Happy Foods

When people are trying to lose weight, usually the first step they take is to modify their diet. While the goal is always to cut calories, different things work for different people; one diet may not work for another person because of lifestyle differences.

I’m no health nut and do enjoy eating out a lot. Now that I’m done hating my body and pretty content with my physique overall, I’m not really interested in eating healthier to lose weight so much as to improve my general feeling of well-being; I know that drinking sodas and having a fast food meal every day is no way to achieve the optimum version of myself.

I wanted to lighten up the mood today and share some of my favorite foods that keep me on the right path and eating happy:

  1. Oatmeal: What I love about oatmeal is that it fills me up for hours because of the fiber and protein content, and it’s easy and versatile. There are lots of ways to manipulate oatmeal with toppings and mix-ins to up its nutritional value. My favorite way to do this is by preparing myself a breakfast of “savory oatmeal.” It’s a little unconventional in that it’s not your grandma’s oatmeal topped with berries or brown sugar; this version has a savory, slightly spicy taste. There are various versions of this recipe floating around the internet, but here is how I make it:- Boil 1/2 C of water with a pinch of salt
    – Add about a 1/2 C milk, bring to a simmer
    -Add 1/2 C slow-cooking oatmeal, and let sit, stirring occasionally (here I’m just looking for it to be about the consistency that I like).
    – Crack an egg into the center of the oatmeal, let sit 30 seconds
    – Using a spoon, pull the egg white from the yolk
    -Add Sriracha, parmesan cheese, and cayenne pepper to taste (make sure the oatmeal isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan, and if it is, add a little more milk.
    -Break yolk and mix it in. Pour oatmeal into a bowl. Voila!
  2. Sardines: People seem to be kind of freaked out by sardines, but I wish more people would give them a chance. They are loaded with protein while still being relatively low in calories, and their fat content is the good kind of fat which is full of Omega-3s, which are great for your brain. Not only that, I used to make it a point to eat a tin of sardines eery day and noticed a marked improvement in the suppleness of my skin, the shininess of my hair, and the strength of my nails. If you’re concerned about sodium, Trader Joe’s carries sardines which are packed in spring water and have no added salt; I find they have only a slight fishy flavor and a sort of crab-like texture. I drain them and eat them, bones and all for the significant calcium boost. Don’t worry- the bones are not hard or crunchy and are in fact, very edible!
  3. Kiwis: My love of kiwis ignited when I found out how beneficial they are for the eyes because of their lutein content (lutein is a naturally-occurring carotenoid – not sure what that is, but it’s definitely good for the eyes). One kiwi has only about 50 calories; plus they have a delightfully happy green color to their flesh and a sweet tart flavor to boot! I eat them with the furry brown skin still on because of the fiber boost. Trust me- the skin is very edible and doesn’t take away from the pleasure I get from eating a sweet, juicy kiwi.
  4. My “special” loaded salad: I could eat this salad every day for lunch and not tire of it, and it’s easy to just throw the ingredients into a plastic container and go. I just get whatever kind of bagged lettuce looks good and throw some into the container along with grape tomatoes, snap peas, shredded carrots, shredded low-fat cheese, and pepitas (a fancy name for pumpkin seeds). I also stuff into the container a little plastic baggy with Italian dressing in it. I store those little shelf-stable sealed envelopes of tuna in my drawer at the office, so at lunch time I just add in the tuna and dressing and enjoy my delicious high-protein, low-calorie salad!
  5. Water: Okay, so this isn’t really a food, but staying hydrated is an easy way to feel like I’m doing something good for myself. Not to be too gross, but when my urine is that pale yellow color, I feel like I’ve done something right! Woo hoo!
  6. Del Taco: Yeah, this one isn’t really healthy, but Del Taco is a decadent indulgence that really does make me feel happy. At the restaurant, I order whatever I want (lately that’s the signature enchilada burrito and a flatbread steak taco) and then only eat half. I bag the rest up to eat the next day, cold and right out of the fridge. You just don’t know delicious until you’ve eaten cold Del Taco! It’s so darn cheap too!
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