Many diet plans vilify carbohydrates, but you can still enjoy them as part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body and should make up between 45 and 65 percent of daily calories, according to the Institute of Medicine. Shifting from starchy carbohydrates such as those found in white breads, white rice, white pasta and cereals to more healthy choices like leafy vegetables supports weight management while also offering vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals.
Cook a vegetable omelet in the morning instead of opting for cereal. Fill a two-egg omelet with an assortment of chopped vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, red onion, broccoli and celery. Add low-fat cheese to amp up the flavor and texture, if you desire.
Substitute a green smoothie for a fruit smoothie. Blend together spinach, romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes and lemon juice for a snack that tastes like gazpacho.
Use butter or romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread to wrap around cold cuts and sliced cheese. Opt for lettuce or kale to wrap taco fillings instead of tortillas. Add guacamole or hummus to your wraps for extra vegetable servings.
Choose minestrone or vegetable soup over chicken noodle or beef with barley. Look for soups that contain just vegetables and broth with no white rice or pasta.
Have a baked sweet potato or roasted acorn squash with dinner instead of rice or pasta. Roasted vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant and red bell pepper make another hearty vegetable side dish to replace grains.
Opt for a meal salad instead of a burger or sandwich. Choose salads made with dark leafy greens, lean proteins and an assortment of vegetables. Hold any starchy additions such as tortilla strips, crispy noodles and croutons. Substitute a green salad for french fries or rice pilaf at restaurants.
Scoop dips with vegetables such as baby carrots, endive leaves, sliced bell peppers and cucumbers. Skip pita chips, crackers, potato chips and tortilla chips.
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- Some starchy carbohydrates are beneficial and support a healthy weight. Whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa provide fiber and nutrients. Consider eating modest servings of these grains with some meals during the day.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.