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3 Meal makeovers: Turning dinnertime treats into better eats

Make simple substitutions

Make-over dinnertime by amping up the health factor. You can transform dinnertime by making a few simple substitutions. You won’t add any cooking time or expense with these easy changes, but you will end up with a healthier dinner and maybe even a slimmer waistline.

Substitute whole grainsWhole grains

Are you a pizza, pasta or Chinese food lover? Ditch the white grains commonly found in these foods! For a simple meal makeover, opt for their whole grain counterpart. For example, cook a batch of brown rice instead of white rice when whipping up Asian cuisine. Replace white pasta noodles with the whole wheat alternative when preparing Italian food. Instead of plain dinner rolls, consider making multigrain versions or purchase a seeded loaf of bread to slice and serve. All of your favorite white foods are available in similar whole grain or whole wheat versions. This simple substitution has numerous health benefits: Whole grain versions of your favorite foods typically have less sugar than their white counterparts. Also, you will eliminate overly-processed starch while adding more protein to your dinner plate. Because so many whole options are available, you’ll be able to switch out all your favorite dishes without any extra effort.

Replace the protein

Are you more of a meat and potatoes kind of family? Skip the red meat in favor of an alternate source of protein. Instead of a thick beef steak, grill a salmon steak. Switch out pork chops for chicken breasts, and replace lamb with chicken. Each of these substitutions will up the health factor of your entree. If you want to try a full-blown protein makeover, skip animal sources of protein altogether and opt for an alternative, like tofu or tempeh. To prepare tofu, follow the same prep steps you would use for meat. Marinate the tofu in your favorite marinade. Add it to shish kebob skewers to put over the grill or even saute it in oil over low heat.

Serve better dessert

Don't give up desserts altogether! You can make your sweet treats healthier -- without losing the taste. Instead of a piece of cake or a brownie, pile berries in a bowl and add a small amount of cream. If you’re feeling truly decadent, garnish the berries and cream with a small drizzle of chocolate sauce. Another option is to slice a pear in half, remove the pit and drop a small scoop of vanilla ice cream into the middle. Serve with a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Substituting a standard dessert with a fruit-based dessert turns your dinnertime treat into a much healthier, but still tasty, eat.

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