TRAVERSE CITY — How's your New Year's resolution going? If you are trying to lose weight, get healthier or feel better, eating a plant-based diet will help you reach those goals faster.
Are you finding yourself regaining the weight you lost, or falling back into your old routine? It's tough to stick with dietary changes when old favorite comfort foods keep showing up on the table.
The biggest stumbling block for dietary change is usually dinner. It's easy to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, but dinner can be harder to modify.
While most people think they eat a varied diet, in reality, people usually cycle through 10 dinners. The easiest way to change dinner is to write down your top 10 dinner selections. Study this list. Look for dinners that can be easily modified to a healthier choice.
If lasagna is a favorite, consider switching to a whole-wheat pasta, and using marinara sauce instead of a bolognese. Instead of a turkey taco, opt for a bean burrito. Try making veggie burgers on burger night instead of ordinary burgers. On big salad night, switch to beans as a high-protein garnish.
Making tiny modifications to your current menu saves money and introduces new foods to your family without completely upsetting the apple cart. Adopting small improvements to favorite comfort foods still satisfies you and your family without undoing all your hard work toward better health.
This is exactly what my fabulous dad did for the girls and me. He makes a bacon and potato soup that has been a hit with my family since before I was born. We switched to turkey bacon when I was a teenager. Recently my dad started making a healthier version that is just as satisfying and delicious as the one I remember from childhood. We substitute beans for the bacon, and add a little smoky tofu for flavor. We add a little spinach at the last minute, so it wilts slightly without coloring the broth.
I'm so impressed by Dad's ability to change an old recipe and modify his cooking style when my family visits. In my experience at my internal medicine practice, change comes just as easily to the very old as to the middle-aged and younger folks. It just takes a little flexibility.
This is an easy recipe to make one bowl at a time, when you need a quick dinner at the end of a long day that won't make a disaster of the kitchen. The soup is ready in 15 minutes. All you have to clean is the cutting board, a knife and the soup bowl. And your spoon! Add a whole-wheat roll on the side andsome dark chocolate for dessert if you are very hungry.
Dad's Bean and Potato Soup
1 t. olive oil
¼ Spanish onion, diced
2 small russet potatoes, diced
¾ c. white beans
¼ c. Oryana smoky tofu, diced
1 c. spinach, loosely packed
Soften the onion in olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and 2 cups of water. Cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes soften. Add the beans, smoky tofu and spinach. Cook until beans and tofu are heated through and the spinach is wilted slightly, about one minute. Serve immediately. Makes one big serving.
Mary Clifton M.D. has an internal medicine practice in Traverse City that focuses on nutrition, osteoporosis and menopause. For more information, go to www.drmarymd.com.