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Greek Salad Skewers

Most kebabs come in the form of meat, chicken, or shrimp skewered on bamboo sticks; sometimes a few grilled vegetables are thrown into the mix to break up the monotony of color. But how often do you see a skewer devoted completely to vegetables? And raw vegetables, at that? Salad on a stick is a fun, colorful way to eat your vegetables–and it’s perfect for the upcoming barbecue season!

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Ingredients

6 small romaine bunchesSalad Skewers Ingredients-3 bell peppers, red and yellow, cut into 1 inch squares
1 cucumber, cut into rounds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup kalamata olives
Whole wheat ciabatta, toasted, torn into 1 inch squares
1/4 cup Pesto
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice
Bamboo/wooden skewers

Method 

1. Thread vegetables, olives and bread onto skewers
2. Mix pesto with olive oil and lemon juice; drizzle over skewers
3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

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Why Should You Eat This?

The USDA recommends that you eat 2 1/2 to 4 cups of veggies per day, depending on your age, gender, and activity level (calculate your needs here). But many Americans fall short on this recommendation. Whether you’re not meeting these recommendations because you’re getting tired of the same old spinach salad or you tend to fill up on packaged foods, salad skewers are a fun and novel way of eating vegetables. They’re a perfect side to your summer picnic or barbecue, but they’re also a great on-the-go snack–just grab a skewer and head out the door.

New Product Finds from ExpoWest

In March, I got to attend ExpoWest, a trade show for natural, organic, and healthy foods from all over the world (imagine a giant Whole Foods on steroids–and you get to sample everything!) The following new products, most of which are already in select stores or sold online, are my favorites for their combination of superior nutrition and taste.

The GFB (Gluten Free Bar)

From the company: “GFBs are crafted in small batches to achieve a taste and texture that other bars cannot match.”

My Nutrition Take: The Gluten Free Bar is free from more than just gluten: it’s vegan, dairy-free, casein-free, additive free, cholesterol free, preservative free, and trans fat-free. It’s also high in protein (with 11-13 grams per bar) and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (vegan, of course). GFBs stand out for their simplicity (which, in the world of snack bars, is a good thing): they use real, whole, and unprocessed ingredients like california almonds, organic roasted peanuts, dates, certified gluten free oats, and golden flaxseed. And unlike other gluten free bars, GFBs don’t use fillers and additives to make up for a lack of texture and flavor.

Nutritional Info: 220-240 calories, 6-10 grams of fat, 2-3.5 grams of fiber, and 11-13 grams of protein

Taste: The bars come in four flavors: Cranberry + Toasted Almond, Peanut Butter + Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal + Raisin; each tastes like a denser, chewier, and heartier version of a cookie. While I always advocate snacking on whole, unprocessed foods, GFBs are a healthy choice when you’re on the run or traveling.

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Where to buy: GFBs can be found in select stores nationwide, or you can order them online.

Path of Life Side Dishes

From the company: “Path of Life manufactures the best organic and natural foods, prepares them to exceptional taste standards, then packages them to meet the lifestyles of today’s health-conscious individuals and families who are busy following their own paths— and know that good, nourishing foods are important for the journey.”

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My Nutrition Take: Path of Life’s Side Dishes, which come in steamable bags, are at the top of the frozen meals market. Unlike other frozen meals that use excess sodium, preservatives, and unpronounceable ingredients, the Side Dishes use only ingredients that you’d use to make the same dish at home. The Lemon, Spinach, and Artichoke Quinoa, for example, contains cooked white quinoa, cooked red quinoa, artichoke, spinach, olive oil, garlic, thyme, sea salt, black pepper, and lemon juice concentrate–nothing else. These Side Dishes (which could also substitute as a meal; just add a salad) are perfect for on-the-go parents, workers, and students who don’t have time to throw together a homemade quinoa salad. And as a bonus for the consumer and environment alike, the ingredients come from farmers who use sustainable farming methods and don’t grow GMOs.

Nutritional Info: (per cup): 130-210 calories, 6-7 grams of fat, 2-3 grams of fiber, 0-1 grams of sugar, and 3-5 grams of protein

Taste: The Quinoa Side Dishes come in four flavors: Lemon, Spinach, and Artichoke Quinoa; Mediterranean Quinoa with Feta Cheese; Southwest Quinoa with Lime, Cilantro and Mango; and Quinoa with Brown Rice. Each tastes like a homemade versions of quinoa salad–and there’s no evidence of these having sat in your freezer for weeks!

