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Flavorful Food Substitutions

Food Fitness to Nourish Your Body

One of the biggest challenges we face when dieting is bland-tasting food that makes us want to rebel against dieting all together. It's frustrating and eating bland foods only serves to make us more prone to breaking our diets simply because we want something with TASTE!

Rice Cake Much of our pleasure in eating derives from the flavor of the foods we eat. Bland vegetables, boring AND bland items such as rice cakes not only make us tire quickly of a diet, they don't really satisfy hunger cravings, either.

In fact, some people feel they make them crave fattening foods all the more.

So what to do? Discover the secrets for making recipes lighter without eliminating their taste appeal. Food Substitutions

  • Make meat less important in your menus. Use small portions (2 to 4 ounces per serving) and add pasta, rice, beans, or vegetables to "flesh out" your entrees.
  • Try fat-free or light mayonnaise dressing, sour cream, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, salad dressings, pasta sauces, and fruit spreads. Nowadays, for many of your favorite condiments, there is a low-fat or fat-free product that you can substitute for the higher-fat products. Check labels however; total calories may not be reduced.
  • If you are a fan of sausage, bacon, or ham, try the turkey-based version for fewer calories and less saturated fat. When a recipe calls for bacon, substitute lean smoked ham and you will still get a rich, smoky flavor.
  • Select meats that look lean, without a lot of fat marbling. A good rule is to look for cuts with the word "loin" or "round" in the name. Plan for 3 to 4 ounces of cooked meat per serving (6 to 8 ounces is all we need each day).
  • Substitute ground turkey breast or chicken breast for ground beef or pork in casseroles, meat loaf, and chili recipes.
  • Opt for rotisserie-style chicken and extra-lean deli-sliced turkey or roast beef if you like the convenience of purchasing cooked meats from the deli.
  • Use both hard and soft cheeses that are available in reduced-fat or fat-free varieties. As a rule, aim for no more than 5 fat grams per ounce. Many of these products also are low in sodium.
  • Add fiber to recipes by substituting whole-wheat flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour called for in a recipe.
  • Read the labels when buying breads, crackers, or grain products. The first ingredient should read whole-wheat or other whole-grain flour (wheat flour is not good enough).
  • Boost your fiber. Experiment with a variety of grains, such as couscous, barley, brown rice, oatmeal, rye, wild rice, and bulgur, as well as whole-wheat pasta, corn tortillas, and rye crackers.
  • Include both fresh and dried fruits in dishes other than desserts. Add them to dips, puree them for entree sauces, or add them to salads, cold pasta dishes, side dishes, casseroles, or meat stuffings.
  • Incorporate more dark green, leafy vegetables. Add greens such as spinach or kale to sandwiches, salads, vegetable dishes, and stir-fries.
  • Use shredded cabbage, especially red cabbage, as a high-fiber addition to salads, stir-fries, sandwich fillings, soups, and even meat loaf.
  • Befriend those deep yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin A, such as apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, spinach, broccoli, and Swiss chard.
  • Replace high-fat ingredients, such as sour cream and mayonnaise, in soups, sauces, dips, and the like, with low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • Use evaporated fat-free milk; reduced fat, light, or fat-free milk; or buttermilk in place of whole milk in rich sauces and soups and in baked items.
  • Substitute two egg whites or 1/4 cup fat-free egg product for one whole egg in recipes.
  • Look for fat-free refried beans and bean soups.
  • Purchase canned fruits packed in their own juices or frozen, loose-pack fruits that have no added sugar or syrup.
  • Read cereal labels carefully; even low-fat granola calories add up quickly, because the serving sizes listed typically are smaller than what you normally would consume. Opt for high-fiber cereals with few additions of nuts, fruit, or clusters of high-sugar or high-fat ingredients.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese or part-skim or light ricotta cheese is a good substitute for whole milk ricotta cheese.
  • Use just small amounts of high-fat foods to flavor dishes; be stingy with such ingredients as avocados, coconut, cheese, and nuts.

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