Plants, Points, Portions, and More: A Diet Open Thread

corporette diet open threadI’ve seen a lot of commenter threads about different diets lately, and I’ve been looking into them myself, so I thought I’d start a diet open thread to collect everyone’s thoughts in one place. At the outset, I just want to remind everyone this isn’t necessarily about weight loss — some people try different diets as a way to eat healthier or break bad habits. If you aren’t interested in changing your diet, or if this talk is triggering to you, please skip this thread. In case it needs to be said: this thread is not about looking “perfect.” Bodies come in all shapes and sizes; please strive to love yours no matter what size.

But, for those of you who WOULD care to discuss it, let’s hear it, ladies: Have you tried to change your diet lately? What diets did you consider, what did you end up doing, what good habits have managed to stick with you? What’s your bottom line in gauging success of a new diet (like seeing the scale move, losing weight, getting rid of a food-sensitivity symptom like bloating or fatigue)? What role do expense, convenience, and rigidity play — as a busy working woman do you dismiss out-of-hand a diet that requires you to prepare everything at home or allows no wiggle room?

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Dining Etiquette: 10 Things to Know About Business Lunches

dining etiquetteHot on the heels of our discussion about how not to gain weight over the summer recruiting season, we thought we’d round up some of the readers’ top tips on dining etiquette, collected from our last discussion on the topic. Ladies, what is your top tip for dining etiquette? What etiquette mistakes do you see interns and summer associates making that you wish you could correct, and what mistakes did you make? 

  1. Don’t be the odd one out. To prevent awkward situations, e.g., ending up as the only person eating an appetizer while everyone waits for you to finish so they can have their entrees, feel free to ask your colleagues if they’re planning on ordering an app or starting with a main course. If they don’t order drinks, don’t order a drink. And, although it probably goes without saying, don’t make a habit of choosing the most expensive thing on the menu.
  2. Choose wisely. This classic advice is worth sharing: Don’t order something that’s hard to eat and/or likely to be messy.
  3. Avoid appearing “high-maintenance.” When you order, don’t ask too many questions of the server (remember that waitress scene in “When Harry Met Sally“?), and don’t make a zillion modifications to your meal.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about special dietary requirements. Meaning: a few questions or exclusions are fine — a 15 minute interrogation on different menu options isn’t. Check out our posts on eating gluten-free or being the only vegetarian at a business lunch where there’s nothing you can eat for more guidance. If you need to make a game plan, consider calling the restaurant ahead of time with your questions (so that you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining your requirements and ordering your food).

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Energy Foods for Work

Energy Foods for Work | CorporetteLet’s face it, ladies: no one wants to get hangry at work — and long workdays are only made worse by sugar crashes.  So a working woman’s gotta eat smart during the workdayBut what are the best foods to maintain your energy during a long day at work? Which are YOUR favorites to keep your mind and body fueled properly?  

Good strategies to follow for maintaining your energy at work are eating frequently (no skipping meals!) to keep your blood sugar at the proper level, choosing protein-rich foods and complex carbohydrates, and drinking enough water. Wise choices include nuts and nut butters, eggs, yogurt, oatmeal and other whole grains, fruits and veggies, and high-protein salads. In general below, we’ll focus on choices that are healthier than grabbing some chips from the vending machine or chocolate from the communal candy jar; eating a lot of fat and/or sugar will actually make you more tired in the long run — but if you have any high-energy favorites from the vending machine or local bodega, we’d love to hear em!

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The Best Cookware and Kitchen Appliances

best cookware for busy womenFor today’s post in our (very occasional) Home series, let’s talk about the best cookware and kitchen appliances. What is your favorite cookware to use? Is there any particular pan or kitchen device that you find you absolutely must have?

Psst: Good job, ladies — after we last discussed the best sheets and the best towels, I’m now obsessed with Garnet Hill.