Where to buy: Keep an eye out for Path of Life Steamable Side Dishes this Fall!

Tolerant Foods Black Bean or Red Lentil Pasta

From the company: “At Tolerant, we take organically grown natural legumes and make delicious organic red lentil (or black bean) rotini loaded with goodies.”

My Nutrition Take: Tolerant Foods pastas are made with just one Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 7.50.38 PMingredient–black beans or red lentils–but they still taste like your favorite noodles. As far as pasta alternatives go, these are one of the best on the market: because they’re made with legumes, as opposed to processed wheat, they’re high in protein and fiber and have a low glycemic index. Essentially, you’re getting the nutrition of a plate of black beans or red lentils with the taste of pasta–a great tradeoff for pasta lovers! Compared to regular pasta, Tolerant Foods has five times more fiber and twice as much protein, making Tolerant Foods pastas a more satiating choice.

Nutritional Info (per 85 grams, of about 1.5 cups cooked): 320 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 15 grams of fiber, 22 grams of protein

Taste: Both the Black Bean and Red Lentil flavors taste and feel like regular pasta; and like regular pasta, they’ll mostly take on the flavor of your sauce.

Where to buy: Look for Tolerant Foods in Whole Foods and Wegman’s.

NuDeFood Breakfast Boost

From the company: “Ultra-Dense Breakfast Boost supplies generous quantities of naturally present vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein…Perfect for smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, pancakes, applesauce, and more!”

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My Nutrition Take: NuDeFood Breakfast Boosts come in small, single-serve packaging, making them perfect for a nutritious-conscious traveler. If you usually add things like chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, or cinnamon to your breakfasts (oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, etc.) but can’t carry them with you (whether you’re in the airport or hiking Machu Picchu), Breakfast Boosts fill the gap. They’re also great to have on hand when you’re eating something that just doesn’t fit your nutritional needs (if your cereal doesn’t have enough fiber, if your smoothie doesn’t have enough protein, or if your pancakes were made with white flour instead of whole wheat flour, for example). Each tablespoon adds six grams of heart-healthy fat, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein. The ingredients aren’t processed, either: they’re ingredients you’d find in your own pantry or fridge, like California almonds, sunflower seeds, golden flaxseeds, and cinnamon.

Nutritional info (per package; 1.2 ounces): 170-210 calories, 12-16 grams of fat, 5-7 grams of fiber, 0-8 grams of sugar, 7-9 grams of protein

Taste: NuDe Breakfast Boosts come in three flavors. Original Spirulina has a mildly nutty taste; Antioxidant Berry Blend mixes tart with nutty, and Coconut Pecan Probiotic Blend has a sweeter coconut taste.

Where to buy: NuDe Foods hail from my hometown of Boulder, CO and can be found in stores throughout Colorado; you can also buy them online.

Superfood Snacks

From the company: “We source the highest quality organic & wildcrafted fair trade ingredients for all of our recipes…High ORAC antioxidant rating; boosts energy and vitality.”

My Nutrition Take: Superfood Snacks are small energy bites made with organic and raw ingredients that you’ve probably seen on superfood lists:  goji berries, maca root powder, walnuts, schisandra berries, reishi mushrooms, and green algae, to name a few. The bites are energy-dense, but they’re a great pick for an afternoon pick-me-up or to appease a sweet tooth (these are a much healthier choice than a fun-size Snickers bar).

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Nutritional info (per bite): 55 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 4.5 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of protein

Taste: Superfood Snacks comes in four flavors: Brazilian Chocolate Ecstasy, Chocolate Cherry Qi, Chocolate Goji Treats, and Green Chocolate Dream. Their taste and texture resemble a chocolate truffle, but with a little more zing, thanks to interesting ingredients like cayenne pepper and Himalayan sea salt.

Where to buy: Superfood Snacks can be purchased online.

Thanks to Jessica, Christian and Vicky from Patafoods for hosting me; and thanks to all the vendors for all of the samples!

