How To Get Your Money’s Worth In Nutritive Value

How To Get Your Money’s Worth In Nutritive Value

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get the most nutritious food for the least money. These foods are important tools in accomplishing that mission.

Notice that most of them are available on the perimeter of your grocery store and that I have separated them into departments.

WARNING: Your grocery dollar will self-destruct in 8 seconds if you don’t shop wisely.

DAIRY

If you follow a low-carb, high-fat and protein diet like Atkins or Primal eating, the dairy section is a wonderland of decadent choices for you. Heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, hard cheeses. Yum! But bear in mind that these delights can be pricey and be sure to follow portion guidelines. Let’s not get too carried away. If you follow a more traditional diet, treat yourself to:

Yogurt

The non-fat variety of plain yogurt has 120 calories per cup and low-fat, 144. It delivers a lot of protein and, like any dairy food, is rich in calcium and contains zinc and riboflavin. Yogurt is handy as a breakfast food – cut a banana into it and add the cereal of your choice.

You can find ways to use it in other types of cooking, to – sauces, soups, dips, toppings, stuffings and spreads. Yogurt can replace heavy creams, sour cream and whole milk in a wide range of dishes, saving scads of fat and calories.

You can substitute half or all of the higher fat ingredients. Be creative. For example, combine yogurt, garlic powder, lemon juice, a dash of pepper and Worcestershire sauce and use it to top a baked potato instead of piling on fat-laden sour cream.

Supermarkets and health food stores sell a variety of yogurts, many with added fruit and sugar. To control calories and fat content, buy plain non-fat yogurt and add fruit yourself. Apple butter or fruit spreads with little or no added sugar are an excellent way to turn plain yogurt into a delectable sweet treat.

Cottage Cheese

Low-fat (2%) cottage cheese has 205 calories per cup and is admirably low in fat, while providing respectable amounts of calcium and the B vitamin riboflavin. Season with spices such a dill, or garden fresh vegetables such a scallions and chives for extra zip.

To make it sweeter, add raisins or one of the fruit spreads with no sugar added. You can also use cottage cheese in cooking, baking, fillings and dips where you would otherwise use sour cream or cream cheese.

MEAT

Chicken

White meat contains 245 calories per four ounce serving and dark meat, 285. It’s an excellent source of protein, iron, niacin and zinc. Skinned chicken is healthiest, but most experts recommend waiting until after cooking to remove it because the skin keeps the meat moist during cooking.

Fish

The health benefits of fish are greater than experts imagined – and they’ve always considered it a health food.

The calorie count in the average four-ounce serving of a deep-sea fish runs from a low of 90 calories in abalone to a high of 236 in herring. Water-packed tuna, for example, has 154 calories. It’s hard to gain weight eating seafood.

As far back as 1985, articles in the New England Journal of Medicine showed a clear link between eating fish regularly and lower rates of heart disease. The reason is that oils in fish thin the blood, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Turkey

A four-ounce serving of roasted white meat turkey has 177 calories and dark meat has 211.

Sadly, many folks are still unaware of the versatility and flavor of ground turkey. Anything hamburger can do, ground turkey can do at least as well, from conventional burgers to spaghetti sauce to meat loaf.

Some ground turkey contains skin which slightly increases the fat content. If you want to keep it really lean, opt for ground breast meat. But since this has no added fat, you’ll need to add filler to make burgers or meat loaf hold together.

Four ounces of ground turkey has approximately 170 calories and nine grams of fat – about what you’d find in 2.5 teaspoons of butter or margarine. Incredibly, the same amount of regular ground beef (21% fat) has 298 calories and 23 grams of fat.

Buying turkey has become easy. It’s no longer necessary to buy a whole bird unless you want to. Ground turkey is available fresh or frozen, as are individual parts of the bird, including drumsticks, thighs, breasts and cutlets.

PRODUCE

Apples

These marvels of nature deserve their reputation for keeping the doctor away when you eat one a day. And now, it seems, they can help you melt the fat away, too.

First of all, they elevate your blood glucose (sugar) levels in a safe, gentle manner and keep them up longer than most foods. The practical effect of this is to leave you feeling satisfied longer.

Secondly, they’re one of the richest sources of soluble fiber in the supermarket. This type of fiber prevents hunger pangs by guarding against dangerous swings or drops in your blood sugar level.

An average size apple provides only 81 calories and has no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol. You’ll also get the added health benefits of lowering the level of cholesterol already in your blood as well as lowering your blood pressure.

If you find that old standby, the Red Delicious, either tasteless or mushy, try the Golden Delicious or the Gala.

Berries

are the perfect weight-loss food. They have natural fructose sugar that satisfies your longing for sweets and enough fiber so you absorb fewer of the calories that you eat. And what could be more decadent than having a dish of fresh berries for breakfast or tucking some in a multi-grain muffin or pancake?

