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Skip the "Bean Supper"

By Dave Schreck

I was on my way to a friend's lake cottage in Denmark, Maine, when I passed a sign that said "Bean Supper" this Saturday. A few years ago I actually attended a community "suppah." It was a hot, humid, sticky evening. I entered the food hall, paid my 5 bucks and looked for a spot to sit down. The room was packed with locals in long pants held up with suspenders. The women servers had long aprons and were efficient, making sure everyone had enough to eat. The menu consisted of baked beans, macaroni and potato salads, homemade breads, with an entrée of platters piled high with bright red hot dogs boiled beyond recognition.

Oh boy, I thought. If this is what Dr. Sears meant when he said have one pig-out meal a month, I was in the right place. After what seemed like 3,000 calories of gut-busting, high-density carbs, there was dessert, homemade pies and cakes for everyone -- except for me. I just couldn't do it. With my pants unbuttoned (my shirt was not tucked in), I slipped out the side door into the fresh country air. Since then I've avoided all firehouse pancake breakfasts and PTA spaghetti dinners that are way too much for my one pig-out meal. I'll stick with four slices of thin pizza and a beer.

It's interesting to note that the Maine Council of Churches offers suggestions for healthier versions of those famous bean supper recipes. With the summer winding down and everyone getting back into a routine, perhaps it's time to have a recipe makeover of your favorite non-Zoned foods. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Baked beans - (homemade) substitute red kidney beans or black beans for canned baked beans. Omit the brown sugar, ketchup and bacon and use chopped onion, tomato puree, garlic and dry mustard.
  2. Pizza - use a low-carb flat bread like Flatout Light Original. Top with pizza sauce, chicken sausage and grated light cheese.
  3. Mashed potatoes – cauliflower is a great substitute. Boil, mash or use a food processor. Add low-fat plain Greek yogurt, salt and pepper.
  4. Spaghetti – try spaghetti squash. Cut lengthwise, bake rind side up and separate strands using fork from top to bottom.
  5. Ice cream – try a mixture of low fat ricotta cheese, plain yogurt, dash of Stevia and raspberries. Okay, just have a small bowl of your favorite ice cream.

The Zone is easier than you think. Small changes can make a big difference. Life is better in the Zone!