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Tips for Healthy, Joyful Eating

At Canyon Ranch, we believe that meals should be delicious, fresh, boldly flavored, simple and above all, joyful. Gone are the days of yo-yo dieting; healthy eating for life is what matters.

Many Canyon Ranch guests share a common goal: They want to learn how to eat better as part of their journey toward achieving a healthy weight and overall wellness. A subtle education happens when you dine here. You can have a three-course meal—soup, salad or an appetizer, and an entrée plus dessert—for fewer calories than one main course at many restaurants. Nobody feels deprived.

And that’s the whole point. Our nutrition philosophy is simple: moderation, not deprivation. If you eat healthy, satisfying food on a regular basis, you don’t feel the urge to binge or cheat, because you’re already happy.

We encourage everyone to enjoy and prepare healthy foods at home. These are some guidelines to help you:

Create Plant-Centered Meals
While we don’t strictly focus on vegetarianism or veganism, most of us benefit from a diet that includes more plants and less animal protein. At home, this can mean filling more of your plate with veggies, or it can take the form of an occasional meatless meal. Generously sized vegetable appetizers can be the real star of any meal.

The lesson: Don’t let vegetables be an afterthought to your meals, just something to go with the entrée. Experiment with veggie recipes instead of relying on your old standbys. Simply roasting or grilling brings out the sweetness of many vegetables while maintaining some of their crunch; that can make cooked veggies more enticing than steaming or boiling. For extra flavor, toss vegetables in olive oil and herbs before popping them in the oven or onto the grill, or add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Eat What You Want, Just Less of It
When you’re craving chocolate or cheese, there’s really no good substitute, and we think that’s OK. After all, what’s life without a few indulgences? The Canyon Ranch dessert menu offers a small cheese-and-fruit plate that comes in at just 150 calories. And while Ranch chefs experimented with using low-fat cheese in recipes like mac and cheese, we found it didn’t taste as good as when we simply use a smaller amount of regular cheese.

The lesson:  When it comes to sweets, remember that it’s possible to feel satisfied with just a few bites. If you’re a cheese lover—and who isn’t?—you can cook with full-fat varieties of cheese, but use a smaller amount than the recipe calls for. When you’re snacking, keep this visual cue in mind: One serving of cheese is the size of two small dice.

Plating Matters
At the Ranch, we make sure everything looks generous, beautifully plated and appetizing. A modest, 2.5-ounce serving of ice cream, for instance, looks more enticing in a martini glass than it would in a larger bowl.

The lesson Opt for smaller dishes—salad plates instead of dinner plates and cereal bowls instead of pasta bowls, for example—to trick your brain into feeling satisfied with less food. Studies show that the size of the serving dish influences how much we eat, too, so try bringing food to the table in smaller containers.

Remember, food is meant to be enjoyed, shared and nourishing. And for that extra something, always remember to cook with love.

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