get monthly recipes, ideas and tips »

5 Slimming New Year’s Swaps

Posted on January 10, 2014

Some of us are feeling a bit over-served from the past month of festivities others have been meaning to drop a few lbs. for a few months now.  Either way, there’s no doubt that diet season is in full swing. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer. In fact, here are a few of our favorite slimming swaps that will keep your waste line in check and your tastebuds satisfied all year long.

Go Lean: Swap in lean meats, chicken or plant based proteins onto the center of your plate. Protein is essential to keep you energized and strong, but you can do without the extra saturated fats found in steaks, chops and traditional ground beef. For instance, try using ground chicken or chopped chicken breast in taco salad in place of ground beef for your traditional taco night.

Fuel with Fire: Fire up the grill no matter what time of year it is. If it’s too cold to hit the backyard, use a grill pan instead. Grills allow you to cook with the slightest amount of oil, which means that you’ll end up with fewer calories on your plate that if you pan fry or sauté. In addition, grilling offers a smokey finish which means you can skip the marinade and still enjoy robust flavor.

Right Your Wrap: There’s no reason to go for a hefty bun or thick slices of bread when you can hold a sandwich together with way slimmer options. A large leaf of romaine lettuce makes for a great low-cal wrap for chicken breast sandwiches. Whole grain flatbreads and tortillas can also provide a protein boost, while subbing in for an otherwise simple carb.

Color It In: We’ve been taught to believe that dinner consists of a protein, vegetable and starch. Of course, that formula is seriously debatable. Add extra vitamins to your meal by swapping in a second vegetable in place of your rice or potato standby.  Go with contrasting colors like green broccoli and orange carrots beside your roasted chicken or golden sautéed squash and grilled zucchini next to a beautifully broiled chicken breast.

Let it Grain: If carbs are something you can’t do without, swap whole grains for simple white carbs. From whole grain pasta to brown rice to more exotic quinoa and faro, there are a wide variety of complex carbs that not only add fiber to your meals, but flavor as well. Whole grains tend to fill you up quicker too and keep you feeling full longer. That means rather than snacking, you’ll make it to the next mealtime with a healthy attitude.

Grilled Quinoa Chicken

8 oz. FreeBird boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tsps. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 med. red onion, sliced

1 med green pepper, seeded and quartered

3 cups cooked quinoa

3 clementines, peeled and sectioned

1/3 cup cilantro

1/4 cup dried currants

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped cashews

Brush chicken with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill for 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Toss red onion and green pepper with remaining olive oil and grill for 3-4 minutes per side until  tender. When chicken, onions and peppers are grilled, diced and toss with quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Mix in clementines, cilantro, currents, vinegar and cashews. Serves 4.