Big Portions, Small Calorie Counts: Swaps Edition

Jan 8 2020 Hi Lisa,

I want to lose weight in 2020, but in the past when I've dieted I felt too hungry and couldn't stick with it. Can you suggest some simple changes that won’t leave me feeling deprived?

Hungry New Year Dear Hungry,

You’ve come to the right place! I’m all about better-for-you swaps. A big part of my food philosophy is finding low-calorie alternatives that provide big portions… This way, I stay fuller longer! Plus, healthy eating is way better when you get to dig into a nice full plate of food. Here are some everyday switches to supersize your healthy-eating plan…

Instead of Whole Eggs… Egg Whites

This is a classic way to slash calories at breakfast and beyond. Let’s say you’re making a morning scramble. For about 200 calories, you could have 3 medium eggs (less than 2/3 cup) OR you could have 1 1/2 cups of egg whites or egg substitute. No brainer! Egg mugs are one of my morning go-tos. This swap also works in egg salad, baked goods, and more.

Instead of Spaghetti… Zucchini Noodles

Pasta is delicious, but it’s SO calorie dense. A 200-calorie portion of cooked spaghetti is just a measly cup. Disappointing! For the same number of calories, you could have 4 1/2 cups of spiralized zucchini. Make it yourself, or grab a bag from the freezer aisle. Here are some recipes!

Instead of Brown Rice… Cauliflower Rice

Yes, whole grains are nutritious, but -- in my opinion -- there are better ways to get those nutrients. Especially since 3/4 cup of cooked brown rice has around 200 calories. Riced cauliflower? It would take -- brace yourself -- FIVE AND A HALF CUPS of cauliflower rice to hit the 200-calorie mark. You probably don't need that much in one sitting, but it’s still a much better pick if you’re looking to save calories and increase portion size. There are lots of Hungry Girl recipes that call for riced cauliflower.

Instead of Salad Dressing… Salsa

I've been enjoying this swap for ages -- it's extra useful at restaurants! Vinaigrette dressings seem light, but just a 2-tablespoon serving often has 100 - 200 calories… and an entrée-sized salad can easily be dressed with 2 - 3 times that amount. On the flip side, 1/4 cup of salsa has just 10 - 20 calories. Perfect!

Instead of Dried Fruit… Fresh Fruit

Dried fruit may be convenient in a pinch, but the portion size is teeny-tiny! A 100-calorie serving of grapes is an entire cup, while 100 calories’ worth of raisins is just 3 tablespoons. Freeze-dried fruit is another good alternative… You get a much larger portion than traditional dried fruit.

Instead of Pretzels… Seaweed Snacks

Give seaweed a chance! It has a salty crunch like pretzels and chips, but you can have much more of it for the same number of calories. 16 mini pretzel twists totals 100 calories -- not bad, but they'll be gone before you know it. On the flip side, you could have two full multi-serve snack packs (or 4 single-serve packs) of seaweed sheets for 100 calories. Bonus: Seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals.

By the way, if you’re not ready to go FULL SWAP, try mixing the low-calorie alternative with the traditional version. You’ll still save calories and supersize your portions. Now swap ‘til you drop!

Hungry for More Smart Swaps?

Pick up a copy of the Winter 2020 issue of Hungry Girl magazine for the Swapping Spree story -- we’ve got low-calorie swaps for bread, dairy, meat, and more. Click for details!

FYI: We may receive affiliate compensation from some of these links.

Chew on this:

January is National Hot Tea Month. If you've been thinking of trying matcha green tea, now’s the time!

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