1) Extra lean ground beef
Surprised? Your family doesn’t have to stop eating beef to be fit. Extra lean ground beef is lower in cholesterol than a chicken breast. Plus, it has more B12, iron, and zinc, which boost energy, keep your hearts healthy, and protect you from disease.
Buy ground beef that says “90%” or leaner on the label. Drain beef on a paper towel after browning it to cut even more unhealthy saturated fat. Then dish up the right size portions. Make servings about the size of half your palm for kids 4 to 8. And about the size of a deck of cards for older kids and adults.
2) They’re about the same
Frozen yogurt may sound healthier and it does have a little less unhealthy fat. But it has the same amount of sugar and calories as ice cream.
Let your family enjoy ice cream or fro-yo just every now and then, not every day since too much sugar can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Remember a serving is about the size of a tennis ball.
For easy portion control and fewer calories, try frozen fruit bars. But don’t be fooled by labels that say “Made with fruit.” Fruit should be the first ingredient and there should be no added sugar.
Or make your own fruit bars — puree fruit and freeze it in popsicle molds. Pureed whole fruit has fiber that is lost when fruit is juiced. Fiber is filling and great for digestion.
3) Baked Potato
Potatoes are the healthier choice if you’re watching calories. Surprised? One potato has about half the calories of a serving of brown rice. If your family eats the skin, you’ll also get more vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, which is good for heart health.
How you cook — and top — potatoes is the key to keeping them healthy for the whole family. Don’t fry them and avoid slathering on butter and full-fat sour cream. Instead, make a healthy toppings bar so everyone can pick. Set out fresh salsa and reduced-fat cheese or plain low-fat yogurt and chives for zesty flavor and less fat.
4) Deli Ham
With about 10 times less cholesterol-causing saturated fat, deli ham is a leaner meat than salami. It also has a lot fewer calories and less sodium.
That doesn’t make it a super healthy choice, though. It’s still pretty high in sodium, which can pump up blood pressure.
If you’re looking for a better option, look to tuna. It is a lean protein. It has less sodium, more protein, and about the same calories as ham.
Make tuna salad with mustard and reduced-fat mayo to keep unhealthy fats low.
5) They’re about the same
Raw sugar has some trace minerals that refined sugar doesn’t have, but it’s not enough to make it healthier. Both kinds of sugar are still “empty” calories that you should limit in your and your family’s diet.
Added sugar isn’t just something you put in your coffee. It also lurks in soft drinks, candy, baked goods, and even some juice drinks. So limit the sugary food and drinks your family has.
One 20-ounce cola has more than 16 teaspoons of sugar in it. That’s more than 5 times the sugar kids age 4 to 8 should have in a day. Women should limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons a day or less, and men 9 teaspoons.
6) Whole wheat English muffin
The English muffin has about half the calories and sodium of the bagel. Top it with a tablespoon of nut butter, a healthy fat, instead butter, which isn’t as heart-friendly.
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, which helps fill your family up so they’re less likely to want junk food snacks. So how do you know if you’re getting the fiber you want? Choose breads and cereals that list a whole grains like “whole wheat” first on the ingredients list. Also look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving on the Nutrition Facts panel.
7) Regular Oatmeal
Not all oatmeal is the same. Many types of Instant oatmeal have a lot of added sugar and sodium. That isn’t good for your family members’ hearts or waistlines.
Stick with old-fashioned rolled oats instead. They only take about five minutes to cook. If that’s too much time in the morning, cook them at night, divide it into single-serving containers and stash them in the fridge. Then microwave them later.
Want to entice little (and big) kids to eat oatmeal without adding sugar? Add spices and a few nuts. Or top it with a little stewed fruit.
8) Orange juice
Orange juice has less sugar than even unsweetened apple juice. Apple juice is about the same as cola in sugar and calories. That’s a lot!
No matter which fruit juice you offer, it’s best to limit how much juice your family drinks. All juices have a lot of sugar.
For the best bet, buy 100% juice (that means there are no added sugars) and serve it just once a day, if at all.
— Kids one to six years old should only get a small cup – just 4 to 6 ounces a day, max.
— Kids seven years old and up shouldn’t have more than two 1 1/2 cups (that’s 12 ounces) a day.
Even better, when kids ask for juice when they want something sweet, offer them a piece of whole fruit instead. It has more fiber, which keeps them fuller longer and is good for digestion. When they are thirsty, water or low-fat milk are the way to go.
Both fish are rich in protein. However, salmon is higher in fat, but it’s the “good” omega-3 fats that you want for heart health — so salmon wins. Try to serve your family foods with omega-3s at least three times a week. Also high in omega-3s – trout, herring, walnuts, and flax seeds.
10) They’re about the same
Vegetarian means ‘healthy’ right? Not always. While some vegetarian baked beans may be lower in calories, both types are full of added sugar. One light bulb-size serving (1/2 cup) of either has half the sugar a woman should have in a day.
To keep the added sugar your family eats as low as possible, be savvy about how you can spot sugar on labels. Read the ingredients list. Look for Molasses, maple syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and ‘-ose’ words like dextrose and maltose. They all mean sugar. If they are at the top of the list, pick another can.
Or instead, try canned low-sodium black beans or buy dried beans and soak them overnight before cooking. They’re lower in calories and have no added sugar.