Invited to a party?
Offer to bring the appetizers.
Indeed, there’s little doubt that the preamble to any meal can torpedo the best of dietary intentions. “Just a few bites,” you resolve as you scoop up another chipful of that sinfully creamy dip.
But by the time dinner arrives, you’re full. Not to mention the added fat and salt you’ve just downed.
Choosing those little nibbles wisely before a meal can keep you from making costly missteps — you know, the ones that will linger on the hips through winter. The Star’s Pico de Gallo Pitas can keep you on the right track. Spread whole-wheat pita triangles with a tangy mashed chickpea dip topped with fresh salsa, and you have a Mediterranean/Mexican fusion twist that’s fresh and delicious.
When studying dietary guidelines, beans are an interesting fit. You might think they would be listed under the grains category but the federal government’s guidelines group meat and beans together instead.
That’s because beans are an excellent source of protein. A quarter cup of legumes (seeds that grow in pods) is equivalent to 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish.
Chickpeas, which are alternatively known as garbanzo beans or ceci, contain plenty of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
The guidelines also spotlight the imbalance of sodium and potassium in the typical American diet. Too much salt can lead to hypertension, kidney stones, stroke and heart disease. A potassium-rich diet of leafty green vegetables and legumes can blunt the effects of too much salt.
More than most foods, a serving of beans can also act as a powerful tool in weight control.
The high fiber content makes beans more filling than most other foods. In the stomach, they digest at a slower rate, causing a more gradual rise in blood sugar that, ultimately, keeps hunger at bay longer.