Sunday, September 27, 2009

7 Ways to Bake Regularly and Still Maintain Your Waistline

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(c) photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Apple Tart= 1/2 of an Apple Pie

Becoming an empty nester has certainly changed my lifestyle in many ways. I’m still in denial about being 50-something, and thankfully not many people believe it when I tell them. I secretly love those people. That’s beside the point though. The purpose of this post is to share a peek into the ways I’ve managed to stay in my size (do I dare say it?)—I’ll skip that part. Suffice it to say I’m slender, at least by most people’s standards.
Okay, I got past that admission. Whew! I get asked about my diet secrets pretty regularly. People who have known me a long time want to know how I’ve maintained a stable weight after 3 kids, while other menopausal women struggle with theirs. So, recently I began keeping a mental tab on what I do, sort of watching my habits. A list has evolved that appears to be my “plan”, if you can call it that.
I also started reading a good bit on the subject and found that often my eating habits match those of the advice given in women’s magazines and by health experts. I guess I have my mom to thank for the eating habits she drilled into me as a child. Except for one: “Clean your plate.” That will forever remain in my head. Our mothers’ voices are in most women’s heads, and mine is no different. This is a good place to start off my list of, well, let’s call them healthy dessert eating habits.
  1. Bake half batches: Because I have a sweet tooth, I now am much more careful about baking whole batches of baked goods, unless company or the kids are on their way. Like today, I baked a 1-crust Apple Tart. It’s not rocket science; I simply used one crust, added ½ the amount of apples, flour, cinnamon and low-fat spray butter, and viola’, I have ½ a pie. I call it a Tart; I’m not sure what Martha Stewart would term it. Doesn’t matter, anyway. The point is, there’s only ½ of a pie for me and hubby to eat—assuring we don’t extend ourselves beyond our belt sizes.
  2. Freezing most of what you bake is portion control: I make banana muffins quite frequently, as they are one of my husband’s favorites, and the healthiest of his baked breakfast choices. Check out my Organic Banana Bread/Muffin recipe and see for yourself. Freezing much of the batch allows you to thaw and eat only 1 or 2 at a time so you don’t overdo it.
  3. Buying single portions: An occasional splurge at a nearby bakery is nearly always done with a little trickery. Instead of buying what appears to be a relatively small item, I purchase a single piece. When hubby and I split this we really don’t have to feel guilty, too full, or for that matter, worry about our waistlines.
  4. Consider serving dessert as a weekend-only thing: I know this sounds painful, but it will save you time in the kitchen, help maintain your weight, and let’s not forget your heart health. We all know that our favorite desserts are not great for our health when eaten daily. Pies, cakes, cookies (the top 3) all work to the detriment of our heart health and contribute to high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Besides, it will give you something to look forward to on the weekend, in addition to your time off with family.
  5. Choosing healthier desserts: If you’ve made a habit of having dessert every night, and there’s no turning back now, consider alternating healthier options in. Try sorbet (see my instructions for homemade organic sorbet), custards (high in protein and Calcium), gelatin salads with fruit mixed in, gelatin parfaits, fresh fruit, fruit salad, or fruit over frozen, non-fat yogurt.
  6. Be tricky: Pick your times to bake—when company is expected, on a friend’s birthday, for special occasions, and for family gatherings and holidays. You can be creative and find many more excuses to bake. The point is to give most of the sweets away, while still having your fun baking them.
  7. Baked gifts come from the heart: Baking and making homemade specialties gives the gift of your time. For most of us, this is a very special gift indeed. We’re all strapped for time in this fast-paced society that we live in. Baking a special gift shows your willingness to share your time. Compound that with the fact that you got your baking “fix” in and you’re good to go. You’ll feel great when you give your baked goodie to a friend or family member and they fawn all over it, and call you later to ask for the recipe. There’s your motivation. For a special, homemade gift, try my house special--Organic Cinnamon Raisin Bread.
  8. Share with a friend: Out to eat and can't resist the dessert tray? Choose one and order 2 spoons or forks.
Have you and your partner found other ways to keep your sweet tooth under control? Share them with us. You can drop me a comment at the link at the bottom. Maybe I'll share your tips here on the blog.

If you're like me and enjoy cooking with apples, this apple and potato peeler/slicer and corer is a must have. It takes all of 3 seconds to peel, core and slice up an apple with this baby. I couldn't get by without it:

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