"So you really need to think about how you can get flavor into food without getting something in that is unhealthy for you, and it's very easy to do that," said Paulette Lambert, dietician and nutrition director for the California Health and Longevity Institute.
It's certainly easier for Lambert than others to take fat to fab, but she doesn't mind sharing. Starting with the end of the meal, dessert: peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.
"We have a light chocolate cupcake that is really moist, use a little canola oil, no butter, no Crisco, no lard, none of that bad fat," said Lambert. "You just have a little bit of canola, we use buttermilk, and we use a lot of really good quality. That's the key, really good quality dark cocoa powder."
Lambert spreads the frosting made from natural peanut butter evenly, not piled on thick. The end result is a heart-healthy antioxidant-rich cupcake that will cost you just 200 calories-- about half of what you'll get with typical bakery treats.
How about a frosty granita in lieu of ice cream. Freeze fruit like watermelon, peaches, cantaloupe or berries with a scant amount of sugar to cool you down on a hot summer night with a quick squeeze of lime to add tart to your treat.
"There are ways to adding little things to that that can make things so wonderful," said Lambert.
While burgers and dogs easily grace the grill, chicken with homemade barbecue sauce is just the ticket to lower sugar and salt.
"We are going to use fresh lemon with some cracked crushed red pepper, garlic, and rosemary, and just a pinch of salt. We're going to make a fabulous Mediterranean kind of mop that goes on our chicken to give us a lot of flavor, but not nearly as much sugar and sodium as in the bottle you would buy," said Lambert.
She marinades no more than 20 minutes to keep protein from getting mushy and grills fruit to boot for a sweet taste and tantalizing texture.
And beyond meatless Monday, try making at least five meals plant-based--things such as nuts, beans and high-protein pasta. You'll not only save money, but cut down saturated fat consumption as well.
"You can make a spicy Texas vegetarian chili that's wonderful. You can do bean and cheese burritos," said Lambert.
Try lentil chili, soy veggie burgers or a black bean salad at your next lunch or dinner.
Other ideas to stay healthy:
- Double check the butter or margarine stocked in your fridge: Margarine without any Trans fat or hydrogenated fat is the best option for your heart.
- Get your dairy products on task for your health too. Try fat-free Greek yogurt at breakfast and make the switch to low-fat cheese and skim milk.
- Make sure your supplements are supporting your heart health: Vitamin D and omega-3 are the two best options to fight inflammation.
- One of the best steps you can take for your health is tried and true: Eat your fruits and vegetables! Seven to 10 servings a day helps keep your immune system strong and provides you with the vitamins and minerals your body needs.