Spring Clean Your Diet

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 in Health & Wellness

By Margaret Furtado, M.S., R.D. – Posted Fri, Apr 17, 2009, 12:43 pm PDTIt’s that time of year again … the birds are chirping away, the trees are blooming, and maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to get in shape for the summer season. Well, just like your house and wardrobe, your diet can probably use a spring cleaning as well.

Here are some tips to help you spring into your healthiest weight ever.

Salads. Add unusual toppings to give extra zest to your salads. Some of my favorite toppings include craisins (dried cranberries), pineapple (fresh, or in its own juice), raspberries, blueberries, raw pumpkin seeds (somewhat higher in calories but with plenty of fiber and protein to help fill you up), alfalfa sprouts, edemame (raw soy beans), and walnuts (higher in calories too, but great for fiber, protein, and omega-3 fats-aim for about ¼ cup here). Also, try substituting arugula for traditional greens; it has a lot of vitamins and minerals and a yummy, peppery flavor.
Salad Dressings. Try the newer “salad spritzers.” They’re high in flavor yet low in calories, and can help you avoid the high-calorie salads that result from pouring on those rich dressings. For a light summer salad or meal, I find that drizzling balsamic vinegar and some extra-virgin olive oil over fresh sliced mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and fresh basil is a winner.
Pastas. Look for the higher-protein (and sometimes lower-calorie) pastas, such as those made from lentils and whole wheat. Add plenty of fresh or canned tomatoes to increase the nutrients without weighing yourself down. Or add lean ground turkey or soy crumbles for “meatballs” that will cut the fat and calories without stealing the flavor. Shredded low-fat cheeses are full of protein and make great additions to these “meatballs.”
Herbs. I love fresh herbs, especially from the farmer’s market. They taste great and are so good for you and your waist. Two of my spring-time favorites are basil and cilantro.
Pizzas. You can use pita bread instead of traditional dough for a light yet tasty pizza. Low-carb pita bread can up the fiber content and lower the calories further. Top your pizzas with low-fat shredded mozzarella and tons of veggies for a nutritious pizza that won’t weigh you down!
Sandwiches. Use low-carb pita breads made from soy or oat/wheat instead of regular bread, to ensure higher protein and fiber and fewer calories. These pita breads are so versatile, you might want to try roasting some of your favorite veggies and adding some low-fat goat cheese for a yummy, yet healthy, veggie pita pocket! You could also use low-carb wraps for great nutrition and calorie bargains. Or, skip the bread altogether: Just roll up some low-fat cheese along with low-fat turkey or other lean luncheon meats, with some lettuce and tomato. Get in the habit of taking these sandwiches to work and you’ll save both calories and money!
Happy spring, dear readers!

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