Power up your diet with savvy substitutions that boost your nutrition, without maxing out your calories. by Giada de Laurentiis
Almond Butter: Instead of covering your toast with or dipping your apple slices into the usual peanut butter, try almond butter instead. The heart-healthy fats in almonds help lower “bad” cholesterol, while their vitamin E works against inflammation and may even prevent signs of aging.
Quinoa: This easy-to-prepare grain (actually the seed of a spinachlike plant) is packed with protein and filling fiber. Try it instead of rice, couscous, or small pasta in pilafs or cold salads. Or work it into your day earlier by mixing a bit of cooked quinoa into pancake batter or adding it to your morning oatmeal.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Rather than buttering your bread, dip it in olive oil instead. It has heart-healthy “good” fats that lower “bad” cholesterol, and the extra-virgin variety has more disease-fighting antioxidants. Because cooking can degrade the healthful ingredients, it’s best to eat the oil at room temperature; in addition to using it as a condiment for your carbs, try it in salad dressings.
Wild Salmon: Salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids are thought to lower blood pressure; they and other nutrients are also believed to have anti- inflammatory properties. (And it’s missing something that some other seafood has: high-mercury levels, which have been associated with birth defects.) Farmed salmon has fewer of these health benefits, so it’s worth it to upgrade your steak or fillet to the wild variety.
Sweet Potatoes: This delicately sweet orange tuber is packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to protect vision, bolster immunity, and help prevent some forms of cancer.
Avocados: Yes, avocados are high in calories, but their fat is the beneficial variety that increases “good” cholesterol while lowering the “bad.” They also have lots of fiber, which helps keep your appetite satiated.
Kale and Spinach: Salad is a go-to light lunch for anyone wanting to up their veggie intake while watching calories. But it’s important to make those greens earn their keep in your salad bowl!