14 Nutrition Hacks to Cut Calories, Refined Carbs, and Unhealthy Fats

It might not be so easy to switch from potato chips to kale chips or to trick yourself into believing that chia seed pudding is just as delicious as chocolate mousse, but some swaps and tricks–like the ones below–are so easy and sneaky that’s it’s pointless not to try them. These “nutrition hacks” focus on cutting out unnecessary calories, unhealthy fats, and refined carbs; look out for the next set of nutrition hacks, which will focus on adding vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and boosting their absorption!

1. Replace mayo, sour cream, or cream with Greek yogurt in both sweet (banana bread, muffins) and savory (tortilla soup, chili, spinach artichoke dip) recipes to slash saturated fat and boost protein. Or go above and beyond and try Greek yogurt in cupcake frostings, marinades, and French toast.

greek yogurt

2. Swap half of the ground beef for mushrooms in burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, and taco meat. Mushrooms have a similar meaty taste and texture in addition to valuable nutrients like vitamin D, niacin, copper, potassium, and antioxidants.

3. Add spiralized zucchini or carrots to spaghetti to bulk up your pasta dinner zucchiniand add vitamins and fiber.

4. Add equal amounts of potatoes and cauliflower to your favorite mashed potato recipe to cut calories and add glucosinolates, a type of antioxidant that helps in the detoxification process, as well as anti-inflammatory vitamin K.

5. Use hummus or avocado in place of mayo or butter as a spread in sandwiches or toast to add healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to boost satiety and heart health.

6. Swap half of your favorite cereal for a low-sugar, high-fiber cereal (try Nature’s Path Multigrain Flakes, Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls Multigrain, or Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs) to cut sugar and calories and boost fiber. You’ll be able to enjoy a bigger and just-as-tasty bowl of cereal for a similar amount of calories and more nutrients.

7. Use fresh fruit instead of dried fruit in salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal: one cup of fresh apricots totals 76 calories, while one cup of dried apricots adds 212 sugar-packed calories.

8. Skip the sugary syrup in your morning latte, and add flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder. A regular latte made with 2% milk contains 190 calories and 17 grams of sugar, compared to a flavored latte 250 calories and 35 grams (8.75 teaspoons!) of sugar.

9. Substitute riced cauliflower for rice in stir-fries, curries, pilafs, and burritos to cut down on refined carbs.

10. Skip the pizza dough and pile your choice of toppings on a portobello mushroom cap or eggplant slices.

Nutrition hacks

11. Serve your food on 9-inch plates as opposed to 12-inch ones: in a recent study published in the journal Appetite, diners ate 48% fewer calories (up to 275-350 calories!) when they ate off smaller plates.

12. Buy a good non-stick pan; the oil you use to prevent sticking adds 120 calories per tablespoon. The flavors of oil disappear during the cooking process anyway, so if you’re looking for flavor, add a light drizzle after cooking.

14. …or, instead of using oil for flavor, use vegetable or chicken broth to prevent vegetables, chicken, and fish from sticking to the pan.

5 Common Breakfast Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

If you find yourself in line for another iced coffee or nibbling on leftover office donuts at 10 AM, don’t blame your lack of willpower–blame your breakfast. With a little help from a balanced and wholesome mid-morning snack, breakfast should give you the energy to reach lunchtime; but many Americans feel famished and fatigued far before then. Take a look at your breakfast and make sure you’re not making these mistakes:

1. Not eating breakfast at all

According to a report from the USDA, 93% of American believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day–but only 44% of Americans actually eat it! Breakfast jump starts your metabolism; without it, you’re fasting for 15-20 hours, which hinders the production of fat-metabolizing enzymes. But it does more than that: breakfast-eaters have lower cholesterol levels, feel more energized, perform better on cognition and memory tests, and have better blood sugar levels. And if you’re skipping breakfast to cut calories (or “save” them for later), heed this: people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely than their breakfast-eating peers to be overweight. According to the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have lost and maintained a 30 pound-or-more weight loss for over a year, 80% of their members eat breakfast every single day. If that’s not enough to convince you to start eating breakfast, consider this: according to a study from the Dairy Research Institute, those who skip breakfast consume 40% more sweets, 55% more soft drinks, 45% fewer vegetables, and 30% less fruit than those who ate their morning meal.

