Meet your new nutrition secret weapons: nuts, eggs, salmon, low-fat dairy, peanut butter, avocado, spinach, berries, whole grains, and dark chocolate. Each of these foods works in a different way to zap fat and make you sleeker, says Neva Cochran, RD, a nutrition consultant based in Dallas. The high protein content of nuts and eggs helps curb hunger and boost your calorie burn, meaning you’ll eat less (and lose weight). “The calcium in dairy products trims your waist by increasing the activity of enzymes that break down fat cells. It also reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that causes your body to hang on to belly flab,” Cochran explains. Whole grains, leafy greens, and berries are loaded with filling fiber, which has been proven to reduce your calorie intake. The mono- and polyunsaturated fats in peanut butter, avocados, olive oil, and salmon prevent abdominal fat from accumulating in the first place, research shows. And dark chocolate? “Indulging in a little bit every day keeps cravings under control, which helps you stick to a healthy diet,” Cochran says. Get the ab-flattening benefits of these foods starting today.
Try the recipes on the following pages, aiming for a total of 1,500 calories a day. Mix, match, and slim down!
7 Breakfast Recipes
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Smoothie
In a blender, combine 3/4 cup frozen berries, 1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup low-fat chocolate soy milk, and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat all-natural peanut butter. 355 calories
Egg-White Muffin Melt
Scramble 3 egg whites. Cover half of a whole-grain English muffin with 1/2 cup spinach and the other half with 1 slice reduced-fat cheddar cheese; toast until cheese is melted. Add egg and 1 slice tomato. 270 calories
Top 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup low-fat granola, 1 teaspoon slivered almonds, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/2 cup berries. 303 calories
Prepare 1 packet plain, instant oatmeal with 1/2 cup skim milk. Microwave 3/4 of a small apple, chopped, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Top oatmeal with apples and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts. 255 calories
Mexican Egg Scramble
Scramble 3 egg whites with 1/4 cup canned black beans (rinsed and drained) and 1 ounce reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Top with 2 tablespoons salsa, or to taste. 191 calories
Peanut Buttery Bagel
Toast a whole-grain bagel and spread with 1 tablespoon reduced-fat all-natural peanut butter. Cover with slices from 1 apple. 335 calories
Top 2 whole-grain waffles with 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt, 1/2 cup mixed berries, and 2 teaspoons maple syrup. 246 calories
7 Lunch Recipes
Place 2 to 3 slices roasted turkey, 2 slices avocado, and 1 slice low-fat pepper jack cheese between 2 slices whole-grain bread. Grill in skillet. 303 calories
Penne with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Toss 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat pasta with 1 cup sauteed spinach and 2 tablespoons each pine nuts and low-fat feta. Sprinkle with capers and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. 378 calories
Cook a veggie burger according to package directions. Mash half an avocado with 1/2 cup salsa. Top burger with avocado mixture; serve on a whole-grain bun. 396 calories
Combine 1/2 cup cooked udon with 1 cup spinach and 1 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth. Add 1/2 cup cubed tofu, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. 226 calories
Spinach Flatbread Pizza
Spread 1/3 cup tomato sauce on 1 naan. Top with 2 cups spinach, 1/4 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, and 1 tablespoon slivered almonds. Bake at 350 degrees F. until melted. 366 calories
Zesty Black Beans
Cook 1/2 cup each black beans, chopped bell pepper, and chopped onion and 1 chopped jalapeno in a pan with 2 teaspoons olive oil for 5 minutes. Place over cooked brown rice; top with 1/4 avocado, sliced. 305 calories
Chopped Chicken Salad
Place 3 ounces chopped chicken, 2 tablespoons crumbled low-fat blue cheese, 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, and 1 tablespoon each chopped pecans and dried cranberries on 2 cups lettuce. Toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. 356 calories
7 Dinner Recipes
Maple Salmon with Greens, Edamame, and Walnuts
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary 4 5-ounce fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick 1 6-ounce package fresh baby spinach 1/2 cup cooked shelled edamame 1/2 cup red bell pepper strips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Directions 1. In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, shallot, salt, and pepper. For dressing, in a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup mixture and the olive oil; set aside. 2. For glaze, heat the remaining maple syrup mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes, or until syrupy. Remove from heat; stir in rosemary. 3. Preheat broiler. Place fish on the greased, unheated rack of a broiler pan and brush with half the glaze. Broil 6 to 7 inches from heat for 5 minutes. Turn fish over; brush with remaining glaze. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork.
4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine spinach, edamame, pepper strips, and nuts. Drizzle spinach mixture with dressing; toss to coat. Spoon salad onto plates; top with fish.
Nutrition facts per serving: 460 calories, 33g protein, 18g carbohydrate, 28 g fat (5g saturated), 3g fiber
Baked Veggie Omelet
Makes: 6 servings
Ingredients Nonstick cooking spray 2 tablespoons butter 3 cups bite-size bell pepper strips, sliced mushrooms, and thinly sliced zucchini 1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small) 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons tomato sauce 10 egg whites 5 eggs 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Tomato sauce, warmed (optional)
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 15-x-10-x-1-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. 2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add vegetables, onion, and dried basil. Cook and stir 5 to 8 minutes. Add pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Remove from heat; stir in tomato sauce; keep warm. 3. In a medium bowl beat egg whites, eggs, water, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with a whisk until combined but not frothy. Pour eggs into the baking pan. Bake, uncovered, 7 minutes, or until eggs have just set. 4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine cheeses; set aside.
