Who said resolutions can only be made in January?
PRIME – February 2013
By Debbie Gardner
I've always considered myself a healthful eater and tried to make certain my family followed suit, but after talking with nutrition expert Dr. Ann Kulze for this month's feature story, I decided it was time to give our menus a second look.
It didn't take long for me to realize that, like many busy families, we were stuck in some mealtime ruts. Most Tuesdays, I'd prepare meatloaf. On Sunday nights, it's usually pizza. A recent special on pork tenderloins meant we were eating a bit more meat than in the past. Chicken and fish – both big favorites during the summer grilling season – seemed to have taken a bit of a dinnertime backseat recently.
We're also guilty of vegetable boredom – relying on green beans, carrots and broccoli as our go-to choices. Fruits, too, have become somewhat predictable, with cubed melon, grapes, strawberries and bananas as the lunchbox staples.
We were OK with dairy choices – our fridge is stocked with 1 percent and skim milk, low fat cheeses and yogurt, and margarine, and our bread of choice is a 100 percent whole- wheat variety.
I do prepare the majority of our meals at home from scratch, and pack what seems to be an endless stream of sandwiches for take-to-work-and-school lunches, so at least we were hitting her mark in knowing where – and how – our food was prepared. (She noted during our interview that people are now consuming food made by others or by machines in record numbers, a factor, she said, is adding to the high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity crises in this country).
But I could see plenty of room for improvement, and experimentation, in our daily menus.
Taking Dr. Ann's advice to heart, I started with our carbohydrate choices, and baked up sweet instead of Idaho potatoes with our last pork dish. I also bought pre-cubed turnip to cook and mash as a vegetable choice with Tuesday's meatloaf.
I figured small changes would be easier to sneak into the weekly menu.
I treated everyone to baked salmon topped with olive-oil rich pesto for a special weekend dinner – getting both a better fat and an Omega 3 rich fish choice back on our plates.
I'm checking my cookbooks for some new chicken recipes, and I bought a mango to try as a fruit choice. I've also become a more vigilant label-reader, though that does add time to the weekly shopping trip. Ultimately, my goal is to have us try something new at least once a month in 2013.
All these changes made me think back to some of the wonderful dishes we sampled during our family cruise to Italy and Greece this past summer.
We savored fresh greens dressed with herb-infused olive oil dressings, desserts of fruits and cheese, chicken and fish dishes enhanced with vegetables, tomato and fresh mozzarella salads, and of course, olives.
In Italy we also sampled gelato, cappuccino and tiramisu – not necessarily the healthiest of dishes, but a not-to-be-missed culinary experience nonetheless.
I shared a bit about our Italian adventure in this month's travel feature, where I shared some of the highlights of our visit to the beautiful Tuscan village of Lucca.
It was one of my favorite tours, and honestly, not a first choice, but instead something booked at the last minute.
I guess there really is something to be said for spontaneity.
But food and travel aren't all you'll find in this issue. Jonathan Evans' column has timely advice on natural ways to keep your heart healthy – and fight the flu. Speaking of affairs of the heart, Jacqui Brandwynn's column has some sage advice on how to make love work the second time around. This month's Finance section examines the pros and cons of reverse mortgages; outlines common investor mistakes and explains the changes in investment limits for 2013.
In addition, the Happenings and Dining and Entertainment pages are chock full of things to do to help chase the winter blues away. Make the most of February's 28 days!