Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Low Calorie Alternatives

So, after my last dive into the Eat To Live program, I went on vacation out west to visit friends, then the Holidays hit and I pretty much gained all the weight back. I knew I would! Now Scott and I are doing the community Pound Plunge for 12 weeks with another couple from church.
We made a few concessions to the ETL program, like being able to use some very low calorie dairy. For example, I get pecorino (sheep) romano cheese from Sam's club to sprinkle on salad and we've used egg whites once in a while.
These are some really awesome ideas I have come across on the internet to help with my cravings.

Spaghetti Squash! I knew it before, but I had no idea how much better it was for you, than pasta. A cup of whole wheat pasta is about 175 calories, while the squash alternative is only 45 calories. Plus, it is much more nutrient dense so you get fuller faster! I use it with veggies and a tomato sauce or I made a nut-based cream sauce that has been in our family for years. It was SO good and it completely satisfied my cravings for pasta.

I just found this tip. Cauliflower! Now I've heard you can mash it like mashed potatoes, but I haven't tried it yet. On this diet you are allowed brown rice, in moderation, but this is a lower calorie alternative. You take a head of cauliflower, chop it up really fine like rice or couscous (food processor works great), then microwave it (NO water!) for about 3 minutes. You can use this instead of rice! I just tried it with stir fry and it was great. You don't want to use it in recipes that is supposed to soak liquid up though because it won't.

Fat free AND low calorie salad dressings. Yes, they aren't the same thing. I am getting salad dressings that are 40 calories or less a serving. Normal ranch dressing is about 13o I believe. Big difference. Also, watch for high fructose corn syrup. It's in many of the "free" dressings. Besides the health facts, HFCS is bad for weight loss. It is quickly converted to fat, addictive, and it does not register in our bodies that we are full, leading us to overeat.
These low calorie salad dressings can be used on other dishes too, to make them edible. My favorite is ranch on potatoes.

Sweetener. Okay, I can use pure maple syrup, honey, agave (really great), dates and fruit. But, as far as calories go, they are really high! If you use stevia (it is a plant and I have grown it!), it is calorie free. If you aren't familiar with stevia (you can buy liquid or powder forms), you can use the new Truvia sweetener. It isn't all stevia, it has some other natural extracts in it, but I know it's better for you. I know because every other sugar alternative makes me sick and gives me a nasty headache!

Dessert cravings..these are the worst! They make me want to dive into the peanut butter. I have found two things that keep it at bay. One, a banana with a TINY smearing of natural peanut butter. Still higher calories (175 maybe!?) so I came up with these.
Apple crisp, without the crisp. I just cut up some apples, put whatever spices I liked into it (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger), some stevia or Truvia, a few raisins or dates, and a couple of nuts (walnuts or pecans). Microwave or bake until the apples are soft. Voila! It is so good.
Next, out of desperation, I found that the light whipped cream (real cream, people!) only has 15 calories for two tablespoons. I'm not a cream person, so a little will go a long way! I grab a banana (blueberries, whatever you want) and cut it up with some whipped cream in a bowl. It reminded me of banana cream pie and was really good.

Hope these help someone else as much as they helped me!
I posted this on my recipe blog, along with the nut-based cream sauce recipe. It's creamy lemony goodness. And remember to focus on the veggies and salad for your main dish. Those should be your first defense against those hunger pains and cravings!


Kizzie said...

Awesome tips Karen! I've been meaning to try cauliflower as a mashed potato substitute, but I'd never heard of it being used a rice sub too. Awesome. I'm definitely getting some when I go grocery shopping!

This post made me want to eat better! I've been exercising regularly, but really need to take the next step and incorporate more healthy eating habits.
We do pretty well eating healthy meals, dessert is what's the hardest for me.

Helmbunch said...

Great tips!!