Welcome to the world of quick and easy healthy cooking and eating. This is an exciting time for research of carbohydrates, protein, and fats and how they impact your metabolism and affect weight control. Many popular diet plans today, such as the 30/40/30 food balance plan, the South Beach diet, and the Atkins low-carb diet, emphasize the importance of higher-protein/lower-carb eating. If you are interested in eating a low-carb diet, the recipes in this book are a good jumping off point—each one contains a low to moderate number of carbs, and carb counts are given for each recipe. Increasing your protein intake as you reduce the “bad carbs” (carbs that have a high glycemic index, which causes blood sugar levels to spike rapidly) is another way to help you in your weight loss goals; protein and fat values are listed too for each recipe.
All the recipes and tips in this book are focused on healthy eating based on the general principles of balancing your intake of carbs, fat, and protein—plus they are quick and easy! Explore different ethnic markets, fresh farmers' markets, restaurant supply stores, gourmet grocers, specialty butchers, and delicatessens. As you expand your knowledge about healthy eating, you'll find a number of new horizons for new products, gadgets, and convenience items. There are many resources on the Internet to provide the nutritional statistics and data for your diet plan. It's also very important to involve your primary-care physician in your diet planning. There are a number of nutritional supplements being developed specifically to complement most diets. Read the labels, and also make sure you let your physician know of any supplements you are planning to incorporate into your diet plan. It is important to have a concise review of all supplements and medications you are taking to avoid any drug interactions.
One of the keys to any successful diet plan is support. You'll find that entering the venture of a controlled diet plan is really more of a lifestyle change. It is important that you have friends or family that support your commitment. You'll also find that you'll share success stories, enjoy outdoor activities in a group, and most important, have memorable dining experiences.
The Everything® Healthy Meals in Minutes Cookbook provides recipes that will stimulate your own creative ideas for the foods that you enjoy. This book is meant to be a workbook as much as a reference guide. Mark your notes and changes in the margins. Rate the recipes as you try them! There is no universal spice or flavor that works for everyone. Cooking is an adventure that lets you explore and develop your tastes and favorite flavor combinations. The best way to remember the successful (and not so successful) results is by taking concise notes. There's nothing better than reading notes for a recipe that makes your mouth start to water and brings back fond memories of a pleasurable dining event.
There are several other simple steps that can enhance the atmosphere of your dining event and not necessarily add to the preparation time. Pick out a new CD or plan the appropriate background music. A classical CD for a romantic dinner or a compilation of 60s rock for an outdoor barbecue can set the tone for the occasion. Also, many supermarkets have beautiful floral departments; consider adding a few fresh flowers if it fits in your budget. Last, consider your beverage selection. Wines are a traditional standby, but there are a number of nonalcoholic and low-carb combinations that are flavorful and may be the perfect complement for your meal. There are several great-tasting sugar-free juice mixes on the market that can easily be dressed up for an adult spritzer with a bit of imported sparkling mineral water and a slice of fresh citrus. If you're avoiding artificial sweeteners, consider adding 2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice to a sparkling mineral water for a satisfying beverage alternative. It has 4 grams of carbohydrates but provides a dose of antioxidants and is a flavorful adult drink.
Quick and easy cooking means efficiency of your time and efforts. You'll develop a specific working methodology that is particular to your workspace. I always enjoy group dinners where everyone is preparing a dish in my kitchen. I love to watch other people see my workspace from their perspective and I learn from the efficiencies and different prep methods they bring to the party. What a fun learning experience!
Every recipe in this book contains the nutritional statistics for carbs, fats, and proteins. These statistics are rounded to the nearest full gram and are not modified in any way for fiber. Using a reputable, nationally recognized computerized nutritional analysis program, I determined the total carb count on a per serving basis. Several of the current popular programs for calculating carbs subtract the fiber content before reporting the carb count, so counts may seem lower than they really are. My analysis is based on the full carb amount; no compensations have been made.
LOW—These recipes all contain 10 grams or fewer of carbohydrates per serving.
MODERATE—These recipes all contain between 10 and 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
The recipes in this book are designed to complement your lifestyle. Use The Everything® Healthy Meals in Minutes Cookbook as a reference and a guide to create new and memorable dining moments and recipe favorites on your new adventure into a healthy life. The key to success in any new endeavor is to explore and have fun. Enjoy!