Almost everyone that I have ever met has, at one time or another tried to lose weight. And, most people agree that the enemy of weight loss is the ‘ever present’
calories in our food. Yet eating healthy foods is not only a necessity but it is also one of life’s most pleasurable pastimes. So, how do we continue to eat the foods we love and still maintain the weight we want? While there is no simple answer, low calorie substitutes are still a painless way to reduce calories. You can now prepare delicious meals for yourself and your family and still cut back on calories. Here are some substitutes that could help you choose to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.
The calories in dairy products come primarily from fat, and whole milk is loaded with calories. So, use fat-free products or reduced fat dairy products to eliminate the excess calories. When your recipe calls for dairy products there are
several substitutes that reduce the calorie intake. For example, evaporated fat-free (skim) orreduced-fat (2%) milk has 25 calories less than whole milk, and can be substituted for evaporated whole milk. Low-fat (1%) has 42 calories less than whole milk. Therefore, reduced-fat (2%), or fat-free (skim) milk can be substituted for whole milk. Imitation whipped cream, made with fat-free [skim] milk, can be used instead of whipped cream. Let 1 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt stand in for sour cream in your recipe and save a whopping 338 calories. Use “light” cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese, and
reduced-calorie cheese, low-calorie processed cheeses, fat-free cheese etc. instead of regular cheese such as cheddar, Swiss, jack.
Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) cottage cheese, Part-skim milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, and Part-skim milk ricotta cheese are great for replacing regular cottage cheese, whole milk mozzarella cheese, and whole milk ricotta cheese respectively. And, use low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%) milk, or fat-free dry milk powder in place of ½ and ½ or whole creamer (liquid or powder). If you substitute evaporated milk or half-and-half for heavy creams in sauces and casseroles you could cut the calorie intake by 50%.
Instead of using Ramen noodles for your pasta recipes, use rice or spaghetti
noodles or macaroni, and substitute marinara sauce for alfredo. For your favorite cheesy pasta, substitute vegetables (primavera) for the cheese sauce, and when making lasagna replace every other layer of pasta with slices of zucchini or eggplant. This could reduce the calorie intake from 210 calories in 3 slices of pasta to 20 calories. Wild rice has 18 calories less per cup than regular rice, and is an awesome substitute for regular white rice. Also, wild rice has more fiber and nutritional value than white rice. Wild rice retains its texture even when fully cooked and can hold up well in soups and casseroles. This texture enhances your chewing
pleasure. Whole grain foods are healthier for you, because they bring more fiber to your diet. They can save you calories, too. Switch to reduced-calorie whole wheat bread. Whole wheat breads have 21 calories less per slice than regular white breads and whole wheat pasta has 8 calories per cup less than regular pasta. Substitute bran flakes, crispy rice, oatmeal or grits for regular granola.
Chopped mushrooms can take the place of ground beef or Italian sausage in spaghetti sauce. Use thick-sliced mushrooms in place of bacon and pancetta in pasta carbonara. If you substitute 1 cup (99 grams) of mushrooms for 4 ounces (113 grams) of meat, you will save 250 calories for ground beef, and 314 calories for ground pork. As an entrée, a 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of roasted turkey breast has about half the
calories of a 4-ounce (113-gram) lean, center-cut pork chop. The difference in
calories between whole eggs and egg whites is also astounding. You can make most dishes using only egg whites. You’ll need to use twice as many — two egg whites instead of one whole egg –– but you’ll save about 40 calories overall. Vegetarian sausages made with tofu or turkey sausages are satisfying substitutes for any regular sausage.
Instead of using regular margarine or butter, use light spread margarine, diet margarine, or whipped butter. Instead of regular mayonnaise use diet mayonnaise or mustard, and for regular salad dressing use reduced-calorie or fat-free salad
dressings, lemon juice, or plain, herb flavored, or wine vinegar. Try jelly, jam, or honey on bread or toast in place of butter or margarine on toast or bread. And, instead of oils, shortening, or lard, use nonstick cooking spray for stir-frying or sautéing.
When a baking recipe calls for vegetable oil, use unsweetened applesauce instead. It provides the moisture necessary to bind your ingredients together and gives your baked goods a light, fruity taste. Look at the calories you will save. 1/2 cup of
vegetable oil has 970 calories, 1/2 cup of canola oil has 964 calories, but 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce has only 53 calories.
You can still satisfy the sweet-tooth cravings by using angel food cake, white cake, or gingerbread instead of pound, chocolate, or yellow cakes. Reduced-fat or fat-free cookies such as graham crackers, ginger snaps, and fig bars, are a great substitute for
regular cookies. Use air-popped or light microwave popcorn, fruits, and vegetables in place of nuts. And, try frozen yogurt, frozen fruit, or chocolate pudding bars in place of ice cream cones or bar, custards, or puddings made with whole milk. Sorbet, sherbet, low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt, or fat-free ice cream can be used instead of regular ice-cream.
If losing weight and healthy eating is your goal, consider making some of these changes into your regular menu. You might want to make changes gradually so that your family does not feel deprived. Keep in mind though, that in order to lose the weight you must lower your calorie intake. This means that you must maintain or lower the quantity of food portions that you normally eat. In the end however, you will be happy to see the pounds roll off of yourself and your family.
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