Maybe your evenings go something like mine…. Get home and hit the ground running in an attempt to tackle the massive to-do list. Or maybe cooking isn’t really your thing. Either way, we don’t always have time to cook a full dinner each night.
Fitbie wants to help.
*P.S.* I tried THIS recipe last night, and I have to say, it was DELICIOUS. We gobbled it up! (Don’t forget: You can search key words on the blog!)
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Choose Reduced- and Low-Sodium Soups
Talk about a label lie! All a brand has to do to slap “reduced sodium” on its packaging is shrink the amount of salt in its original product by 25%, says Greaves. So if Campbell’s Chunky Baked Potato with Steak and Cheese sliced a measly 210 mg of sodium off the whopping 840 mg it contains, it would qualify for a new and improved label. Instead look for low-sodium options, which by USDA standards must contain less than 140 mg of sodium.
Use Canned Soup as a Meal Starter
People rarely heed a soup’s serving-size recommendation, says Greaves, which is often half the can. And if you’re hungry it’s definitely not difficult to down two not-so-filling broth-based bowls. Stick to the serving size by heating only half of the soup or splitting a can with your spouse. Jazz up your half portion with a cup of brown rice and additional nutrient-rich veggies—leftovers and frozen varieties are perfect for this, says Greaves. “It’s all about the additive effects of food. Adding whole grains and veggies provides extra nutrients, and will make it so that one true serving of soup fills you up.”
Expert Tip: If you like creamier fares opt for a pureed vegetable soup like Pacific Natural Foods Organic Light Sodium Butternut Squash. It has a similar texture without the extra fat.
Learn to Love Legumes
Consider beans the kings of the canned food aisle. “They’re low in fat, high in protein, and high in fiber,” says Greaves. “And the more fiber you add to your diet, the fuller you’ll feel and the fewer calories you’ll consume.” Versatile beans like kidney, navy, and chickpeas are perfect to toss into salads, soups, and wraps to instantly ramp up a meal’s nutrition. What’s more, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that people who ate chickpeas regularly experienced greater weight loss than people who simply followed a low-calorie diet. Participants who ate legumes daily lost an average of 8 pounds in just 8 weeks.
Give Your Beans a Bath
Eliminate some of the salt added during the canning process by rinsing your beans before cooking with them. The same goes for other canned veggies, like string beans, artichoke hearts, and peas, which can contain about 350 mg of sodium in just a half-cup serving. If you want to skip the veggie shower, opt for a brand like Del Monte that sells low- and no-sodium options.
Find Fruit sans Syrup
We’d like to think we get points for eating fruit in any form, but when it comes to many canned varieties you’d be just as healthy if you polished off a piece of pie. The syrup that peaches, pears, and citrus fruits marinate in adds sugar that the naturally sweet foods don’t need. Instead, choose fruits canned either in their own 100% juice or water. Drinking your fruits is also an option, but canned can be a better substitute for whole fresh fruit, says Greaves. Although you still get a healthy dose of vitamins from fruit juice, you miss out on a lot of the filling fiber that helps ward off hunger and prevent overeating. Plus, canned fruit makes a tasty topping for yogurt and oatmeal without the need for washing or messy slicing.
Pop the Lid off Some Protein
Tuna is a wonderful, convenient source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But remember, your Chicken of the Sea should be swimming in water—not an oil spill, says Karen Ansel, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Tuna that’s packed in oil and drained still delivers more than 5 times the amount of saturated fat found in tuna packed in water.
Expert Tip: Slash fat and calories from your tuna salad by swapping out mayo for a couple of teaspoons of hummus.