Lifestyle

Battle of the bulge: It’s as simple as 10,000 steps a day | WHIDBEY RECIPES

Ten thousand steps a day, that’s what it will take to get those pounds off, along with some 12 or 13 other suggestions for losing weight. It’s the current obsession, as we’re all aware; how to lose those pounds that too many of us in the U.S. have been packing on during the past decade or so.

Drink water, eat smaller meals more often, sleep seven or more hours every night (don’t I wish), eat more veggies and fruit, sit down to eat with your food on a small plate (it’ll look like more and you’ll end up eating less is the reasoning), don’t skip breakfast, eat more fish and less red meat, eat a bit of dark chocolate every day (love that one), make your daily snack at work a piece of fruit or a cup of low-fat yogurt, eat nuts, use olive oil, drink caffeinated coffee (2 cups), and … walk at least 10,000 steps every day!

Yes, that’s the top piece of advice currently given to anyone wishing to shed those pounds: 10,000 steps every day.

Do you have any idea what that really means? I’m sure there are many of our readers who own pedometers, a.k.a. step counters, and know full well what that number means. But for most of us, that’s a mind boggling number.

I didn’t think that when I first read about the 10,000 steps, however. I consider myself very active; I seldom sit for longer than the time it takes to check email and/or Facebook (to check up on my granddaughters), and whatever time is necessary to meet writing commitments, which varies. I’m pretty much on my feet most of the day, except for meals; up and down stairs, outdoors and indoors, from one end of the house to the other. So, I decided to use the pedometer I’ve had for quite awhile, but seldom used, to see just how many steps I did take every day, fairly sure I’d meet and/or surpass the 10,000.

Wrong. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t even hitting 8,000, except on the mornings that I tap dance. I was sure my elderly pedometer was malfunctioning, so I borrowed one from a fanatic friend who walks miles every morning at the crack of dawn and keeps track of her steps. I was sure her counter had to be correct and, unfortunately, it gave me the same feedback. When it comes to doing 10,000 steps every day, I’ve got to step it up, it seems, or start tap dancing longer and every day.

As usual, the gurus handing out this weight loss suggestion do not follow up with the “how to get it done” part of their advice. If you’re among the working folk of this planet, how, pray tell, would you manage to walk 10,000 steps every day, unless you decide to walk to work and back, of course? Young moms, with one or more toddlers, probably make the number, perhaps some teenagers active in sports, certainly marathon runners ace the 10,000, but for most of us?

Well, as they say, “the journey of 10,000 steps begins with…” one foot in front of the other, only 9,999 more to go.

RECIPES

If there’s one place most of us don’t want to deal with a lot of steps, it’s in the kitchen, when it’s time to get a meal on. Complicated recipes with 10 or 12 steps (or more) turn me off immediately and working moms with kids are especially in need of quick-and-easy, the fewer steps the better recipes. Here are some I’ve found worth keeping on hand for those times when even ten steps are too many.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like tacos and if you always have tortillas (flour or corn), on hand in the fridge (I do), you can put together a taco meal in a few easy steps using whatever is on hand, and most kids are always happy to have a taco or two.

TACO SALAD

1 lb. lean ground beef

½ an envelope of onion soup mix (about ¼ cup)

¾ cup water

Few dashes of bottled pepper sauce (to taste)

4 cups salad greens (lettuce, romaine, kale, mustard greens, etc.), shredded or torn in bite-size pieces

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, or Mexican 4-cheese mix

1 large tomato, cut into wedges

½ cup sliced pitted ripe olives

¼ cup chopped green pepper, or use chopped seeded canned chili peppers

¼ cup grated fresh jicama

2 cups corn chips

Taco sauce (optional)

In a skillet, brown the ground beef; drain off excess fat. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over the beef and add water. Simmer, uncovered, until the water cooks away (about 10 min.); stir in the pepper sauce.

In a salad bowl, combine salad greens, cheese, tomato, olives, green pepper and jicama; toss well. Divide this salad mixture onto individual salad plates; spoon meat mixture over greens, garnish with corn chips and additional cheese, if desired. Serve, passing the taco sauce. Serves 4-6.

Note: You can make this same taco salad substituting leftover cooked chicken if available, or ham, leftover cooked beef cut into strips, cold salmon or tuna, or for vegetarians, substitute tofu chunks.

Keep in mind, we’re talking quick and easy here, not gourmet. The fewer steps the better. When I’m craving a hot dog, this is what I turn to. Let the kids assemble and cook their own.

QUICK & TANGY KABOB DOGS

8 frankfurters (whichever type is your favorite), cut into thirds

1 can (16 oz.) whole new potatoes, drained

2 green peppers, cut into pieces

¼ cup wasabi (horseradish) mustard

¼ cup catsup

½ envelope taco seasoning mix (about 2 T.)

2 T. water

2 T. cooking oil

Dash or two of bottled pepper sauce (to taste)

Thread the frankfurter pieces on skewers alternately with potatoes and pepper pieces. In a small bowl, stir together the horseradish mustard, catsup, taco seasoning mix, water, oil and pepper sauce. Grill the kabobs over medium coals for 10 min., turning often and brushing frequently with the mustard mixture. Serves 4-6; a nice side dish would be baked beans and/or coleslaw.

What could be quicker and easier in just a few steps, than a bowl of soup, especially on one of our all too frequent chilly wet evenings. You can vary this soup using vegetable broth for vegetarians, and substituting other greens for the escarole (such as chard, kale, mustard greens, spinach, etc.). The eggs supply protein and richness; serve with a crusty Italian bread.

LEMON EGG DROP SOUP

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if preferred)

1 T. minced garlic

8 cups chopped greens (escarole, kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, or a mixture

3 eggs, beaten

2 T. fresh lemon juice

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil

Grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Reggiano)

Zest of 1 lemon

Heat the broth and garlic in a saucepan over med. heat until simmering. Stir in greens, partially cover and simmer until greens are wilted and tender, about 5 min. (kale may take longer). Increase heat to high, bring soup to a boil and slowly add eggs in a steady stream, then stir to break the eggs into pieces. Reduce heat to med. and finish cooking eggs, 2-3 min. more. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve soup with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of cheese and garnish with a bit of lemon zest. Serve with crusty rosemary bread.

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