5 (Gluten-Free!) Tricks for Winter Weight Loss

We all have our eating habits and creature comforts, and it's hard to imagine sweeping changes, even when we're not happy with our health or silhouette. In my new book, Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity, I share my own journey of moving from thoughtless food abusing to savvy food enjoyment. Here are five commonsense, convenient strategies that revolutionized my eating -- and led to a welcomed 40-pound weight loss. They can help you, too!

READ MORE Fall Back Into Great Fitness Habits With These Finds

1. A Soup Muffin is a Healthy Muffin

Who doesn’t have a 10-pound brick of soup in the freezer, a relic of a quest to make a healthy, yummy, warming meal that lasts all week? Then you realized that you don’t have a mini sledgehammer to break it into single portions. Do this: after you make soup, let it come close to room temperature. Whip out your silicone muffin tin. Fill each hollow with soup (chunky lentil is best, it mounds). Freeze. Pop them out and store in a zip-lock bag. (If you don’t have one a silicone tin, a metal one works—you just have to briefly set it in a roasting pan of hot water to remove the frozen soup servings). Each day, you can bring a “soup muffin” to work. I like to add fresh veggies and then heat it up together. You save money, it’s a healthy lunch, and it’s portion-controlled.

2. Dress Up Your Salad!

A simple salad can be made sexy when drizzled with a zippy homemade dressing. Spare yourself the hydrogenated oils, preservatives, and mystery ingredients of the store-bought kind. Although blenders and food processors work fine, I use a Tribest Personal Blender because the blender cup becomes the storage container when the blade cap is replaced with the included lid. Recipe: Blend ¼ cup almond milk, a dash of hot sauce, a dash of sesame oil, a dash of rice wine vinegar, tamari, and six raw almonds. Pack your easy salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, and cubed protein of choice, and when the lunch whistle blows, add the dressing to the salad.

3. Get a Date

Yes, you can wipe out your cookie habit in one fell swoop. Here's how. Buy some raw Brazil nuts and moist medjool dates, like these luscious ones from Nuts.com. (It's okay if you don't like dates, or you don't like Brazil nuts. People have told me the same thing before they try 'em; the combination makes it into something different, and delicious.) The next time you get that cookie jones, pull the date apart gently, widthwise, remove the pit, and stick in a Brazil nut. You can pop the whole thing in your mouth, but I recommend making it last over 2-3 bites. Enjoy the notes of vanilla, caramel... and the textures and the sweetness. All it takes is just two whole foods; no flour, no added fats or sugar.

4. The Slice is Right

Can’t imagine life without pizza? Swap out the bread crust for a crispy and tender layer of Farinata, aka cinque e cinque, a baked mixture of chickpea flour, olive oil, and water. I get the mix from Lucini.com, although you can make it with garbanzo flour. Once it bakes up in your skillet, you can top it with tomato sauce and cheese, bake it some more, and slice it into wedges. It won’t taste exactly like pizza, but it’s delicious on its own merits, and definitely kills the craving.

READ MORE Gluten-free Pumpkin Doughnuts

5. Quiche Me Twice!

Quiche is delicious and infinitely variable, so why not have it often? The flour and butter crust is delicious, but undermines the health bennies. That’s why Sara Moulton’s tip stuck with me. Add nonstick spray to your glass or ceramic pie plate. Take day-old or sticky brown rice and mush it into your pie plate evenly, covering the bottom and sides. Pour your regular quiche mixture into the pie plate, and bake as usual. When it’s done, the outer surface of the rice crust crisps up deliciously, while the interior remains moist and chewy.

Such good comfort food!

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