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  1. #1
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    Healthy Eating tips

    So as I think more about how to shed my extra pounds, it's obvious that how I got here is by a total disregard for a healthy diet. I'm sure a lot of us clyde's/athenas are in the same situation. Part of the problem turning the ship now is that I've NEVER been in the habit of eating healthy. I do often prefer unhealthy foods, but the major issue is convenience. As a single guy, I dislike cooking just for myself (love to cook when there are others to enjoy it though). It's so much easier to swing through McD's or Taco Bell rather than preparing and brown bagging a lunch. I also have the issue of desiring fresh foods, but they expire and go bad before I can eat them usually, which really bothers me. I'm so used to fast food and take-out. At this point, probably 80% of my meals come from restaurants in some form or other. I need to change this but not go completely tofu!

    So maybe this thread could be a collection of insight that those of us who are finding better ways. I'm looking for cheap/quick ideas for home prepared meals that don't involve too many ingredients, taste good, are reasonably good for you, and won't leave me dreaming of buffalo wings.

  2. #2
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    A snack that I have begun to eat in the past few weeks is apple slices and peanut butter.
    you could also cook meals in advance (like grill some chicken breast) then have that for dinner or lunch the next few days...

    Also if you are going to go out to eat check out menshealth.com they have a feature eat this not that which lists healthier substitutions at fast food (and other) types of restaurants

    http://www.menshealth.com/eatthis/index.php

  3. #3
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    Most grocery stores have prepared or partial prepped salads that you can easily add a few things to and make a meal that won't leave you hungry. My fiancee and I do that for dinner when we don't feel like cooking.
    Prepped salad with walnuts, blue cheese crumbles and sliced olives
    add a grilled chicken breast from the deli counter and some 'lite' dressing.

    Not as much effort as cleaning and slicing all your own veggies; not quite as healthy either, but it's leaps and bounds better than a quarter-pounder and fries.

  4. #4
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Buy a family size pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts, a bag of brown rice, and frozen vegtables you can heat up in the microwave. Also pick up a jar of buffalo wing sauce and resealable plastic containers. Weeks worth of food ~ 15 dollars if you making enough for your lunch too

    Sunday night (after your bike ride ) place all the chicken breasts on a cookie tray, bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When you check the chicken make sure you only slice into the breast you plan on eating tonight, the rest need their juices sealed inside to keep the meat from drying out over the week. While the chicken is baking prepare the whole grain brown rice according to box directions, but make 6 servings worth. One for today, one for each day of the next week. The rice should take a little longer than the chicken to cook so start the rice while the oven is preheating. Once the rice is done cube a chicken breast up into bite size pieces, place in one of the glad containers with two tablespoons of the buffalo sausce. Shake it up and presto: buffalo chicken breast bites. Eat a serving of rice and a serving of the frozen vegetables prepared in the microwave according to package directions. There you have a nice well rounded meal, the sauce is high in sodium but it should satisfy the chicken wing urge without all the calories and fat, a good trade if you ask me. Store leftovers in containers, reheat and eat tomorrow night, and the next, and the next...gets boring unless your like me and don't mind eating the same things day in and day out. Saturday give yourself a little treat if you must have it.

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    No-sodium (or low sodium) cottage cheese, and then toss in a variety of cubed veggies (cucumbers, peppers, celery) and cracked black pepper. Should take about three minutes to make, and it's got massive protein, good balance, and it keeps all day at work or school.

  6. #6
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    You've figured out something important: the world around you is filled with very convenient, unhealthy food. Eating healthy requires at least one of two things: some extra effort, OR a willingness to eat very simply. You can eat in a healthy fashion with very little work if you're willing to eat the same thing as your "base food" for many meals -- just cook up a big pot of whatever and reheat. You simply don't get cheap AND quick AND easy AND tasty AND variety all at once. Pick your poison and swallow it.

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    Here's what I do, it's pretty simple. First, no soda unless I absolutely positively can justify it, then I have a diet something (usually root beer). Second, I never, ever, ever eat at any establishment that has a drive-thru. It's hard to do with kids, but I'm doing it. That takes about 50% of the unhealthy establishments out of the picture, and the really BAD 50% at that. Third, and I'm working on this one, only eat at locally-owned establishments, not chain restaurants. This is a difficult one in a way, as local establishments are both going away, and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Also, some chains (such as Applebees) have great healthy choices, others are absolutely horrible (Bennigans). My favorite local place is a brewery/restaurant named Lazlo's, very good food that's all made in house. They even make their own salad dressings! They have a raspberry vinegarette that's to die for, and a General Tso's chicken salad that's out of this world.

