Some of My Favorites, but a Little Healthier

 

Often the hardest part of losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle is changing our eating habits. Those calorie-dense, high fat, high sugar foods taste good! You like what you like and don’t want to give up those things.

 

But, if you want results, you must make some changes.

 

Portion control is important—understand how much you are eating and how many calories are in what you’re eating. In addition to portions, you can also make some changes that allow you to have the things you like and still reach your goals. Below are some of my guilty pleasure foods and how I make them healthier!

 

Pizza

 

I’m part Italian, but that makes no difference when it comes to a love for pizza! It’s pretty universal and who doesn’t love that cheesy, melty goodness?! When we are home in Chicago we hit Lou Malnati’s and say to Hell with the calories. However, most of the time we make our own at home. Making it at home allows you control:

 

  • Use a pre-made crust and portion it out.
  • Use part skim or low-fat mozzarella cheese and measure carefully.
  • Measure out the marinara and look at the ingredients. Sometimes you can easily make your own with less preservative and salt.
  • If you enjoy pepperoni or sausage, again measure it out. You can also try the turkey versions which are lighter.
  • Add some veggies! Adds bulk to fill you up without adding a lot of calories.
  • Looking to cut carbs? Try a cauliflower crust.

 

It takes a little time in the beginning as you learn what works for you, but it’s so worth it because it tastes so good, and doesn’t hinder my progress.

 

Sandwiches

 

I love a good sandwich! My favorites are often paninis or those on a good French roll. But if I do those every day, the calories add up quick! When you eat out the portions are huge, but making it at home I can cut those calories and still enjoy all the flavor.

 

  • Explore bread options: try your favorite ingredients on a lighter bread, less bread, a wrap or even rolled up in lettuce if you’re watching your carb intake.
  • Weigh your meats and cheese. Know exactly how much you are using by reading labels and weighing your food for accuracy.
  • Load up the veggies—another way to make it filling without adding a ton of calories. Some sandwiches even taste good with sliced apples or pears on them for a little sweetness.
  • Watch those condiments—mayos and vinaigrettes can add up quick. Look for a lighter version or just measure carefully.

 

Pretty Much Any Mexican Food

 

The smells, the spices, and the contrast of hot and cold make me just love Mexican food! When you go out to a restaurant the chips and salsa are brought to the table, and let’s face it—they call your name.

 

To save money, and calories, we often make our favorites at home. I can control ingredients and portions easily, but still satisfy my craving.

 

  • Make a bowl. Layer lettuce, sautéed peppers and onions with some brown rice and/or beans along with your favorite meat seasoned how you like it. Top with some fresh salsa, a sprinkle of cheese and Greek yogurt and/or guacamole.
  • Choose light cheese and Greek yogurt, or leave it off completely.
  • If you like tortillas and beans, try the lighter version or low carb tortillas.
  • Make your meat with the leanest cuts, or try tofu and other meat-alternatives.
  • Again, load up those veggies for bulk and flavor.

 

One of the Best Chocolate Desserts

 

Who doesn’t love some cake? And if you make it a chocolate cake you really have something fantastic! I learned years ago you can lighten it up by using pumpkin puree instead of eggs and oil with your regular old chocolate cake mix. This recipe explains it in more detail—and also explains you can make muffins or cookies instead—but it’s really easy. Take your favorite chocolate cake mix, a 15-oz. can of pureed pumpkin and mix together. I spread it in an 8×8 pan sprayed with cooking spray and bake it until a toothpick comes out clean. I did not put any frosting on it as that would add calories, but you choose for yourself! It really tastes good all by itself.

 

The truth is that reaching goals and being healthy doesn’t mean you should feel deprived or left out. But it will take a little experimentation and creativity to figure out the balance that works for you!

 

Bethany

Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.