Your Reading List

Drop those extra pounds – sensibly

Recipe Swap: Tried and True Minestrone, and Lentil Calzones

bowl of Minestrone soup

January is when we start to follow the ‘10 tips’ and ‘20 ways’ and ‘quickest ways’ to lose weight, and they all work miracles in no time, right?


For starters, we generally don’t stick with any plan, especially if it’s overly ambitious. As the saying goes, resolutions ‘go in one year and out the other’ if we take on too much too fast.

Plus, we often just try to buy our weight loss. According to a recent survey of 2,000 Canadians by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, one in four of us will spend money to lose weight on things like gym memberships and exercise equipment, or for quick fixes like supplements or cleanses.

Those under age 40 spend the most — $500 per person — but older adults aren’t far behind forking over cash in high hopes.

Unfortunately, our enthusiasm doesn’t always have us asking for reputable advice. The survey also asked whether we talk over our weight issues with our doctors. Just one in four said they’ve been counselled by a doctor about their weight.

Is a fitness or weight loss goal one of your 2015 resolutions?

Then look for healthy weight loss programs that recommend losing no more than one kilogram (two pounds) per week, say dietitians. These programs should also encourage eating a nutritionally balanced diet that follows Canada’s Food Guide (in amounts listed in the guide for your age, gender and lifestyle) and help make lasting lifestyle changes that will keep weight off once lost.

That tends to be the toughest part of all. We’re on a roller-coaster. Sixty-two per cent of the survey respondents who reported they’d lost five or more pounds over five years said they’d gained it all back, and sometimes more besides.

That sounds pretty discouraging. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to get off to a much better start.

Book that appointment and have a talk with your doc. They’ll be able to tell you what other benefits besides that number on the scale you’re achieving from losing weight — like lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure and other health improvements.

You could also talk directly with a dietitian. They’re just a phone call away at Dial a Dietitian 1-877-830-2892 (in Winnipeg 204-788-8248).

You might also be interested to check out the Heart and Stroke Healthy Weight Action Plan too. This is not a diet. It’s a free, personalized, 12-session online resource that’s essentially like sitting down with a weight-loss counsellor, and will help to set a realistic weight- loss goal, as well as make lifestyle changes that help maintain a healthy weight.

Happy and healthy eating in 2015, everyone.

January calls for easy-to prepare, simple and healthy meals and pulse-based dishes are perfect on all fronts. Research shows the pulse-based diet can help maintain a healthy body weight. Here are two recipes courtesy of Pulse Canada. If you’d like to try other recipes, please visit the Pulse Canada website.

Tried and True Minestrone

  • 1-1/2 c. tubetti pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 c. reduced-sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 540-ml (19-fl.-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 540-ml (19-fl.-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 540-ml (19-fl.-oz.) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 540-ml (19-fl.-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Cook until al denté, drain and toss with olive oil. Set aside. In a large saucepan on high, heat oil. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Lower heat to medium adding carrots, celery and onion. Cook until soft, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add herbs and raise heat to high. Add beans, chickpeas, tomatoes and zucchini. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, skimming foam from top. Season well with pepper and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Add cooked pasta and enjoy!Serves 10.

Lentil Calzones

  • Prepared pizza dough (or enough for 1 large pizza)
  • 1 19-fl.-oz. (540-ml) can lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not in oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 c. pepperoni slices, halved
  • 1/2 c. sliced black olives
  • 2 c. light shredded mozzarella
  • 1-1/2 c. pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 350 F. Divide dough into eight equal parts, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into six- to eight-inch circles. In a medium bowl, combine lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, pepperoni, black olives and pizza sauce. Put 1/3 cup of lentil mixture into centre of dough and top with 1/4 cup cheese. Fold over dough to enclose lentil and cheese mixture and pinch dough together where you see any openings. Grease baking pan and place calzones two inches apart. Pierce tops with fork and lightly coat tops with egg white. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.

Makes: eight calzones

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



Stories from our other publications