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Simple decisions for healthy living

The days of heavy holiday foods laden with luscious cream and butter are now a thing of the past, but their memory lives on in the form of tight fitting clothes and an extra pound (or three). We remember those days of celebrating with joy and fondness, but as the new year is upon us, most likely new lifestyle changes and goals are here as well.

Often, diets come and go. Big diet decisions are hard to follow and are quickly laid to rest and old habits become new again.

For me, the most successful lifestyle decisions are the ones that start small yet over time show big changes.

If eating healthier in the New Year is on your list of things to do, first of all, congratulate yourself. Having fresh, organic produce in your home on a regular basis is a HUGE step towards a healthy lifestyle. When sweet cravings strike you can turn to a sweet pear or a tangy satsuma. If salty is what you crave turn on the oven and make chips. Yes, I did say chips – they can be part of healthy eating. Many winter vegetables can be turned into crispy and salty morsels that satisfy the need for a crunch. My husband, who feels as if the grocery list is not complete without chips, fends off his cravings with Kale chips.

Other little daily healthful decisions I try to make include: limiting calories that come from beverages and drink more water, watch my sugar intake – which is hard for me as I love to bake, eat smaller quantities and park in the last parking spot rather than the one closest to the store – it’s amazing how a few extra steps a day adds up to miles in the course of a year.

When we make small daily decisions we may not see drastic results as you would with other ‘fad’ diets but you will see a gradually feeling of overall better health and eventually, if weight loss is your goal, you will drop the pounds. The best part is that you will be more likely to stick with this new ‘diet’ because it is quite easy and fun.

You may argue the fun part but I will argue right back at you. Scour the internet, magazines and cookbooks to find new recipes for vegetables and fruit. Old standbys will get new life as you see them used in different ways.

The best decision has already been made as you are making fresh, organic produce a part of your daily life. May 2011 fill you with joy in the kitchen, new recipes to try and a healthful renewed energy!

by Ashley Rodriquez

Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. You can read more of her writings at

Homemade Potato Chips with Fennel Spice Rub

4 russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 pounds)
about 4 cups canola oil for deep-frying

Using a mandoline, cut potato into paper-thin slices (about 1/16 inch thick) and let potato slices stand 5 minutes in a bowl of cold water to cover.
Drain potato slices and spread without overlapping on a triple layer of paper towels. Blot slices completely dry with another triple layer of paper towels.
In a 3-quart saucepan heat oil until a deep-fat thermometer registers 360-380°F. Working in batches of 8 to 10 slices, fry potatoes, moving them around with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, making sure oil returns to 360-380°F before adding next batch. Transfer chips as fried with a large slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with Fennel Spice Rub. Continue to pat dry, cut, dry, and fry remaining potatoes in same manner. Potato chips may be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container.