HEALTHY VERSIONS OF YOUR FAVORITE MEALS
Changing your diet does not mean getting rid of your favorite foods. Any diet (whether you are trying to gain or lose weight) that has you completely changing the foods you eat, while eliminating some of your favorites, is setting you up for failure. Alterations to portion sizes and ingredients can transform notoriously unhealthy foods, such as ice cream, pizza, or burgers, into a healthy dinner option. This blog is intended to show you some good, bad, and everything in between, of popular foods we consume as a society. Each individual meal below can be catered toward your specific need, whether you are trying to put on muscle, lose fat, carbo-load for an event, or need an idea for your next dinner.
“The danger is not to set your goal too high and fail to reach it. It’s to set your goal too low and reach it.”
(Take a look at the change in obesity rates from 1991 to 2003 in America. Thanks to Doctor Anderson for forwarding this literature to me.)
The average American eats 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year.
Examples of things to stay away from: Keep in mind the American Heart Association recommends your sodium intake to be 1500 mg per day or less.
1. Papa John’s Pizza Pan Crust Cheese Pizza (1 slice)
- 380 calories
- 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat)
- 1000 mg of sodium
2. Sbarro Stuffed Pepperoni Pizza (1 slice)
- 960 calories
- 42 g fat
- 3,200 mg sodium
3. Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Meat Lover’s Pizza (1 slice)
- 480 calories
- 26 g fat (12 g saturated, 1 g trans)
- 1390 mg sodium
4. Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza (Individual pizza)
- 2,310 calories
- 162 g fat (54 g saturated fat)
- 4,920 mg sodium
1. Being influenced by America-The motto that” bigger is better” has jumbo sized many of our foods and toppings. Italy, where pizza was originated, has pizza that is based around a thin crust (usually half the amount of flour as a traditional american, thin crust) with a flavorful, low-sugar, tomato based sauce, loaded with fresh-cut veggies and “SOME” cheese.
Try to guess which pizza is from America!
2. It’s not just cheese that’s hurting you– Sausage, ham, beef, and bacon, are just a few of the most popular toppings that exist today. Many of these salt-cured meats contain more than a day’s worth of sodium and are loaded with fat and grease. Salty meats coupled with a surplus of processed cheese does not make for the healthiest combo. Add some grease with a refined, carbo-loaded crust and you will help contribute to the obesity charts listed above.
3. Portions- Restaurants such as Sbarro serve up gigantic slices that are often two slices piled into one.
- As a general rule, avoid all over sized and stuffed crusts at pizza chains. Stick to a regular or thin sized crust. Better yet, make a multi-grain or whole wheat crust. Many pizza places now carry these different options.
- As far as toppings go, stay with ham, Canadian bacon, or grilled meats, and nix the pepperoni and sausage. Load it with veggies instead.
Barbecue Chicken Thin Crust Pizza-A great example
- 1 (8-ounce) thin pizza 100% whole wheat or multi-grain pizza crust
- 1/3 cup barbecue or homemade tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
- 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
- 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/4 pound)
Dominos Crunchy Thin Crust Hawaiian Pizza- decent restaurant option
- 150 calories
- 8 grams of fat
- 315 mg’s of sodium
BURGERS: Food industry consulting firm Technomic says, “Almost half of Americans, 48 percent, eat a burger once a week.”
Examples of things to stay away from
1. Hardee’s Monster Thickburger
108 g fat (43 g saturated fat)
2,770 mg sodium
230 mg cholesterol
2. Five Guys Cheeseburger (plain)
55 g fat (22.5 g saturated)
1,050 mg sodium
3. Burger King Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese and Mayo
84 g fat (32 g saturated, 3.5 g trans)
1,600 mg sodium
1. American Influence: The “bigger is better” motto is probably most prevalent in the burger industry. With sandwiches such as the Triple Whopper or Big Mac, you can easily find burgers with 2 or 3 patties in many restaurants and chains.
2. Choosing the wrong meat: Problems start with the high fat ground beef that is often chosen because it is cheap and easy to make. Substituting standard ground beef with a lean-ground turkey meat, bison, poultry, or lean-ground beef, will make a world of difference.
3. The way the meat is prepared: Restaurants and fast food chains have been known to deep fry high-fat burgers in a mixture of grease and oil. Play it safe and grill your meat or throw it in the broiler for the best results. Using a 90/10 lean ground beef and cooking it over medium heat for even browning will provide great results.
4. Using Mayonnaise: 1 tbsp of mayo has 11 grams of fat and 100 calories and most people probably use at least double that as a topping on a burger. Substitute mayo with avocado or a healthy guacamole instead.
5. Choosing the wrong bun: White buns are the most common choice among burger consumers. White bread is refined flour that spikes your blood sugar and is extremely high on the glycemic index with almost no protein and affects your body in the same way as white sugar.
