One of the biggest problems people have with maintaining a healthy lifestyle is finding the right foods. You may find a few good things, but you quickly get bored of them. Here is a bunch of items you can buy to keep your kitchen exciting, and to make your lets-get-groceries trips easier.
This list is ever-changing and I’m always adding new things to it – there’s just so much yummy stuff out there!
LIGHT LAUGHING COW WEDGES
These are the ultimate cream cheese substitute – heck, they’re even better than cream cheese. You won’t even realize that they’re 35 cal a wedge because nothing is sacrificed. Creamy and flavorful, these cute portion-controlled wedges are the perfect compliment to pretty much anything. I spread them on bread, celery and even make alfredo sauce from them (a great idea from Hungry Girl). They also come in a variety of flavors (my favorite is a toss up between Blue Cheese and Garlic & Herb) so you’ll never get bored.
REDUCED FAT CHEDDAR
Staying on the topic of cheese, Cabot’s 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar is perfect for when you need something solid to depend on. The taste is not as intense as regular full-fat cheese, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little for the enormous diet benefit, especially if it is going in something like pasta where the taste of the actual cheese is diminished by the other ingredients. This brand also melts well, which makes for a great grilled cheese sandwich or homemade pizza.
REDUCED FAT FETA CHEESE
More cheese! I love the stuff, if you couldn’t tell by now. I thought I would have to give it up, but I obviously didn’t … so don’t despair! I top my Greektastic Salad with this and it is SO good. It has much fewer calories than what you would normally eat, but none of the flavor is sacrificed. I like Athenos brand but there are other, cheaper options. You can get reduced fat feta in a whole block that you can cut or slice yourself, or crumbled. There are different flavors (such as Roasted Pepper), but I like it plain and self-seasoned.
SUGAR FREE JAM
Everything tastes better with a little jelly, but what a lot of people don’t know is how loaded up on sugar normal jam is. This can quickly wreck your healthy eating habits, as sugar turns into fat if it isn’t burned off. This version of jam is just as sweet but contains no sugar and contains only a fraction of the calories. I prefer Polaner brand because I know that the taste is good. I spread it on toast in the morning or mix it in with cottage cheese to add flavor. Speaking of flavors, there are a variety of them (I prefer grape or strawberry) so you don’t have to miss out on anything.
SWISS MISS DIET
This is the ultimate fix for that chocolate craving, and it can’t be beat at only 25 cal a sachet. The instructions say to add boiling water, but I add a little skim milk when it’s boiling to make it thicker/ more chocolate-like. The diet version can get pretty expensive at stores like Shop Rite or A&P, so I get mine at WalMart – everything is more affordable there! But really, everyone should have a box of this hot choc in their pantry; drinking a cup will satisfy the munchies, and will fill you up so you’re not hungry anymore anyway!
LIGHT WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
I love toast and could never live on a no-carb diet (those types of crash diets are just asking for disaster anyway). So instead of cutting out things completely, I just hunt around for better versions (both in supermarkets and by searching through other health blogs). And what did I find? This wonderful lifesaver by Pepperidge Farm. Whole wheat + low fat + low cal = perfection. You can have the slices plain, toasted, with toppings or to make a sandwich; everything goes. They are nice and soft when eaten plain, but get a wonderful crisp when they are toasted – what more can a girl ask for?! You can either get this from a supermarket, or from a Pepperidge Farm outlet.
I can’t even tell you how much I need my green tea. I deny that it’s an addiction … but it honestly is. When I started losing weight I would still have hot chocolate (not the diet kind) or coffee every morning, and I had no idea that these beverages were grabbing me by the belt and holding me back! What you drink accounts for a huge part of your success, which I discovered when I switched my high cal drinks with green tea. It boosts your metabolism, leaves you feeling refreshed and makes you full so you won’t want to keep eating. Plus, you’ll be upping your water intake. It takes some time to get used to the flavor of green tea (I HATED it as first), so slowly ease yourself into it by adding honey to your mug – reduce this over time though.
100 CALORIE POPCORN
We all get the munchies once in a while, some more often than others. I’m one of those people who is ALWAYS craving a snack, and it’s really held me back. So I found this solution that you can munch on pretty much guilt free. Pop Secret’s 100 Calorie Popcorn is, obviously, only 100 calories per bag. Many snacks are deceiving, saying ‘100 calories per serving,’ yet there are 2 or 3 servings per bag – not this one! The flavor is also surprisingly good for something 94% fat free, and I sometimes add a dash of sea salt. However, be cautious when cooking; these bags pop faster in the microwave than some, so only set for around 2 minutes.
As you can see on the box, Multigrain Cheerios can help you on your weight loss journey. They have significantly less sugar than other types of cereal – believe it or not, those ‘innocent’ breakfast bowl fillers can really shove your healthy eating off track. The five whole grains in this Multigrain variety are also a big benefit, as it will keep you fuller for a longer time, hence preventing those mid-morning munchies.
While plain sugar is all natural, when used in excess it is the leading cause of diabetes and obesity. And I’m one of those crazies who loves everything super sweet: my coffee, my cake, you name it. When I lost weight this drastically changed, but I’m still a sucker for sugar. I now used artificial sweetener – it may have some health drawbacks, but that’s only if you have too much of it. I barely drink/eat anything that’s sweetened, but when I do I use this instead of sugar. You can use name brands such as Equal or Splenda, but plain old Shop Rite brand tastes exactly the same and is a lot cheaper.
*There are some times when real sugar is necessary, such as with baking, and artificial sweetener just doesn’t make the cut. In those cases, I use brown sugar – it’s sweeter and healthier!
Staying on the topic of sweet things, honey is one of my favorites. Even though it does have a fair amount of calories, it is completely natural so you don’t need to feel too guilty! I used it in my baking, drizzled on cottage cheese or greek yogurt, and sometimes in mugs of green tea. I get my honey from BJs where I can get large quantities for small prices, but honey can be found just about everywhere. It has a unique flavor and is naturally sweeter than sugar – it makes the ideal substitute! Just don’t overdo it, because like I said, it does have calories so is not completely innocent.
There are so many uses for this innocent little sprinkle. I put it on salad, in homemade pizza dough, on top of said homemade pizza, on the bread of grilled cheese sandwich … the possibilities are endless. Even a small dash will make your whole dish more flavorful, and take it from bland to amazing. It’s also great because it’s so simple: because it’s a combination of a bunch of magical herbs and spices combined into one bottle, there is no need for you to go running around looking for the right leaves, seeds and whatever else. Here’s a helpful tip: instead of just pouring it straight on to whatever wonderful dish you’re whipping it, put it into your hand first and grind it with your fingers. This will enhance its natural flavor and aroma.
PAM NON-STICK SPRAY
I recently started using PAM, and I must say I am rather pleased. I used to use olive oil for my cooking (even though it is a healthy type of oil, it still contains many calories), but now I just spray this onto any pan I’m cooking with. One can will also last you a long time, so stock up on this useful kitchen helper!