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I recently saw a show where they compared a typical fast food meal from back in the 1970′s to one today.  Both meals consisted of a hamburger, soda and order of French fries.  The 1970′s meal resulted in a total of 590 calories, while today’s version ended up at a whopping 1,050 calories!!   The only difference between the two was portion size.  That 1970′s meal consisted of what we might now consider to be a child’s meal–small hamburger, small fries and child size (12 oz) soda. The 2011 version was supersized. 

The show got me thinking about portion sizes in general and how important it is to pay attention to them.  For example, when you have pasta are you having one serving or two?  Look at the box–you’ll see that what equates to one serving of pasta is most likely less (in some cases a lot less!) than what you’re having.  Not adhering to the actual portion size will result in consuming a lot more calories than you’re allowing for.

So, this brings me back to my favorite subject–fruits and vegetables.  If you do a calorie comparison you’ll see that you get a greater portion of fruits and/or vegetables than most other foods.  Let’s say you’re looking for a sweet snack that will come in at 100 calories.  You can have either 2 cups of fresh strawberries or 3/8 of a donut.  What sounds more satisfying and seriously, can anyone really eat only 3/8 of a donut??   In fact, take a look at our comparison chart on what you can eat for a 100 calories snack.

The same goes for your meals.  Filling half your plate with fruits and veggies allows you to fill up, but keep the calorie and fat content down.  Plus, you’re getting a lot more valuable nutrients by eating more produce.

My advice is to pay attention to serving sizes and nutrition labels in general.  Don’t assume that the beverage you purchased is one serving–look at the nutrition label and you’ll most likely find you’re consuming two or more.  It can get confusing so follow our easy guide to understanding food labels.  Just remember to be sure you know what you’re eating–it’s very frustrating if you’re trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight and you’re unsuccessful.  It might all come down to portion size.

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If you planted summer squash in your garden this year, right about now you’re probably trying to figure out what to do with all the extra you have.  I can remember my parents bringing zucchini with them to work to give out to their colleagues–I think as quickly as they’d unload a bunch a new batch would be ready for picking. 

One of the great things about summer squash is that it’s so versatile.  It’s delicious grilled, in a casserole and who isn’t familiar with zucchini bread?   While I use it for all these recipes (and more!), one of my favorite recipes is Squash Boats.  You may be more familiar with them as "stuffed zucchini" and there are a bunch of different versions out there.  Some use bread crumbs and others have a meat like Italian sausage mixed in the filling.  I like the name Squash Boats because they sound fun and as any mom can tell you, it’s always better to add some fun when getting kids to eat their veggies.

My recipe is pretty basic and I typically use it as a side dish, but feel free to add other veggies as you desire.  You can even add meat to the filling and make this your entree if you choose.  I will tell you that this is one of my teens’ favorite side dishes–I hope you and your family enjoy it as well!

2 large zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  •  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut zucchini in half and then slice each half lengthwise.  Carefully cut out the inside of the zucchini leaving the shell (it will look like a boat).  Place the shells in a casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and cover with foil.  Place in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Chop the insides of the zucchini into bite sized pieces.
  • Put 2 tablespoons olive oil into a pan along with the zucchini, onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Add salt and/or pepper to taste and saute until onion is translucent and zucchini is soft.  Set cooked filling aside.
  • Check shells to see if they are done–they should be cooked, but still firm and retain their shape.  Spoon the filling evenly into each shell, sprinkle with mozzarella and place back in oven uncovered for 5 – 10 minutes more.
  • Enjoy!

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