(BPT) - As the holidays approach, you probably want to clean out your fridge to make room for all the goodies you'll be cooking for family and friends. While you're digging through the expired and forgotten, it's also a smart time to look at what's in your fridge and think about how that's impacting your health.
Registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin says by thoughtfully organizing your fridge with useful, nutrient-dense food items, you'll not only enjoy a cleaner appliance, but cleaner eating. She offers some smart tips for simple swaps you can make today.
Use salsa and fresh citrus juice in place of salad dressings: Fresh salsa and citrus juice provide loads of flavor and micronutrients yet have a small amount of calories compared to traditional salad dressings. Fresh herbs and seasonings are also low-calorie alternatives for adding flavor to foods.
Place produce on shelves, not in drawers: Many people put produce in the crisper drawer, but that pushes them out of sight and out of mind. Instead, reorganize to keep produce on shelves and store other foods, like cheese, meat and dry goods, in the drawers.
Use cottage cheese in place of yogurt and sour cream: Many creamy dips, like French onion, call for a base of sour cream or yogurt. Replace these less nutrient-dense ingredients with high-protein, creamy Muuna cottage cheese for a smooth texture and tangy flavor while increasing nutritional value with potassium and probiotics.
Try applesauce or pureed pumpkin in place of oil: When baking holiday treats, swap out the oil for pureed pumpkin or applesauce. This is a great way to maintain moisture while reducing fat grams and calories, plus it increases micronutrients from the produce.
Savor portobello mushrooms instead of hamburger buns: Portobello mushrooms are a low-carb swap for a hamburger bun that is hearty, dense and high in vitamin D. Try grilling large mushroom caps and use them on both sides of your burger patty.
Make a wrap using lettuce instead of tortillas: Using lettuce for a wrap creates a lower-carb meal while increasing veggie intake. Load your favorite wrap ingredients onto large, overlapping lettuce leaves, roll up and enjoy.
Snack on cottage cheese instead of yogurt: Look at a typical yogurt label and you'll be surprised by the amount of added sugar and little protein. Swap for Muuna cottage cheese that is creamier than the average cottage cheese and contains healthy probiotics with more protein and less sugar, available in nine fruit-on-the-bottom flavors including strawberry, blueberry and peach.
Add jicama for crunch on your salad: Jicama is a crisp, widely available vegetable that is a great substitute for the higher calorie, low-quality crunchy ingredients on your salad. For example, swap out croutons and tortilla strips for slices of jicama.
Limit condiments and replace with flavor-enhancers: Sauces and condiments add flavor to meals, but are often adding sugar, salt and preservatives as well. Stock your fridge with flavor-enhancing items that have few ingredients, like mustard, no sugar-added ketchup and pico de gallo.
Swap calorie-dense protein options for filling, lean proteins: Keep your fridge and freezer stocked with healthy protein options, like fish, chicken, turkey and even lean beef. What's more, have ready-to-go protein, like creamy Muuna cottage cheese, on hand and add a scoop to pasta dishes, load it onto a baked sweet potato, or use it on a large dinner salad for a quick and lean protein addition, plus the added benefits of calcium, potassium and probiotics.
Whether you use one or all of these suggestions, you're sure to transform your fridge to focus on healthier eating, this holiday season and beyond.