5. Cut the baked eggs into six 5-inch squares. Using a spatula, lift each square from the pan and invert onto a plate. Divide warm vegetable mixture among omelets; top with cheese. Fold omelets diagonally in half, forming triangles. If desired, drizzle with additional tomato sauce.
Nutrition facts per serving: 170 calories, 14g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 10g fat (4g saturated), 2g fiber
Strawberry Chicken Salad with Warm Citrus Dressing
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves (about 1 pound) 1 14-1/2-ounce can chicken broth 2 1/2 cups strawberries 1/3 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons salad oil 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 6 cups torn spinach, watercress and/or other greens
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Directions 1. Sprinkle the chicken-breast halves lightly with salt and pepper. Pour chicken broth into a large saucepan; add chicken. Bring broth to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Remove chicken from broth with a slotted spoon and cool slightly. 2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the strawberries, the orange juice, salad oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Cover; blend or process until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. Thinly slice chicken breasts. In a large bowl, toss together salad greens, remaining strawberries, and chicken.
4. To serve, drizzle warm dressing over salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.
Nutrition facts per serving: 287 calories, 31g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 14g fat (2g saturated), 7g fiber
Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Vegetables
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients 8 ounces dried whole wheat or whole-grain penne pasta 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets 1 1/2 cups asparagus or green beans cut into 1-inch pieces 1 cup light ricotta cheese 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed 4 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Directions 1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting any oil or salt. 2. Add broccoli florets and asparagus or green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain. 3. In a large serving bowl, combine ricotta cheese, basil, thyme, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
4. Add cooked pasta and vegetables to ricotta mixture. Add chopped tomatoes. Toss to combine. Sprinkle each serving with grated cheese; serve immediately.
Nutrition facts per serving: 361 calories, 16g protein, 55g carbohydrates, 9g fat (2g saturated), 7g fiber
Southwestern Black Bean Cakes with Guacamole
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients 1/2 medium avocado, seeded and peeled 1 tablespoon lime juice Salt Ground black pepper 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves 2 garlic cloves 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 egg, beaten
1 small plum tomato, chopped
Directions 1. Mash the avocado in a small bowl. Stir in lime juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve. 2. Place torn bread in a food processor. Cover and process until bread turns into coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside. 3. Place cilantro and garlic in the food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. Add the beans, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and cumin. Cover and process until beans are coarsely chopped and mixture begins to pull away from the side of the bowl or container. 4. Add mixture to bread crumbs. Add egg, combine, and shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. 5. Lightly grease the rack of a grill pan. Place patties on the rack. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until patties are heated through, turning once.
6. To serve, top patties with guacamole and tomato.
Nutrition facts per serving: 178 calories, 11g protein, 25g carbohydrate, 7g fat (1g saturated), 9g fiber
Thai Chicken-Broccoli Wraps
Makes: 6 servings
Ingredients 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken-breast strips 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper Nonstick cooking spray 2 cups packaged broccoli slaw 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 10-inch whole wheat tortillas, warmed
Directions 1. Sprinkle chicken strips with garlic salt and pepper. Coat a skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until no longer pink. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add broccoli and 1/4 teaspoon of the ground ginger to skillet. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. 2. In a saucepan, combine peanut butter, 2 tablespoons water, soy sauce, minced garlic, and the remaining ginger. Heat over low heat until smooth, whisking constantly.
3. To assemble, spread tortillas with peanut sauce. Top with chicken strips and vegetable mixture. Roll up each tortilla, securing with a toothpick. Cut in half; serve immediately.
Nutrition facts per serving: 191 calories, 18g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 2g fiber
Greek Quinoa and Avocados
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa 1 cup water 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt Spinach leaves 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Directions 1. Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. 2. In a medium bowl, stir together quinoa, tomatoes, spinach, and onion. 3. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt. Mix with quinoa.
4. Place spinach on plates with avocado slices and quinoa. Sprinkle with feta.
Nutrition facts per serving: 332 calories, 7g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 24g fat (5g saturated), 8g fibe
7 Fat-Fighting Snacks
- 4 whole-grain crackers and 1 ounce reduced-fat cheddar 103 calories
- 1 banana dipped in 1/2 ounce melted dark chocolate 176 calories
- Low-fat pudding cup topped with 2/3 cup berries 146 calories
- 2 tablespoons hummus with 4 baby carrots 66 calories
- 10 tortilla chips with 2 tablespoons spicy black bean dip 135 calories
- 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese with 1 cup sliced berries and 2 teaspoons honey 209 calories
- 1 slice toasted cinnamon raisin bread with 1/2 ounce melted dark chocolate and 1/2 sliced banana 223 calories
- 1 cup frozen strawberries blended with 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon honey topped with 1 tablespoon coconut 137 calories
- 1/3 cup dried apricots dipped in 1/2 ounce melted dark chocolate and 1/4 ounce chopped pistachios 210 calories
- 1/2 cup fat-free berry sorbet 120 calories
- 2 cups popcorn topped with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese 84 calories
- 2 hard-boiled eggs with 4 whole-grain crackers 178 calories
- 1 flour tortilla topped with 2 chopped slices avocado and 3 tablespoons black beans 197 calories
- 1/2 cup blueberries mixed with 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt 182 calories
- Source www.fitnessmagazine.com