Columnist: Conquering obesity will take some old-fashioned willpower

Published 4:34 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

After reading a recent article, I see that not just health experts, but now employers, are having an issue with obesity in their workers, and are making it pretty rough for employees with high health risks. Surely this is not a problem that simply erupted overnight, but with employers bringing to our attention that they are paying a greater share of health care costs now, they are putting their foot down and stating that this must cease and cease now! We all know that anything involving money is bound to eventually get nasty, but unfortunately it is a commodity we can not do without. I also must agree that if increasing obesity in a worker is prohibiting him from performing the duties of his job, then his employer has a legitimate right to voice his intentions as to how the situation must be resolved.
As a fellow human being, I am appealing to you from purely a health standpoint. Do please make a conscious effort to eat wholesome and nutritious foods. Begin by reducing your intake of fat. Satisfy your cravings for sweets with fruits and natural foods. Make whole grains, fresh vegetables and legumes an integral part of your daily diet. Your refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, etc. are more quickly absorbed and converted into fat. We are also a generation of pop lovers and did you know that a 12 ounce can normally contains 104 calories? Scarier yet is the fact that many individuals cannot limit themselves to just one soda a day. What all of us so desperately need is just some good old-fashioned willpower, a healthful diet and the proper amount of exercise; and we can conquer this obesity problem that is threatening our population.

Baked Haddock

3/4 pound haddock fillets
2 corn tortillas, steamed
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
small red pepper, seeded
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic
dash ground cumin

Place the tomatoes, red pepper, soy sauce, oregano and cumin into your blender. Push the garlic cloves through a garlic press and into the blender. Process on medium until smooth. Set aside. Place the fillets into a casserole, which has been sprayed with non-stick spray and cover with the sauce. Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Divide into two portions onto the corn tortillas, and serve with the sauce on top.

Food Facts: Did you know that a forkful of fish can be a gold mine of concentrated nutrients? According to what experts tell us, they say that by eating fish three times a week, it can be associated with a significant decrease in the rate of heart disease. Arthritic patients are said to benefit due to the oil present within the fish.

**We have within our power to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, if only we are willing to put forth the effort.**

Stuffed Pike

1 whole pike
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup  mushrooms minced
1/4 cup very small shrimp, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon corn oil
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon basil
dash thyme
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Using the corn oil in your skillet, cook the shallots until they are just very slightly tender. Stir in the parsley and then remove it from the burner. Stir in the bread crumbs, marjoram, beaten egg and thyme; then use this bread crumb mixture to stuff your pike. Sew the opening closed, wrap the fish in foil, and bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Combine the shrimp, mushrooms and lemon juice in a non-stick skillet, then cook for several minutes over a medium-high heat; then pour this over the pike and serve it immediately.

In a reply to a question posed by one of my readers, nutritional authorities tell me there is no difference in nutrient content between the fish that are farmed and those that are caught in the wild, so obviously you were completely right in your assessment. …Lou

**How very sad that people seldom become famous for what they say, until after they have become famous for what they have done.

**To Mr. T.R., could this have been the fruit spread that your Mother used to make? (If this doesn’t taste like mom’s, contact me and I shall keep searching!)

Apricot Spread

1/4 cup dried apricot halves
3/4 cup apple juice

Combine the apricot halves with the apple juice and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the apricots have softened and a very small amount of liquid remains. Place the apricots and remaining juice in your blender, then blend on a very low speed just until the mixture becomes smooth. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.

Food Facts: Ounce for ounce, they claim dry apricots are more nutritious than the fresh or canned fruits, due to the fact that they have less water content and a more concentrated source of calories.

Tropical Salad

3 medium sized carrots, shredded
1/4 pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup low fat yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated orange rind
orange slices and watercress sprigs

Mix the carrots, pineapple, sunflower seeds and raisins in a chilled bowl. Then mix together the yogurt, lemon juice and orange rind and shake this until it is well blended, then pour this evenly over the salad. Garnish as desired with the slices of orange and sprigs of fresh watercress.

Food Facts: Watercress is avoided by many people because of the bitter flavor; it is actually a winner, nutritionally, because one cup contains five calories, it is rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Plans can sometimes deteriorate into good intentions unless they immediately amount to hard labor.