    Now, the extra effort is a big one in a way. My breakfasts and lunches are simple. I have a kitchen at work, well two in fact (for an office of 20 people..), so I'm lucky in that regard. Breakfast was oatmeal the winter/spring, now I've switched to Raisin Bran after the ride in. Lunch is 1 cup of instant white rice plus some tuna and canned mixed veggies. Simple, good, and balanced. Dinner is whatever my wife or I make, for example last night we had some excellent home-made hamburgers (93% lean beef, then she mixed in part of a packet of Ranch dressing - the kind you have to make), a small (100 calorie) bag of baked Ruffles each, then a couple of pears. The night before we had Pork Chops, corn, and a little pasta (was mostly for the kids).

    Simply put, you cook at home - actually cook - and it's hard to go wrong. It just requires the effort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bautieri View Post
    Buy a family size pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts, a bag of brown rice, and frozen vegtables you can heat up in the microwave. Also pick up a jar of buffalo wing sauce and resealable plastic containers. Weeks worth of food ~ 15 dollars if you making enough for your lunch too

    Sunday night (after your bike ride ) place all the chicken breasts on a cookie tray, bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When you check the chicken make sure you only slice into the breast you plan on eating tonight, the rest need their juices sealed inside to keep the meat from drying out over the week. While the chicken is baking prepare the whole grain brown rice according to box directions, but make 6 servings worth. One for today, one for each day of the next week. The rice should take a little longer than the chicken to cook so start the rice while the oven is preheating. Once the rice is done cube a chicken breast up into bite size pieces, place in one of the glad containers with two tablespoons of the buffalo sausce. Shake it up and presto: buffalo chicken breast bites. Eat a serving of rice and a serving of the frozen vegetables prepared in the microwave according to package directions. There you have a nice well rounded meal, the sauce is high in sodium but it should satisfy the chicken wing urge without all the calories and fat, a good trade if you ask me. Store leftovers in containers, reheat and eat tomorrow night, and the next, and the next...gets boring unless your like me and don't mind eating the same things day in and day out. Saturday give yourself a little treat if you must have it.
    Great idea and recipe.
    I sometimes cook the rice halfway through, then layer the bottom of the pan I'll use to cook the chicken and cook them together. This only works with skinless chicken though because if you're cooking chicken with skin still on the rice will absorb a lot of the chicken fat that you don't want. I also use Salsa sauce instead of buffalo sauce or other condiments. Salsa also is a good replacement to high sodium Ketchup for my soy burgers.

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    great ideas so far, i do the buffalo chicken breast thing already as well as the chicken/rice/veggie mix (usually with chopped broccoli and teriyaki sauce), as well as the salad. So far that gets me through about 2 days of the week before I want a little variety .

    I'd love to cook whatever it is in batches, it would make life a lot easier if I had an oven. I just have a 4 burner range, a microwave, a grill, and zero counter tops...welcome to cheap living in NY .

    I've been telling myself basically I can eat whatever I want as long as I cook it myself, and trying to limit myself to about 3000 cal a day. NY has dangerous local restaurants. For example, there is a place down the road that DELIVERS RIBS. That's just insane, lol.

  10. #10
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    misterEO, do a websearch on OAMC or Once A Month Cooking. You have to choose your recipes carefully, because a lot of OAMC can be heavy in fat or very calorically dense -- it's really not true that you can eat whatever you want if you cook it yourself; "whatever" covers a lot of ground. OTOH, since you're just learning to cook, you might as well start off by learning to cook the healthy stuff.

    Here's a recipe I swiped from the Goya website and adapted to be more healthy:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 slices turkey ham (smoky type if you can get it)
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced (I like to use a sweet onion)
    • 2 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 (15 ounce) can pigeon peas (gandules)
    • 1 packet Goya Sazon con Culantro y Achiote
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 3 cups water
    • 2 cups long grain brown rice

    Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the bacon and onion and cook three minutes. Add the garlic and cook two minutes longer. Stir in all remaining ingredients except rice. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until rice is tender (about 45 minutes). Check from time to time and add water if necessary.

