A turkey sandwich is not always just a turkey sandwich.
While one person may eat fresh sliced turkey on whole wheat bread with mustard, lettuce, and tomato, another may eat processed turkey loaf with mayonnaise and bacon … two completely different sandwiches with two completely different effects on the waistline.
It’s a commonality often overlooked that must be understood by parents as the obesity rate among children skyrockets (it has doubled over the past 30 years). One tool they can use to make more informed choices for themselves and their children is Heart.org’s “Smart Substitutions”
The feature addresses four categories of food substitutions: recipes, snacks, sit-down restaurants, and fast food restaurants. In each of these categories, the website provides smarter options adults can pass down to their children to encourage a healthy lifestyle and fight the obesity epidemic in America.
Recipes call for certain ingredients to enhance flavor and bind food together, so straight substitutions — skim milk for whole milk, for example — don’t always work.
That’s why Heart.org lists seven specific recipe substitutions that won’t compromise flavor or consistency, but will provide an overall nutritional benefit.
|Instead of …||Use …|
|Whole milk (1 cup)||1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk, plus one tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil|
|Heavy cream (1 cup)||1 cup evaporated skim milk or 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt and 1/2 cup plain low-fat unsalted cottage cheese|
|Sour cream||Low-fat unsalted cottage cheese plus low-fat or fat-free yogurt; or just use fat-free sour cream|
|Cream cheese||4 tablespoons soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) blended with 1 cup dry, unsalted low-fat cottage cheese; add a small amount of fat-free milk if needed|
|Butter (1 tablespoon)||1 tablespoon soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) or 3/4 tablespoon liquid vegetable oil|
|Egg (1)||2 egg whites; or choose a commercially made, cholesterol-free egg substitute (1/4 cup)|
|Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce)||3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or soft margarine; since carob is sweeter than cocoa, reduce the sugar in the recipe by 25%|
High-fat and high-sugar foods have been proven addicting, making the substitution of higher-quality snacks pivotal to children maintaining a healthy weight.
|Instead of …||Enjoy …|
|Fried tortilla chips||Baked tortilla chips (reduced sodium version)|
|Regular potato or corn chips||Pretzels or low-fat potato chips (reduced sodium version)|
|High-fat cookies and crackers||Fat-free or low-fat cookies, crackers (such as graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and molasses cookies)|
|Regular baked goods||Baked goods, such as cookies, cakes and pies, and pie crusts made with unsaturated oil or soft margarines, egg whites or egg substitutes, and fat-free milk|
|Devil’s food cake||Angel food cake|
|Ice cream bars||Frozen fruit bars|
|Pudding made with whole milk||Pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk|
|Ice cream||Sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or low-fat yogurt|
|Doughnut||Bagel or toast|
It’s important that parents exercise self control and make informed menu decisions at restaurants for themselves and their children. The following menu substitutions don’t compromise flavor, but do cut down on a lot of fat.
|Instead of …||Enjoy …|
|Cream-based soups||Broth-based soups with lots of vegetables|
|Quiche and salad||Soup and salad|
|Buffalo chicken wings||Peel-and-eat shrimp|
|Bread, muffins, croissants||Melba toast, pita bread, whole-grain rolls|
|Fried chicken sandwich||Grilled chicken sandwich|
|Chicken fried steak||Veggie burger|
|French fries||Baked potato, brown rice, steamed vegetables|
|Potatoes and gravy||Potatoes without gravy, baked potato|
|Creamy coleslaw||Sautéed vegetables, steamed vegetables or tossed salad|
|Hot fudge sundae or ice cream||Nonfat yogurt, sherbet or fruit ice|
If parents understand menu basics and pass that information down to their children, fast food restaurants don’t have to be a saturated fat death trap. The key is to enjoy fast food in moderation and try to cook at home whenever possible.
|Instead of …||Use …|
|Jumbo cheeseburgers||Grilled chicken sandwiches, sliced meat sandwiches or even a regular hamburger on a bun with lettuce, tomato and onion|
|Fried chicken||Grilled chicken and a side salad|
|Fried chicken pieces||Grilled chicken sandwich|
|French fries||Baked potato with vegetables and/or low-fat or fat-free sour cream or margarine on the side|
Even the smallest of changes can go a long way when it comes to parents steering their children down the proper nutritional path.