Know Your Calories and Take Charge of Your Health

It’s no secret that Americans have been gaining weight. Obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children over the past 40 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third, or 78.6 million, adults are obese. Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers are all conditions that are brought on by obesity. And they’re all preventable. 

Enter The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook, which authors Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo, MS, RDN, developed with the goal of changing — for the better — the way people cook, eat, drink and exercise. The cookbook, which contains 200 recipes, is intended to help readers increase their calorie awareness so that they’re eating not only the right amount, but also the right kind of calories. Each recipe includes key nutrition information as well as how much activity (walking or jogging) you’ll need to burn off the calories that make up the meal.

The book even includes a short primer on calories by Malden Neshelm, Ph.D., co-author of Why Calories Count. In this section, Neshelm breaks down what a calorie actually is, how they’re measured, how we use calories, the fact that not all calories are alike and more. The key is to go for nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains, while skipping the calorie-dense stuff like refined carbs and processed, junk and fast foods — things like soda, juice, cakes, cookies, French fries, and white rice and pasta.

 Jones and Trujillo suggest a simple five-step approach to a healthier you.

  1. As much as possible, eat whole unprocessed foods.
  2. Cook and eat at home as often as possible.
  3. Keep track of your calorie intake and calorie output.
  4. Walk, jog or engage in some form of movement every day.
  5. Close your eyes, lower your shoulders, and take a couple of deep, stress-relieving breaths through your nose. Relax and let go.

Check out the Calories In Calories Out Chicken Curry Stir-Fry and notice that it takes a 40-minute jog for women — 34 minutes for men — to burn off that meal. Knowledge is power.

Chicken Curry Stir-Fry

This dish is a staple in my repertoire because it’s tasty, and it’s a cinch to make. Serve with brown basmati rice, sautéed vegetables, or a green salad, and you’re good to go. Another option is to serve the chicken on a bed of rice noodles, sprinkled with chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, and cilantro leaves, and garnished with lime wedges. You’ll keep coming back to this one, I promise. Although this dish can be frozen, it’s really best eaten on the same day it’s made.

352 Calories In: Protein: 39 g; Carbohydrates: 14 g; Fat: 15 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 498 mg; Carb Choices: 1; Diabetic Exchange: 5 Lean Meat, 3 Vegetable

352 Calories Out: Women: Walk: 86 minutes | Jog: 40 minutes; Men: Walk: 72 minutes | Jog: 34 minutes

Serves 4

  • 1 ½ pounds (720 g) chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices on the diagonal
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
  • 1 medium sweet onion, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce or 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 scallions, sliced into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 ½ cups (135 g) broccoli florets, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender
  • 3 tablespoons whole or chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice, to taste

1. Combine the chicken, red bell peppers, onions, curry powder, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, soy sauce, and the fish sauce, if using, in a bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 6 hours. 

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add half of the marinated chicken mixture and half of the scallions and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. (Note: You might want to use a splatter screen.) Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chicken, scallions, and the broccoli florets and cook in the same way. Adjust the seasoning and transfer to the serving dish. Garnish with the cilantro and sprinkle with lime juice to taste. Serve promptly.

Recipe from The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook: 200 Everyday Recipes That Take Guesswork Out of Counting Calories—Plus, the Exercise It Takes to Burn Them Off, copyright © Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

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Lisa is the director of content strategy at Zipongo. Her experiences include editorial and strategy at both start-ups and enterprise companies along with cooking at a top restaurant in NYC.

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