Give your favorite fatty foods and drinks a makeover and turn them into diet-friendly mealsBy: Stephanie Breakstone
Calorie-conscious eating doesn't mean boring eating. And it definitely doesn't mean forgoing foods you love. In fact, with simple “food flips,” everything you already eat can have a place in a healthy lifestyle.
So don't ditch your favorite fare. Simply replace high-calorie and unhealthy ingredients with good-for-you items that taste just as delicious. Here's how to make over some of fall's most popular dishes. You'll be amazed how easy it is to lose weight without giving up taste or satisfaction—ever.
Flip out: Bottled Caesar dressing
Flip in: Simple homemade Caesar dressing
Calorie savings: 67
Whisk it! In small bowl, whisk together 1/4 c pasteurized egg substitute; 1 clove garlic, minced; 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste; 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard; 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce; and 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. Slowly add 2 Tbsp olive oil in a steady stream, whisking until combined. Stir in 1/4 c fresh Parmesan. Toss 8 c coarsely torn romaine lettuce with dressing and 1/2 c croutons. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Caesar salad is famously fattening, and it's all the dressing's fault. Each 2-tablespoon portion of prepackaged Caesar dressing can contain 170 calories and 18 g of fat. And who stops at only 2 tablespoons? Our quick-to-prepare homemade version slashes the amount of fat in half and does away with unnecessary ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
Flip out: Brown sugar, marshmallows, butter
Flip in: Maple syrup, olive oil
Calorie savings: 93
Roast it! Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash and peel 4 med sweet potatoes and cut into 1" pieces. Toss in large bowl with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 c pure maple syrup, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 c chopped pecans. Place mixture in 13" x 9" baking dish and roast until fork-tender, about 40 minutes. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Traditional versions of this dish call for lots of brown sugar and a cup of marshmallows—no surprise it's called "candied." Plus, recipes are generally brimming with butter, which is laden with saturated fat. It's why a serving can pack in 430 calories. Our slimmed-down rendition is sweetened with just a touch of antioxidant-rich maple syrup and has the same nutty flavor but only 237 calories and 1 g of saturated fat.
Flip out: Powdered cheese, whole milk, butter
Flip in: Butternut squash, fat-free milk, reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Calorie savings: 118
Make it! Prepare 8 oz whole wheat rotini according to package directions. In medium saucepan, simmer 1/2 c fat-free milk with 1/2 12 oz package frozen butternut squash until combined. Remove from heat and mix with 1 c shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, and pepper to taste. Pour drained pasta into 8" x 8" baking dish, stir in cheese mixture, and top with 1 Tbsp each Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Subbing in creamy butternut squash adds fiber and flavor, plus antioxidants that fight disease. Using fat-free milk and reduced-fat cheese, we lowered the calories per serving from 412 to 294—and unlike the boxed variety, our version has no artificial flavors. It also provides 45% of the daily recommendation for vision-protecting vitamin A.
Flip out: Store-bought pie crust
Flip in: Quick graham cracker crust
Calorie savings: 175
Bake it! Preheat oven to 375°F and coat 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with canola oil cooking spray. In small bowl, combine 3 Tbsp wheat germ, 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed, and two 2 1/2" graham cracker squares, crushed. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture to each muffin cup. Whisk 2 lg eggs and stir in one 15 oz can plain pumpkin puree, one 12 oz can fat-free evaporated milk, 2/3 c packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pour evenly into cups. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until sides are set and filling jiggles slightly. Mix 3/4 c nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/4 c pure maple syrup; keep cool in the fridge. Let pies rest 10 to 15 minutes before removing from tins; top each with a dollop of the maple-yogurt mixture. Serves 12.
How to cut calories: Replacing the buttery crust with a thin layer of crushed graham crackers and nutty grains drops the calorie count from 316 to 141--without compromising flavor. Flaxseed adds heart- and brain-healthy omega-3s, while wheat germ boosts vitamin E, which helps control blood sugar. A pie crust that fights disease! What's not to love?
