determining your overall health by the number on the scale is like judging your finances solely by your checking account balance.

Without a doubt, a healthy weight or full checking account are positive indicators of physical and financial health, respectively.  But consider your checking account, if it’s full does that mean you’re on solid financial footing? Not necessarily.

A checking account balance doesn’t give any insight into how much debt a person is carrying, their savings, or lines of credit. A full checking account with tons of debt and no savings would certainly not make one financially secure.  Just ask Equifax.

The same idea goes for the bathroom scale. It certainly gives feedback on how you’re doing, but if you’re eating habits, physical fitness, and emotional state are poor, the number on the scale will is meaningless.

Pay attention how you look in the mirror (believe me, you can tell) and how you FEEL. When you eat healthy and exercise you notice the difference. You have more energy, more confidence, and a happier body. Pay attention to those messages, not just a number.

Like you would with a checking account, check your bathroom scale regularly. It gives the most immediate feedback on your progress. But don’t let positive or negative numbers on that little machine cloud your overall health progress.

After all, we’re more than just a number, aren’t we?

More Flavorful Food with One Twist.

We know that one the best ways to eat healthier is to make your own meals.  Not the boil-milk-and-butter-then-add-pasta-packet kind of meals either.  You can make meals just as fast, and way more flavorful.  Today’s tip focuses on flavor.  The simplest way to make nearly everything you make taste better:

Buy, and use often, a pepper grinder.

It doesn’t have to be one of those 2 foot long monsters the waiter offers you at an italian restaurant. Just something small will suffice. 

The pepper shaker you’re using now is useless.  As soon as a peppercorn is ground it begins losing flavor and aroma, so the ground up stuff you’ve always used is lacking the necessary punch.

Use your new pepper grinder just as you would that old powdery stuff.  I guarantee the first time you use it you’ll curse yourself for not making the switch sooner. 

You’re food will taste better, you’ll feel like a better cook, you’ll want to cook more often, you’ll eat healthier.  Pretty easy for something you can buy for under $5 at your local supermarket.

Changing Your Diet One Day at a Time

Recently, I recalled a day that changed my diet.  I can’t actually remember the specific day or date. What happened on this day (that I can’t remember exactly) that changed my diet?  I tried spinach.

I don’t mean the frozen, kinda nasty, creamed spinach stuff your mom used to slap on the plate.  I’m talking about fresh, raw spinach.  Why did it change my diet?  Because it added a new, wholly nutritious staple to my repertoire.

Most of us eat basically the same stuff.  That’s actually good as studies have shown healthy eaters eat similar foods regularly and are satisfied by their choices. It’s all about habits.  Like ordering the same thing at a restaurant you frequent.  On this day, I tried something new, loved it, and it became part of my frequently eaten foods.

When was the last time you tried something new?  You probably look forward to trying some new things like the hottest new restaurant or rock album.  But what about your diet?  My guess is it has been a while.

So, throughout this blog I will suggest new, healthy foods to try.  Maybe you’ll like them and add a healthy staple to your diet, maybe you won’t.  Doesn’t matter.  You have nothing to lose but healthier eating habits.

Therefore, this week’s Tuesday Tip is :  When you’re trying to establish better eating habits, baby steps are most helpful.  Try a new healthy food at least once a month. 

Today’s food to try is, naturally, spinach.  Buy a bag of organic spinach this week and use it whenever you would normally use iceberg lettuce.  Top a sandwich with it.  Make a spinach salad (or, at least, add spinach leaves to your salad).  My wife loves it in her omelette. Experiment a little.  You’ll likely discover that the slightly peppery taste of spinach adds to your food in ways iceberg never could.

Try spinach. I did.  And it was a day that changed my diet.  I just can’t remember exactly when…