It’s Top 10 time again and today I’m going to give you some simple tips that you can use to make healthier versions of the foods you love to eat. Believe it or not, you can drastically reduce the calories and fat within each meal by making just a few tweaks when preparing your meals.
Check these out…
1. Use A Non Stick Pan – I know you’ve heard this before but guess what? Everyone I know that has one still uses oil or spray in it! Sound like you? A great non-stick pan doesn’t need anything to prevent food from adhering to it. And no, I’m not talking about the $5 special pans, but a really good one from a top brand. While they cost a fair bit, their value is priceless. Using oil in a pan can add up to 200 calories, so if you can, skip it.
2. Use Healthier Binders–Many baked goods require oil, or butter for flavor and eggs to also bind the mixture together. You can substitute applesauce, avocado, even crushed beans in place of these more fattening ingredients. Bean brownies anyone? They’re actually really great!
3. Mix Flour With Protein Powder- Soy protein powder has a consistency very much like that of flour making it a great alternative to all those empty carbohydrates. I’ve breaded and baked chicken with it, made protein bread, and even used it as a batter dip. And I’ve used whey protein powder in various dessert recipes for flavor and also in place of traditional flour. You can also mix and match, but either way you’ll be making a better, more nutritious meal with this substitution.
4. Choose The Right Oil - Many people used to be under the impression that heating oil in a pan when sautéing ruined the oil’s properties, making it as nutritionally useless as butter. But we now know this to be not true. In your recipes, stick with the healthier oils like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Peanut and Sun/Safflower varieties. They each have a unique flavor and are a great source of healthy fat, plus they have antioxidant properties to boost your health. Instead of using them in the pan, spray them on the food when done for added flavor. Seriously, when was the last time you tried a different variety of oil?
5. Use Bulky Foods – This is a great tip- in order to make meals bigger and more satisfying use foods that are high in bulk, but low in calories. For instance, when I make a protein pasta dish, I use only one serving of pasta but I add broccoli florets, colored peppers, cauliflower, and sometimes green beans along with chicken. The veggies fill me up and add flavor, texture, size, and above all provide great nutrition with minimal calories. In this rare instance, bulky is a good thing.
6. Try Smart Balance- I’m not affiliated with this company but I love their products. They’ve got healthy peanut butter, omega fat enriched butter spread, even mayonnaise and protein pastas that I use daily on, and in, various foods. Now there are other brands of course, but the point is in recipes or dishes that call for these items there are now better and healthier choices. There simply is no reason to use old school junk in your food.
7. Spice it Up! – The traditional way of cooking included using a fair amount of salt in recipes for flavor but we already eat too much sodium as evidenced by our high blood pressure statistics. Salt is known as a flavor enhancer but for me it shows a lack of imagination. With a great spice rack you can truly rev up many dishes and toss the salt over your shoulder for good luck. Use of thyme, various peppers, chili powder, dill, saffron and some others should be part of your armory!
8. Try Agave Nectar- Many recipes call for sugar and it’s not just desserts. Some sauces, meat recipes, and other meals have sugar found in them. I use Agave nectar in place of table sugar because it’s natural and is lower on the glycemic index (the rate at which a food makes your blood sugar rise) While it contains more calories than traditional sugar, it’s sweeter so you can use less. And it’s minimally processed, diabetic and vegan friendly so everyone is happy!
9. Use A Bread Substitute – This isn’t cooking per se but since I’m a sandwich lover I’m including this one. The fact is I’m not a bread lover so I use Romaine, Boston, and Iceberg lettuce leaves to make sandwiches in place of the bread. You know what? I actually like it better, especially when I use a few leaves on both sides – it gets super crunchy and more importantly reduces a significant amount of carbohydrate calories from the bread. This leaves more room for a piece of fruit or maybe a Latte’
10. Check Portion Sizes – This is more of a psychological tip than a cooking one. I know when I make something delicious, if I make to much, guess what – I eat a lot more than I should. While the notion of left overs is noble, it’s been my experience that the food will never make it to daybreak. Come on, how many of you have wrapped food up, only to be in the fridge an hour later eating more? If you take the time to make the right number of servings, the temptation to overeat will be greatly reduced.
But what do you think of my suggestions? Do you have any to add of your own? I’d love to hear them…
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