When it comes to healthy eating, calories count, not just in quantity but in quality as well. Our friends at Cooking Light shows us how to think through and make nutritious swaps using these five commonly eaten foods:
1. BBQ Baked Beans
Good: In general, beans are full of filling fiber.
Bad: BBQ baked beans can contain lots of sugar in the sauce–13 grams for a total of 32 grams of carbohydrates.
Better: Black beans with sauteed red bell peppers, jalapeno, lime and fresh cilantro. It provides 10 grams fewer carbohydrates and an additional 1.5 grams of fiber.
2. Salad Dressings
Good: You’re eating salad, which provides dietary fiber and important vitamins and minerals.
Bad: Watch the dressing choice. Honey and raspberry vinaigrettes contain about 7 grams of refined carbs per 2 tablespoons, all from sugar. And most light or fat-free dressings add sugar to make up for fat.
Better: Opt for oil and vinegar-based dressings instead; you’ll get zero carbs and lots of heart-healthy fats.
3. Apples with Low-Fat Caramel Dip
Good: You’re eating apples, which provides 25 grams of balanced carbs and 4 grams of fiber.
Bad: That caramel dipping sauce has 26 grams of carbs in just 2 tablespoons, all from sugar.
Better: Swap caramel for 1 tablespoon peanut butter. You’ll add 4 grams of filling protein.
4. Cracker Jacks
Good: Popcorn is a source of whole-grains, and nuts are a source of fiber, protein and healthy fats.
Bad: The caramel coating adds 30 grams of refined sugar per cup.
Better: Opt for lightly salted oil-popped popcorn and nuts.
5. Mashed Potatoes
Good: You’re getting more veggies.
Bad: Sadly, potatoes are starchy vegetable and, if the mashed potato has no skin, that’s 2 grams less fiber.
Better: Mashed butternut squash has just 47 calories, 12 grams carbohydrates and 4 grams fiber per 1/2 cup serving. Add a teaspoon of butter for 34 calories and 2.4 grams saturated fat.
Find more low-calorie dinner meals like this from the new Cooking Light Diet, where you can lose weight without giving up the foods you love. Learn more at CookingLightDiet.com. Follow Cooking Light on Facebook for more daily recipe inspiration.
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