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Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Women

slow cooker recipes for working womenWhen we were doing our roundup of posts to help with your resolutions, I realized it’s been too long since we had an open thread with shared crock pot recipes.  So many recipes have easy prep, easy clean up, and such a long cook time that you can start your dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, even in my singleton days — if I wasn’t planning on working late enough to get a Seamless dinner and didn’t have dinner plans, odds are good I had something brewing in the slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.  I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker to “lock me in” to healthier choices than I might make otherwise.  Shall I stop in to the fast food place? Nah — I’ve got food waiting for me in the crockpot at home.  To that end I’ve made a ton of stuff in the slow cooker that you don’t need to make in a slow cooker — pierogies, fried rice (with brown rice and/or quinoa), and meat sauce all come to mind.  I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes before (like the 5-ingredient Moroccan Chicken Lentils Stew or my super-healthy pulled pork) but I’ve pasted another one we like, Mediterranean Beef Stew (in my slow cooker right now!) below.  (Pictured.) So, ladies, please share — are you the fan of slow cooked dinners? Which are your favorite slow cooker recipes?  

For what it’s worth I almost always use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier, and although I have some fancier slow cookers, my favorite one remains an old 4.5 quart one similar to this $30 one, pictured above.  (Pro tip: just make sure the stoneware is entirely removable — I had a cheap one when I first got out of college that had the stoneware attached to the electric base and it made cleaning a total pain.) If you haven’t used a slow cooker before, note that there are a ton of recipes for vegans and meat-eaters alike — and these days a lot of recipes go well beyond canned cream of mushroom soup.  (Though, FWIW, I really like cream of mushroom soup — but I avoid cream of chicken soup like the plague.  If you get the boxed soup or boxed tomatoes it’s a bit healthier because you avoid BPA.)

Another note: cooking for the freezer has become hugely popular — people will cook double amounts or cook several recipes in one weekend in order to fill their freezer with pre-cooked meals. Another popular technique is slow cooking from the freezer — pre-assembling slow cooker meals that can just be dumped in — and then freezing those.  (I have some links in our Further Reading, below.) I don’t have a lot of experience with either technique, and I’d love to hear your experiences.   (I’ll admit I often use frozen veggies, particularly for things like chopped onions (I haaaaate chopping onions for some reason) or at the end of a recipe to bulk it up (like adding a bag of frozen cauliflower to Buffalo Chicken Pasta), but I tend to raise my eyebrows at a recipe that just has you chopping fresh vegetables and adding them to a freezer bag along with raw meat and other ingredients, without blanching them first — but maybe it just doesn’t matter in a stew or whatnot.) Oh, a lot of people are also doing things like ricing cauliflower to use with stew dishes instead of using white rice, which is something I’ve yet to try, but fits with my “the more vegetables the better” philosophy.

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Handling Business Lunches as the Only Vegetarian

work - dietary restrictionsWhat if you’re at a lunch meeting or other work event and there’s nothing you can eat as a vegetarian? What should you do, and how can you take steps to ensure you don’t find yourself in the same awkward situation again? In general, how should anyone with dietary restrictions handle a business lunch? Reader M wonders…

I went to a meeting today with a catered lunch. The options were turkey or chicken sandwiches. I am a vegetarian. This put me in the awkward position of not eating when the other four people in the room (all males of varying ages) were eating lunch. My question is: How should one deal with dietary restrictions at work or at events with work colleagues? Should I have contacted the assistant in charge of the lunch? My dietary restriction is voluntary, but there are many people out there who will literally become ill if they don’t follow certain dietary guidelines. I can usually find something, but there are the occasional times when I cannot. I also hate being an inconvenience. When I was interviewing for jobs, I actually ate dishes with meat a couple times to avoid an awkward situation or risking coming across as a picky eater.

Yikes — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been put in such a tough situation. We sort of discussed this when we talked about how to stick to your gluten-free diet at a business lunch or how to diet while working a corporate gig, but that was a while ago. What is the best way for anyone with a dietary restriction to handle a business lunch? I can’t wait to hear what the readers have to say.

I have a few ideas for how to deal with this:

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