Use Cooking Spray to Cut Calories

Using cooking spray to reduce calorie count.

When most of us think about cutting calories, we think about reducing the amount of food we eat. However, cutting out food is not the only way to reduce your calorie intake. You can cut out calories by using alternate cooking preparation techniques.

One healthy way is instead of coating your pan with butter, margarine, oil or meat drippings, spray it with a cooking spray. Replacing one pat of butter with one spray saves on average 35 calories and three grams of fat. Most commercially prepared cooking sprays have about one gram of fat and seven calories for a one-second spray. By comparison a pat of butter has 36 calories and over four grams of fat.

Other Cooking Spray Ideas

Another popular choice for using cooking spray instead of butter is on air-popped popcorn. Your popcorn will still have the buttery taste, but without all of the calories. Cooked vegetables don’t have to be served drizzled with butter. Instead use a cooking spray to coat the vegetables and then toss with your favorite herbs or seasonings. You’ll find you actually will prefer vegetables served with cooking spray instead of butter.

Eating Out

All of this is well and good for meals you cook at home, but what about when you eat out? Most restaurants will oblige your request to have something cooked in cooking spray instead of butter or oil. In most cases, all you have to do is ask. As more people are becoming health-conscious, eateries are adapting to keep your business.

Make Your Own Cooking Spray

Mix together 1 part of olive oil (or a healthy oil of your choice) and 5 parts of water. Pour into a misting spray bottle and shake well to mix the ingredients. That’s it; simple, huh. Make sure your bottle is the mister type. A plant mister bottle works well. Be sure to shake well each time before using so the contents are well mixed. Commercial sprays contain an emulsifier to keep the oil and water suspended, where your homemade spray does not.

Overall, ounce for ounce, cooking oils and fats contribute more calories to your foods than any other ingredient. By using a cooking spray, you are cutting out unwanted calories and fat, but not flavor. It may only be 35 calories that you are saving, but little changes here and there all add up in the end – your goal to reduce calories by 500 per day to lose an average of one pound a week.

How to Cook Healthy Delicious Vegetables!

Freshly prepared healthy vegetables cooked the right way.

Choices – Cooking Good Tasting Vegetables

Many people trying to cut calories don’t like cooked vegetables. But if prepared properly using the methods below, they will have a new appreciation for the healthy lifestyle staple:

  1. Steamed
  2. Grilled
  3. Roasted
  4. Stir Fried
  5. Blanched
  6. Topped
  7. Simmered

Steamed Vegetables

Timing is the key to cooking vegetables with this method. When done properly, steamed vegetables are crisp, tasty and of course nutritious. Cauliflower takes about 20 minutes to cook in a steamer. Overcooking causes vegetables to lose their crispness and get mushy.

Grilled Vegetables

Unlike steaming, grilling vegetables requires using a dry heat. A favorite vegetable to grill is asparagus. Preheat your grill on a high setting. Lightly brush olive oil on the asparagus spears; salt and pepper to taste. Grill these for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are at your desired tenderness.

Roasted Vegetables

The key to roasting is to use a high-heat oven setting. This caramelizes the sugars in the vegetables thus locking in the flavor. One favorite recipe is to roast potatoes, onions and carrots. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces; brush pieces with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in an uncovered pan for 30-40 minutes or until tender.

Stir Fried Vegetables

This method of cooking also uses a high heat, but is prepared on the stovetop. Cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and meat (if used) into thin strips. Using a sauté pan, toss the mixture with a little healthy oil and herbs. Keep tossing with two large spoons while the mixture cooks. Do not overcook; vegetables should still be crisp when served.

Blanched Vegetables

Blanching is the best way to preserve the greatest amount of nutrients from your vegetables. To blanch, you simply bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the cleaned, raw vegetable into the boiling water and remove after a few seconds. The trick is to get the vegetables hot without cooking them. Broccoli is good after about 10 seconds in steady boiling water, then season with a light sprinkle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Simmered Vegetables

Simmering involves cooking vegetables initially at a boil and then reducing to a low heat while immersed in a liquid. Liquids can range from just plain water to broth or a soup stock.

To simmer, first cube the vegetables. With the vegetables in an uncovered pot, add enough liquid to cover them halfway. Add a small amount of olive oil, salt and other seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are just tender.

Asparagus will take less than 5 minutes where denser vegetables like cabbage take 10 to 15 minutes. Finish off the vegetables by tossing them with a vinaigrette dressing, flavored olive oil, or some lemon juice and herbs.

Cooked vegetables do not have to be boring or mushy. Use these time-tested methods of cooking used by top chefs to wow your guests or family with great cooked and healthy vegetables.

