September 2, 2010

Ten Ways to Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier

I don’t know how it happened. Well, actually I do. Since the birth of my son last year that remaining layer of baby fat has refused to disappear, and I haven’t done much to help show it the door. It can be so frustrating to battle those pounds and also balance a busy life as a wife and mother. I’ve watched in dismay as the scale has gone from five to ten to now thirty pounds above my healthy weight goal. There are days I just want to throw in the towel, go grab a tub of cookie dough from the fridge, and just resign myself to the fact that things are never going to change.  But I do have the power to make a difference. It’s not impossible to make healthy changes to my diet without forever surrendering my favorite treats and dishes. It’s all about healthy compromise. I know if I take these tips seriously, I will begin to see the change I’m so desperately looking for.  Here are my ten tips for making my food healthier.

  1. Select the proper portion size. If “Location, Location, Location” is the mantra for a good real estate investment, then “Portion, Portion, Portion” is a key to a good healthy weight. I can say with complete honesty that I often eat more than I need to in one sitting. Sometimes, it’s because it tastes good and for some reason I think that the tastiness of the food will disappear if I don’t cram it all into my face in one sitting. I forget that proper portion sizes mean that perhaps my favorite restaurant meal can feed me for two or three meals instead of just one. I can still enjoy tasty things when they are eaten in the proper amounts. 
  2. Season with herbs and spices instead of salt and butter. I’m guilty here. I was raised in the south. We are notorious for our oh so tasty, but not so good for you, buttery delights. Just ask Paula Dean. However, I am learning that you can add a wide variety of flavors to foods by taking advantage of fresh herbs and spices. Try a new curry or sprinkle some rosemary and garlic on your chicken breast. You’ll be surprised at the wide assortment of flavors you can get for a minimal amount of calories. 
  3. Steam your veggies. Maybe you thought steam was only good for facials and cleaning. Did you know that steaming your vegetables is a great way to prepare your side dishes? There are a wide variety of steamers on the market. Everything from microwavable Ziploc bags to high tech electric contraptions. The key is to cook your vegetables in such a way that they maintain the highest level of nutrients. Steaming allows you to enjoy crisp tasty veggies, a great low cal alternative to high fat sides.
  4. Use Applesauce instead of oil when baking a cake. You can cut out some of the extra fat and calories and you add in an extra dose of fruit. It’s a pretty good trade off. The cake still remains tasty and moist. Nobody has to know your secret. 
  5.  Sneak some veggies in while your kids aren’t looking. Fortunately, my one-year-old is not old enough to verbally protest the peas I put on his plate (for now he just throws them on the floor), but I know a day is coming when vegetables become the evil enemy, and I become the evil tyrant for forcing them to be eaten. There are clever ways to sneak veggies into your diet without your kids (or husband) noticing. Cookbooks like Deceptively Delicious offer tips to sneak those extra vitamins and minerals into favorites like chicken nuggets and brownies.  
  6. Make smoothies instead of milkshakes. I enjoy the cool tastiness of a milkshake or malt, but I’m often shocked into reality when I notice how calorie-laden they are. Fruit smoothies mimic the cold, refreshing nature of milkshake, while supplying vitamins and minerals instead of guilt.  
  7. Cut back on the cheese. Now to a cheese lover like me, this statement is almost blasphemous. In my opinion cheese is the ambrosia of the gods. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of overkill, but it is very good. I’m learning that I can still enjoy the flavor of cheese without overloading my plate with it. A few sprinkles on top of a taco are sufficient. I don’t have to turn my taco into a cheese volcano.   
  8. Bake don’t fry. Yeah, yeah. You love your fried chicken, your French fries, and your deep fried funnel cakes. Don’t we all. But there are some great recipes online and in cookbooks for making mock friend chicken and oven backed fries. You can get a tasty crispy chicken by coating the breast in panko bread crumbs or cornflakes. You can even make healthy sweet potato fries in your oven.
  9. Make an egg white omelet instead of using the whole egg. It may take a few extra eggs, but you can get the tasty protein of an egg while limiting cholesterol. Some recipes even offer tips on cooking with egg whites or egg substitutes. 
  10. Enjoy a few vegetarian meals. When I got married I learned that it’s not a meal unless it includes meat. Until that point I was content with the occasional bowl of rice and veggies, or plain pasta with olives and tomatoes. I’ve learned that removing the meat from a few meals helps cut back on the fat and calories, but if, like in my family, cutting out meat is not an option,  I can substitute lean healthier meats like chicken and fish into my diet. I often use ground turkey instead of ground beef in dishes like tacos, spaghetti, and soups. It’s hard to tell the difference when it’s covered in spices and sauces.
It’s hard to change your diet overnight, but there are a few simple steps you can take to help create a healthier you (without eliminating flavor and taste).


“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and WeightWatchers SmartOnes blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting! I love hearing from you!