Trying to lose the jiggly belly fat – for vanity or health reasons (or both!) – but having a hard time doing it? You aren’t alone. According to Prevention magazine’s editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello and nutrition director Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, 67 percent of Americans say the belly is the body part they most want to change. Vaccariello and Sass, authors of Flat Belly Diet! also say a flat belly is about food and attitude. Period. Read on for flat belly recipes that can help you achieve the torso of your dreams.
New research on how dietary fat can help you lose the belly fat
Belly fat is considered to be the most dangerous types of fat in the body. An excess spare tire or pot belly raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses more than fat found on other parts of your body.
And if you’ve tried in vain to lose the large muffin top by doing countless crunches, restricting calories and decreasing the fat in your diet, you’ll be happy to learn that the secret of a flat belly is a diet featuring fat – and not necessarily hundreds of crunches every week.
In their book Flat Belly Diet!, Vaccariello and Sass explain that new research reveals that monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), like those found in olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados and dark chocolate (yes!), not only make weight loss easier, but may also target belly fat specifically.
A MUFA at every meal
What makes MUFAs healthy as compared to other fats, like saturated and trans, which are maligned in the media? MUFAs are unsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower bad cholesterol, prevent hardening of the arteries, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, research has linked MUFAs to reduced rates of Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, breast cancer, lower blood pressure, brain health, lung function, anti-inflammation, lower body weight and reduced belly fat.
Vaccariello and Sass recommend a MUFA at every meal. What does that mean? Ditching your fat-fearing approach to losing weight and sinking your teeth into satisfying, delicious foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, nut butters and nut oils; seeds and seed butter; canola and olive oils; olives and tapenade; avocados; edamame (soybeans); and even dark chocolate.
However, this doesn’t mean the sky is the limit on fat intake. One of the Flat Belly Diet! principles is to stick to 400 calories per meal and to include a serving of MUFA-rich foods (the book has a handy MUFA serving chart). And don’t worry if you think 400 calories isn’t enough to satisfy you. According to the authors, eating a MUFA-rich diet will keep the hunger pangs at bay; plus they also recommend that you eat every four hours.
Flat belly recipes
In addition to a 4-Day Anti-Bloat Jumpstart, guidelines on living a MUFA-rich lifestyle, making healthy snacks and eating out without straying from your MUFA a meal plan, the Flat Belly Diet! has a delicious selection of MUFA-rich recipes that make it easy to reach your flat belly fitness goals. Here are four of the many mouthwatering recipes (each at around 400 calories) the Flat Belly Diet! has to offer.
Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal
To make this a flat belly meal, serve with 1 cup skim milk.
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup quick oats
1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped (MUFA)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and oats. Cook, stirring, for 90 seconds.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Reduce heat to low and stir in the pumpkin mixture.
Almond-Encrusted Chicken Breast
Serve this chicken with 1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese and 1 cup grape tomatoes for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
5 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
2 tablespoons almonds, finely chopped (MUFA)
1. Sprinkle each side of the chicken breast with cornstarch. Dip into egg substitute to coat and then sprinkle with almonds.
2. Coat a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees F.
Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Make this a meal by pairing it with 2 cups organic mixed greens, 1 cup grape tomatoes, and 1 Thomas Multigrain Pita.
8 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (MUFA)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a roasting pan, combine carrots, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
2. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly caramelized and tender but still firm. Drizzle with remaining oil.
Citrus Ricotta Cannoli
Serve with 1 cup sliced strawberries and a small sliced banana.
1 (16-ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (MUFA)
12 large cannoli shells
1. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, sugar, zests and vanilla. With an electric mixer, whip mixture until light and fluffy. Gently fold in 2-1/2 cups chocolate chips, setting aside the remaining 1/2 cup.
2. To assemble, spoon filling into cannoli shells. Melt remaining chocolate and drizzle over each cannoli.