Berries are also a great source of potassium that can assist you in blood pressure control. Blackberries have 74 calories per cup, blueberries 81, raspberries 60 and strawberries 45.

Get them fresh when they are available but be aware that raspberries do not keep well and should be used immediately. The other berries can be rinsed, drained, spread out on a cookie sheet (with a rim) and put in the freezer. When they are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag for longer term storage – if they last that long! If fresh berries are not available, grab a bag from your grocery freezer section.

Broccoli

A cup of cooked broccoli has a mere 44 calories. It delivers a staggering nutritional payload and is considered the number one cancer-fighting vegetable. It has no fat, loads of fiber, cancer fighting chemicals called indoles, carotene, 21 times the RDA of vitamin C and calcium. Or you may prefer to eat your broccoli raw for crunch and nutrition.

When you’re buying broccoli, pay attention to the color. The tiny florets should be rich green and free of yellowing. Stems should be firm.

Cabbage

weighs in at only 33 calories in a cup of cooked shredded cabbage, and it retains all its nutritional goodness no matter how long you cook it. Eating cabbage raw (18 calories per shredded cup), cooked, as sauerkraut (27 calories per drained cup) or coleslaw (calories depend on dressing) only once a week is enough to protect against colon cancer. And it may be a longevity-enhancing food.

Carrots

A medium-sized carrot carries about 55 calories and is a nutritional powerhouse. The orange color comes from beta carotene, a powerful cancer-preventing nutrient (provitamin A). Crunching a raw carrot or carrot sticks can loosen a stress-clenched jaw and help alleviate a tension headache. Consider a crunchy combo of diced raw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower flowerets instead of chips or popcorn for a movie-time snack.

Chop carrots and toss them with pasta, grate them into rice or add them to a stir-fry. Combine them with parsnips, oranges, raisins, lemon juice, chicken, potatoes, broccoli or lamb to create flavorful dishes. Spice them with tarragon, dill, cinnamon or nutmeg. Add finely chopped carrots to soups and spaghetti sauce – they impart a natural sweetness without adding sugar.

Figs

Fiber-rich figs are low in calories at 37 per medium (2.25″ diameter) raw fig and 48 per dried fig. A study by the USDA demonstrated that they contribute to a feeling of fullness and prevent overeating. Subjects actually complained of being asked to eat too much food when fed a diet containing more figs than a similar diet with an identical number of calories.

Serve them with other fruits and cheeses. Or poach them in fruit juice and serve them warm or cold. You can stuff them with mild white cheese or puree them to use as a filling for cookies and low-calorie pastries.

Grapefruit

There’s good reason for this traditional diet food to be a regular part of your diet. It helps dissolve fat and cholesterol. An average sized grapefruit has 74 calories, delivers a whopping 15 grams of pectin (the special fiber linked to lowering cholesterol and fat), is high in vitamin C and potassium and is free of fat and sodium.

It’s rich in natural galacturonic acid, which adds to its potency as a fat and cholesterol fighter. The additional benefit here is assistance in the battle against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and the development of heart disease. Try sprinkling it with cinnamon rather than sugar to take away some of the tart taste.

Greens

We’re talking collard, chicory, beet, kale, mustard, Swiss chard and turnip greens. They all belong to the same family as spinach, and that’s one of the super-stars. No matter how hard you try, you can’t load a cup of plain cooked greens with any more than 50 calories.

They’re full of fiber, loaded with vitamins A and C, and free of fat. You can use them in salads, soups, casseroles or any dish where you would normally use spinach.

Kiwi

This New Zealand native is a sweet treat at only 46 calories per fruit. Kiwis are high in vitamin C and potassium. It stores easily in the refrigerator for up to a month. Most people like it peeled, but the fuzzy skin is also edible.

Leeks

These members of the onion family look like giant scallions, and are every bit as healthful and flavorful as their better-known cousins. They come as close to calorie-free as it gets at a mere 32 calories per cooked cup.

You can poach or broil halved leeks and then marinate them in vinaigrette or season with Romano cheese, fine mustard or herbs. They also make a good soup.

Lettuce

People think lettuce is nutritionally worthless, but nothing could be farther from the truth. You can’t leave it out of your weight-loss plans, not at 10 calories per cup of raw romaine. It provides a lot of filling bulk for so few calories. And it’s full of vitamin C, too.

Go beyond iceberg lettuce with Boston, bibb and cos varieties or try watercress, arugula, radicchio, dandelion greens, purslane and even parsley to liven up your salads. Just remember that the more intense the color, the higher the nutritive value.

Melons

Now, here’s great taste and great nutrition in a low-calorie package! One cup of cantaloupe balls has 62 calories, on cup of casaba balls has 44 calories, one cup of honeydew balls has 62 calories and one cup of watermelon balls has 49 calories. They have some of the highest fiber content of any food and are delicious. Throw in handsome quantities of vitamins A and C plus a whopping 547 mgs of potassium in that cup of cantaloupe, and you have a fat-burning health food beyond compare.

