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Cook Leaner! 6 Quick and Simple Ways to Lighten Up Meals Without Sacrificing Flavor

Go for healthier butter alternatives. Vegetable-oil spreads can give you the taste of butter without the extra heart-clogging fat, dietary cholesterol and extra calories. (Compare Smart Balance® Buttery Spread*) Just be sure to check the label for cooking purposes: Regular varieties (>60% vegetable oil content) are great for cooking and baking, but anything marked “light” should only be used as a topping due to the higher water content. As for amounts, it’s usually an even swap: one cup of buttery spread for each cup butter.

 

Choose whole grains. When you can, swap whole-grain options for white rice, bread, and pasta to add more fiber in your diet. Fiber-rich foods keep you feeling full longer than those that aren’t. They also take longer to digest, which helps you avoid the blood-sugar spike and crash triggered by refined grain products. Looking for a fun way to sneak in more fiber? Consider Smart Balance® Smart ‘N Healthy™ Microwave Popcorn.

Bake a better cake. Monkeying with a baking recipe can be disastrous, but some substitutions may be acceptable. If your recipe calls for white flour, for instance, Smart Balance staff dietitian, Tammi Hancock, R.D., suggests exchanging up to half the amount with whole-grain flour to up its fiber quotient. Or, swap pureed beans for half the oil or butter a recipe requires. “It adds tons of soluble fiber [to the dish] and helps lower fat, calories and cholesterol,” she explains.

Have an oil change. Switch regular vegetable oil with nutrient-dense olive or canola oil, or use a product like Smart Balance® Cooking Oil, which blends both types with soybean oil (it provides a better blend of mono- and polyunsaturated fats). If you’re sautéing or frying, spray, don’t pour. A one-second blast of Smart Balance® Cooking Spray is enough to coat a small frying pan and adds just 10 calories to the dish.

Reach for lentils. Swap these legumes for half or all of the ground meat called for in chili and casseroles. Your dish will still be protein-rich but won’t sacrifice texture, and it’ll have less saturated fat than all-meat options do.

Say hello to a better mayo. Smart Balance® Omega Plus™ Light Mayonnaise Dressing has half the fat of the regular stuff (5g total fat per serving versus 10g in regular mayo), and it contains natural plant sterols and ALA omega-3, so it can actually help support healthy cholesterol levels already within normal limits.

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