Trying to Lose Weight? Never Fear, Summer’s Here.

By Carol Ritchie, celebrity chef and To Life!™ Lifestyle Change Management Participant

Summer is here, but don’t let picnics, family gatherings, and July 4th fun derail your weight-loss plans. The Methodist Weight Management Institute’s To Life!™ program, which has helped me lose 22 pounds, can help you lose weight and still enjoy the sunny days ahead without feeling deprived. To Life!™ is a mind-body-medical approach to healthy lifestyle change and lasting weight loss.

Here are some tips for those lazy, hazy days:

1. Have a game plan. Pay attention to food cravings or triggers in your life and learn how to cope with them. Plan ahead and be ready to fight back. Go for a walk. Drink a glass of water. Have a stash of healthy snacks with you at all times. I like to carry sliced cucumbers, dried plums, sugar snap peas, carrots, or melon chunks with me. When a craving hits, I’m ready with my healthy snacks.

2. Make smarter choices. Yes, you can have a burger, hot dog, or pasta salad. Just make some healthier substitutions and you can breeze through cookouts with ease. When making burgers, instead of beef use ground bison (it’s super lean but rich in flavor). Choose lean, low-fat hot dogs instead of regular franks. Try the new sandwich thins that have only 100 calories instead of the large buns that can chalk up 200-plus calories. For side dishes, check out the yummy recipes and videos on the To Life! blog video (see link below).

3. Learn to cook fabulous, simple, nutrition-packed meals. Eating lighter means easier cooking. Grill it. Broil it. Roast it. Just limit the fat you add to marinades or in cooking. My Colorful Pasta Salad recipe (below) is a fresh, summer dish that’s easy and loaded with good things your body needs. Also, check out the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding Cups recipe. They’re perfect to keep in the freezer and take on a picnic.

4. Experiment with different varieties of foods. Keep things exciting. Try new vegetables or cook your favorites in a different way. Head to local or ethnic markets for fruits and vegetables from around the world. With Internet access, all you need is a quick search and you can find hundreds of recipe options for new foods.

Carol Ritchie’s All-American Picnic
For an online cooking demonstration, recipes, and more tips on the all-American picnic, complete with dessert, go to

Colorful Pasta Salad
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil, oregano)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cooked whole-wheat penne pasta
1 cup broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, herbs, honey, salt, and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and stir to coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to serving for flavors to blend.

Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding Cups
Serves 8

1 (1.4 ounce) package sugar-free chocolate pudding mix
2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup sugar-free low-fat ice cream
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts for garnish

Prepare pudding according to package directions using fat-free milk and peanut butter. Stir in ice cream. Pour mixture into 8 shallow cups, cover, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts for garnish.

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Posted Healthy Eating, Weight Management