Onions

Flavorful, aromatic, and low in calories, onions deserve a regular place in your diet. One cup of chopped raw onions has only 60 calories, and one raw medium onion (2.15″ diameter) has just 42.

They control cholesterol, thin the blood, and may have some value in counteracting allergic reactions. Most of all, onions taste good and they’re good for you.

Peppers

A mere three grams of chili peppers added to a meal will raise your metabolism. It doesn’t take much to create the effect. Most salsa recipes call for four to eight chilies – that’s not a lot.

Peppers are astonishingly rich in vitamins A and C, abundant in calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, high in fiber, free of fat, low in sodium and have just 24 calories per cup.

Spinach

has the ability to lower cholesterol, rev up the metabolism and burn away fat. Rich in iron, beta carotene and vitamins C and E, it supplies most of the nutrients you need. It worked for Popeye and it will work for you. Steam fresh spinach or serve it raw in a salad. Toss in a handful of blueberries, at little feta, and a light dressing of balsamic vinegar and enjoy.

Sweet Potatoes

You can make a meal out of them and not worry about gaining a pound – and you sure won’t walk away from the table feeling hungry. Each sweet potato has about 103 calories. Their creamy orange flesh is one of the best sources of vitamin A you can consume.

You can bake, steam or microwave them. Or add them to casseroles, soups and many other dishes. Flavor with lemon juice or vegetable broth instead of butter.

Tofu

I know, you’re probably going, “Euuww!” But you just can’t say enough positive about this health food from Asia. Also called soybean curd, it’s basically tasteless, so any spice or flavoring you add blends with it nicely. A 2A� ” square has 86 calories and nine grams of protein. (Experts suggest an intake of about 40 grams per day.)

Tofu contains calcium and iron, almost no sodium and not a bit of saturated fat. It makes your metabolism run on high and even lowers cholesterol. With different varieties available, the firmer tofus are goof for stir-frying or adding to soups and sauces while the softer ones are good for mashing, chopping and adding to salads.

Tomatoes

A medium tomato (2.5″ diameter) has only about 25 calories. These garden delights are low in fat and sodium, high in potassium and rich in fiber.

We all know that the best tomato is the one you grow in your own garden. Fresh tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market run a close second. If you are forced to buy your tomatoes at the supermarket, look for those with some stem still attached. Or you might resort to canned tomatoes, but check for salt-reduced. For a condiment just exploding with flavor and nutrition, consider salsa instead of catsup.

Whole Grain Bread

is a natural source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Some breads actually reduce the appetite. The key is eating dark, rich, high-fiber breads such as pumpernickel, whole wheat, mixed grain, oatmeal and others. The average slice of whole grain bread contains only 60 to 70 calories, is rich in complex carbohydrates – the best, steadiest fuel you can give your body – and delivers surprising amount of protein.

Barley

This filling grain stacks up favorably to rice and potatoes. It has 170 calories per cooked cup, respectable levels of protein and fiber and relatively low fat. Roman gladiators ate this grain regularly for strength and actually complained when they had to eat meat. The whiners!

Barley effectively lowers cholesterol by up to 15 percent and has powerful anti-cancer agents. It may cure constipation better than laxatives – and that can promote weight loss, too.

Use it as a substitute for rice in salads, pilaf or stuffing, or add to soups and stews. You can also mix it with rice for an interesting texture. Ground into flour, it makes excellent breads and muffins.

Beans

Beans are one of the best sources of plant protein. Peas, beans and chickpeas are collectively known as legumes. Most common beans have 215 calories per cooked cup (lima beans go up to 260). They have the most protein with the least fat of any food, and they’re high in potassium but low in sodium.

The most common complaint about beans is that they cause gas. Here’s how to contain that problem, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Before cooking, rinse the beans and remove foreign particles, put in a kettle and cover with boiling water, soak for four hours or longer, remove any beans that float to the top, then cook the beans in fresh water.

Buckwheat

It’s great for pancakes, breads, cereal, soups or alone as a grain dish commonly called kasha. It has 155 calories per cooked cup. Diets including buckwheat lead to excellent blood sugar regulation, resistance to diabetes and lowered cholesterol levels. You cook buckwheat the same way you would rice or barley. Bring two to three cups of water to a boil, add the grain, cover the pan, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Oats

A cup of oatmeal or oat bran has only 110 calories. And oats help you lose weight. Subjects in Dr. James Anderson’s landmark 12-year study at the University of Kentucky lost three pounds in two months simply by adding 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of oat bran to their daily food intake.

Just don’t expect oats alone to perform miracles – you have to eat a balanced diet for total health.