6. Choosing the wrong sides: Fries are the most common side ordered with a burger. I could probably write a whole book on the negatives of french fries but instead I will just suggest that you substitute them for sweet potato wedges, a healthy coleslaw, or a side salad.
1. Keep it lean: Either the extra lean (also known as 5% or 95/5) or the lean (also known as 10% or 90/10) ground beef is a healthful substitute for a standard beef patty. Get creative and make a bison burger or turkey burger for even more health benefits and great taste.
2. Choose the right sides: Complement your lean burger with fresh fruit, a green salad, beans, veggies, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, or basically anything other than standard french fries.
3. Choosing a soft cheese: For a healthier sandwich topping, try soft cheeses, like mozzarella or feta cheese. Soft cheeses tend to be lower in fat and less processed then something like american cheese.
4. The right bun: Many restaurants offer a whole wheat or multi-grain bun as a substitute. If you are making a burger at home use half a bun and load it with veggies instead.
Greek Bison Burger-a great example
Ingredients(serves 2 to 4)
- 1 pound(s) ground bison
- 1/2 cup(s) cooked spinach, squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup(s) crumbled feta cheese, preferably sheep’s milk
- 2 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon(s) minced garlic
- 3/4 cup(s) non-fat or low-fat Greek-style plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh dill
- 4 French rolls or 4-inch pieces of baguette, preferably whole-wheat, split and toasted
- 16 slice(s) (thin) English cucumber
- 8 slice(s) vine-ripened tomato
- 4 slice(s) (thin round) red onion
Balsamic Turkey Burger
- 1 Whole wheat english muffin
- Kale or lettuce
- 1 slice Provolone Cheese
- 1 sliced tomato
- 1/2 pound of lean Turkey meat with1/2 cup chopped red onions sautéed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic-vinegar
- Calories per serving: 470; Fat: 12 grams
SALADS: People always affiliate salads as automatically being healthy. But, as depicted below, this is not the case in several circumstances.
Some examples of things to avoid:
1. Chili’s Southwestern Cobb Salad
- 1,080 calories
- 71 grams fat
- 2,650 mg sodium
2. Applebee’s Santa Fe chicken salad
- Calories: 1300
- Saturated Fat (g): 25
- Sodium (mg): 3420
- Carbohydrates (g): 57
3. Outback Steakhouse queensland salad.
- Calories: 1129
- Saturated Fat (g): 26
- Sodium (mg): 1975
- Carbohydrates (g): 42
- Processed Salad Dressing.. Like RANCH– A mixture of trans fat, sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavoring, make for a deadly combo. (1 serving of ranch has 140 calories, 14 g fat, and 260 mg sodium). Opt instead for vinegarettes, balsamics, light olive oils, tomato salsas, or make your own.
- Using Iceberg lettuce– Contains almost no nutritional value. Opt for darker greens like spinach, mixed greens, kale, or arugula. This is something you will actually benefit from and tastes better.
- Using Croutons– It is white/dried/processed bread.. Enough said. 1/2 cup croutons has 100 calories. If you have to use them, use 100% whole grain croutons or make your own from 100% whole grain bread or some sort of sprouted grain bread.
- Bacon bits– Despite how good they taste, most bacon bits are highly processed and made up of mostly sodium and saturated fat. Opt for a natural protein like beans, grilled meats, or nuts.
- Cheese– A good salad shouldn’t need a lot of cheese but if you like it use it sparingly and opt for a more natural cheese such as feta.
What to add instead
1. Beans-Beans are high in protein, iron, and a complex carbohydrate. With varieties such as black, kidney, garbanzo, you can substitute this protein for the more unhealthy fried/breaded meats, or some of the high sodium deli meats like pepperoni or salami.
2. Nuts and seeds-Almonds, walnuts, cashews, flax-seed, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds, can all be added as a substitute for croutons to keep the crunch of your salad, while adding essential vitamins and minerals, that you will benefit from.
3. Dried fruits– Cranberries, raisins, and apricots, can all add some sweetness to your salad. While they do contain moderate/high amounts of sugar, using a handful of dried fruits will not affect you and the antioxidant properties will outweigh any negatives caused by the sugar.
4. Avocado– A great source of healthy fats that is loaded with vitamin E can make for a nice addition.
5. Whole grains– Whole-wheat couscous, quinoa, and barley are all protein rich grains that are high in fiber toppings and make a great addition.
6. A healthy dressing– Vinegarettes and light oils are generally the safest but a healthy tomato salsa or lemon juice can give it a nice kick as well.
7. Creative veggies- There is nothing wrong with green pepper, cucumber, and carrots, but those can get got boring. Next time, opt for some artichoke, beets, radishes, turnips, or parsnips.
(A great example)
- grilled chicken tenderloins
- green beans
- balsamic vinegarette dressing
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Thanks for reading, from Norway,