The Saturday Skinny: Treat yourself with healthier options for weight loss

By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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Here's my skinny ah-ha moment for this week: I can go to a restaurant and still maintain my healthy eating plan for weight loss. I can also have treats (such as ice cream) that won't bust my waistline. On two occasions, at two different restaurants, I was able to eat a fairly healthy meal and not feel guilty about my lunch choices. At a Vietnamese restaurant, I had chicken (nicely seared), with a side of peanut sauce, broth soup, a pile of fresh raw veggies and a cup of rice. I didn't have to make any special requests, it was simply how the meal was served. I didn't do a calorie check, but I'm sure it wasn't that bad (considering I didn't eat the entire plate). At another more American-style restaurant, I had teriyaki chicken and rice with a house salad (vinaigrette dressing on the side). It's all about making healthy choices. I could have just as easily chowed down on a burger and fries or some sort of deep fried dish. I can pat myself on the back for a job well done. But my choices aren't always healthy. When recently confronted with M&M-style cupcakes (my wife is a professional baker), I tried to stave off the chocolate craving with my old tried-and-true method of eating about 5-10 chocolate chips. It's usually a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth without over-indulging. Unfortunately, the urge to try that cupcake was just too strong and I caved. (It was good, too.) When I fall off the "chuck wagon," I get up, dust myself off and move forward. There is no reason to beat myself up over that cupcake. My next choice is what matters, not one that has already been made. On a very hot day a few weeks ago, I thought I'd treat my 12-year-old daughter to some gelato. It's a healthier alternative to ice cream and just as cold. When perusing the choices, my favorite flavor happened to be in the cold case -- chocolate peanut butter. Even though it's gelato, I know my weakness, so opted for the mango. The owner of the shop (Pia Knight at the Black Rooster in Folsom), who knows I'm trying to work on shrinking my waistline, said it was a wise decision. The mango gelato (per cup) has about 200 calories and no fat. The chocolate peanut butter has 540 calories per cup with 240 of those coming from fat. So, look at healthy choices. SNACKS Choose gelato over ice cream. If I'm going to have ice cream, I get the Dreyer's Slow Churned brand. An example: vanilla bean slow churn offers 100 calories per half-cup serving (30 from fat); Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Espresso ice cream is packed with 260 calories per half-cup serving (140 from fat). If you want to drink alcoholic beverages, choose lower calorie drinks. Thick, fruity drinks are usually loaded with calories. Go for light drinks. A splash of cranberry juice with a shot of vodka (or another spirit) and carbonated water is much healthier than, let's say, a strawberry daiquiri. If you're a beer drinker, there is nothing wrong with light beers (around 100 calories per 12 ounces) rather than "regular" beer (ranging from 136 calories up to 200 calories per 12 ounces, depending on the beer). Usually, the darker and thicker the beer, the more calories each bottle or can contains. I love a good milkshake or, better yet, a malted milkshake. They bring back great memories. But I need to be smarter in my choices. A smoothie (around 200 calories for a small, depending on the ingredients) is much better for me than a chocolate milkshake (from McDonalds you're looking at 570 calories, 160 from fat, per 12 ounces). ----- RECIPE OF THE WEEK Spinach scramble 2 egg whites 1 real egg 1 tablespoon lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese Splash of nonfat milk Handful of baby spinach 1 cup chopped bell peppers 1/2 of one turkey sausage, chopped (optional) In a bowl, mix eggs, cottage cheese and milk together. In a medium skillet, saute spinach and bell peppers over medium-high heat with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Add turkey sausage (optional). When the spinach has reduced and bell peppers (and sausage) get a nice color, add your eggs. Scramble until done and serve. Reach Don Chaddock at or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.