My Top 12 Easy Food Tips & Swaps for Weight Loss — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted catherine-morgan.com)
If you are the kind of person who loves to take the time to cook and try new healthy recipes — that is great (I honestly wish I were like that). If that is you, then you are super lucky, because there are thousands and thousands of healthy eating cookbooks (and just as many of them are free on Amazon with Kindle Reading App). But, if you’re like me, and you don’t have the time or the inclination to go out and buy specific foods and ingredients to whip up exciting healthy recipes — then you are in luck.
Here are some of the ways I eat healthy without following recipes. For me it’s all about having my staple healthy foods always available so I can easily make quick and healthy meals.
My top 12 easy food tips and swaps.
1. We all know how important eating fish is. It is a high protein food that is also very low in fat and calories. My problem was that, whenever I bought costly fresh seafood, it either didn’t seem very fresh or I didn’t eat it quickly enough…so I ended up wasting a lot of money that way. Then one day, I found out that most (or all) of the so-called “fresh” seafood was merely thawed-out frozen seafood. I also found out that I could get the exact same fish still frozen, and then I could keep it frozen until the time I wanted to eat it, so I would never waste any of it. Now what I do is buy individually wrapped frozen fish (I like salmon, tilapia, cod, mahi, and shrimp), I thaw it when I am ready to use it, season it, wrap it in foil, and then cook it in the toaster oven. It is quick and easy, and it always turns out tasting wonderful.
2. I also like to buy 97-98% lean ground turkey. If I have time, I make it into patties and cook them on the grill or frying pan, and then I put some in the freezer and some in the fridge to be heated up whenever I am hungry. If I don’t have time to cook the ground meat all at once, I separate it into single servings and place into storage bags and freeze. Then I can quickly make one burger by thawing out an already portioned amount of ground turkey. Once I have my burger ready, I put it on one of those low calorie roll-thins, and top with spinach, salsa, and avocado.
3. I try to keep several low calorie frozen dinners on hand for times when I feel I need something fast, but have little time to cook. Of course, it is much healthier to avoid processed foods, but a low calorie frozen dinner is still better than fast food or other high fat/high calorie foods. These meals are also great to take to work for lunch when you don’t have time to prepare something. TIP: Whenever possible, add fresh or frozen vegetables to your frozen meal (this will make it much more filling, as well as add to the nutritional value without adding too many calories). Keep an eye out for sales on these meals, rather than paying full price.
4. Chicken breast is another easy and lean meat you can prepare ahead; keep some in the freezer and some in the refrigerator. You can do so many things with chicken breast: add to salad, heat with vegetables, make a hot or cold sandwich on a low calorie bun, or just keep bite size pieces in the fridge to munch on when you need a healthy snack. I often get my chicken breast frozen; this way I always have some in the freezer. Like I said before, one of the best tricks to eating healthy is never running out of healthy food.
5. Instant oatmeal is a quick and easy meal. You can eat it alone or with fruit, and it is basically one of the best sources of fiber you can get. It’s also something you can easily bring with you to work. TIP: Eating breakfast is the best way to get your metabolism started in the morning, and studies show that people who eat breakfast lose more weight than their breakfast-skipping counterparts.
6. Pre-washed lettuce, spinach, and other greens can come in handy if you are too busy to clean and chop it yourself. And if you are hungry, being able to make something fast can be critical. You can also buy cleaned and chopped bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and more. IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SPINACH: Most experts say that if you can’t get organic spinach, then don’t get it at all (chemicals and pesticides make most spinach unhealthier for you than healthy, so the benefits of eating it don’t outweigh the risks). I’ve been buying organic spinach from my grocery store, and it is a bit more costly, but worth it.
7. I like to buy fresh and frozen vegetables that come in microwavable bags. This way, they can be quickly added to any meal with very little effort. You can also get frozen rice that cooks in just a few minutes in the microwave. TIP: Keep an eye out for sales; I like to stock up when they are buy one, get one free.
8. What about bread, pasta, rice? On many diets, you are encouraged to eat little or none of these foods, but as long as you are keeping track of your calories, these carbs can be eaten in moderation as part of your healthy diet. However, you NEVER want to eat the “white” version of these foods. Don’t eat white bread; find a whole wheat bread. Don’t eat regular pasta; take some time to acquire a taste for whole wheat pasta.
9. Mrs. Dash seasonings have many flavors, and they are all salt-free. Using these specially combined seasonings is the easiest way to add a wonderful flavor to your food. My favorite is Hot & Spicy (I add it to just about every meat and fish I cook). And, if you Google “Mrs. Dash.” you will find an unlimited number of recipes.
10. If you haven’t already, try some of the Laughing Cow spreads. They are very low in calories and fat, and can really enhance a plain sandwich that you might have previously used mayo or cheese on. There are at least a half a dozen different flavors to choose from.
11. We all know that salad dressing can quickly add to your calorie and fat intake. Always buy light dressings…and if you can, water them down even more. I try to keep an empty bottle or two, and then make my own dilution depending on the dressing. You may be surprised at how quickly you begin to enjoy the watered-down versions of your favorite dressings. TIP: When you are out at a restaurant, you can discretely dilute your dressing by using lemon wedges.
12. Avocado is a great way to add healthy fat and omega-3s to your salads and sandwiches. The problem is that avocados are often expensive, are hard to peel, and go brown quickly. Instead of using avocados, I have been buying fresh guacamole I find in the produce section…the one I buy is 95% avocado. It’s just another way you can get the benefits of a healthy food without the time-consuming preparation.
Update: If you are a South Beach Diet Fan, you have to check out Kalyn’s Kitchen (she has the best healthy recipes around).
So, there you have it. I hope you find these tips and swaps helpful. Do you have any personal food swaps or tips for losing weight? If so, please share them with us in comments.
**If you like these tips, you will love my new book (coming in November) Love the Diet, Lose the Fat. For a pre-release offer to get the book for $1, go to the Love the Diet website and sign-up with just your email address.