Eat Smart

Randy Pollak is an over-the-road truck driver and chef. He has been featured on the Food Network’s “Emeril Live” cooking show. For more recipes and health tips, please visit this site where you can download “Cab Cookery Pantry,” a list of healthy foods and “Healthy Eating” tips and exercise tips for truckers.

Eating a candy bar or gulping that sugary cola may perk you up for the moment, but the mood swing that follows may leave you depressed and feeling tired. Eating the right foods at the right times is eating smart.

While carbohydrates are essential in elevating your mood and supplying the body with fuel, combining carbs with protein and fiber instead of reaching for those sugary snacks will prevent the blood-sugar spikes that send your body reeling into a groggy, depressed mood. Try reduced-sugar, low-fat yogurt, a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese, a handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit like an apple or orange.

Skipping breakfast because you’re in a hurry may not only slow you down, but can also lead to poor concentration and food cravings, which in turn lead to poor food choices that sap your energy. Breakfast takes only five or 10 minutes if you make it for yourself. Choose whole-grain cereals, such as instant oatmeal sweetened with fruit or sugar-free maple syrup. Scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon bits are an occasional favorite of mine.

The caffeine in coffee, cola and tea has a two-sided effect. Initially caffeine can cause you to be more alert and actually concentrate better. But too much caffeine can cause you to become jittery and lose concentration. It can also cause you to lose restful sleep as the effects can linger in the body for a long time. A cup of coffee in the morning is safe for most people. But if you want to drink more without becoming jittery, drink decaffeinated beverages or better yet, lots of water. Your body needs at least 64 ounces of water everyday. If you do not provide sufficient amounts, you may feel fatigued from dehydration.

A good strategy for eating smart and controlling your mood is to take a daily multivitamin because on some days you’ll need to fill in the gaps nutritionally.

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No matter how well you eat, finding ways to eliminate stress and becoming physically active are necessary to boost your mood and energy. Take a walk, lift dumbbells or do sit-ups. Read a book or meditate to relieve stress. When you are stressed, you eat more; when you eat more, you gain weight, and that becomes stressful, too.

Soups and Stews
This time of the year is my favorite time for enjoying satisfying soups or stews. They are also a great way to get the daily recommended servings of vegetables, legumes and whole-grains. Cooking methods are also quite easy; saucepan, Crock-Pot, lunchbox stove and even a microwave oven can be used. Choose fresh ingredients whenever you can. If you must use canned, rinse and drain before using, if practical, as this will remove most of the added salt. Lean meats and whole-grain pasta or brown rice are good choices, too. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started.

New Mexico’s Best Red Chili
10 oz. sirloin steak, trimmed into thin strips
3 tsp. whole grain flour
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
14 1/2 ounces no salt added diced
1 cup low sodium beef broth
2 T. hot New Mexico chili
1 T. ground cumin
1 tsp. Adobo seasoning
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed pequin peppers
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place steak strips in a bowl and mix well with flour to coat. In a large saucepan or wok, heat olive oil on moderate heat; add beef and cook until evenly brown. Add onions and red bell pepper; continue to cook until onions are translucent.

Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook and stir on moderate heat until gravy thickens. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for about 10 minutes. Divide into serving bowls. Makes three portions.

Per Serving: 361 Calories; 19 g Fat (48.2 percent calories from fat); 24 g Protein; 22 g Carbohydrate; 5 g Dietary Fiber; 59 mg Cholesterol; 849 mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Tuscany Potato & Sausage Soup
6 oz. sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 medium russet potato, quartered and sliced
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional )
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
2 stalks green onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup Spelt flour

Boil potatoes in large saucepan until tender. Drain and set aside.

Add olive oil to pan, remove sausage from casings and cook over moderate heat, until it’s no longer pink. Add garlic, onions and red bell pepper; cook for two minutes. Add spices; then sprinkle flour over mixture and stir and cook for one minute longer. Add chicken stock and milk, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes while stirring several times.

Add cooked potatoes and continue to simmer for another five minutes, again stirring several times.

Divide into serving bowls and garnish with green onion. Makes three portions.

Per Serving: 287 Calories; 12 g Fat (35.2 percent calories from fat); 24 g Protein; 27 g Carbohydrate; 4 g Dietary Fiber; 49 mg Cholesterol; 476 mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat.

Moroccan Lentil & Vegetable Soup
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup lentil, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. coriander, diced
1 tsp. cumin, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
14 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 T. parsley, freeze-dried
2 whole plum tomatoes, chopped
2 T. cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender. Stir in lentils, coriander, cumin, black pepper and cinnamon; cook for two minutes. Add chicken broth, water, celery and sun-dried tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 minutes.

Add squash, bell pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, covered, until lentils are tender.
Stir in plum tomatoes and cilantro just before serving. Makes three portions.

Per Serving: 198 Calories; 5 g Fat (23.1 percent calories from fat); 15 g Protein; 26 g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0 mg Cholesterol; 416mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1 Grain (Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.


Pork Chops with Veggies
Butter Pam
2 boneless pork chops
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
2 to 3 small potatoes, quartered
1-1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
1 medium yellow squash cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch slices
20 baby carrots
1/2 small onion, sliced
Spray Crock-Pot with Pam. Place chops in bottom. Layer potatoes on top of chops. Add onion slices. Mix soup mix and broth then pour over ingredients. Cover. Cook at least six hours, up to nine to 10 hours is OK. Thirty to 45 minutes before eating, add yellow squash, zucchini and carrots. Substitute broccoli for squash if desired. Serves two.
Submitted by Tina Robertson

Chicken Casserole
Butter Pam
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 or 3 small potatoes, quartered
1 can cut green beans
1 can 98 percent fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2-3/4 cup water or chicken broth
Spray Crock-Pot with butter Pam. Place chicken in bottom. Pour 1/3 of soup on top of chicken. Add potatoes and 1/3 more of soup. Add green beans and remaining soup. Add water or chicken broth. Do not stir. Cook for four to five hours. Keep an eye on the gravy. If it gets too thick, add more water or broth. Serve with a small salad. Serves two.
Submitted by Tina Robertson

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich
2 slices of bread
Thin ham slices
Kraft cheese slices
Tomatoes and mayonnaise if desired
Small amount of butter for browning
Let your sandwich maker heat up for five minutes. Put cheese and ham slices on bread and spread butter on outside of bread slices. Place in sandwich maker and shut the top. Heat until cheese is slightly melted and ham is warm (about five minutes). Take out carefully and place tomatoes, lettuce, etc. on sandwich.
Submitted by Suzanne Crouch

Trucker Stew
1 can chili
1 can whole potatoes
1 package cocktail weenies
Line Burton stove with foil. Add all ingredients, stirring occasionally. Eat when hot.
Submitted by: Jerry and Montrena

Barbecue Pork Chops and Beans
2 15-oz. cans pork and beans
2 boneless pork chops
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. mustard
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
Combine beans, 1/2 cup ketchup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar in Crock-Pot. In separate bowl mix mustard, 1 T. brown sugar and 1/4 cup ketchup. Spoon over chops that have been placed over beans, then push chops down into beans. Cook four to five hours. The longer, the better. Serve with salad. Serves two.
Submitted by Tina Robertson