  11. #11
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    I'm not actually learning to cook. I can do fine, I just have very little resources for cooking at my present residence. that recipe posted above has about 6 too many ingredients for my space . I have very limited implements, space, and interest in fighting the kitchen I have, so I have to keep it simple. Regarding eating whatever as long as I cook it, I figure it's a start. At least if I make bugers, they've got to be healthier than BK or McD's just based on quality of ingredients rather than nutritional value.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterE0 View Post
    So as I think more about how to shed my extra pounds, it's obvious that how I got here is by a total disregard for a healthy diet. I'm sure a lot of us clyde's/athenas are in the same situation. Part of the problem turning the ship now is that I've NEVER been in the habit of eating healthy. I do often prefer unhealthy foods, but the major issue is convenience. As a single guy, I dislike cooking just for myself (love to cook when there are others to enjoy it though). It's so much easier to swing through McD's or Taco Bell rather than preparing and brown bagging a lunch. I also have the issue of desiring fresh foods, but they expire and go bad before I can eat them usually, which really bothers me. I'm so used to fast food and take-out. At this point, probably 80% of my meals come from restaurants in some form or other. I need to change this but not go completely tofu!

    So maybe this thread could be a collection of insight that those of us who are finding better ways. I'm looking for cheap/quick ideas for home prepared meals that don't involve too many ingredients, taste good, are reasonably good for you, and won't leave me dreaming of buffalo wings.
    I would say, get some of those resealable food containers, you want ones that can go from freezer to microwave. When you feel like cooking, make enough for 3-4 meals, put each meal into a container, and put it into the freezer, make sure you label with freezer tape, what it is, and the date. When you don't feel like cooking, grab something out of the freezer, pop it into the microwave, and then check your email (and BF of course) while it's heating. If the date on the container is more then 4 months ago, then don't eat it. Nice thing is, you end up with a nice variety of things in the freezer, where you can control what it is, and you can control how much your eating.

  13. #13
    I'm a Cyclist! Missbumble's Avatar
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    Hey MisterEO- looks like you have some good advice..May I add that you need to drink a ton of water? Also if you can wake up and have juice of half a lemon in a cup of hot water..Good for your digestion...

    Also- Eating Healthy is not easy or cheap..It does take effort. I love the ideas of going to the market once a week - buying a mess of stuff- cooking it up and then reheating.

    One idea I have is to make roasted veggies in the oven. Satrt with a big tin foil pan - spray with cooking spray - add cut up veggies..... spray with cooking spray and Bake 400 degrees for a long time - 40+ minutes... That way you can have a batch all during the week. (Mushrooms, onions, zucchini..

    Also for salads, I buy Newman's Own Light dresssing - and then add in extra balsamic vinegar to cut the dressing calories and make it go further.

    Good luck- Great topic. I am looking forward to reading and learning form all the responses....
    Last edited by Missbumble; 06-06-08 at 08:34 AM.

  14. #14
    Allegheny Mtns of WV Paco97's Avatar
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    Sounds just like me four months ago. First thing is that you have to want to change your eating habits. I recommend Its done wonders for me. I've been able to drop five pounds in 4 weeks using this site, but they also teach you how to live a healthy lifestyle.

    I also recommend the book, "Eat this Not That". It has the premise that we all eat out, but when you do, make the right choice.

    For example, I love BK Whoppers with a Million Calories, but now I choose a Whopper, Jr. and you save lots of calories just by making a better choice.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member guybierhaus's Avatar
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    I make a lot of simple chili. Use ground turkey usually, but sometimes buffalo or road kill. Wild meat is lower in fat. Won't win any chili contests but is simple to make and I get at least 4 meals from the batch.

    Stovetop Chili

    1 pound ground turkey, 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chili's, 1 bag frozen chopped onions, 1 bag frozen chopped peppers, tablespoon minced garlic, 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 15 oz. can black beans, 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, 1 15oz. can pinto beans, 2 tbsp. chili powder, and 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce.

    Brown meat, onions and garlic in fry pan with some olive oil. When this is done, add rest of ingredients, stir, cook and simmer.

    Yes, you need a big fry pan. I'm sure you could also use a 6 qt. pot. The wife tells me if you really need to save this stuff, you can freeze chili. Although I finish off in 2 1/2 days, so just refrigerate.
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  16. #16
    The Stig's Slow Cousin
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    Begin thinking about maximizing your cooking efforts. I get some pretty good ideas from cooking shows which seek to turn around failing restaurants, Gordon Ramsey in particular. He usually makes a point of simplified recipes which stretch -- roasts into casseroles into stews/soups.

