substitutions and non-negotiables

I’m not a rocket scientist, but it seems like the common denominator in all healthy and successful weight loss plans boils down to moderation and balance. In order to walk that line of moderation and balance, you have to get creative. When you can’t get creative enough, you have to prioritize what you want, and what you can’t live without. As I said in my last post, I’ve been experimenting and trying to define my non-negotiables, and I’ve been getting creative and finding substitutions.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me just give you a brief rundown on the Weight Watchers plan. The name of the game is low fat, low carbs, high fiber and protein. Each food holds a “point” value, and you are allotted a certain number of points per day, depending on your weight, gender, activity level, etc. There is a reserve bank of points each week, in case of those “Surprise, we’re going out for pizza tonight” nights. Fruit and vegetables are zero points, with a few exceptions. Ok, here we go.

Let’s start with the substitutions. These are not ironclad. They just help to make room for the non-negotiables that I’ll talk about in a few minutes (depending on how fast you read).

Faux-tatoes. Now hear me out. I love potatoes in every way, shape, and form they come in. I just wiped a tiny bit of drool from the corner of my mouth. HOWEVER… an average potato is about 5-6 points, and that is without any of the trimmings. Time to get creative. Believe it or not, cauliflower is pretty awesome. If you bust up a head of cauliflower into 1″x1″ pieces, cover with cooking spray or olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400 for about 45 minutes, they taste like tater tots. If you boil cauliflower, puree in a food processor, and add salt, pepper, garlic, chives, and margarine (or “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray, which is ZERO points), mashed potatoes. Better yet, bake this concoction until it starts to brown on top: twice-baked faux-tatoes. It’s not totally the same, but in a pinch, it can work as a nice substitution.

Cheese. Sidenote: like I said, I live in Wisconsin. Cheese is sacred and not to be messed with. However, hear me out. If we are talking melted cheese to accompany a mushroom swiss burger, I have discovered that Laughing Cow cheese wedges work nicely on sandwiches, and things of this nature. They are one point per wedge, vs. 4 points for a slice of actual real life cheese. Just think it over. That 3 points may make or break you at the end of the day.

Goat cheese. Speaking of cheese… this is a quick one. If you like vodka sauce (1/2 cup = 4 points) with your pasta (1 cup = 5 points), try combining plain Hunt’s tomato sauce (zero points) with one tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese (1 point). Delicious. You’re welcome. 😉

Cocktails. This is a tough one. A shot of your typical liquor is 4 points. Yikes. Skinny Girl makes a few types of margaritas, as well as pina colada, cosmopolitan, and sangria, at about 1 point for 4 ounces. Not too bad. Still, you’re out of luck if the Dirty Martini is your drink of choice (6-8 points).

Now, the non-negotiables. These are the things that you need to budget/prioritize for. At least I do…

CHOCOLATE. Stereotypical female, yes. But there’s really nothing better than a good piece (or 12) of chocolate. My latest weakness is Dove dark chocolate Promises. A serving size of 5 pieces will cost 6 points. The vaguely-empowering and sometimes awkwardly-cryptic sayings inside the wrappers are zero points.

Pasta. Pasta isn’t sooooo bad for you, but it does add points up quickly. One cup of your average pasta is 5 points. Add sauce and cheese, and it can turn into a 10-point entree that’s not super filling. Measure carefully, chew slowly.

Bread. I haven’t found a good substitute for bread. Usually if it’s of the “low carb/high fiber” variety, it tastes nothing short of a ceiling tile. Sometimes you just want a warm french baguette: 4-6 points, sans beurre (without butter.. haha?).

Potatoes. My name is Lesleigh, and I like Carbohydrates. Other than a quick fix of transformative cauliflower, there really is no substitution for an actual potato. Baked. Fried. Hashed and browned. My advice: plan accordingly, and have the potato.

Craft beer. Again, Wisconsin. We make good beer. My husband and I travel a lot, and we love to try new beers. Your standard amber is about 7 p0ints for 12 ounces. That’s the worst news I’ve typed all day. When the makers of Skinny Girl bring us Skinny Boy Oktoberfest, I will give it a shot. However, the season is upon us, and I will be planning accordingly for that beer.

Long story short: don’t completely eliminate the good stuff. See if you can improvise. If you can’t, then make room. Do it wholeheartedly, and don’t regret it. Everything in moderation…

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6 responses

  1. For bread, I like the Cybros Sprouted Bakehouse brand. They have it at Sendiks near the bakery. For one of the sprouted seven grain hamburger buns, it’s only 2 points! I really like them! In my opinion, it’s better than regular wheat. You should give it a try!

    We use the Laughing Cow cheese all time! They make a cream cheese too and if you get the light it’s still only one point! We also like the Baby-bel wheels – only 2 points and so full of flavor/satisfying!

    Thanks for the goat cheese tip! Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Great ideas for cauliflower! I will try them all. A dietician told me that a craving can usually be satisfied in four bites. I have a skinny friend who actually nibbles Hershey’s Kisses. You don’t need all 5 Dove pieces. Besides, my head hurts if I try to figure out too many of those wrapper messages! By the way, why is it that I am not absorbing nutrients, but the calories sneak through just fine? Life is just not fair!

  3. When it’s in-season, spaghetti squash can be a great substitute for, well, spaghetti. It can save you 180 calories per cup, and if vegetables are 0 points, you just saved at least 5 and can eat a bigger portion to fill you up. Loving your blog, by the way. Keep it up!

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