Flip out: Heavy cream, regular chicken broth
Flip in: 2% milk, white beans, low-sodium chicken broth
Calorie savings: 140
Simmer it! Combine two 14.5 oz cans low-sodium chicken broth, one 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, and several bay leaves in medium saucepan over medium heat. In small bowl, mash 1 c rinsed and drained cannellini beans with the back of a spoon and set aside. When soup bubbles, stir in 1 c 2% milk and reduce heat to low. Season to taste with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaves and stir in mashed beans. In small batches, puree soup in a blender. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Traditional tomato soup gets its characteristic rich flavor and thick texture from heavy cream, which also boosts its calories. By using 2% milk instead of heavy cream, we nearly eliminated the soup's saturated fat content. The mashed beans do double duty: Their starches swell in the hot liquid, making the soup thick and hearty, and they boost the fiber—one serving supplies about one-quarter of your daily requirement. Switching from regular chicken broth to the reduced-fat, low-sodium type lowers sodium by 298 mg.
Flip out: Heavy Cream
Flip in: Low-fat buttermilk
Calorie savings: 182
Make it! Put 2 lbs of cubed Yukon Gold potatoes in a large pot, add 1 Tbsp salt, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Warm 1 c low-fat cultured buttermilk in a saucepan over low heat, being careful not to overheat. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes and pour in buttermilk; season with salt and pepper and finish with 1 1/2 Tbsp butter. Top with 2 Tbsp chopped chives. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Replacing heavy cream with low-fat buttermilk reduces artery-damaging saturated fats from 17 grams to 3. Buttermilk is thicker than regular milk, which helps the mashed potatoes retain their characteristic creamy texture, plus it’s also a source of probiotics—live beneficial bacteria that can boost immunity and improve digestion.
Flip out: Ground beef, plain breadcrumbs
Flip in: Ground turkey, quick-cooking instant oats, frozen chopped spinach
Calorie savings: 99
Bake it! Preheat oven to 350ºF and coat a nonstick 9" x 5" loaf pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup instant oats, 1/4 cup low-sodium BBQ sauce, 1/2 c chopped onion, 10 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Place the meat mixture into the pan and shape so it's even. Pour 1/4 c low-sodium BBQ sauce over top of loaf and bake for 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted in the center reads at least 160°F. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Switching from 85% lean ground beef to extra-lean ground turkey reduces the calories from 370 to 261 and cuts the saturated fat from 8 to 1. The instant oats that replace the plain breadcrumbs ups the fiber. Spinach supplies 45% of the daily recommendation for vision-boosting vitamin A.
Flip out: Store-bought Cosmopolitan mix
Flip in: Cranberry juice, lime juice, agave nectar
Calorie savings: 91
Mix it! Combine 1 oz vodka with 1 tsp agave nectar, 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, and 1 oz cranberry juice in cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, and garnish with lime. Serves 1.
How to cut calories: A drink made with sugary store-bought mix can contain 194 calories. Real fruit juice has no artificial colors and fewer calories, and it includes vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that boost health.
Flip out: Sugar-laden store-bought mix
Flip in: Zero-calorie mixers, fresh limes, agave nectar
Calorie savings: 160
Shake it! Combine 1/2 c seltzer water with 1/2 shot each tequila and triple sec, 1/4 c fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of agave nectar. Add ice, shake, and garnish with lime slices.
How to cut calories: One frozen margarita made with store-bought mix can contain over 300 calories. Swapping out the neon green concoction for fresh lime juice and agave nectar saves 160 calories.
Flip out: Hershey’s strawberry syrup
Flip in: Strawberry compote
Calorie savings: 156
Heat it! Warm 4 c frozen strawberries with 2 Tbsp honey in a saucepan over medium heat until soft and tender. Let cool until sauce thickens. Divide 2 c vanilla ice cream into four bowls and top each with strawberry compote. Serves 4.
How to cut calories: Don’t ditch ice cream entirely—just cut the portion down to 1/2 c from 1 c, which slashes 137 calories. Replacing what’s essentially strawberry-flavored high fructose corn syrup with a quick and easy compote supplies powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, 100% of your daily vitamin C needs, and 4 g of waist-friendly fiber.
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