    I also look to maximize prep efforts, building a week of menus which can be prepped in a single go -- a beef roast from which I can make kabobs, shaking beef, stir fry, fried rice. All of these are very quick to assemble, especially so if the ingredients are pre-prepped on the weekend.

    I couldn't live without my fuzzy-logic rice cooker. With mine, I make rice approximately every 3 days, the cooker holds the rice and we eat rice with nearly every meal (except breakfast...). Using brown rice, and its quite healthy. This takes up plate space and is filling.

    Get yourself a Foodsaver. When you buy groceries, they can be quickly split into meal sized portions, vacuum sealed, and thrown into the deep freeze. A decent microwave can thaw nearly anything this size in under 10 minutes. The Foodsaver is also fantastic for quickly marinating foods -- it seems incredible, but putting the food and marinade in a seal bag and vacuum sealing will, in 15 minute, give the equivalent of 4-8 hours of conventional marinating.

    Go stock up on the frozen veggies -- these are often under $1 and can be prepared with no prep other than heating. For single servings, I fill a large coffee mug, throw into microwave and have the all important vegetable component of the meal in 2-3 minutes. If your microwave has a humidity sensor, this is also a one button operation.

    Its entirely possible to quickly throw together a healthy, balanced, great tasting and reasonably priced meal in about 15 minutes. You can cut way back on the saturated fats, sodium and artificial additives.

  17. #17
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    Green salads - Lettuce, cabbage, spinach, brocoli, cauliflower, and whatever other raw veggie you can think of. No salad dressing, use your favorite hot sauce or salsa for added flavor . Eat as much of this as you like along with an apple , orange, and banana. No cooking at all so far. Cook a pot of dry beans and eat at least 2 cups of the cooked beans, more if you desire. You can change the bean lineup between Pintos, Navies. Limas, etc. So there's some nutritious eating with very little cooking that will give you some nice natural nutrients!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterE0 View Post
    I'm not actually learning to cook. I can do fine, I just have very little resources for cooking at my present residence. that recipe posted above has about 6 too many ingredients for my space . I have very limited implements, space, and interest in fighting the kitchen I have, so I have to keep it simple.
    That recipe is simple. Seriously, if that recipe is beyond what you can do in your kitchen, then cooking at home is not something you're going to be doing.

  19. #19
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    My tip: Stop drinking diet soda. Diet sodas contain chemicals that stimulate your appetite and suppress serotonin levels in your blood. Just take 4 days off from diet sodas and see if you don't feel better.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard_Rides View Post
    My tip: Stop drinking diet soda. Diet sodas contain chemicals that stimulate your appetite and suppress serotonin levels in your blood. Just take 4 days off from diet sodas and see if you don't feel better.
    agreed. IMO Diet Soda is like a light cigarette. I used to be a regular soda junkie and have switched to iced tea. But NOT the Arizona or Nestea garbage that has corn syrup in it. That's just as bad as soda. I brew my own, but occasionally I'll see a bottled tea that has no sugar and no lemon. Honest T makes an Assam that has very little sugar in it and Lipton makes an unsweetened variety, but it's tough to find.

    Unsweetened iced tea has very little more nutritional impact than water, yet i find to be more quenching and satisfying than soda.

  21. #21
    Peace, Love, Bikes
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    Honest T is awesome.Real iced tea has a lot of health benefits as well with the antioxidants present I just picked up some Honest T at the local Big Lots for .60/bottle. I picked up the Abs Diet Book a while back. Haven't been following it too strictly as of late, but a lot of great meal ideas there. One I liked where the pizza recipes.

    Basically a whole wheat pita with low fat ricotta and a bit of mozzarella as the base. From there they suggested things like pesto, roasted peppers, spinich, diced chicken or turkey. Took about 8 minutes or so to heat up in the oven and kept well overnight for the trip to work for lunch.

    ETA

    Missed the part where the OP doesn't have an oven. Just get one side of the grill hot and throw the pita on the other. Same basic principal.
    Last edited by politicalgeek; 06-06-08 at 10:39 AM.
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  22. #22
    Allegheny Mtns of WV Paco97's Avatar
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    Drink Propel water instead of soda. I still drink regular soda but only once a day and that's not even everyday. The rest of the time I'm drinking Propel Water.
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  23. #23
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    Here's my big suggestion: before you start trying to make any changes to your diet, get into the habit of keeping a food diary. Buy a little index-card sized notebook. Record everything that goes into your mouth: calories, grams of fat, grams of protein, and grams of carbohydrate. If you go to a fast food restaurant, look-up the nutritional information on their website. If you go to a chain restaurant, do the same thing. You can also buy books that have nutritional information for common foods (e.g. an apple, or a piece of lasagna). If you're not sure of the nutritional content guess... high. Total up each of the four columns at the end of the day.

