Give Your Fridge A Makeover
Replacing Fattening Items with Healthier Alternatives
Is your refrigerator full of cholesterol, sugars and saturated fats?
In these days when makeovers are all the rage, how about tackling your fridge and freezer? If you've decided it's time to implement some healthier eating options, you could do worse than to give your fridge and freezer a makeover.
If there is nothing in your refrigeratorthat is bad for you, how good is that? If fridges and freezers are stocked only with healthy items, and you do indulge, you will still be able to sleep at night.
So, bear the following in mind as you shop and gradually replace not-so-good items with better options.
- Jams and spreads are hard to resist but full of sugar. Next time you need these items, buy 100% fruit spreads or reduced sugar spreads. One hundred percent fruit spread will taste the same as jam but has far less sugar. Have a piece of toast and fruit spread in place of cake as a treat.
- Learn to read the nutrition labels on the sides of all products so that you can recognise when less sugar perhaps just means more salt or fat. Sometimes a reduction in an ingredient means a less tasty product. The manufacturer then compensates by adding another, possibly equally undesirable, ingredient. Even worse, additives may be used to enhance flavours.
- If you use casserole bases and marinades, don't replace them when you run out but make your own from, preferably, fresh ingredients. Casserole bases and marinades can have all sorts of additives including thickeners and emulsifiers. Not all of these are beneficial and some are downright harmful. Get yourself a pocket-size book of the numbers given to additives and learn which ones to avoid. European and Australian foods have 'E' numbers (in Australia there is no 'E') and American foods have GRAS (generally recognised as safe) coding. Use fresh herbs, salt-reduced sauces and fat-free dressings. Most cook-in sauces and marinades are high in sugars and/or fats. Most Westerners ingest way too much salt so go easy even with the salt-reduced alternatives.
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- Replace full-fat cheeses, milk and butter with fat-reduced or low-fat products. Even better, use smaller amounts of a stronger-tasting cheese thus reducing fat intake even more. Eggs are nutritious and good for you. The fattening part of eggs is the yolk and, although you could use more egg white and less yolk as in scrambled eggs, it hardly seems worth the effort.
- Forget about buying commercially made potato and caesar salads and coleslaw. Store-bought salads are usually high in salt. Creamy dressings can be high on the kilojoule scale. Stick to fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables and use coriander, mint or parsley to give extra zing. Aim for two serves of fruit and five of vegetables each day. A serve is regarded as roughly ½ a cupful. Vegetables are not a garnish so make sure your serves are big enough.
- Get rid of soft drinks and learn to like water, preferably from the tap unless there are reasons why you shouldn't drink tap water. A bottle of soft drink can have up to 16 – no, that's not a type – sixteen teaspoons of sugar in a 600ml bottle. That is a lot of sugar. Use 100% fruit juice or water instead. Watch the sugar content in flavoured waters too. You could be surprised.
- There is no reason nowadays to indulge in regular ice-cream, cheesecakes and frozen desserts. There is a huge range of (almost) fat-free, low fat, no-added-sugar sweets and treats available. Again, read the labels and be informed. Buy individual portions of frozen fruit and do away with pies and pastries. Fruit tastes just as good, if not better, without the pastry. Top with some low-fat yoghurt and you have a dessert fit for a king – or queen.
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- If you love your pastry, buy filo pastry or 25% reduced-fat pastry and make your own pies and pastries. If you use frozen berries as a filling, there is no need to defrost them first. Filo pastry is best as you use less of it.
- Freeze leftover portions for a healthy, take-to-work lunch or instant dinner. Name brand frozen meals are usually high in fat and salt, low in vegetables and fibre. Look for less than150g of sodium (salt) per 100g and less than 3g fat per 100g. If the fibre is less than 5g per serve, you need to add extra vegetables.
- Forget about white breads, wraps and tortillas. The two latter can be very high in fat. Replace with wholegrain bread and rolls. Pita bread is good too. Most breads are high is salt so limit yourself to 2-4 slices a day, preferably two.
- Stock up on lean cuts of meat, fish fillets and skinless chicken. Trim fat from meat and remove the skin from chicken cuts as this is where most of the fat is. Most meats freeze really well so stock up when prices are low and/or meat is on special. Any processed meats (sausages, salami, meat pies) are almost bound to be very high in salt and fat, although it is now possible to buy low-fat ham and deli meats.
- Keep the freezer stocked with frozen vegetables. Don't buy regular frozen chips or manufactured items such as dim sims and other goodies in pastry. Prepared vegetable meals are usually full of oil and fat. Use frozen vegies as you would fresh.
Some of these changes may take getting used to. It may take longer to prepare and cook a meal from scratch than to heat a ready-cooked meal. Try preparing a double quantity and freezing half for the following week or storing half in the fridge for a day or two. If you like soup, cook a potful and freeze in smaller portions.
Put a little effort into finding recipes for quick to prepare meals. There are thousands on the web and the effort will be well worth it. Put on your favourite music while you're cooking, make the most of the time to do some extra exercises such as deep knee bends or lunges to access your saucepans, stretches to reach for a high item and use a can in each hand to do a bit of weight training while you wait for the water to boil and you'll be looking trimmer in no time. So will your fridge!