Small steps can make a big difference in your health. For example, here is one way to reduce the trans fats in your meals.
1. Eat whole foods high in healthy fat, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils.
For example, toss pistachios and dried cranberries into your salad, or blend an avocado with yogurt and fresh mint for a refreshing soup. Have you ever tried making your nut butter with sunflower seeds? I often create my macadamia nut butter with a pinch of cinnamon.
2. Avoid dangerous trans fats.
It goes far beyond the nutrition facts label — be sure to check the ingredient list as trans fats are disguised in other names, such as partially hydrogenated oil. Many products will claim ‘no’ trans fats, but it’s up to you to scan the ingredients to ensure you keep the hydrogenated oils on the store shelves and the good fats in your grocery cart. Trans fats are hidden in everything from crackers to salad dressings, so be aware and keep them on your radar when you enter the food store.
3. Opt for fatty fish.
Sardines, mackerel, sablefish, salmon, and rainbow trout are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Bake a piece of fish on parchment paper with potatoes, fresh tarragon, lemons, and olive oil for a perfect dinner. Select a part of grilled fish and a side of avocado and salsa when dining out. You can also create a healthy whole grain bagel and fish with organic cream cheese, such as OrganicValley, atop a hearty bagel, red onions, capers, and fish such as salmon or sardines. Many of my clients enjoy making a sardine salad instead of tuna salad; they combine sardines with canola-based mayonnaise, celery, walnuts, and fresh parsley, then stuff it into a whole grain pita for a leisurely lunch.
4. Are Fat-Free and Low-Fat products worth it?
We all know reducing saturated fat intake is a good idea, but that means we have to create flavor from other sources to make our food taste good. No problem! That’s the easy part. With various fresh fruits, herbs, and spices — your taste buds are in for a party without the saturated fat, and believe me — they won’t know the difference. Try low-fat Greek plain yogurt mixed with fresh dill and lemon zest for a creamy sauce, or whip up fat-free ricotta cheese mixed with ground cashews, sea salt, and freshly ground white pepper in a food processor for a creamy topping that gives you a nice dose of lean protein without the total fat of ricotta. How about trying a reduced-fat cheese such as Cabot cheese and melting it atop a whole-grain English muffin with a poached egg and sliced tomato for a breakfast option? In this case, you are getting the total fat from the egg and less fat from the cheese to balance out your meal. If you are watching your cholesterol, try combining egg whites with avocado so that you are receiving your healthy fats from avocado and not worrying about the fat or cholesterol in the egg. In all of these cases, you can easily create a flavorful meal and snack by combining a low-fat option (such as Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, hard cheeses) along with a portion of a healthy full-fat option (such as nuts, seeds, oils, dark chocolate, avocado) and still get the fantastic flavor in each bite.
5. Splurge on top-quality products such as extra virgin olive or special flavored oils.
A little of these oils go a long way atop roasted vegetables, salads, baked sweet potato fries, and soups. Try making your salad dressing by whisking extra virgin olive oil with freshly chopped rosemary, sea salt, lavender, and crushed red pepper. This is an inexpensive option that you can drizzle atop a vast array of dishes without worrying about the additives and trans fats from a store-bought processed salad dressing. I enjoy using flax oils for my client’s salads and soups; you can purchase flax oil at Whole Foods Market or health food stores; Barlean’s makes a great product called Forty Flax, which is ground flax seeds and is perfect atop oatmeal, smoothies, salads, and stir-fries.