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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Food for Thought

The problem with the traditional approach to dieting is that it is all about deprivation. It is impossible to stick with them because of the constant “can’t can’t can’t.” It ends up making you feel worse about yourself (as opposed to better) and you soon fall back into old patterns because, while they may not be healthy, they are comforting (and often easy). So, how can you ditch those bad habits (e.g., snacking when bored) without faltering? There is a trick! Turn dieting into a festival of opportunities. Make it about discovering new foods, new flavors, and new techniques. Try out new recipes, ones that you can and should eat and challenge yourself to try new ingredients, or old ingredients in new ways. And finally, once a week, CHEAT! If you allow yourself that small reward you’ll be less likely to binge (in both high quantities and high frequencies) on those guilty pleasures you just can’t resist.

If you have a favorite dish that you just can’t give up, try revamping it into a healthier version that you can feel less guilty about indulging. For me, one of those irresistible dishes is Eggs Benedict (eggs smothered in a rich hollandaise sauce over ham and English muffins). So when I came across this healthier version of my favorite breakfast in Good Housekeeping magazine I was so excited to test it out. All in all it was a
very appetizing alternative to the traditional dish. While the sauce was not an ideal alternative to the hollandaise it still had a rich buttery flavor that complemented the lighter recipe. While this recipe itself still isn’t the healthiest breakfast option out there, it does pack some great nutrients and bright flavors into an otherwise heavy cream dish.

Spinach Eggs Benedict with Lemon Butter Sauce
(Makes 4 servings)

4 slices low-sodium ham
1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

8 large eggs

4 whole wheat English muffins

9 oz. baby spinach

For Sauce:
1 lemon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk, warmed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a tea kettle (or saucepan if no tea kettle is available) with water and heat to boiling on high.

Meanwhile, you can begin preparing the sauce. From the lemon, grate 1/2 tsp. of the rind and squeeze 2 tbsp. of juice and set bo
th aside.

In a 1-quart saucepan melt the butter on low. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then, with wire whisk, gradually add in milk. Cook on medium, stirring until sauce thickens and boils. Once the sauce has reached a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, still stirring, for 5 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon rind and juice, a pinch of salt and approximately 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Set the sauce aside but keep it warm. This recipe will yield about 1 cup sauce (about 1/4 cup per serving).

Halve the ham slices and heat them in the bottom of a 12-inch skillet on medium for approximately 5 minutes, turning once. Remove them from the skillet but keep them warm.

To the same skillet, add vinegar and approximately 1 1/2 inches of boiling water. Break 1 egg into a small cup and then hold the cup at the water’s surface to slip in the egg gently. Repeat this with 3 more eggs and cook them for 3-5 minutes or until the whites are set.

With a slotted spoon transfer the eggs onto a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat this step with the 4 remaining eggs.

While the eggs are cooking, toast the muffin halves in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Cook the baby spinach in a nonstick pan over medium heat until just wilted. To serve, top each English muffin half with 1 piece of ham, 1/8 of the spinach, 1 egg and 2 tbsp. of sauce. Enjoy!

Per serving: 435 calories, 32 g protein, 5 g fiber


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