What's in your refrigerator-freezer that screams, "I want to be healthy and lose weight?"
Dr. Mehmet Oz tackled that subject this week on his Emmy Award-winning daily television show, "Dr. Oz".
Even Weight Watchers dedicated a weekly meeting to the idea that your refrigerator can be your best friend, with its program, "Your Plan-Friendly Fridge."
In general, both sources agree on a couple of simple things.
- Move "trigger" foods and snacks to the back of the shelves, making them more difficult to reach without effort
- Have vegetable and fruit snacks in sealed containers, cut up and washed for ready-to-grab situations like long drives or shopping expeditions.
Here are some staples that will get your refrigerator on your side in the never ending battle of the bulge
No-sugar, low sodium beverages Pre-made tea or coffee stored in glass jars is perfect for an iced drink. Try carbonated, fruit-flavored water drinks that deliver something sweet without the guilt. They can be mixed with a four ounce glass of wine to make a tall spritzer. Add a slice of fruit on the lip of the glass and some ice cubes and you're set.
Low-fat frozen treats. With the explosion of food brands dedicated to providing desserts and ice cream substitutes most, if not all grocery stores of any average size carry them. Choose the ones that can stand in for your favorite scary treats and stock up. Some are so good you'll have to fight your spouse or kids for them. My favorite are the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, particularly the mint flavor.
Low or non-fat dairy products. Dairy products provide essential vitamins to maintain health and support an active lifestyle. If necessary, hunt for lactose-free versions. Grab-and-go individual portions of yogurt and string cheese are great snacks for TV watching or for in-car eating when necessary. You can even melt the string cheese on top of baked chips as a base for some healthy nachos. Non-fat Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream, for those who are dipping aficionados --- some Cajun seasoning, green chiles or red-pepper chili paste adds pop. Don't forget the Laughing Cow individually wrapped cheese wedges.
Flavorful condiments. Sometimes it's all about the flavor to keep you interested. For that baked potato, try spicy or brown mustard instead of butter. Add some faux-butter spray and a bit of salsa and you can be good to go. Spicy mustard can also substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich. Eliminate ketchup with your favorite hot sauce. Use onion and garlic powder on salads with low-fat dressing and some minced jalapeno pepper to throw into stir-fry meals.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables. To keep costs down, don't insist on having berries in the winter, unless you can afford them. Try to vary what you purchase and think about how to make them in ways that entice you. Throw some apples, cinnamon and nutmeg in a slow cooker for sugar-free applesauce. Cut up fruits, blend with ice and milk to make a guilt-free shake. For your dose of green veggies, change things up or cosmetize them by combining a few (asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower) in a stir fry over rice. With chili paste, peanut oil and low sodium soy sauce you might not even know you're eating them.
There are plenty of ways your refrigerator can get off the enemies list and become your pal. It's all about planning ahead so that when you open the door, you feel like you're safe.