Cut the Calories Not the Taste – Quick Tips to Healthier Eating

25 Quick Tips

It’s the little things that can make all the difference, and the little things can be easy to change without feeling taste deprived.

Here are 25 quick tips that will help you diet smarter not harder. By making small tweaks to your food choices you don’t have to sacrifice flavor, but you can cut a calories, fats, and sugar to help slim down your waistline. Increase your vegetables and whole grains, but decrease the fat, salt and sugar. If you’re really serious about changing your family’s diet, clip this page and post it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder for everyone.

INCREASING VEGETABLES

Learn to properly steam vegetables.

Decrease the meat and increase the vegetables called for in stews and casseroles.

Add grated carrots, zucchini or cabbage to chili and meatloaf.

Offer washed and trimmed carrot and celery sticks for snacking.

Add finely grated carrots, pumpkin, or zucchini to baked breads and cakes.

INCREASING WHOLE GRAINS

Substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached white flour when you bake.

Top casseroles with wheat germ or whole-wheat bread crumbs.

Serve bran-based cereals, or those made from shredded wheat.

Serve imaginative whole-grain side dishes (bulgur, kasha, etc.) instead of egg noodles.

Offer crackers and corn chips containing whole grains.

REDUCING FAT

Cook with less fat by using non-stick skillets.

Blot all fried meats on paper towels.

Add a spoon of water or broth as needed instead of more fat when sautéing onions and vegetables.

Substitute low-fat yogurt for mayonnaise.

Substitute ground turkey for ground beef.

REDUCING SALT

Substitute lemon juice or herbs for salt when cooking pasta or grains.

Avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce.

Substitute garlic or onion powder for garlic or onion salt.

Avoid using products that contain monosodium glutamate.

Use unsalted or low-salt vegetable broths and products.

REDUCING SUGAR

Choose canned fruits packed in water instead of heavy syrup.

Use only fresh-frozen fruit without added sugar if fresh is unavailable.

Cut the sugar called for in most recipes by one-third to one-half.

Sweeten waffles and quick breads with cinnamon and vanilla or almond extracts.

Add pureed banana to baked goods and reduce the sugar or applesauce to reduce the fat (oil/butter)

 

October – Think Popping Popcorn!

Yep, October is also popping popcorn month. Did you know popcorn counts as a whole grain? One serving of whole grains equals three cups of popcorn.

Popcorn is the only type of corn that pops. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. When harvested, popcorn is dried so that it contains between 13.5-14% moisture, the amount it needs to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface, the hull, which has just the right thickness to allow it to burst open when enough pressure builds inside.

As the kernel heats up, the water expands, creates steam, and cooks the starch inside, turning it into a liquid mass. Pressure builds inside and finally it reaches a point that breaks the hull open. The contents inflate and spill out, cooling immediately and forming the shape we know and love.

Here is a super cool web site all about popcorn: http://www.popcorn.org/. You can watch popcorn popping in super slow motion at the Popcorn Board’s Web site And check out more fun facts, trivia and recipes while you’re there!

It’s Whole Grain Month-Everything You Need To Know About Whole Grains

 

September is whole grain month, so what better time to start getting more grains into your diet.

Back in the day… way back, the grains people ate came straight from the stalk, getting a carbohydrate package rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes, and hundreds of other phytochemicals. Even after grinding grain became popular, people still got all of the goodness that grains pack.

Whole grains have a fibrous outer layer called bran that protects the inside of the kernel. The interior contains mostly the starchy stuff which provides stored energy for the germ, and its home to the seed’s reproductive kernel. The germ is rich in vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated oils.

Fast forward to the invention of roller mills: Milling strips away the bran and germ, making the grain easier to chew, easier to digest, and easier to keep without refrigeration, and refining wheat creates the fluffy flour that makes light, airy breads and pastries. But there’s a nutritional price to be paid, as the process strips away more than half of wheat’s B vitamins, 90 percent of the vitamin E, and virtually all of the fiber.

There is a buzz around whole grains these days— they have a whole month just for themselves for goodness sakes, as researchers have begun to look more closely at carbohydrates and health. The quality of the carbohydrates (eating whole grains) is connected to better health.

Whole grains don’t contain a magical nutrient that fights disease and improves health, but it’s the entire package, elements intact and working together, that’s important.

Whole grains have been linked to lowering the risk of all sorts of health conditions including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and digestive issues.

The bran and fiber in whole grains make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches so they can be utilized at a slower rate instead of being broken down too quickly. The soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol, whereas the insoluble fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract. Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) found in whole grains may protect against some cancers, as well as the essential minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese. These minerals may also help reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes. And then there are the hundreds of substances that haven’t yet been identified, some or many of which may play as-yet-undiscovered roles in health. Probably one of the best benefits is that it is a great alternative to any type of white flour, which we all know is public enemy number one.

Not sure how to get some extra grains in your diet. Here is a list of some things to try.