2. Not eating enough protein

Typical breakfast foods are made of refined carbohydrates: processed breakfast cereal, a bagel with jam, a muffin, a breakfast bar. But the convenience of these grab-and-go carbs is overshadowed by their lack of quality protein; at most, you’re likely getting 2-5 grams of incomplete protein. Adding just a little high-quality protein to your breakfast–a handful of nuts or a hardboiled egg, for example–might be the key to boosting your breakfast: research from the University of Missouri found that eating a high protein breakfast increases satiety and reduces cravings throughout the day. And even if you’re increasing the overall calorie content of your breakfast overall, it likely won’t hinder your diet efforts, either: people who eat a high-protein breakfast reportedly eat 200 fewer calories throughout the day. Look beyond eggs: add an ounce of smoked salmon to your English muffin (5.2 grams of protein), serve your cereal over one cup of cottage cheese (28 grams), or add some Canadian bacon to a breakfast sandwich (12 grams per two ounces).

High Protein Breakfasts

3. Not eating enough fiber

Another nutrient that most of those cereals, bagels, and muffins are missing? Fiber. The three most commonly eaten breakfast cereals in America (Cheerios, Special K, and Honey Bunches of Oats) each have less than three grams of fiber per serving (Special K has zero grams!); bagels and muffins have even less. But fiber is just as important as protein in a healthy breakfast: it reduces hunger and boosts satiety by slowing the rate of digestion and maintaining steady blood sugar levels. Fiber has a myriad of other health benefits, too: it helps lower cholesterol levels, boosts digestive and cardiovascular health, and may reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. If your heart is set on cereal, look for brands with at least five grams of fiber. Keeping that in mind, look for naturally occurring or intact fibers, like those found in whole grains or oats. Avoid “isolated” or “functional” fibers, like polydextrose, inulin, oat fibers, or soy fibers, which have been extracted from plants or manufactured in a lab and may not carry the same health benefits. To get extra fiber outside of the cereal box, look to fruits, vegetables, whole oats and other grains, nuts, and seeds.

Fiber Boosters

4. Not eating enough (or any) fat

You might be noticing a pattern at this point: that a healthy breakfast should include all three macronutrients (protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, and fat). Besides being absolutely necessary for everyday functioning (it’s a component of myelin, the material that sheaths nerve cells, as well as brain tissue, Healthy Fats to Add to your Breakfasthormones and other biochemicals, and it helps protect our organs), fat is required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. But adding a little healthy fat to your diet boosts satiety: in addition to adding craving-crushing flavors and texture (you can thank fat for the creaminess of an egg yolk), it increases the amount of GLP-1, a gut hormone that increases fullness and suppresses appetite, in your blood. In a 2008 study published in the journal Appetite, overweight and obese volunteers who supplemented their diet with 1300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids experienced fewer hunger sensations immediately following and two hours after test meals. If you’re eating skim milk or nonfat yogurt now, switch over to 1 or 2%; the difference in calories is negligible, especially when you factor in the added satiety. Or simply add a handful of nuts or seeds (try flaxseed and chia seeds) to your favorite breakfast.

5. Not eating the right breakfast for you

According to a 2008 study, individuals who ate a 610-calorie breakfast shed more weight–and kept that weight off for longer–than individuals who ate a breakfast with 290 calories. But according to a 2011 study, all participants ate the same amount of calories later in the day, regardless of the amount of calories they had consumed at breakfast–meaning that those who ate a large breakfast consumed more calories overall. Either way, it seems like eating the right breakfast for your body is what’s key: just because a study says that a huge breakfast of bacon and eggs–or a light breakfast of blueberries and almonds–will aid in weight loss doesn’t meant that it’s the right breakfast for your lifestyle and body. So if it takes a 600-calorie breakfast to feel energized, go for it: just go for whole, unprocessed foods with a balance of protein, fiber, and fat, and think about downsizing your other meals. If you prefer light breakfasts, just make sure to eat enough to prevent cravings and overeating later in the day. And if you can’t stomach a big enough breakfast to keep you going until lunch, try eating two small breakfasts.

