Often times the idea of losing weight can spark fear in even the bravest of people… “You mean I have to give up my favorite foods?”  I have had many clients struggle with the idea that carb-laden, high calorie meals are out and high protein, clean meals are in.  People often turn to the latest fad diet or cleanse as a way to quickly drop pounds, only to see them return, sometimes two-fold, when the diet is over and normal eating resumes.  I don’t believe in diets or store bought cleanses, rather I have my clients engage in a food-lifestyle change.  This means rethinking about how and what we eat in a way that is sustainable over the long term.  After all, who wants to diet and look great, only to see the pounds fly back on faster than we lost them? 

I am often met with resistance from clients that want the quick fix and then jump right back to normal eating.  They think that eating well over the long term means giving up all of the foods they love in exchange for foods that would make a caveman turn up his nose.  Losing weight and keeping it off, however, doesn’t have to mean a diet of salads and grilled chicken day after monotonous day.  With a little creativity, a bit of effort, and the food hacks in this article, you can have your cake, eat it too, and still look great at the beach this summer! 

Pasta

Being Italian, pasta is one of my favorite meals.  It was also one of the first things I had to give up to start trimming the waist line.  I was able to, however, find three great food hacks to get a little Italian back in my life:

Spaghetti squash – simple to prep and gives you the same texture and comfort of a bowl of mom’s spaghetti, but with a fraction of the calories!

Pasta Zero – this tofu based pasta, found with the tofu in most grocery stores, is microwaveable and looks and feels just like pasta.  While it does have a bit of a unique flavor, a quick, healthy sauce can fix that.  And at 30 calories for big bowl of pasta, this hack is definitely worth a try.

Edamame Pasta

Edamame or black bean pasta – my newest food hack, and one of my favorites.  You can pick this up in most grocery stores in the organic or health food aisle and gives you 4 meals for under four bucks.  While it comes in at 200 calories per serving, higher than the other hacks in this category, it’s loaded with 24g of protein and very few carbs.  The texture and taste is amazing.  Toss on some sautéed tomatoes and garlic and you will forget all about the carb heavy pasta you used to eat!

White potatoes

Nothing says comfort like pizza, a bowl of rice, some tater tots, or some of mom’s mashed potatoes.  But, if you are trying to get bikini ready, white potatoes have to go.  Luckily, there is a simple and super low calorie hack that will have you back to feeling the comfort of home with some of your favorite foods.

cauliflower pizza bagels

Cauliflower:  This is one of the most versatile hacks out there, and at 130ish calories for an entire head, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.  Cauliflower can be mashed like potatoes or “riced” and used in place of, well, rice or in tater tots, pizza crusts, and even bread and bagels.  There are scores of Cauli-recipes online, and in a future article where I will show you some of my favorite ways to use this awesome little veggie

Bread crumbs/Fried foods

Fiber One Fried Pickles

Mmmmmm…anything fried and crunchy and you have my taste-buds going crazy, but we all know that thick layers of breading mixed with deep frying leads to thick layers in places we don’t want them.  Thanks to one of my most creative hacks, however, “fried” foods don’t have to be off the menu while the pounds are coming off

Fiber One:  Everyone needs more fiber in their diet, and what a better way to get it then by eating fried pickles, green bean fries, or crispy tater tots.  Fiber One cereal can be ground up in a food processor or blender and turned into a subtly sweet replacement for bread crumbs.  Simply grind up the cereal and add your favorite spices for a deliciously healthy bread crumb replacement.  One thing to note, a half cup of ground up cereal goes a long way.  I have found that a half cup, pre-grinding, usually will replace a whole cup of normal bread crumbs.

Wire racks:  So you have your green beans or pickles dipped in some egg substitute and coated in your Fiber One Bread crumbs, but how in the world can you get them crispy?  Wire racks are a cheap hack to help you get a little crispiness back that deep fat frying delivers.  Simply put a wire rack over a cookie sheet and put your “breaded” food on the rack.  Keeping the food elevated allows the heat to hit all sides and makes sure that the food isn’t getting soggy just sitting on a sheet pan.  One tip, make sure you give the racks and good shot with some non-stick cooking spray to make sure you don’t lose the coating.  Second tip, hit the food with a minute or two of broiling at the very end, if you like your crispiness a little, well, crisper!

Flour

Let’s face it, flour is called for in almost every recipe you see, epically any type of baking.  While there are a lot of variations that are a bit healthier than white flour, flour in most forms is heavy in calories and carbs.  For those of us trying to limit our carb intake, flour can be a dirty word.  But, this doesn’t mean that you have to forgo some of your favorite baked dishes.

Protein powder:  This hacks is the one that takes the most creativity and trial and error, but, to me, that is what makes food hacks so fun and rewarding.  Protein powder can be used as a flour substitute, or at least a reducer, in many recipes.  Not crazy about vanilla whey in a savory dish?  Luckily, unflavored pea protein is a great hack to use in your savory dishes or as a thickener in soups and stews.  Like I said, this one requires some experimenting, but there are some great cookbooks and recipes out there that will have you ditching the flour in favor of this protein packed hack!

There you have it, some of my favorite food hacks.  Losing weight isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard.  All you need is a little creativity and a bit of time in the kitchen, and you will be dropping dress sizes while still indulging in all of your favorite foods!  Until next, remember to Live Past Possible!