Dining With Miss Lil: On the Good Foot

January 3, 2010

By Lil Nickelson

Happy New Year and welcome to 2010. Now that we’ve indulged our selves through last year’s holiday season, I hope you are ready to getting back on track to eating healthy. Instead of focusing on what foods you can’t eat, stay positive and try focusing on the foods that you can eat. Aim to keep an open mind about food, especially trying new food and food you didn’t like when you were younger. I didn’t like spicy food as a child, but my taste buds can handle and love them now.

I’ve come to believe that there are no such things as bad foods. What makes food bad is how often you eat it, and how much you eat when you eat it based upon how much exercise you get. The secret weapon to healthy living and weight loss is the right combination one two punch. Just like we must eat to live well, we must exercise to live well too.

If you haven’t done it yet, you need to clean out your refrigerator and cupboards of the outdated, expired and stuff you “just won’t eat any more of thank you please.”

Next I want you to set some short term food and exercise goals for yourself. Weigh yourself first so that you can see your starting point. At the end of July 2009 I set two food goals for myself; to cook more and eat less. I stopped buying breakfast and lunch five days a week, and reduced my portion sizes. I lost 15 pounds last year, and I can honestly say I did it with out depriving myself in some way. I planned my weekly menus and I food shopped every week. I bought quality food products versus buying a lot of food.

Reducing my portion sizes was more of a challenge for me. Eating only 9 shrimps was a hard concept to get behind when you are accustom to eating 16-20 at a time. I love fried shrimp, but 99% of the time last year I roasted them with some spicy seafood seasoning, fresh minced garlic and a little olive oil in the oven. I indulged my other cravings at least once a week, but I watched my portions when I did. I also went for long walks at least 3 times a week.

Fruits in season in January are grapefruit, kiwi, oranges and tangerines. For vegetables, cabbages and brussel sprouts are still reasonably priced vegetables this month as well, while you can get carrots and potatoes year round. Plan to eat 2 – 3 pieces of fruit a day based on what’s available in the markets you visit.

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Here’s one of my favorite winter soup recipes that sticks to your ribs and is low in fat too:

Northern Bean & Ham (or Smoked Turkey) Soup

Serves: 6 servings


  • 1 pound Great Northern beans
  • 2 smoked ham shanks (about 1 ½ lbs) or smoked turkey wings
  • 3 slices of slab bacon (or turkey bacon)
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

how to make

Rinse beans and pick over the small stones and shriveled beans. In a large bowl, cover beans with 2 inches water and soak overnight. (To quick soak: Combine beans with water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand 1 hour). Drain in a colander.

Combine beans, 2 quarts of water, and shanks (or wings) in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Add onions, celery and garlic; cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add to beans and continue to simmer, covered, 2 hours.

Remove meat and cool. Remove meat from bones; discard skin and bones. Dice meat.

Put blending wand into pot and puree mixture until smooth. As an alternative you can pour mixture into a food processor or blender and puree mixture until smooth and then return to the pot.

Return the meat to the soup, and add parsley and simmer for 30 minutes more. Stir in salt, pepper, and vinegar. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional Information per serving: 366 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, 960mg sodium, 56g carbohydrates and 25g protein.

Go green, save some trees, and don’t add to your paper clutter at home by developing an online recipe library in 2010. Set up a folder on your hard drive of your computer for recipes, and sub folders for different dishes such as Chicken Dishes, Breakfasts, Vegetables, Sides, and Desserts. Copy and paste your desired recipes into a Microsoft word document and then save it under the appropriate sub folder. You only need to print the recipe when you get ready to use it.

Food (Photo credits: www.campgroundsigns.com)

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