Cabbage Salad

2 1/2 cans fresh shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup low fat yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons parsley
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons celery seeds

Place yogurt into a strainer which has been lined with cheesecloth, then let drain for two hours, then the amount will have been reduced by a good half. Now, toss the cabbage with the carrots, grapes and celery. Mix the reduced yogurt with the orange juice, lemon juice, parsley and celery seeds. Combine this with the cabbage mixture and toss together well. Chill for a good hour, then toss it again before serving.

***None of us relish making mistakes, but consider yourself fortunate if you have learned from them.

The next recipe incorporates fennel which can be used as both a vegetable and seasoning. The stalks may be eaten raw or cooked, and if you like the flavor of anise, you’ll love fennel.

Fennel Soup

1 large fennel bulb, chopped
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large leeks, white portion only, chopped
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Place 2-3 tablespoons of chicken stock into the bottom of a heavy soup kettle. Add the leeks, onions and fennel and cook over low heat for several minutes. Stir until the vegetables are wilted, but not browned. Add more stock, during the cooking if necessary. Now, add the potatoes and the remainder of the chicken stock as well as the soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Remove from the heat, then stir in the milk. Puree this soup by batches, in your blender and then serve piping hot in pre-warmed bowls. Garnish with parsley or watercress, if desired.

Introduce your family to this tasty dish on a crisp autumn day, then sit back and enjoy your compliments

Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squashes
good sized tart red apple
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon apple cider
healthy dash cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cut the squashes in half, remove the seeds and slice the bottom of the halves off to stand them upright. Now, into a bowl, chop the apple and toss it together with the honey, sunflower seeds, apple cider and lemon juice. Divide this mixture equally between the halves of squash and then sprinkle the halves generously with cinnamon and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place the squash into a very shallow casserole, which contains about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the squash tests quite soft.

Helpful Hint: Try using a melon baller or serrated grapefruit spoon to scoop the seeds out of a squash.

Autumn Stew

4 cups chicken stock
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cups chopped onions
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 small zucchini, cut into thin 2 inch strips
1/2 teaspoon basil
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
2/3 cup tomato paste

Mix all ingredients together, with the exception of the zucchini, rice, parmesan cheese and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer then cover and cook for a good 45 minutes. At the end of this period, stir in the zucchini and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve over hot rice, then sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and parsley. (Note: Lou suggests that you serve this dish with piping hot buttered biscuits and a nice tall glass of iced cold cider!)

We tend to forget that criticism sometimes expresses greater respect than praise.

It is important to set boundaries between work and personal time, when you are endeavoring to balance both family and work.


4 cups cubed eggplant
2 sweet red peppers, diced
2 cups cubed zucchini
6 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

In a skillet heat the olive oil, add first the eggplant plus just 3 tablespoons of the water and cook quickly until the eggplant begins to soften. Now, add the remaining two tablespoons of water to this same pan together with the sweet pepper, onions and garlic and proceed to steam and sauté this mixture just until it becomes slightly tender. Then, add the zucchini and steam this to the crisp tender stage. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes. Take the cover off the pan and cook, continually stirring, over medium-high heat until the majority of the liquid has evaporated. Once completed, pour into a good sized baking dish with a cover. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Serve sprinkled generously with the fresh minced parsley.

Golden Pineapple Pie

1 – 20 ounce can unsweetened crushed pineapple
1 baked 9 inch pie shell
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sliced seasonal fresh fruit

Place the gelatin in the cold water to soften. Place the yolks in a  saucepan and beat them until they become light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and just one cup of the reserved pineapple juice and softened gelatin. Cook this mixture over a low heat and stir it constantly until it becomes thickened. Set aside to cool. Fold your pineapple into the custard mixture. Beat the egg whites until they form just soft peaks, then fold these whites into your fruit mixture and pour it into the baked pie shell. Place into the refrigerator to set, then garnish it with the seasonal fruit as desired.

Food Facts: Did you know that once it is picked, a pineapple will not ripen any further? When purchasing fresh pineapple, look for one that exudes a fragrant odor and has a light yellow or white flesh. Stay away from any pineapples that might bear a brown patch … for this can indicate spoilage.

**The fresh autumn air awaits you, so why not take a nice, daily walk!

This column encourages reader’s recipe contributions and requests, helpful hints and timely trivia. Simply phone them to (269) 683-7266 or mail to 527 Phillip Rd. Thank you!