Breakfast

5 Foods That Sound Healthy — But Aren’t

Low fat, low sugar, low salt, whole grain, gluten free, organic, natural, low carb: these are just a fraction of the adjectives you see splashed around food products in the grocery store today. In the food industry, food manufacturers have one goal–and unfortunately it’s not the health of their consumers. Profit is the name of the game; but because consumers are becoming more food-savvy, food manufacturers have had to step up their marketing game in order to sell otherwise normal products. Splenda comes with antioxidants; chocolate milk has omega-3 fatty acids; water can now put your to sleep. Keep an eye out for these five food products that aren’t as healthy as they seem:

5 Foods That Sound Healthy -- But Aren't

1. Better’n Peanut Butter
Better’n Peanut Butter is marketed as a low-fat, low-calorie, “diet” peanut butter spread. It contains 85% less fat and 40% fewer calories than regular peanut butter. But taking an already healthy, whole foods product, taking away its satiating and heart-healthy fats, and adding highly processed ingredients is not an improvement, by any means. At around 180 calories per two tablespoons, peanut butter is absolutely an energy-dense food–but every single one of those calories is high quality and satisfying. Better’n Peanut Butter’s 100 calories of processed paste (with fillers like tapioca syrup, dehydrated cane juice, rice syrup, glycerin, and tapioca starch) doesn’t match up in taste or nutrition, potentially setting you up for cravings and overeating down the line. And for the record: when a high-fat food is converted into a low-fat version of itself, it’s usually pumped full of extra carbs, sugars, and fillers to make up for the loss of taste and consistency (Better’n Peanut Butter contains 13 grams of empty carbs; regular peanut butter contains just four carbs, two of which are fiber). Stick with regular peanut butter–just keep portion sizes in check.

Healthy Alternative: Regular peanut butter made with two ingredients: peanuts and salt

5 Foods That Sound Healthy -- But Aren't

2. Who-Nu Nutritious Cookies
From the front of a box, you’d think you’re reading the label of a superfood: “As much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal! As much calcium and vitamin D as a glass of milk! As much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries!” But eating Who-Nu Nutrition-Rich cookies certainly won’t give you any of the same health benefits as eating oatmeal, milk, or blueberries. These aren’t cookies made with wholesome ingredients; they’re made with processed flour, corn syrup, and additives, making them no healthier than eating an Oreo along with a multivitamin. Plus, added vitamins and minerals aren’t absorbed by the body in the same way that vitamins and minerals from whole foods are: vitamins and minerals from whole foods are naturally packaged alongside other nutrients, like phytonutrients, cofactors, and enzymes, that maximize their absorption. Cookies are fine in moderation, but take them for what they are: dessert.

Healthy Alternative: Regular or homemade cookies, in moderation

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3. Fat-free Salad Dressings
Recently, salads have been made out to be the enemy in fast food restaurants: news sites decried McDonald’s Caesar Salad for being more fatty than their burger; Shape Magazine lists “12 Salads Worse Than A Big Mac,” and Eat This, Not That! slams “The Worst Salads in America.” And it’s true: these salads are packed with fat and calories, hitting the 1,600 calorie and 121-grams-of-fat range. But while salad dressings are partly to blame, add-ons like fried chicken, cheesy croutons, deep-fried tortilla shells, and sour cream also beef up the calories. Reaching for fat-free salad dressings isn’t the answer; vegetables contain fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A and K and lycopene that require fat to be absorbed. Plus, fat-free salad dressings, like reduced-fat or “diet” peanut butter, use fillers and added sugars to make up for lost taste. In the toss-up between 120 calories of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs and 35 calories of sugar, sugar alternatives, artificial flavorings, and additives, go with the former.

Healthy Alternative: Homemade salad dressings; or look for store bought dressings made with as few ingredients as possible

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4. 100 Calorie Snack Packs
100 Calorie Packs are supposedly a dieter’s dream — they offer built-in portion control for easy-to-overeat snack foods. And the diet market has certainly eaten them up; they’re now part of a $200 million industry. But just because they’re 100 calories doesn’t make them healthy. Most 100 Calorie snack packs are comically small portions of processed foods like Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Cheez-Its, even Hostess cupcakes–and they still contain the same unhealthy ingredients as their full-size counterparts. They’re short on hunger-quashing nutrients like fiber, protein, and healthy fats and high in sugar, saturated fats, and refined flours–ingredients that will spike insulin levels and leave you just as hungry as before. Plus, they’re not even economically advantageous: snack packs can cost more than three times per ounce than full-size versions. You can still snack on 100 calorie portions; just make your own with healthful, wholesome ingredients like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Healthy Alternative: 100 calories of unprocessed food, preferably high in protein, fiber, or healthy fats

