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Comfort food and books for comfort

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Christina Stock Photo The original recipe from my grandmother (Oma) Else Schreiter originated in the state of Silesia.

Keeping your resolutions, or rather, getting a hobby

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Before I start, I want to congratulate you if you are still keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Statistically speaking, 85 percent of those who made such a promise to themselves, give up two weeks after Jan. 1. If you want to lose a considerable amount of weight, don’t do it alone. A doctor is necessary to regularly check that you are not hurting your organs, bones and brain.

I was only once on such a doctor-supervised diet and exercise program: when I was away from home for the first time, studying art in Normandy for a year. Bad idea, to combine homesickness with French pastry bakeries. I gained 65 pounds in half a year and my poor mother almost fainted when she visited me. Together with a local doctor, I lost all those pounds in the following half year and it was no fun.

I reached my mark when I returned to Germany and complained to my doctor there that I could not lose more. He gave me the best advice that I want to share with you today:

“Each person is different. We all are the same, but we’re not. It’s like with dogs. You have the dachshund, the chihuahua, the greyhound and St. Bernhard — and you, young lady, are not a chihuahua,” Doctor Peter von Seck said. “You were made for icy regions and you can survive on next to nothing, once you got your corps weight.”

You can tell, German doctors don’t have a refined bedside manner, but I got the point and my dieting was over. My weight has not fluctuated a lot since then (I was 21).

However, after Christmas and splurging on cookies and chocolate, I did gain a couple of pounds that I wanted to get rid of and my doctor gave me some good tips, which might help you, too — as I said, this only works for a couple of pounds, not for medical reasons or to lose a lot of weight.

Do you really know if you are hungry? In our modern society, more people eat out of habit and not because they are hungry. Others mistake being thirsty for being hungry. The solution is easier than you think.

Before you eat, drink a tall glass of water and wait 15 minutes. Then, eat an apple and wait another 15 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry, go ahead and eat something of more substance.

Another delicious trick to not eat too much, is to eat stews and soups. If you work, you can cook on your off day and freeze your soup in portions. Don’t cook any soups that are loaded with cheese and cream and have higher calorie content.

One of my favorite dishes is kohlrabi stew like my Oma Else used to make. Kohlrabi is a root vegetable that you can get occasionally in town during the cold months. You can replace it with parsnips.

Oma Else’s Silesia kohlrabi soup

Ingredients (serves 6, or for one person, a week):

4 small young (if possible) kohlrabi roots with leaves, chopped

4 potatoes roughly the size of the kohlrabi, chopped

1 regular onion, chopped

1 cup of carrots, chopped

4 cups of beef broth

2 cups of chicken broth

Salt, white pepper

3 tablespoons of dried marjoram — or one box of fresh marjoram

1 clove garlic, chopped or whole

1 ring of smoked sausage (it can be any sausage, I used a flavorful sausage that is not greasy), cut into slices.

Recipe:

Add all ingredients into a large pot with just enough water that the vegetables float (my grandmother always said that veggies have to swim).

Add the broth to the water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat about 20 minutes until the veggies still have a “bite.” Put the heat on low and add the sausage slices and let simmer.

The sausage will add the typical flavor and more salt, so be careful with seasoning. I add a lot of pepper because I like it spicy.

Using a lean sausage, calories per serving are about 300, which is a regular soup plate.

Kohlrabi has huge health benefits: An extremely high amount of Vitamin C and all of the B Vitamins. Kohlrabi has a lot of minerals as well and is known since medieval times to strengthen the immune system. It helps to concentrate and stimulates the body to use oxygen better. Potatoes have the most vitamins in and right under the skin, such as Vitamin C, Vitamins B1 and B2, Niacin, Vitamin B6, also minerals such as magnesium (strengthens the heart and helps against muscle cramps when you are working out), calcium, phosphorus and calcium. Germany never lost the connection to natural remedies. This soup is perfect to lose weight without side-effects.

If you want more calories, you can add liquid heavy cream to it, adjust the salt/pepper seasonings accordingly.

Now to the books. I found out in my 20s that I often eat unhealthily if I am stressed or bored. While I tried to avoid stress, I could actively do something against boredom. Finding a hobby. I started knitting in front of the television — it kept my fingers busy. Then I started stitching and crocheting. It didn’t matter what I did, even if I was really bad at it, but it kept my fingers busy and distracted my tummy.

We are lucky to have a great public library. Go on down, become a member and find a hobby that suits you.

I still have a variety of hobbies — depending on the time I have — including a very large one: my 1947 house I am paying off. There is always something to do, including getting the ball out of my yard and throwing it back over the fence to my neighbor’s children.

If you are able to, join our bird watcher group and start hunting — with a book and camera — our feathery treasures.

And, of course, cooking is fun, too. Learn new recipes and share with your neighbors and friends — sharing saves a lot of calories.

Stay healthy and happy, even if you didn’t manage to keep your resolutions, there is always next year.