Creating a Healthy, Satisfying Meal Without "Empty Calories"

breejoy2 Health Guide
  • I am very happy to report that my thirty-second birthday was absolutely fabulous. I normally like to do something pretty grand (like, you know, get engaged), but this year I wanted to keep things low key and budget-friendly. Pretty good plan. I received the gift of pampering (pedicure), the gift of romance (a champagne picnic in the park with my hubby), the gift of quality time (a visit from my brother and sister-in law and a wonderful family dinner), and the gift of remembrance (flowers from my in-laws and customers, phone calls and messages from friends, and cards from my co-workers). Wow, did I feel spoiled! One of the best things I got for my birthday, though, was the gifts of health and education. I finally got to take one of those healthy cooking classes offered by the wonderful Petra, a dear friend and mentor who is one of the local holistic health coaches in my town. She has been offering the classes for several years and I've been dying to attend. I've heard amazing things about them. Best part...Billy was coming with me!

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    The class was everything I hoped it would be. A small, intimate group gathered around Petra's kitchen table, watching and listening as she prepared a lovely, organic meal. On the menu: Cilantro Chicken Salad with Fresh Local Greens, Homemade Italian Dressing, and Lemon Bars with Fresh Berry Sauce. We weren't asked to help, but I wanted to get my hands as dirty as possible. I chopped tomatoes, juiced fresh lemons, washed dishes, and plated the food. As we prepped and cooked, Petra talked about the real meaning of empty calories. I had heard the term plenty of times, but this time it really struck a chord with me. She said that the amount of calories you consume doesn't really matter, but rather what foods deliver those calories into our bodies. When we eat processed foods that are full of sugar and chemicals, our bodies don't really know how to deal with them and tend to stick the calories straight to our butts and thighs. On the other hand, when we eat whole, real foods, our bodies say a great big thank you and put the calories to work, giving us energy and keeping us healthy. It really makes a lot of sense.


    Petra also talked about eating our food slowly and savoring each bite. Sounded familiar (see last week's sharepost where I mentioned the book "Intuitive Eating"). That's really hard for me because of my work and my schedule. But I figured I could try it, at least for the moment. When I sat down with that fresh, delicious chicken salad (we used olive oil instead of mayo...who would have thunk it?), I closed my eyes, chewed slowly, and tried to pick out each distinctive flavor. My gosh! It was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. And I was shocked to find that just over halfway through it, I was getting full! It became totally clear right then that Petra was absolutely right. My body was thanking me for the wholesome food by being satisfied.


    Ever notice that when you eat junk food, you can eat a ton of it before you get stuffed only to feel like absolute crap after? I do. Anyway, I was nearly full but we still had the gorgeous lemon bars left, so I saved some room and didn't finish my lunch (unheard of!). The lemon bars were a raw dessert, made by processing nuts and dates for the crust, then blending together and freezing a combo of fresh lemon juice, coconut oil, real vanilla extract, and a touch of pure maple syrup. We covered the bars in pureed organic berries. It was unreal. And uncooked! I was just blown away.


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    I'm so grateful to have had this experience. It was awesome to have things put into perspective like that, and to see a healthy menu come alive. I've learned so much about nourishing others with wholesome foods, but it was so nice to get the chance to experience it for myself. I'm looking forward to re-creating the meal and adding my own twists. And I really think that having made that calorie/whole food connection will help with a more positive path to my healthiest weight. One thing I do promise to stick to, and that's slowing down to savor the food. Making a conscious effort to do that is a perfect small step in a good direction.

Published On: May 09, 2011