New Year, New You ... Blender Edition
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Along with champagne, noisemakers, and a kiss at the stroke of midnight, the determination to make next year better — or even better — is embedded in the DNA of our New Year celebrations.
And one resolution usually takes a top spot. Whether we want to be healthier or slimmer or even save the planet, a new year often means a new diet — but which one?
There are a dizzying number of eating plans out there — Mediterranean, keto, vegan, paleo, and more — so here’s a rundown of the most popular choices. And, because a diet without pleasure is a diet you know you’ll break, we’ve included some delicious recipes (all made easier with a blender) to keep you happy as well as healthy.
Eat like a European
At the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Diets 2019 is the Mediterranean diet. This well-balanced, heart-friendly eating plan cuts down on red meat, saturated fats, and salt, while emphasizing fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, as well as healthy fats like avocado and olive oil. The diet also encourages eating with others, as opposed to, say, bolting down lunch alone at your desk. And, bonus, a little wine with dinner is perfectly fine. This focus on enjoyment makes it an excellent choice for a lifelong lifestyle change.
What could be more Mediterranean than gazpacho from the Andalusia region of southern Spain (though, this one has a twist on the classic). This recipe starts with the traditional purée of raw tomatoes, garlic, onion, and bell peppers, then ups the game with sweet, refreshing watermelon. The gazpacho is topped off with naturally low-fat feta cheese, which not only adds a creamy tartness, but is rich in protein and calcium too.
The Keto diet, grandchild of the old Atkins diet, allows for ample proteins and fats, but cuts way back on carbs. It's designed to induce a state of ketosis, which happens when your body is deprived of carbohydrates and starts burning stored fat instead. How healthy is the ketogenic diet? There’s some debate on the question — but it definitely takes weight off.
Cream Cheese Pancakes
Going without carbs can be tough if you have a sweet tooth, but not when you satisfy the craving with these flourless pancakes, made with eggs and cream cheese to provide plenty of protein with almost zero carbs. Top them with this Easy Sugar-Free Keto Maple Syrup or just slather them in butter, which is totally okay on a keto diet.
Keto Veggie Burgers
Can you go keto if you’re a vegetarian? Yep. These blender-made veggie burgers have no grains and no beans, and the taste is amazing. Made with cremini mushrooms, cauliflower, and avocados, they’re packed with super-nutrition too.
Paleo — essentially a return to the Paleolithic or Stone Age — means you eat only what cavemen did when they were hunter-gatherers, before the era of agriculture began. You don’t have to take to the woods with a bow and arrow, though. Just cut out all grains, sugar, and dairy, as well as all processed foods with their chemicals and additives. Strictly speaking, Paleo is not a ketogenic diet, but it leans that way because it does eliminate a lot of carbs, with a few exceptions like fruit and raw honey.
Paleo Lasagna Rolls
With some clever kitchen wizardry, you don’t have to give up the kinds of meals you love, not even lasagna. There are no grains or dairy in this tasty recipe, and the “cheese” is blender-made with cashew nuts.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
All vegetarians give up eating meat and poultry, though many include dairy, eggs, and sometimes fish. Vegans eat no animal products at all — generally not even honey. There are a lot of reasons for choosing these diets, from feeling kinship with the animal world to concern about the ecological impact of raising livestock. There are also studies showing some significant health benefits — like reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Protein can come from beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other sources, but vegans especially may need a vitamin B12 supplement, since that nutrient is not available in plant-based foods.
Easy Indian Chana Masala
This traditional Indian dish is so hearty, you’ll never miss the meat or dairy. Fragrant spices — like cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon — aren’t just a sensual delight; they’re also part of India’s ancient Ayurvedic health system and have been shown to reduce inflammation, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and even help slow the aging process.
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Milkshake
Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up one of life’s greatest pleasures — chocolate. Just plug in the blender and whirl up a batch of these totally yummy (milk-free) milkshakes.
The 1980s best-seller Sugar Blues was the first of many books to make the case that sugar — specifically white sugar — was causing disease, obesity, and depression. But what to use instead to satisfy your sweet tooth?
That’s a complicated question. Some consider raw sugar, honey, and maple syrup good choices because they haven’t been stripped of their nutritional value. Others are concerned with how high on the glycemic index a sweetener is — that is, how much it affects our blood glucose levels. On that front, agave nectar (though high in fructose) has a relatively low glycemic index, and stevia, one of the processed natural sweeteners, has an index of zero. Artificial and chemical sweeteners also rank zero — but many people choose to avoid those in favor of more natural options. And if you’re diabetic, check with your doctor to see what’s right for you.
Of course, this all leads to another important question … what to do about desserts? After all, who can live without them?
Healthy No-Churn Fruit Sorbet
You won’t find a more delicious sorbet than this, and you can sweeten it with either agave nectar or honey. You don’t even need an ice cream maker — the main ingredient is frozen fruit, and it can go from blender to table in about five minutes.
Healthy Avocado Brownies
Blender-made chocolate brownies with a low glycemic index? Yes! They’re sweetened with maple syrup and will satisfy your chocolate Jones without any New Year’s remorse.
The "No-Diet" Diet
Sometimes the best diet is simply this: Eat only when you’re hungry, never when you’re not. If you want to lose weight, don’t ask for seconds, and leave the last bite on your plate. Steer yourself toward lean protein, fresh veggies, and whole fruit. Don’t overdo starches and sweets, but don’t deprive yourself either — if you really crave something, go for it! As Epicurus, the Greek philosopher of pleasure, believed: practice moderation, even when it comes to moderation.
For more in-depth information about these common diets and more, check out New Year, New You? A Look At America’s Most Popular Diets.