- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The comforting hot chocolate, the doughnut you give yourself as a reward for enduring the cold, and the chips and dip you mindlessly eat while watching television are all-too-easy habits to acquire during winter.

Now that spring is in sight, you’ll want to get rid of the evidence of your hibernation by dropping those pounds you acquired.

You know the time-honored advice to lose weight: eat less, move more.

However, skimping on food can boomerang, pushing you to binge. Instead, eat more, suggests Barbara J. Rolls, a professor and weight-loss researcher at Pennsylvania State University.

The tip works as long as you heap your plate with low-calorie ingredients. The volume of food, not the caloric value, can be satisfying, according to studies Miss Rolls has conducted.

Cutting the fat you consume while increasing the proportion of vegetables is one of the easiest ways to bulk up your plate and cut calories at the same time.

For example, top a 1-cup salad of baby greens with a tablespoon of olive oil and you’ve added 120 calories to your meal. If you substitute fat-free dressing you can double the greens in a serving and still consume fewer calories.

Look for ways to trim fat calories from your favorite recipes.

• Substitute chicken broth for some of the oil when you saute meat or vegetables.

• Use reduced-fat or fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream in salad dressings.

• Try eating bread plain without butter. But if you must have a spread, opt for reduced-fat cream cheese at less than half the calories of butter.

• Serve more stir-fries.

Adapt your favorite stir-fry recipe so you increase the vegetables and reduce the fat from both the oil and the protein source. Use skinless chicken instead of red meat and flavor the chicken with a fat-free marinade.

Here’s a delicious, generously portioned recipe for chicken and vegetable stir-fry.

Chicken and vegetable stir-fry

Makes 2 servings.

1 tablespoon grated ginger root

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided

1/4 cup orange juice

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks (total weight 7 ounces)

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

6 shiitake mushroom caps

1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables in bite-size pieces (see note)

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup cooked rice

Combine ginger root, garlic, 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and orange juice in a small glass bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate from 1 to 3 hours. Remove chicken from marinade; save marinade in bowl. Heat marinade in microwave oven for 1 minute at high setting.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a deep skillet or wok over high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes total. Remove chicken. Add remaining teaspoon oil. Add shallot, mushrooms and mixed vegetables. Cook over medium-high heat stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir together chicken broth and cornstarch. Pour into skillet and stir constantly until liquid is thickened. Stir in reserved marinade and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce. Bring to a boil. Add chicken. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat chicken and vegetables with sauce. Serve over rice.

Note: Use frozen, thawed vegetables for stir-fry or a combination of snow peas, shredded carrots, thinly sliced broccoli and cauliflower, according to taste.

Each serving has: 380 calories; 11 grams total fat; 26 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 49 milligrams cholesterol; 1179 milligrams sodium and 5 grams dietary fiber.

• Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).

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