    If you're like me, it won't take too many weeks of looking at the amount of crap going into your body before you want to make a change. And if you hit your daily calorie target by noon, eating a salad for dinner might not sound like such a bad idea.

    As far has how to achieve your goals, I'll offer a couple of my single-guy strategies:

    1) Gourmet, pre-cooked meals. The yuppie grocery store in my area sells a bunch of heat-and-eat meals. They usually consist of some meat, a few veggies, and some noodles. Not the greatest nutrition in the world and they're a bit expensive, but the portion sizes, and thus the calorie counts, are reasonable... for me anyway.

    2) Eat fruit for desert, not candy, ice cream, or other crap. My one exception to this rule are popsicles. Either sugar-free, or the kind that are heavy on fruit and only about 100-130 calories/popsicle.

    3) Go to the grocery store every day. I live close to the store, so this is convenient for me. When I buy food a day at a time I know that I'll always be eating what I want, I won't have a tendency to waste food I get tired of, and I can't go crazy and eat three days worth of food in one sitting. No longer do I buy 5 pounds of apples and decide after eating the first pound that I'm not really in an apple mood. If I feel like an apple, I'll buy one or two.

    4) Buy pre-made or pre-packaged foods to ease preparation. You'll pay for the privilege, but these days it's easy to buy pre-packaged salad greens (no washing and chopping required), pre-cooked or pre-marinated meat, etc. One of my favorite meals: pour pre-packaged salad into a bowl, dump a half-pound of marinated "Korean Beef" into a skillet and stir-fry for a few minutes, while the meat is cooking throw some cherry tomatoes into the salad bowl along with half a sliced cucumber. When the meat is done, dump it on top of the salad, along with a few tablespoons of Bernstein's Fat Free Cheese and Garlic Italian dressing (2 Tbsp = 10 calories). Again, probably not something that's going to win an ADA award, but it's tasty and the calorie count is pretty reasonable. Probably doesn't take more than 10-15 minutes to prepare.

    5) Be careful of snacks! My schedule is such that I tend to have a long time between lunch and dinner. Invariably, I'll get hungry around mid-afternoon and want a snack. This isn't a bad thing... as long as you watch what you eat. Grab a bag of chips, pretzels, or popcorn and it's easy to chow through 500 calories before you realize it! Fruit or veggies are a better choice. If you have to eat junk food, stick to the portion sizes printed on the package... or pay the consequences. If the portions are determined by weight, weigh them! You might be surprised how small that 2 or 3oz. portion turns out to be!

    6) If all else fails: cook a can of soup and eat a sandwich... with some fruit for desert!

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nightcap's Avatar
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    To quote Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

    If I've learned one thing in the past year, it's that if it's around, I'm going to eat it. So I make sure that there are always lots of fruits and veggies around. Steamed asparagus and broccoli. Roasted brussels sprouts, portabella mushrooms, onions, summer squash. I make chili very much like the recipe given by guybierhaus, but I also add a can of pumpkin. A little chipotle in adobo sauce really spices it up (be careful - a little goes a long way). I slice up eggplant, brush with my favorite barbecue sauce, and broil 'em. Spaghetti squash is a cinch - just toss the whole thing into the oven at 400 degrees for half an hour or so, then cool, cut in half, and discard the seeds. Cauliflower and carrots with some curry and light coconut milk. Red peppers, baby carrots, and snow peas are great raw.

    My favorite sandwich starts with wheat pita. I slice it in half to make pockets, add a couple slices of deli turkey breast, a schmear of hummus, some sliced tomato, and then fill with hot microwave green beans. Hebrew National makes a 97% fat-free hot dog - 45 calories per. Get light hot dog rolls (or 4" wheat pita) and pile on the kraut.

    And so on. Just avoid having an empty fruit bowl and an empty refrigerator. In order to make the right choices, you have to make sure that you've got the right things to choose.

  25. #25
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    Some great advice so far. Thanks for all the input...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightcap View Post
    My favorite sandwich starts with wheat pita.
    This statement is just so wrong, lol.

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