When it comes to cutting calories, many of us think that we are doomed to eat nothing but lettuce for every meal. While salads are a wonderful accompaniment to a low-calorie diet, it’s important to remember that there are some little things you can do in your everyday cooking that can cut calories from your regular meals. Here are some ideas to get started.
If you love sandwiches, toast, rolls, and so forth, swap those items for whole-grain pita pockets and tortillas. You can stuff sandwich fillings into the pita and roll them in the tortilla, keeping the flavor while cutting back significantly on the calories that thick slices of bread (especially store-bought, white bread) contribute.
If you replace sour cream, heavy cream, cream cheese, and other fattening dairy products with plain, fat-free yogurt, you will cut a significant amount of calories. You can also replace butter and oil in some recipes with yogurt. For example, try replacing half the oil in a muffin, bread, or cake recipe with an equal amount of low-fat, plain yogurt. Use strained or Greek yogurt to substitute for sour cream or cream cheese, since it’s a similar thickness.
“Hidden” Calories in Drinks
If you drink sugary, carbonated beverages, milk (white or chocolate), sweet tea, or other type of drink that contains calories, you may be adding 150 or more calories to your meal. Switch to water, tea sweetened with stevia or other non-sugar sweetener, or diet sodas (in moderation).
You can replace many high-calorie, creamy ingredients in recipes with pureed vegetables. Winter squash, steamed and pureed, makes a fine base for many creamy soups and sauces. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, turnips, carrots, and other vegetables make creamy, smooth purees for your favorite recipes.
You can replace meat with vegetable substitutes with fewer calories, or you can simply cut back on your meat consumption and replace it with fish or a vegetarian dish. You can still serve meat; just try serving much smaller portions and pile on the low-calorie, vegetable-based side dishes. Baked, grilled, or steamed white fish is a good source of protein with fewer calories. Here is a list of the common types of meat and how many calories they contain per portion:
* Fried steak, 172 grams (8 ounces): 316 calories
* Skinless, grilled chicken breast, 150 grams (about 7 ounces): 222 calories
* Lean, grilled pork chops, 120 grams (about 5 ounces): 221 calories
* Salmon, 170 grams (about 8 ounces): 366 calories
* Grilled haddock, 120 grams (about 5 ounces): 125 calories
* Turkey breast, 172 grams (8 ounces): 236 calories
As you can see, some simple swaps and substitutions can save quite a few calories per day.