It's hard to eat healthy. Even though I know what my body really needs is lots of veggies, healthy proteins, and some fruit thrown in for sweetness, I still would rather have that lovely medium-rare steak, a side of perfectly browned and seasoned potatoes, and the most decadent chocolate cake to finish it off (is your mouth watering, Reader? Because mine sure is!). That being said, G and I are determined to eat healthy without sacrificing taste. Per his request, I'm striving to keep our weekday meals to 600 calories or less each. We've been doing this for just over a month now, and I'm happy to report we've been surprisingly successful! Along the way there have been a few "not your best work" moments, but I've come up with some absolutely delicious recipes, too! So, in the following weeks, I will be sharing some of them with you! Today, to get us started, I've compiled a list of a few tips and tricks that have really helped me keep the flavor high and the calories low. So, without further ado, here are some of the ways I cut the fat without losing the flavor!
1) Replace starches and carbs with vegetables
I'm with you. I love a good, toothy bite of pasta as much as the next girl. But I don't love the bloated feeling or the extra pooch in my tummy. Instead, I fill the place of potatos with roasted carrots and broccoli, replace the spaghetti noodles with spiralized zucchini, or (one of my favorites!) cut asparagus into penne-sized pieces and use it instead of the pasta.
2) Lighten up on the salt
Try grabbing the low-sodium chicken stock, low-sodium soy sauce, and heart-healthy canned veggies. At first, I was convinced I would lose too much flavor; after all, as an avid FoodNetwork watcher, "It Needs More Salt" is ingrained in me! But after trying the low-sodium versions, I realized that a lot of the pre-made stuff is actually TOO salty! I'm able to add small amounts of salt back in if I need to, but usually, with the herbs and other seasonings, we don't miss it.
3) Fresh, Fresh, Fresh
I know it can take more time, but buy fresh/raw produce and meats, and make your own of whatever you can. This way, you control what goes into it. The sugar, the salt, everything. It gives you so much control over the flavor profile and the calorie content. It also opens the door to TONS of fresh herbs, which are the backbone of my flavor life. Seriously. I don't know what I would do without cilantro and mint. They're always in my fridge.
4) When not fresh, buy prepacked SMART
We all get busy, tired, overwhelemed, and just plain DONE sometimes. I have a freezer of pre-made by me and pre-packaged by company options ready to go. My favorite place to get ready-to-go healthy options is Trader Joes. Their orange chicken, potstickers, and asparagus risotto are all low calorie and insanely yummy.
5) Use your calories wisely
Don't stop eating that steak! Instead, eat a smaller, 250 calorie or so portion and fill in the rest with healthy grains and veggies! You can still satisfy your cravings without consuming too many calories.
My final tip? Be creative and make it work for you. Remember, this is about being healthy and finding freedom in that. If you start to feel trapped and angry, take a step back, get that 350 calorie Starbucks you've been craving, and re-evaluate! This is for you. So take it, make it yours, and be the healthy you you've always wanted to be!