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Whidbey Recipes

"'National Diet Month'That's what January should be called; National Diet Month. The last time I stood in line at the checkout counter of the local market, every tabloid and magazine had at least one headline screaming something about losing weight. Having eaten our way from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, now we're being lectured about shedding the excess pounds, getting slim and staying that way. (Ha!)Walk it Off; Drop Pounds Fast. Easiest Diet Ever. 6 Easy Tricks that Melt Holiday Fat Fast. And the ever hopeful, ever promising Lose 30 lbs. in 30 days. There were more, but you get the picture. I saw quite a few people leaving the store with these magazines, and I suspect that in most cases it was because of the diet article. Amazingly, on the same cover page with these headlines were, in almost every case, pictures and captions describing wonderful recipes to be found inside. Showstopping Desserts! Sweet Treat - Oreo Ice Cream Heath-Bar Pie. Make Ahead Treats (with photo of a 3-layer chocolate cake). Are we a nation of hypocrites or just a passel of fools? The diet business has never been more popular, with every new diet pundit and guru getting rich overnight while we, as a nation, actually get fatter and fatter. What's going on, anyway? Who are we kidding?As someone who has fought a weight problem since my teen years (one grandmother always referred to me as sturdy), I have to admit to years of being a diet sucker. I really wanted to believe those headlines that promised I could lose 20 pounds in a week without giving up eating. I tried the Mayo Clinic Diet (remember that one?), the grapefruit diet, the milk diet, egg diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and the Atkins Diet (old version; there's a new one out now) plus some others whose names I've forgotten. And guess what? They all worked! That is, they worked until I went off the diet and then I'd watch the same pounds I'd shed gradually return. Sound familiar? Trouble is, there is no such thing as a diet that you can safely remain on indefinitely, which means that at some point, you revert to normal eating and the pounds return, occasionally bringing along a few friends.But along the way, I learned some valuable lessons about weight and eating. No magic, just basics. I'm sure you already know what they are, but for what it's worth, here's my diet advice for 2001.1) It's the calories, stupid. Simple mathematics; too many calories in, too few burned off, extras get stored as fat. Yes, what we eat matters, for energy and good health, but as far as weight gain, it's all in those calorie numbers. Learn to count, then... 2) Move it! Walk, jog, swim, dance, shake, shimmy, rattle or roll, but whatever you do, if you want to lose it, you gotta move it! The more you move, the more of those calories you'll use up, which means they won't be stored in fat deposits. Tap dancing does it for me; figure out what sort of movement turns you on, then do it - every day. And finally...3) Use the 20 minute trick! It takes your brain 20 minutes to signal your stomach that it's no longer hungry. Now, you'll scarf up a lot in 20 minutes if you keep eating because you think you're still hungry, so eat a little bit of something about 20 minutes before a main meal (a piece of fruit, a few Wheat Thins, a slice of cheese, anything you really crave but not much of it), then keep yourself busy with something else for that 20 minutes it takes for your appestat to work. Chances are, you'll find that your appetite has diminished greatly when you actually sit down to lunch or dinner and you'll eat much less.So that's it in a nutshell. Count, move and use the 20 minute trick. For this I charge nothing, but if it doesn't work, you can still Lose 12 lbs. in 14 days for just the price of a magazine. RecipesSee, just like the magazines, I also include recipes with my diet advice. However, these are not only delicious but low calorie. Remember basic fact number 1, above: It's the calories that count! Seafood is always a good low calorie item to start with, and one of our favorite seafood dishes has long been this Mexican way of preparing snapper. Snapper Veracruz1 t. olive oil1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped1 onion, chopped3-4 cloves garlic, minced1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives1 t. fresh cilantro, finely chopped2 T. fresh lime or lemon juice1 t. ground cinnamon1/4 t. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)1 can (14 oz.) stewed tomatoes (I like the ones with basil and/or oregano added)4 snapper fillets (more if they're small fillets)Drained capers, optional1. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until just tender. Add green chiles, olives, cilantro, juice, cinnamon and pepper; cook 2 more minutes, then add stewed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes).2. Rinse the fish fillets; pat dry and arrange in a lightly oiled 9x13 baking dish. Pour the sauce over the fish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until fish is opaque but still moist in thickest part (should only be about 10-15 minutes) Sprinkle with capers when ready to serve, if desired. Serves 4.And here's NOT your mother's chicken soup; this is a hearty, healthy, delicious soup for a cold winter night. This recipe will serve about 10, but freezes well so you can have some on hand for another night.Chicken Soup to Crow About4 1/2 qts. homemade chicken broth, or use 3 large cans (49 oz. each)1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh cheese-filled spinach tortellini1 lb. spinach, stems removed, rinsed and coarsely chopped1 lb. boneless skinned chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (optional for those who can't eat peppers)1 cup cooked rice2 t. tarragon1 t. dried, crumbled rosemary2 T. dry sherry1. In a large soup pot or saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add tortellini, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until just tender.2. Add remaining ingredients, return to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is no longer pink (cut a piece to test). Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve, in warmed bowls, with a fruit salad or green salad and sourdough bread or rolls. "

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