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5 Common diet pitfalls & recipes that save the day

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

Smart diet Food strategies

Sneaky weight gain, hair loss, just plain feeling crummy –- all common diet side effects everyone whose ever vowed to fit into too-tight jeans know all too well. Avoid these diet killers and kiss that extra junk in your trunk goodbye with these balanced, low-calorie recipes you can whip together in a snap.


1. Problem: Sneaky pounds

If you've been on your diet for over 30 days and the numbers on the scale are rising along with your pants size, it could be time to shift your focus from the scale to the food you're eating.

food fix: Keep track

Keep a food journal and figure out exactly where you're going wrong. Work vending machine, anyone? Mocha-venti-frappa-cuppa-calories? Avoid binges and cravings by cooking satisfying, nutritious, low-calorie, meals that are within the recommended daily calorie and fat intake, like this balanced 500-calorie meal.

Seared Steaks with Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola
Serves 4 (338 calories/16 grams of fat, 5 g saturated fat, per serving)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 large onions, sliced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin, (filet mignon) or sirloin steak, 1-1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 steaks
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, or blue cheese

Directions:
1.  Sauté onions and brown sugar until the onions are very tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

2.  Add broth, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the liquid has almost evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more.

3.  Transfer the onions to a bowl; cover to keep warm. Clean and dry the pan.

4.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper on both sides of each steak.

5.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

6.  Top with cheese, cover and cook until cheese is melted and the steaks are cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare.

7.  Serve the steaks with the caramelized onions.

Serve with:
½ cup Polenta (74 calories)
1 cup asparagus drizzled with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (80 calories)

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