Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A rant about calories, and a recipe for Shrimp Curry

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Buddha

That's me on the left.

Let’s just admit it. We all have at least one secret. But did you know that many of the foods we put in our mouths have secrets as well?

It’s secret calories – or calories that you don’t realize are there – that put a diet off the rails. If you’re trying to drop a pound or even 100, it’s important to track each and every calorie.

To lose weight you must run a calorie deficit for what your body needs. Sources say that to lose 1-2 pounds per week you must consume 500-1000 fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight, at your activity level.

I’m too sedate. To maintain my proper weight (several sources say no more than 150 lbs...), I should be consuming about 2,000 calories per day. I didn’t check before I started, but I bet I was up to 3,000. Now I’m trying to keep it to 1,500 per day to get results.

It’s not really that difficult if you know what you’re eating. For example, one serving (2 bars) of Nature Valley Crunchy Oats and Honey Granola Bars has 190 calories. A medium apple is only 100 calories; a regular sized banana is 105.

To burn the calories just in those granola bars you would have to walk for nearly an hour. 

Unexpected calories are in everything – from added fats and oils, corn syrup and coconut oil, to the most sneaky of them all: the serving size listed on the nutrition label. Even if you do check, the “serving” may be for 1 teaspoon of that item—nowhere near what you would normally use.

Even foods you may think are healthy (or healthier) can sabotage you. One Tim Hortons cran apple walnut bran muffin contains 350 calories. That’s more calories than 2 cups of cooked oatmeal. Don’t think you’re getting away better with a fruit explosion muffin. They’re 340 calories. (Source timhortons.com)

Spice mixture for the recipe.
And for goodness sake, watch out for nuts. There’s 410 calories in 1/2 cup of almonds. That’s apporaching the whole dinner recipe I’m posting today. Cashews are 320 cal per 1/2 cup and walnuts are just under 400 calories.

Calories even sneak in through the most innocuous ingredients – for example, garlic, ginger and spices. That splash of olive oil in the pan adds 120 calories per tablespoon. Who thinks of calories in them? Every. Calorie. Counts.

You have to be hyper-aware of what you’re eating if you’re going to keep a weight loss resolution. Write down what you eat. Cut back on the things you don’t need (like too much sugar and fat) and start putting better foods back in your diet.

Shrimp Curry, for One
Prep: 5 min  | Cook: 20 min  |  Serves: 1  | Calories per serving: 433
12 large shrimp, 31-40 per lb size (65 cal)
1 cup tomato purée (95 cal)
1/2 cup onion, chopped* (32 cal)
1 garlic clove, diced (5 cal)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (23 cal)
1 cup basmati rice, cooked (190 cal)
Spice blend:*
1 tsp coriander, ground (5 cal)
1 tsp cumin, ground (4 cal)
1 tsp turmeric (4 cal)
1/2 tsp ginger, ground (3 cal)
1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground (2 cal)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (2 cal)
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper (2  cal)
1/4 tsp salt

First, start cooking the rice. It takes 20 minutes (15 min simmer, 5 min sit).

In a saucepan, dry sauté** the onions. Then add the tomato purée, onion, lemon and spice blend (or curry powder). Let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Peel the shrimp, add to the sauce and let cook just until opaque.

Serve over the rice.

* Instead of making your own spice blend, substitute your favourite pre-made curry powder, and add the black pepper and salt.

** No one likes crunchy onions in their curry. To minimize this, add 1/2 cup of water while you sauté the onions. Cook until the water evaporates. Then cook a further minute; then add the tomato, etc.


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