We’re back in action, folks!
Just in time for Memorial Day, I’ve found some tasty (yet skinny!) holiday picnic foods that won’t bust your diet!
1. Barbequed Pulled Chicken
A healthy alternative to pulled pork, you’ll still get that nice smokey flavor without the added fat.
- 1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
- 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
- 1/2 red sweet pepper
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
- Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.
Approximate nutritional value:
Per serving: 342 calories,11g fat, 93mg cholesterol 32g carbohydrates, 4g added sugars, 30g protein, 4g fiber, 477 mg sodium, 547 mg potassium.
2. Garden Pasta Salad
This cold salad includes some non-traditional veggies and flavors for some added nutrients.
- 2 cups whole-wheat rotini, (6 ounces)
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup diced yellow or red bell pepper, (1 small)
- 1 cup grated carrots, (2-4 carrots)
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions, (4 scallions)
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives (optional)
- 1/3 cup slivered fresh basil
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
- Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, oil, vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, scallions, olives and basil; toss to coat well. Refrigerate up to 1 day.
Per serving (about 1 cup): 205 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 1 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 291 mg sodium; 269 mg potassium. Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (97% dv), Vitamin A (70% dv), Fiber (17% dv).
3. Skinny Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 lb rhubarb stalks (about 5 or 6) cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup Quaker quick oats
- 1/2 cup 100% white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries and rhubarb in an oven safe dish
- Add honey.
- Then add orange juice and orange zest; sprinkle with cornstarch and toss until fruit is well coated.
- Mix remaining ingredients for the topping in a medium bowl then spread over fruit.
- Bake until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 40 minutes.
- Serve with a scoop of fat free frozen yogurt or a dallop of whipped cream and enjoy!
Serving Size: 1/2 cup. Calories: 220, fat 3g, protein 3g, carb 38.4g, fiber 3.8g, sugar 23.9g, sodium 2.8g
I’ve always had a problem of figuring out what foods are better for you than others. Take for example, Toll House crackers. You’d think that the “low fat” ones are better for you, right? While the crackers may be low in fat, they add sugar to it to compensate for taking out the fat. So really, one is no better than the other.
This series of books titled Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko, focuses on the content of a specific food, compared to a similar food and picks the best choice between them. There are many different books. The one I have is titled Supermarket Survival Guide. I’ve also seen Easy and Awesome 350-calorie meals and The Restaurant Survival Guide. For those of you with little ones at home, he also wrote a book specifically for kids and families! These food swaps can really help you avoid foods that may seem healthy, and maintain a healthy weight. There’s no dieting with this; it’s purely trading this for that!
The book is separated into categories such as “The Choice is Yours”, which goes in-depth to explain why we are the way we are when it comes to food. Portion distortion, more calories in traditional dishes, the role that preservatives play, calorie-packed drinks, and the like.
Here’s some examples of food comparisons:
Krispy Kreme Donut:
- 1 donut
- 190 calories
- 11 grams of fat (4.5 saturated)
- 10 grams of sugar
Krispy Kreme has gotten a whole lot of flack for their products. What! An 800-calorie donut?! Although some of these accusations may be a bit skewed, Zinczenko recommends this as an occasional treat, not a daily breakfast staple.
Oddly enough, let’s compare this to Entenmann’s Frosted Devil’s Food Donuts:
- 310 calories
- serving size 1 donut
- 18 grams of fat (12 grams of saturated fat)
- 24 grams of sugar
- 2 grams of fiber
While these have a touch of fiber to them, the amount of sugar, fat and calories in these heathens totally cancels out any healthy substances. Krispy Kreme wins!
This book has a lot of surprising comparisons. Let’s head to the cereal department. For those of you with little ones, they always ask for cereals like Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, or Cookie Crisp. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well yeah, and they’re terrible for them!” Well, let’s test that out, compared to other kid-approved cereals.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- 110 calories
- 1 gram of fat (.5 grams saturated)
- 12 grams of sugar
- < 1 gram of fiber
Out of the sugary cereals, Zinczenko describes this one as “the surprisingly sober pick”. Now, let’s compare Froot Loops to Cap’n Crunch.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- 147 calories
- 2 grams of fat (1.5 saturated)
- 16 grams of sugar
- 1.5 grams of fiber
Overall, this cereal has twice the fat (including saturated), 37 more calories, and 4 more grams of sugar. Although it contains a touch of fiber, there’s one big problem here: Cap’n Crunch contains a large amount of yellow #5 (a food coloring), which has been linked to hyperactivity and ADHD. Ehh, no bueno!
There are TONS of comparisons that have sparked my interest in this book, but this would be a really long post if I included all of them. If you’re interested in finding more food swap ideas, I highly recommend picking one of these up; they’re on Amazon.com, starting at five dollars…what’s the excuse not to?
So again, there’s no dieting in this place. I don’t believe in diets. This is merely making good choices, swapping this for that.