•Whole wheat berries, whole wheat bulgur, whole wheat couscous and other strains of wheat such as kamut and spelt

•Brown rice (including quick-cooking brown rice)

•Oats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats (including quick cooking and instant oatmeal)

•Whole rye

•Hulled barley (pot, scotch, and pearled barley often have much of their bran removed)

•Millet

•Buckwheat, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), wild rice, and amaranth are considered whole grains even though botanically they are not in the grain family of plants

 

Cut Calories – Tips To Tweak Your Menu

The littlest swaps or tweaks can make a big difference. There are all sorts of ways to cut calories here and there, but here are some of my favorite food swaps you can make to cut 150 calories from your menu.

1. Use mustard instead of mayo on sandwiches. There are so many different kinds of mustards that can add incredible flavor to any sandwich.

2. Buy 6-inch low-carb, whole-wheat tortillas instead of the 10-inch flour ones. Not only will you lose calories, but you’ll also get four times the fiber!

 3. Avoid soda and juice and drink water instead (or unsweetened tea). One can of regular soda contains about 140 calories  Surprisingly a glass of juice contains almost as many calories, and like soda contains mostly sugar.

4. If you need a potato fix, try a baked potato instead of french fries. Potatoes are not the enemy, but don’t go crazy with butter and sour cream.

5. Keep 100-calorie popcorn snack packs on hand to eat instead of a bag of chips from the vending machine.

6. Skip the grande Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks and opt for a small latte with skim milk instead.  Save that coffee dessert for a cheat day.

7. Trade in a normal bagel for a toasted whole-wheat English muffin.

8. Load your pasta with veggies to cut calories but not bulk. Instead of two cups of pasta, try one cup of whole-wheat pasta and one cup of cooked veggies. (Remember to cook whole-wheat pasta longer for the best taste).

Healthy Claims on Pre-Packaged Foods: Buyer Beware

Does adding vitamin C to cocaine make it healthy? Of course not!

Just like adding “whole grains” to Lucky Charms cereal and Pop Tarts does not make them healthy.

Just like adding omega 3’s to Country Crock does not make it healthy.

Just like adding canola oil to popcorn or French fries does not make them healthy.

Companies often reformulate some of their product slightly so they can be considered “better for you”, but in essence they will still contain all the same crap as before. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lucky Charms and French fries, but they can’t be considered healthy or even close to it, even when I read that whole grains have been added or canola oil was used. If I eat Lucky Charms, it is on my cheat day. Same goes for French fries.

Sometimes we need convenience over quality. I am definitely guilty of this. When we are shopping for the pre-packaged or processed stuff, the labeling and marketing can be overwhelming, and even a bit deceiving. When you really need that convenience item, it is easier to justify buying it when it says No Trans Fats, or Whole Grains, or Calcium Enriched, etc. When you really want a “snack” it is also easier to justify it when the label says enriched with Omega 3’s, Made from Whole Grains, etc.

Some people really believe that these additions like Whole Grains, Omega 3’s (or even subtractions like NO Trans Fats) make the food healthy. I know a few of these people. So for those people, it is not your fault… you don’t know what you don’t know. You have been bamboozled by advertising. So I return to the analogy – Does adding vitamin C to cocaine make it healthy?

I am certainly not saying to never buy processed or pre-packaged foods. We can’t live without them (at least I can’t). So for those of you who are justifying buying pre-packages stuff, recognize that you are justifying, and don’t deny that you are making a poor food choice. For those of you who don’t know, now you do know. Pre-packaged or processed food is not healthy… even if the packaging makes you think it is.

Just like with most things, there are choices and then there are better choices. So when you need that pre-packaged convenience, look for products from Odwalla, Morningstar, Health Valley, Boca, and my favorite is Kashi. These are the ones I look for when I need a pre-packaged choice.

Still, Buyer Beware.  Just because you choose a product from a company that has a healthy reputation, you must read the label no matter what.

As I was looking online for general nutritional info, I came across a blip that said Kashi owned by Kellog. This can’t be right, I thought. I must have misread it. I googled it and found that many of my favorites are owned by major, familiar corporations.

Here are a few examples of the “healthy, organic” industry structure.

• Heinz owns Hain, Breadshop, Arrowhead Mills, Garden of Eatin’, Farm Foods, Imagine Rice and Soy Dream, Casbah, Health Valley, DeBoles, Nile Spice, Celestial Seasonings, Westbrae, Westsoy, Little Bear, Walnut Acres, Shari Ann’s, Mountain Sun, Millina’s Finest, etc.

• Kraft owns Boca Foods and Back to Nature.

• Coca-Cola owns Odwalla.

• Pepsi owns Naked Juice.

• Hershey Foods owns Dagoba.

• M&M Mars owns Seeds of Change

• Kellog owns Kashi and Morningstar Farms

• General Mills owns Cascadian Farm

• ConAgra owns Lightlife

I will still buy Kashi, Odwalla, Boca, and Morningstar when I need a specific item, but I am going to start reading the labels on these choices as carefully as I read the labels on the bagel bites I buy for the kids. Knowledge is always a good thing.

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