Cut Calories Safely

Learning how to cut calories safely.

If you are trying to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. As a matter-of-fact, to lose one pound per week, you have to have a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. But you first have to figure out how many calories you should be eating to maintain your current weight. The first step in finding out is to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Knowing your BMR will give you the number of calories you need each day to sustain normal bodily functions like breathing keeping your heart beating. To lose weight, you have to either burn off or avoid eating the extra calories your body does not need.

To calculate your BMR, you have to factor in your height, weight, age and sex. For women the formula is 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years); for men 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

For example, let’s calculate the BMR on a 30-year old female 5 ft. 5 in, tall and weighing 150 pounds. Plugging the numbers into the formula 655 + (4.3 x 150) + (4.7 x 65 inches) – (4.7 x 30), we find she should be eating about 1,464 calories per day to maintain her current weight.

Note the formulas are based on a normal adult body. If you are extremely muscular or very obese, then your resulting figures will be underestimated or overestimated, respectively.

Factoring In Your Activity Level

Because how much activity you do in a day affects how many calories you burn, you have to adjust the number of calories in your BMR. If you are basically inactive most of the day, then multiply your BMR by 20%. If you exercise most days, use a 40% figure. For those that are very active, multiply your BMR by 50%.

Taking our example from above and adding in the 40% additional calories needed to support her activity level, the total number of calories she needs to maintain her weight while exercising most days is now 2,049.

Cutting Calories for Weight Loss

Keeping in mind a one pound per week weight loss, our example would have to cut 3,500 calories per week from her current diet. Break that down per day, and she should be eating 1,549 calories.

If you find you are losing more than one pound per week, you may want to add back in a few calories. If you are not losing at least some weight per week, consult your doctor for further guidance.

20 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories

Here we have some easy ways to reduce calories without a hassle.

To lose weight, you have to cut calories, or exercise more, or a combination of the two. If you plan to cut calories, we rounded up 20 ways you can use to reduce your caloric intake through smart substitution and portion control.

Smart Substitution to Reduce Calories

By making small, but smart swaps, you can reduce your calorie intake substantially. For instance:

  1. Swap out a bagel for an English muffin and avoid eating 220 calories.
  2. Trade 10 ounces of whole milk for skim and avoid another 70 calories.
  3. Make an omelet with one whole egg and two egg whites instead of three whole eggs. Calories saved – 125.
  4. Try turkey sausage instead of pork and save another 125 calories.
  5. Instead of mayonnaise, use hummus or mustard on your roll and cut 200 calories.
  6. Trade your french fries for a salad and save 300 calories.
  7. Try tortilla chips with salsa instead of potato chips dipped in a sour cream-based dip; it’ll save you 109 calories.
  8. Try replacing oil in your favorite baked dessert with applesauce; four tablespoons of applesauce is 40 calories while two tablespoons of oil is 200. Plus you’ll add more flavor to your dessert.
  9. Use 4 ounces of fat-free half-and-half in your coffee instead of regular cream and save 88 calories.
  10. Eat 1/2 cup of oatmeal instead of a full 1-cup serving; calories saved: 150.
  11. Substitute 1.5 ounces of raisins for fresh grapes and save 98 calories.
  12. Snack on baked potato chips instead of the fried ones; save 90 calories for a 1-ounce serving.
  13. Put 3 ounces of mozzarella cheese on your sandwich instead of Swiss and save 108 calories.
  14. Swap out Alfredo sauce for marinara sauce- 129 calories saved.
  15. Eat 1 cup of frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
  16. On your salad, eat either croutons or cheese, but not both and save over 100 calories.
  17. For something different, eat 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries topped with 2 ounces of fat-free whipped cream instead of 1/2 cup of strawberry ice cream and avoid eating 102 calories.
  18. Portion Control: The size of your plate makes a big difference on the number of calories you consume. Trick your mind into thinking you have more food than you do by using a 9-inch instead of a 12-inch plate. On average you can save up to 500 calories.
  19. Do you tend to go back for another helping when finished with the first? You still can, but first wait 20 minutes. Most likely won’t go back and if you do, you’ll take less.
  20. When eating out, it is harder to control portions, however, not impossible. Because restaurant portions are significantly larger, eat smart by leaving a fourth of your meal on your plate. Look up the nutritional information before leaving the house. Studies found people ate 52 fewer calories when they knew the nutritional information before ordering.

Cutting calories is easy when you know how to make intelligent substitutions and control portion size. Take charge of your eating with these suggestions.