In this article:
- January is a great time to renew your commitment to weight loss and health.
- You can lose weight and still eat foods you love.
- These are some makeovers for common foods that can cut calories and increase nutrients.
- Lark can help you lose weight and eat healthier in the New Year. Your Lark Health coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone.
How did the holidays go for you this year? Did you eat healthy and keep your weight in check? Or did things get out of hand?
It’s okay if you ate a little less healthy or a little too much. You can always work on making better choices. And you do not need to give up your favorite foods. These are seven meal makeovers that can help you lose weight this January. We suggest trying one or two of them on most days (as long as your doctor agrees, of course!).
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1. Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
Eggplant starts off healthy, but eggplant parmesan can be a greasy meal. These tips can help you make a whole-grain eggplant parmesan casserole that fits into your healthy eating plan.
- Coat the eggplant slices with beaten egg whites instead of egg, and dip them into 1 cup of seasonings mixed whole-grain Panko or crushed Fiber One or Cheerios cereal.
- Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for frying.
- Layer the fried eggplant with marinara sauce, fat-free mozzarella cheese, and low-fat parmesan cheese, and then bake it until it is bubbly.
- You can add cooked mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, or other vegetables to the marinara sauce before assembling the casserole.
This recipe already has plenty of protein, but you can make it with chicken if you prefer.
2. Chicken Vegetable Sandwich
A healthy lunch can stabilize energy for the afternoon. A lunch laden with saturated fat and refined carbs may help you fall asleep during a mid-afternoon meeting. These tips can help you build a healthy sandwich and sides.
The World Cancer Research Fund says processed meats cause cancer, and Harvard School of Public Health says you should eat them “occasionally at most.” So, skip cold cuts, BLT sandwiches, hot dogs, and deli meats. Opt for roasted or grilled chicken. Better yet, for your health, animals, and the environment, opt for plant-based fillings such as falafel, veggie burger, or grilled vegetables instead.
- Use whole-grain bread, pita, or a wrap.
- Yellow or deli mustard, or a small amount of olive oil and vinegar, hummus, or avocado can add taste and creaminess.
- Pile on vegetables, such as sliced cucumbers, sprouts, tomato slices, lettuce or spinach leaves, or grilled vegetables.
- You can taste stronger cheeses more than mild ones, so you can use less of them. A small amount of parmesan, feta, blue, or goat cheese can go a long way.
Sometimes, half of a sandwich is enough. You can save the other half for later. Instead of eating your sandwich with cookies or chips, try apple slices, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or clementines.
3. Eggs and a Waffle
Eggs may provide protein and almost every other essential nutrient, but not every breakfast with this popular item is healthy. A plate with eggs, bacon or sausage, buttered toast with jam or pancakes with syrup, and fried potatoes is high in calories, sugar, starch, and fat. But you can have a similar breakfast that is lower in calories and higher in nutrients. Consider filling your plate with these items.
- 1 egg or 4 egg whites, boiled or cooked in cooking spray and not butter
- ½ to 1 cup of fresh fruit
- 1 whole-grain waffle or slice of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- ½ cup of nonfat cottage cheese
4. Tuna Noodle Casserole
Tuna noodle casserole is comfort food that is also an easy dinner to prepare for the family. But it usually comes with refined carbs and a creamy filling. Making some or all of these swaps can help you make sure the casserole is better for health and weight loss.
- Use whole-grain noodles instead of regular refined noodles.
- Swap cooked cauliflower for half of the pasta to reduce carbohydrates and calories.
- Instead of cream of mushroom soup or cream or butter in the filling, cook mushrooms, onions, and peas in a small amount of olive oil. Then use skim milk, low-sodium broth, and/or pureed cooked butternut squash to create a creamy filling.
- Add any cooked vegetables you like, such as broccoli florets or chopped spinach.
- Use a small amount of whole-grain panko or breadcrumbs for the topping instead of white bread.
5. Greek Salad
Do you truly love salads? Do you just eat them for health reasons? Either way, they may not be as healthy as you think having the opposite effect. Cobb, Caesar, chef, and Chinese chicken salads are examples of popular salads that can contribute to weight gain. These items are red flags.
- Italian or other fatty processed meats, such as bacon or salami, or crispy chicken.
- Creamy salad dressing.
- Crunchy toppings such as crispy noodles, croutons, or tortilla strips.
A Greek salad can be a good option at home or in a restaurant.
- Romaine lettuce or other greens make a good base.
- Add any extra vegetables, such as chopped zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, or bell peppers.
- Include feta cheese or low-fat feta cheese.
- Consider garbanzo beans or grilled chicken instead of crispy chicken and
- Ask for Greek vinaigrette or olive oil and vinegar on the side.
Salads with greens, other vegetables, lean protein, and light dressing can be filling, low in calories, and great for weight loss.
6. Penne Casserole with Chunky Butternut Squash Tomato Sauce
Pasta dishes can be staples, but they can be high in calories and carbs. Problems include oversized portions, fatty meats such as ground beef or bacon, and refined pasta. A meatless casserole with whole-grain pasta and tons of vegetables can be delicious, filling, and better for your waistline.
These are some tips.
- Use whole-grain penne, rotini, spaghetti, or other pasta.
- Blend pureed cooked butternut or acorn squash into tomato sauce.
- Add cooked vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach leaves, and broccoli florets. Canned tomatoes also work.
- Season with onion and garlic powder, basil, and black pepper.
- Use low-fat parmesan and fat-free mozzarella cheeses.
7. Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas
Beef or chicken enchiladas can have over 700 calories per serving. But these swaps can slash calories by over 50%.
- Skip beef or pork and make a filling with sliced mushrooms and chopped spinach cooked with diced onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, with (optional) 2 ounces per person of shredded skinless chicken breast or ⅓ cup per person of canned low-sodium black beans.
- Use soft taco-sized whole-grain flour or corn tortillas instead of burrito-sized white flour or refined corn tortillas.
- Make a sauce without cream and with lime juice, green chiles, tomato sauce or paste, oregano, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cumin.
- Use half the amount of cheese, and use low-fat or fat-free shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese.
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This year can be your year! Lark can help you reach your health and weight loss goals without dieting! Lark’s coaching is available 24/7 through your smartphone. Features include daily check-ins, meal logging features, and instant feedback.
You can still eat great-tasting, favorite foods and lose weight. There are ways to eat foods you love while making healthier choices. Lark’s nutrition and weight loss coaching can help you make small changes to stay on track or get back on track if you got a little off during the holidays.
Your health insurance might cover Lark at no cost to you. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark!
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