>You know, even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, eating healthier is never a bad thing. It’s not like a doctor is ever going to look at you and say, “you need to eat more junk food, and add some trans fats to your diet, please.” So I am going to share with you, my fantabulous readers, ways that *I* try to make our favorite foods healthier.
1. We love popcorn in our house. I mean love. You want to see my kids behave like perfect angels and clean every toy in this house up within 3 minutes? Offer popcorn!! I mean it!! The way we make our popcorn healthier is to pop it on the stovetop, using 1 TBSP olive oil, and by not adding any butter. I do realize many people love butter on their popcorn- my husband included- but the kids and I eat our popcorn “nudie.” We have been known on occasion, to sprinkle a tiny bit of parmesean cheese onto the popcorn- its adding the saltiness most of us crave without a lot of calories and fat, and still packs a big flavor punch.
2. When a recipe calls for butter, use extra virgin olive oil. (EVOO if you are a Rachael Ray fan!). This is such a simple thing and it goes a long way. We really don’t do much cooking with butter anymore at all.
3. Add fiber. Gone are the days when having to add fiber to your diet meant nasty- granule filled drinks. Ick. Adding fiber to your diet is really quite simple- and these days, tasty- and since fiber fills you up, keeps you from filling up on less desirable foods. We only buy whole grain bread products- they typically have a higher fiber content.
4. Don’t buy Wonder Bread (I’m sorry, people of WonderBread- I love your flavor, and I will always cherish my memories of rolling slices of WonderBread into balls for an afternoon snack as a kid, but you don’t offer much in the way of nutritional value and you aren’t welcome in my house anymore)- or plain old white bread. There just isn’t any nutritional benefit and more often than not, white breads have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. Like sandwiches? Buy a whole grain. Our family favorite is Arnold’s Honey Wheat Bread. No HCFS and whole grains- and delicious. Sandwiches are frequently on our lunch menu at our house and I feel like this helps to provide just a little more nutrition for the kids when we have sandwiches.
5. Like Mexican food? I do. One of my top favorites, for sure. It’s also really easy to add a billion calories to Mexican foods if you aren’t careful!! This is one of my family’s favorite recipes (also low-sodium if you read my Mrs. Dash post)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin (slice it horizontally)
1 TBSP Taco or Fajita seasoning (we make our own or buy a low sodium and no MSG brand- we really like Lysander’s).
Low salt Tortilla chips (we like blue corn because, well, its fun to have blue stuff on dinner food!)
Low Fat cheese (your choice) – shredded
Salsa- your choice
Oven to 350
Lay chicken breasts into a pan, sprinkle a bit of the seasoning on top. Take your salsa and spread atop each piece of chicken. Bake 20 min. Take pan out, crinkle up a few of the tortilla chips and sprinkle atop all of the chicken (adds lots of crunch and flavor without having a lot of chips!) and then sprinkle a bit of cheese on top of the chips. Bake 5 more minutes. We usually have this with corn on the cob and salad. Easy, simple, and pretty healthy, especially if you have fresh-from-the-garden salsa ingredients (read: August/Early September here in CT).
6. In keeping with number 5, let’s talk Nachos. Another family favorite. What’s not to love about nachos? Although, if you make nachos the way we used to, there’s a lot you shouldn’t be eating. Want meat on your nachos? Use ground turkey. Buy the lowest fat content beef you can find, if you can’t stand ground turkey. (My husband SWEARS he hates ground turkey but the last 3 times we made nachos, he gobbled them up. The right seasoning makes a world of difference!! The last 3 batches were made with ground turkey!! Shhhhh, don’t tell). Can’t stand nachos without sour cream? Buy low fat or fat free. Same with cheese. Heaping on the veggies will also fill you up more, plus add more veggie servings into your diet!!
7. Buy lower fat. I’m not going to say “buy non-fat” because honestly, there IS a difference in taste and a lot of people cannot stand the taste (or lack of taste?) of fat-free products. So, compromise. There is normally a lower-fat option for almost everything out there, in terms of dairy products at least. This goes a long way.
8. Be stingy with portions of fatty foods. Love sour cream? Ok, then have some. Just have less. Instead of using 1/2 cup on your nachos, but the lower fat, and use 1/3 cup. Little steps like this can add up quickly.
9. Don’t smother your salad in dressing. Use dressing as a dip. By dip I mean take your fork, dip it into your dressing, and then put salad on the fork. Same flavor, just a fraction of the calories!! A salad is a wonderful and healthy meal option but when you dump full fat dressing all over it, you’ve really just undone all of the healthy-ness of that salad. (A big shout out to Lucy the Weight Watchers leader for that tip, learned years ago and practiced every time I eat salad even now!!)
10. Love ice cream??Ice cream sandwiches? (Again, thanks to Lucy for this). Buy the lower fat variety. OR, save yourself a ton of calories (and money!!) and buy some low-fat graham crackers and a tub of low-fat cool-whip topping. Spread the cool whip on your grahams and make them into ‘sandwiches’ and pop into the freezer. Tastes a lot like an ice cream sandwich just with far, far less calories and fat content. Plus, your sweet tooth will love you and sing you love songs. These are really great with chocolate graham crackers if you can find the low fat kind!
There are so many ways to make your favorite foods healthier. Love steak? Trim the fat around the edges before cooking. Use butter sparingly, if at all. Adding more veggies will fill you up, make your meals healthier, and give you a range of flavors to enjoy in place of that butter.
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