Choose Colorful Peppers

Ounce for ounce, green peppers have three times as much vitamin C as oranges. And red and yellow peppers have twice as much vitamin C as green ones: a whopping 170 milligrams in 3 ounces. Green peppers also supply some beta carotene, but the amount increases greatly as a pepper matures and turns red or yellow.

Don’t rinse packaged domestic rice:

it’s unnecessary and it washes away some of the vitamins and minerals added to enrich it. Possible exceptions: rice purchased in bulk from open bins and some imported rice.

If you take calcium supplements, stick with plain old calcium carbonate, the type found in some antacids—it’s by far the cheapest. All types of calcium supplements contain the amount promised on the label and all dissolve reliably in lab tests. Take calcium carbonate with food. Another good option: calcium citrate.

Don’t take more than 500 milligrams of calcium supplements at a time. Split larger doses and take half later in the day to enhance absorption and reduce the risk of constipation.

When reading menus, watch out for these terms, which are giveaways to high-calorie, fatty foods: creamed, crispy, breaded, à la king, croquettes, carbonara, parmigiana, meunière, tempura, fritters, frit to, Alfredo, au gratin, au beurre, batter-dipped, bearnaise, béchamel, and hollandaise.

Don’t assume that “natural” sodas containing fruit juice are lower in calories than regular sodas. Sometimes they actually have more calories—and only a modest amount of added nutrients. If you’re trying to cut calories, stick with plain or flavored seltzers, or mix them with juice.

Try low-fat or fat-free tub margarine.

Typically, low-fat tub margarine has only 2 grams of fat and just 20 calories per tablespoon, and nearly no heart-damaging trans fat. Standard stick margarine has 11 grams of fat and 100 calories per tablespoon, plus lots of trans fat.

Don’t think that dry roasted nuts are significantly lower in calories than regular roasted nuts. Because nuts are so high in fat, to begin with, roasting them in oil (read: frying) hardly makes a difference. Roasted nuts absorb little oil anyway.

To increase the amount of iron your body absorbs from vegetarian foods, consume foods and drinks rich in vitamin C (such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato juice) with your meals.

Choose condiments wisely.

Ketchup and prepared mustard are low calorie, low-fat flavor boosters—only 15 calories per tablespoon—but they’re high in sodium, with 150 to 180 milligrams per tablespoon. Make sodium-free mustard by mixing mustard powder with water, vinegar, or milk. Prepared horseradish has half the calories and one-tenth the sodium of mustard or ketchup.

If you’re trying to lose weight, keep a daily food and activity diary. You don’t have to track every calorie eaten or burned—just the act of writing down what you generally eat and how much you exercise can motivate you.

Make lower-calorie tortilla chips by baking fresh tortillas at 400° F. for8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp. You can cut them into triangles before baking, or break them into chips afterward.

To preserve vitamin C, store orange juice in a tightly closed container at 40° F. or below. Whole, unpeeled oranges, however, hardly lose any vitamin C over time, since no oxygen comes in contact with the edible part. Even in a day or two of sweltering weather, an orange would lose less than 10% of its C. If you keep the fruit cool, it would dry out or rot before it lost a significant amount of vitamin C.

Don’t fear coffee.

It has been blamed for everything from high blood pressure to pancreatic cancer, but in nearly every instance early research linking coffee or caffeine to health problems has been refuted by better subsequent studies. The pendulum has swung so far that some researchers now suggest that coffee may actually have health benefits.

Instead of putting a large pot of hot food directly in the refrigerator or leaving it out to cool off, place it in a deep pan of cold water (ice cubes will speed things up). Water is effective at removing heat. Once the food has cooled substantially, it can be refrigerated. One advantage of this method is that the hot food won’t raise the temperature of the refrigerator.

Try a new fruit or vegetable every month, or every week. From the mundane to the exotic—from parsnips and artichokes to mangos and guavas—there are lots of choices, especially in farmers’ markets and stores geared for various ethnic cuisines. This will help you meet the nine a day minimum recommendation and will boost your intake of antioxidants and other substances that may lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Avoid fried eggplant.

It soaks up oil quickly, like a sponge—more than any other vegetable, even more than French fries. Try grilling, broiling, baking, steaming, or braising it instead of frying.

Follow these guidelines for cooking eggs. You need not cook eggs to the hard and rubbery stage. Boiling an egg in its shell at 140° for 3H minutes should kill virtually all bacteria. Scrambled eggs and omelets are fine if cooked just past the runny, moist stage (they should be set, but don’t have to be rock hard). If you’re frying eggs, “over easy” is best: fry them for about 3 minutes on one side, then about 1 minute on the other.

Eat sweet potatoes.

Despite their sweet taste, they have about the same number of calories per ounce as white potatoes. A 3Hounce baked sweet potato contains three times the recommended daily amount of beta carotene, half the RDA for vitamin C, and just 100 calories.

Avoid the typical package of ground poultry, which usually contains skin and too much fat. Look for ground turkey breast; it should be labeled 96 to 98% fat-free (by weight).

Try veggie burgers. They’re served in many restaurants, and you’ll find them in frozen, refrigerated, or mix form in the grocery store. Veggie burgers may be primarily soy and/or may contain any combination of mushrooms, onions, peppers, rice, oats, barley, bulgur (cracked wheat), rye, gluten (wheat protein), beans, spices, and egg whites. In a restaurant, ask the waiter what’s in the veggie burger and how it’s cooked. Some veggie burgers are almost fat-free, but some are high in fat, especially if nuts or cheese are major ingredients.

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