|Jesus Olguin packages Sababa hummus at Falafel King's commercial kitchen in Boulder. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )|
By Cindy Sutter Camera Food Editor
Posted: 01/04/2012 03:12:07 PM MST
OK, three days into your New Year's resolution to lose weight and you're already wavering.
Could it be because you've embarked on a diet that is more about punishment than making your eating habits healthier. I speak of the quintessential diet lunch, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with a teaspoon of low fat mayonnaise. Or a frozen diet meal which you need a graduate degree in chemistry to decipher. No wonder you feel virtuous for your willpower, likely short-lived, but depressed about what you're actually putting in your mouth.
Rule No. 1 for a new way to eat: Eat real food that tastes good. Consuming flavorless food and fake food is not good for you. It deprives you of the joy of eating. Food should be pleasurable. Let's take that turkey sandwich. For just a very few more calories, you could make it open-faced, use smoked turkey, add chopped red onion, arugula, two or three chopped Greek olives and an ounce of crumbled feta. Eat with a knife and fork -- you'll eat slower and feel more satiated -- and enjoy what a truly tasty lunch. Better, right?
Discovering the good taste of healthful foods isn't that difficult. The first thing to do is add in fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Get as much fresh, real live food as you can," says Lynn Smith, a registered dietitian and life coach. She says many people are stuck in a cycle of loading up on carbs, sugar and caffeine, crashing, and loading up again. She says those ingredients, along with salt, -- the ones that dominate processed foods -- make you want more. And, psst, that stuff is in many diet meals, too. By their very nature, they don't satisfy you.
Smith says the best foods for filling you up are those that are whole and nutritious naturally.
"Fiber, protein, fat and moisture all ... make you feel full longer in a positive way," she says, adding that after a few weeks of good eating, a person will notice less foggy-headedness requiring that afternoon dose of caffeine and fewer ups and downs in mood and energy during the day.
How do you get to that place of eating that's healthful and flavorful?
Amnon Gilady, founder of Falafel King, faced just that dilemma as he decided to come out with a new line of products called Sababa, which means "cool" in Hebrew. The products include an organic hummus, one with harissa, one with roasted red pepper and one with an eggplant salsa, called "Skinny," since it only has 35 calories per ounce.
While Falafel King's hummus was already a pretty healthful item given that its base is chick peas, Gilady became interested in Whole Foods' Health Starts Here principles, which shun the use of refined oils, even olive oil, calling instead for the use of the product that the oil was made from. The foods also were lower in sodium. As an Israel native, Gilady visits the country frequently, where he says there's a hummus bar on every corner. He compared various hummus plates to his own and realized that many were no longer adding olive oil, thus reducing calories. He came home and began experimenting, just as you should be doing in your own kitchen.
Here are some lessons drawn from his experience that you can translate into your own delicious meals in 2012.
Start with impeccable ingredients and keep it simple. Gilady uses organic, dried chickpeas and filtered water in his hummus, along with lemon juice, salt and garlic.
Give vegetables a fresh look. Sababa's Mediterranean Salsa, consists of eggplant, tomatoes, fresh garlic, and jalapenoes. Gilady laments that many people think they don't like eggplant. However, he's happy to report, when they try the salsa (only 10 calories an ounce) made from his mother's recipe, they suddenly get what aubergine attraction is all about.
Pay attention to technique. It's easy to get flavor by adding butter, salt and sugar. But coaxing out flavor from basic ingredients requires some attention to detail. Take chick peas. What makes hummus taste good is cooking the chickpeas a long time, Gilady says. He soaks the dried peas 24 hours before cooking them in a pressure cooker-braiser for two hours and letting them steam in the pot another hour.
Similarly, he flame-grills the eggplant and Roma tomatoes for his salsa. At home, learn how to roast, braise, grill and saute. All can add flavor to food with few added calories.
Try new condiments and flavors. Gilady was able to remove the olive oil from his hummus because he started using a different tahini made in Israel with sesame seeds from Ethiopia. The richly flavored tahini meant that olive oil was no longer needed as a vehicle to carry flavor.
Tap ethnic traditions. While Gilady had a family recipe to rely on, you may not. That doesn't mean you can't snap up some ethnic cookbooks. Most cuisines in their original form (e.g. peasant food) use lots of the very ingredients you should be eating: whole grains, beans and lots of vegetables. Meat and oils, which were once prohibitively expensive, served more as condiments.
If you keep only one food resolution for New Year's, make it this: Avoid Mount Everest "because it's there" noshing, and make every bite you put in your mouth worth eating.