Question: I'm allergic to fish and seafood and I know you’re supposed to reduce your red meat intake. My husband and I are also trying to lose weight. What kinds of dinners can I make that are satisfying with less chicken, chicken and chicken? I would really like to increase our use of vegetables and fruits but I'm afraid to go vegetarian with soy products, etc. What should I consider?
Answer: Kudos to you and your husband for looking for ways to increase your fruit and vegetable intake and on working together to lose weight! The first step I would recommend is to determine the calorie level that is best for you depending on your age, activity level and gender. To do this, visit the MyPyramid website at www.mypyramid.gov and click on the “menu planner”. This website is a great resource for tips for losing weight, serving sizes, etc.
Red meat can still be included in your diet, it is just recommended to look for lean cuts. For lean cuts of beef, look for the words “loin” or “round” in the name, such as tenderloin, sirloin or round steak. Choose ground beef that is 90-95% lean. Other great protein sources include turkey, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. Peanut butter, almond butter or soy nut butter are also good sources.
Also, remember to keep portion sizes in mind. Even overeating on “healthy” foods can lead to weight gain or weight maintenance instead of weight loss. It is all about the amount of calories we consume compared to the calories we use through daily activities and physical activity. For meat and beans, 3 ounces of cooked meat or poultry is the size of a deck of cards. Two tablespoons of peanut butter (or any nut butter) is the size of a golf ball. One-half cup of beans is the size of a computer mouse.
Soy products are great options too. They taste very similar to ground beef or chicken. When choosing a soy product, such as the burgers, compare the sodium amounts. Some of the soy products can be high in sodium.
To get some dinner ideas, visit our Weekly Nutritious Menu on our Healthy living website (www.meijerhealthyliving.com). Every Monday, Maribel has a “Meatless Monday” meal. This may be a good start. The rest of the week, she includes various sources of protein for a well-balanced meal.
Other ideas include: (source: Naturally Nutrient Rich Coalition)
Palate-Pleasing Primavera (about 300-400 calories): Saute 2 t. garlic in 1 T. olive oil. Toss in ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ½ cup broccoli, ½ cup asparagus, ½ cup mushrooms and 2 T. shredded carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Mix with 1 cup cooked penne pasta and top with 2 T. Parmesan cheese. (if you don’t like one or more of these vegetables, include vegetables that you like – squash, zucchini, bell peppers, etc)
Very Veggie Pizza (about 400-500 calories): Spread a 3-ounce whole grain pizza crust with ½ cup marinara sauce. Layer with thin slices of the following: ½ cup roasted potatoes, ½ cup red onions and ½ cup green and red peppers. Top with ½ cup shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese. Bake according to the package directions.
Family Favorite (about 400-500 calories): Top 1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta with 3 ounces cooked ground skinless turkey breast or 90-95% lean ground beef mixed with ½ cup Italian-style tomato sauce. Serve with 1 cup spinach salad tossed with 1 T. lowfat Italian dressing.
Pita and Peanut Butter Surprise (200-300 calories): Spread 1 T. peanut butter inside a 4-inch whole wheat pita pocket and stuff with ½ cup sliced strawberries. Serve with 1 cup of fat-free milk.
Delicate Delight (300-400 calories): Toss 1 ½ cups baby spinach leaves with ½ chopped hard-cooked egg, ½ cup strawberries and 1 T. slivered almonds. Sprinkle with 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese and 2 T. lowfat raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Serve with a small dinner roll.
The Comfort Zone (300-400 calories): Spread 2 slices whole wheat bread with 1 ½ t. butter. Make a sandwich with 2 ounces sliced lowfat cheese, such as smoked mozzarella, and grill. Serve with 1 cup tomato basil soup.
Decision-Free Favorite (400-500 calories): Place 3 ounces lean ham with 2 ounces lowfat Swiss cheese on a whole grain bun. Top with 2 T. stone-ground mustard and romaine lettuce. Accompany with a small sliced apple.
Fri, January 22, 2010
by Janine Faber