SUNSET SATISFACTION

As summer comes to a close, and many of us get back to more intense work schedules, back to school, and back to more normal routines, it is easy to slip into cozier habits. With the cooling temperatures and earlier sunsets, often those habits include less time out of the house at night and more time on the couch. And while we are sitting on the couch, a snack sounds like a tasty idea 🤔. Sure, why not?

If you are trying to lose weight or keep up with your healthier lifestyle you adapted this summer, staying attuned to some of your cooler weather habits starts now. As they often sneak up on you, you need to have your mindset on high alert. Enjoying snacks (or wine🍷or sweets🍧) after dinner is a common behavior which many of us struggle to balance. We have very legit reasons for these snacks, which may include a long day at work, a frustrating day or moment, being bored or anxious, or an evening ritual with your significant other. Whatever the reason you are turning to food, it is a habit you want to take control of. It does not mean never, but it does mean that your health goals no longer matter just because you are not putting on a bathing suit this weekend.

For starters, if you finish dinner and grab something on your way to the couch, wait. Approximately how long does it take for your body to recognize it is full? About 20 minutes! If you grab a sweet before your butt hits the cushion, you are not giving your stomach the time it needs to tell you it is satisfied. Sensations of fullness are not immediate, thus we need to slow ourselves down so we feel full before we eat more food. Sometimes it is the most simple of habit changes that can render the biggest results. Grab a glass of water or make a cup of tea instead. It is still warm enough to go for that post dinner walk. Make a phone call, clean. Do a 5–10 minute stretching or yoga or meditation session. Distraction is an awesome tool.

Another awesome tool is to eat well. Say what? Yes, eat. Eat balanced meals throughout the day. Eating well-balanced meals throughout the day will allow you to go into your evening with a strong mindset. The less you eat or meal(s) you skipped throughout the day, the hungrier you are in the evening, and the easier it can be to justify those late-night snacks. Can you relate? Most of us have surely been there at times — whether occasionally or frequently. Eating balanced meals (50–25–25=50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, 25% whole grains), plus 1–2 produce + protein snacks when and if hungry, are key to keeping both your mind and your body satisfied. When you are satisfied, you are not looking for more.

Creating a nightly habit that helps you transition from your busy day to a relaxing night and restful sleep is key for long-term weight-management success and living a healthy lifestyle. You do deserve to enjoy the time! Just find a new or summer healthful habit that was working for you, and keep it going all year long. It is your lifestyle, your habits, your mindset.

Let’s embrace sweater weather 🍂 and make some balanced, bountiful plates🍽!

Photo by author

Maple-Cider Vinaigrette
This fall-flavored vinaigrette can be used as a marinade for chicken, fish, tofu, or as a dressing for salad or your favorite fall veggies. I cut the usual olive oil in half for less calories, but still keeping some of the healthy fat, blending tastefully with the fall flavors. Make extra to keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Just give it a fresh shake and add some zing to your usual lunch or dinner choices.

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup cidar vinegar
2 Tablespoon light maple syrup
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable brown, low sodium
Salad options: arugula with sliced apples or pears, roasted walnuts or pine nuts and/or tofu; butter lettuce with chopped red onion, blue cheese crumbles, sliced apples, roasted chicken

PREPARATION
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Toss with your protein to marinate, or with your salad option. Store any extra in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Photo by author

Kale and Sweet Potato Skillet
This colorful dish could be breakfast, lunch or dinner, a side or a main dish. Kale and sweet potatoes are quite a nutritious duo, bringing vitamins A, K, C, D, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper and manganese. And they make a delicious and satisfying combination.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pound (or small bunch) of kale
2 teaspoons olive oil + 1 teaspoon in spray bottle
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes
Optional toppings: fresh thyme, balsamic glaze, nonfat Greek yogurt, low fat sour cream

PREPARATION
Wash and pat dry kale. Remove leaves from stems (my favorite tool) and discard stems. Tear or cut the leaves into 2-inch pieces. You should have about 4 cups. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and kale and continue to sauté for another 4–5 minutes, or until kale is slightly wilted and garlic is lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Place in medium bowl and set aside. Do not wash skillet!

Spray skillet generously with olive oil. Place half of the sweet potato cubes, covering the bottom of the skillet. Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with half of salt and pepper. Spoon kale mixture over the potatoes, spreading evenly. Arrange the remaining sweet potatoes on top, covering mixture. Spray with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place a smaller, heavy skillet or lid on top, weighing down the mixture.

Cook over medium-low heat for 30–35 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the crispy is not burnt :). This will create a crusty potato sensation on the bottom, with tender potatoes and steamy kale on top.

Option to invert mixture onto serving plate, or just cut and serve from skillet. Sprinkle with some fresh thyme (or other suggested options) for a beautiful side dish, or top with any cooked meat or non-meat crumbles for a full meal.

Satisfaction => always reach for nature first!

  • 🍓More produce = more vitamins, nutrients and fiber
  • 🥦 More produce = more color
  • 🍆More produce = more variety
  • 🌶More produce = less desire for cravings
  • 🥬More produce = more sustainability
  • 🥕More produce = = = more satisfaction!!!

When you align the life you want to live with your life purpose and values, you have a very powerful internal motivation — not to stay on a diet, but to keep living a healthier lifestyle. ~Dr. James Hill, author, State of Slim

REFERENCES:

Whitelock V, Robinson E. Remembered Meal Satisfaction, Satiety, and Later Snack Food Intake: A Laboratory Study. Nutrients. 2018;10(12):1883. Published 2018 Dec 3. doi:10.3390/nu10121883

Bo S, Fadda M, Fedele D, Pellegrini M, Ghigo E, Pellegrini N. A Critical Review on the Role of Food and Nutrition in the Energy Balance. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 22;12(4):1161. doi: 10.3390/nu12041161. PMID: 32331288; PMCID: PMC7231187.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266069/

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.