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Seven strategies to eating healthier

February 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
For the new year, almost everyone said, "I want to eat better," but beyond eating loads of produce, how do you do that? Here are seven smart strategies to make your meals a masterpiece.

"Everyone in L.A. wants to be healthy, look good and these are some of the items that we use every day in our restaurants," said Ashley James, executive chef at Four Season Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills.

James lost 50 pounds testing the theory that good-for-you food can taste good too. His patrons at the Four Seasons demand it.

For bar snacks, for example, pass on peanuts and go with eggplant, mushroom raisin, pine-nut ragout with lettuce scoopers.

When it comes to grains, go beyond whole wheat.

"We're using faro, we're using spelt, we're using hemp," said James.

You'll find great grains at most markets in packages that provide excellent cooking directions and suggestions.

James created for us a Food Coach salad with barley, mango, papaya, blanched asparagus, tomatoes, cucumber, citrus dressing and grilled shrimp.

A colorful way to use the perfect portion strategy: a quarter lean protein, a quarter starch, and half produce.

A smattering of seeds sprinkles nutrition on a dish, as in pumpkin, sunflower or sesame. Seeds on top an ahi tuna slider works on another concept: meatless Monday.

Mini whole-grain buns are grilled dry then dipped in a roasted tomatillo sauce so the only fat in this dish is the slivers of heart healthy avocado.

"It's not just good food, but I have to take care of the prices too," said James.

That means using as much of a product as possible. James saves carrot peels, onion tops, celery stalks and herb remnants in a plastic container to make a vegetable broth.

"And from that broth that stock you can do so many things," said James.

Make soup, cook your grains in it, or drink it when you're hungry as a nutritious appetite suppressant.

Finally, one of the smartest things you can do is serve your dinner on a lunch or sandwich plate. You simply take the regular portion you would eat at dinner and it makes everything look absolutely huge. You will be more satisfied on less food.

Recapping strategies:

  • Include produce in your snacks.
  • Use grains beyond whole wheat.
  • Make Monday meatless.
  • Perfect your plate portions: one-quarter protein, one-quarter starch, one-half produce.
  • Sprinkle seeds in foods to boost nutrition.
  • Save produce scraps and make a vegetable broth to make soup, cook grains with, or sip as an appetite depressant.
  • Swap big dinner plates for lunch size so that your portions will appear huge. You will be more satisfied on less food.