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5. Enhanced Water
Vitamin Water XXX claims to “help fight free radicals and help support your body;” Dream Water supposedly helps you to relax and fall asleep. Even with health claims from boosting your immune system to heightening passion, enhanced waters (also called fitness water, functional water, or fortified water) are little more than water with the same vitamins you could get with a multivitamin (or better: real food) and trendy, buzzword ingredients. But for the most part, the efficacy — and safety — of these ingredients aren’t yet backed by science. Look out for added sugars (Vitamin Water has more than twice the amount of sugar in a can of soda), which might be hiding under names like crystalline fructose and fruit juice concentrate. If regular, free water is too boring, flavor it with sliced cucumbers or citrus, berries, or herbs.

Healthy Alternative: Regular water; tea

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Stop Relying on Carbs: New Ideas for Low-Carb Snacks and Meals

When it comes to dieting, weight maintenance, and general nutrition, carbs are not the devil–despite what the Atkins and Paleo diets would have us believe. Carbs supply our bodies with the energy to perform everyday Carb-Centric Mealstasks and to work out; they supply glucose to fuel our brain; they even stimulate the production of serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and appetite. Luckily, carbs are widely available today–but they’re almost too available. Processed carbs seem to dominate the tablescape no matter what meal you’re serving: French toast (bread), grilled cheese (more bread), pizza (dough), sandwiches (more bread), spaghetti and meatballs (pasta). They’re also the backbone of most snacks: think hummus and pita bread, bruschetta, a bowl of cereal, granola bars, cheese and crackers. The main problem with this reliance on carbs is that processed carbs, compared to vegetables, are higher in calories and offer fewer nutrients. And in most cases, the carb-of-choice is simply a bland vehicle to showcase the true flavor-makers of the meal: a toasted baguette delivers the delicious combination of tomato, basil, and olive oil; pita bread scoops savory hummus right into your mouth.

So how can you use this information to maximize your nutrient intake? Keep eating enough carbs (keeping them as unprocessed and whole as possible) to sustain your everyday activities and workouts (that amount is different for everyone; athletes will need more) but replace bread, pasta, tortillas, pita, crackers, and cereal for fruits and vegetables every now and then. You’ll end up cutting out a few hundred calories per day and adding in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and valuable antioxidants! Try these substitutions:

Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (432 calories, 59g carbs, 12g protein, 3g fiber, 18 g fat), try…

Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter
Apple peanut butter sandwiches (300 calories, 36g carbs, 8g protein, 6g fiber, 16g fat)

Instead of a turkey wrap (540 calories, 76g carbs, 24g protein, 16g fat, 6g fiber), try…Lettuce Turkey Sandwich Wrap

Lettuce turkey wraps (295 calories, 17g carbs, 32g protein, 11g fat, 6g fiber)

Instead of a spaghetti (221 calories, 43g carbs, 8g protein, 1.3g fat, 2.5g fiber), try…

Baked Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash (42 calories, 10g carbs, 1g protein, <0.5g fat, 2g fiber)

Instead of one egg roll (222 calories, 24g carbs, 7g protein, 11g fat), try…

Summer and Vegetable Rolls
Vegetable Chard Wraps with Spicy Lime-Ginger Dipping Sauce (87 calories, 7.1g carbs, 2.4g protein, 6.1g fat) or Summer Rolls (64 calories, 12g carbs, 1 g protein, 2g fat, 2g fiber)

Instead of pizza (237 calories, 26g carbs, 11g protein, 10g fat, 1.6g fiber per slice), try…

Portobello Pizza

Portobello pizza (150 calories, 15g carbs, 10g protein, 7g fat, 3g fiber)

Instead of cheese and crackers (185 calories, 9g carbs, 8g protein, 14g fat, 0g fiber per 4 crackers), try…

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Rolls
Ricotta-stuffed zucchini rolls (103 calories, 7g carbs, 4g protein, 9g fat, 2g fiber per two rolls)

Note: You don’t have to replace all of your dry carbs (bread, pasta, cereal) with fruits and vegetables; depending on your activity level, those are essential for fueling workouts and maintaining steady energy levels and mood. But being aware of your carb intake–and reducing the amount of processed carbs you consume–can help cut out empty calories  from your diet and add in valuable nutrients.