New Year’s Food Resolutions

website tempura

New Year’s Resolutions.

I was 12 years old when I made my first New Year’s resolution to be better behaved. That was the summer I spent two months grounded for recurring infractions. When I was 15 I decided to give up on boys. I had three different boyfriends before the year was out. At 18, I resolved to watch my weight better. I started college and gained 15 pounds. When my husband and I got married (in December), we decided (in January) that we’d finish grad school before starting a family. We became pregnant with our oldest despite three different forms of birth control, and I never attended grad school. After she was born, my husband and I resolved to give up making resolutions, and we’ve been faithful to that for almost 18 years.

For many people, the new year is a time for making changes to their lives, especially health-related ones. Studies, though, reveal that less than 10% of people always succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions. I believe it.

Interestingly enough, however, studies say that folks who continue to make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to succeed with their goals than those who don’t. So, I have to wonder….

Maybe resolutions aren’t such a bad thing.

How to keep them, however, requires making resolutions wisely, especially when it comes to food related ones.

Some thoughts I have, not as someone who’s actually made and kept resolutions, but as someone who’s had to make and keep lifestyle changes because life required it:

1. Don’t resolve to change everything: If you’re shooting for healthier eating, just resolve to do one thing better this year. Maybe you’ll try incorporating more vegetables into your diet. Or this could be the year you daily drink your eight glasses of hydrating fluids. Or how about simply adding a walk three times a week for half an hour each time.

2. Do resolve to try something different: Often we make resolutions about a habit we need to change by simply trying to stop the habit. When it comes to food, eating something healthier and different in place of what you’re trying to quit works much better. If you’re a chocoholic, try eating a piece of fruit when the craving hits or drink a glass of a fat-free “milk” that you’ve added dark cocoa powder to with a tiny bit of sweetener.  If you love sandwiches, try making an open-faced sandwich on one whole grain piece of bread. If you always take the elevator, take the stairs at least once each day.

3. Don’t go it alone: Friends and family are wonderful for this. If you’re going to start walking, ask a friend to if she wants to join you a couple times a week. If you’re starting to eat gluten free, don’t just cook for yourself – make it a family affair. If you know you won’t be able to resist that piece of chocolate, phone a friend and chat.

4. Do try to be fun and creative: If your resolution is to exercise and you’re doing so reluctantly, put on your favorite fast beat music and dance around your living room instead. If you don’t like vegetables, don’t eat them plain. Make tempura (recipe will follow below) or a stir fry where you experiment with different spices and herbs to see what flavors you like best. If you have to change your diet, find ways to “jazz” up the meal – peel your carrots into spirals (one of my kids’ favorites); stuff the zucchini with sauteed vegetables and herbs which you stir a little bit of real or tofu cream cheese into to make creamy; toast some gluten free bread crumbs with herbs and sprinkle it onto your fish.

5. Don’t set unrealistic expectations: If you need to lose weight, you’re generally not going to lose 30 lbs in six months. Shoot for ten lbs over 12 months, and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal. If you’ve eaten white flour your whole life, it may take trying a few different types of whole grains before you find one that you actually like. If you always reach for junk food when you’re stressed, expect to slide occasionally, even if you’ve been doing well for a while.   

6. Do search out help: If you need to eat differently, read some magazines about allergy free or healthy eating to learn tips which can help you. If you want to exercise, ask your doctor the best way to begin. If you crave everything all the time, search online for tips for how to curb cravings.

7. Don’t be hard on yourself: Remember the statistics. If you fail at keeping your resolution, you won’t be the only one. And if you aren’t successful this time, it doesn’t mean you can’t be. Again, remember the studies – just make a new resolution, and you’ll improve your chances of success next time simply by continuing to make the resolutions.

So, now for that tempura. My children love my mother’s tempura, but of course, it’s made with wheat. I wanted to make something which could compete in taste and crispiness, and after a couple of different versions, I finally came upon one that is absolutely delicious and works well. The bonus: My children eat tons of veggies! And if you keep your heat high and use a heart healthy oil, it’s been shown that your veggies don’t absorb a lot of oil.

Tempura

Ingredients:

Heart healthy oil (I like to use Smart Balance for this)

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust (Make sure it’s the “pie crust” only mix, not the “biscuit and baking mix” or the gluten free “baking flour”)

ground black pepper

cold water

ice cubes

Quinoa flour

Veggies (broccoli, petite baby carrots, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, etc…)

Cooking Instructions:

1. Heat your oil to about 375 degrees in a pan suited for doing so. (I actually own a fryer which the only two things I ever fry are tempura and mandu, which is a Korean dumpling.) 

2. Put some of the pie crust mix into a bowl. How much depends on how much you’re making. I always start with at least two cups.

3. Add some black pepper to taste. I usually use 1/2 tsp per 2 cups of crust mix.

4. Fill a large measuring cup half-filled with ice cubes and add cold water. Slowly add water and ice cubes to your flour mix, whisking as you do so, until the batter is just about to the consistency you want. (I test it by pulling up my whisk. If the batter easily flows off the whisk like water, it’s good.) You’ll have some unmelted ice cubes in the batter.  That’s perfect. Those will continue to melt and keep your batter cold while you turn your attention to the veggies.

5. Put some quinoa flour in a bowl and dip your veggies into the flour to coat them.  Shake off any excess.

6. Dip the floured veggies into the tempura batter and shake off any excess.

7. Put just enough veggies into your oil as the pan can accommodate. You don’t want to overfill the pan because the tempura batter will expand. You want to put the veggies in as quickly as you can and then cover the pan. Immediately put two minutes on your timer.

8. When two minutes are up, remove the veggies, making sure to lightly shake off any excess oil. Put the veggies into a pan lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

9. Tempura is best eaten while still warm. Eat plain or with soy sauce or a sauce of your own choosing.

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