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Cooking With Myra: Eating healthy doesn't have to taste bad

April 22, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 21, 2014 at 11:22 p.m.

Chia seed breakfast yogurt topped with Hannah's cranberry-apple granola

Chia Seed Breakfast Yogurt

•  2 cups almond milk (unsweetened)

• 2 cups Greek yogurt with honey or low-fat Greek yogurt

• 4 Tbsp. maple syrup

• 11/2tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/2 cup chia seeds

• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well blended. Chia seeds will settle to the bottom of the bowl, so whisk to distribute seeds evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Spoon into individual serving bowls when ready to serve.

This yogurt will last two days and is similar to the consistency of tapioca.

Optional toppings: granola, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, strawberries.

Hannah's Cranberry- Apple Granola

• 4 cups old-fashioned oats

• 1 cup slivered almonds

• 1 cup flaked coconut

• 1/2 cup rough chopped pecans or walnuts or both

• 2 cups dried cranberries

• 1/2 container of cranberry frozen concentrate, thawed

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 4 Tbsp. canola oil

• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two rimmed cookie sheets with non-stick spray. Combine oats, almonds, coconut, walnuts, pecans and cranberries/apples in a large bowl. Combine cranberry juice concentrate, brown sugar, oil and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to boil, whisking until sugar dissolves. Pour this syrup over the oats and stir to coat using your hands. Spread on two baking sheets. Bake until granola is golden and beginning to dry, stirring occasionally every 15-20 minutes. The granola will be golden in 30 minutes to one hour. Cool completely on baking sheet. The granola will become crispier when it is cooling. Store in air-tight container up to 10 days.

By Myra Starkey

I am 4 pounds lighter this week, and I did not cut off my arm or leg. I simply drank a concoction of juices for several days. It is always this time of year when the covers of magazines show youthful models in swimsuits or very short shorts that I pause to remember my own youth.

In early adulthood, it seemed so effortless to remain relatively trim. I had no idea what was coming. Those were the days before Spanx had been invented, and even if they had been around, I would not know what they were. (For those of you reading this who are young and thin or male and don't particularly care if your stomach sticks out, a Spanx is a modern foundation garment otherwise known as a girdle.)

I ordered 18 bottles of mixed juices off the Internet for a juice cleanse diet, which was recommended by a friend of mine. I did not take time to research it, but I am sure that all the stars in Hollywood are also doing this diet. She insisted it would jump-start my weight loss, and I would not be hungry. This turned out to be true.

The bottles arrived last Tuesday with a note that their shelf life was three days. So Wednesday morning while Taylor sat down with an English muffin slathered in peanut butter, I opened the first bottle and drank it. It was a delicious mixture of carrots, apple, ginger and watermelon called Wake Up.

I downed the second bottle called Refresh at about 10 a.m. This one contained cucumber, lime, mint, apple and ginger. Then I drank bottles three through six during that first day.

My only cheating was a small handful of jelly beans at the clinic. My co-worker, Sannette, brings them and puts them in a large, easily accessible jar. I guess I eat them without thinking because on the first day, I absent mindedly grabbed a few.

She looked at me and asked, "I thought you were on a diet?" This proved that I don't even think before eating, which is very scary. The last bottle of the day which I consumed after supper was Health Nut, which contained almond milk, almonds, dates, vanilla beans and sea salt and tasted like dessert, at least to someone who had not chewed anything for the entire day.

Taylor asked me what sort of crazy diet I was doing, drinking all these bottles of variously colored liquids. He does not condone this type of (fad) dieting as he is a doctor and thinks that the only good diet is eating healthy fruits, lean meats, nuts and vegetables. I agree, but I decided to just drink my fruits and vegetables for three days just to see if I could drop the pounds.

After day two, I wasn't hungry anymore. Taylor said my body was probably going into starvation mode, called ketosis, which is when your ketones build up and suppress your appetite. I assured him I had enough stored calories for a least a week or two.

It was so kind of him to not notice that I had put on a few extra pounds for safety just in case our land was struck by an unexpected famine. I pretty much continued with my normal daily activities and surprisingly had a lot of energy.

I should pause here and mention that I did not exercise, I merely drank the juice. I did start to think about how great it would be to lose 10 pounds. I do not know a woman alive who does not want to lose 10 pounds, and obviously, most of us are willing to do most anything other than something drastic, such as exercise or calorie restriction.

Anyway, I'm sure that I would have lost lots more weight had I exercised, but I was doing this special diet and if I exercised, then I would not have known whether it was the diet or simply that I had burned off lots of calories.

Day three was Friday, and by the time I started the Go Green drink filled with kale and other leafy green vegetables, I was craving chips and hot sauce. I tried to put it out of my mind and got through the work day. We traveled to Houston to have Easter holiday at my sister Susie's house and upon arrival was told that we were having fajitas for dinner.

Since Susie wasn't feeling well, she asked me if I could man the barbecue pit and grill the beef and chicken fajitas. They were marinated in a divine-smelling spicy sauce.

I wanted to lick the bag, but I still had two juices to go, and I wasn't about to give up. On that final day, it was about finishing strong and not giving in. That night, I felt really great but dared not weigh until the morning.

I woke up Saturday and weighed three pounds less than the day I started drinking the juices. I made up my mind to think about every bite I put in my mouth. I ate considerably less than I usually did for the holidays, and I am proud of myself for that.

On Sunday, I fit into a dress I wore last year, giving me enough confidence to keep on track. At 52, I know that it is important to watch what I eat and to exercise, at least that is what my live-in doctor says. He is 6 foot, 3 inches and weighs 190 pounds and never has to be on a diet, so I am not sure if he truly understands my plight.

I usually explain to him that there are millions of women just like me who are willing to swallow almost anything to lose weight. If someone told me I could eat sea snails and lose 10 pounds, I would get out the olive oil and salt.

Weight loss is a tricky thing. Once you are on your way, you feel invigorated and want to reach your goal. Fortunately, there are a lot of cookbooks on healthy eating. I am including a granola recipe that is a delicious snack. It can also be mixed with yogurt for breakfast.

The chia seed yogurt is surprisingly good and good for you. It is said that chia seed was the superfood of the Aztecs, which goes to show that even though you are eating healthy food, you could still be attacked by foreign conquerors and have your entire civilization wiped out.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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