How to Turn Your 13 Favorite Midwestern Meals into a Weight Loss Diet

Recently, my personal training client wanted to ramp up her weight loss efforts. Our first step was examining her current slate of meals (the typical Midwestern diet) and identifying the healthy alternatives. Take a look…the same meals are probably in your diet too!!

Quick Swap/General Changes to Your Typical Meals


-Organic ingredients only (more flavor!).
-Reduced sodium for all canned products (less bloatedness!).
-No lard in any of the canned bean products (less of the unnecessary bad fat!).
-Meat (including all red meat, white meat, fish, seafood, etc.) should not be more than 25% of any dish (vegan is preferred for ALL 3-4 meals).
-Eliminate cheese or swap it for a SMALL amount of Diya's Chopping Block Cheddar Cheese Shreds. I still hesitate to recommend a cheese substitute since it's still highly processed and you will continue the craving (which will be dangerous when the substitute isn't available).
-No butter.
-The portion of vegetables must always double the size of meat at a minimum.

Common Meals (and their Healthy Alternatives)


Chili mac


-Healthy Alternative: Mexican mix (below) using the taco seasoning recipe (below) with Banza Chickpea Elbows Pasta (boil until el dente, and then quickly rinse with cold water). Meal Ratio: 1/4 ground chicken (2-4 oz), 1/2 veggies, 1/4 pasta.

Pizza


-Healthy Alternative: 365 Everyday Value Cauliflower Pizza Crust, 8 oz (frozen), tomato sauce, Diya's Chopping Block Cheddar Cheese Shreds, roasted red bell peppers, fresh garlic cloves, basil.

Lemon garlic sauce chicken, veggies, and pasta


-Healthy Alternative: 1/4 chicken (2-4 oz), 1/2 veggies, 1/4 Banza Chickpea Penne Pasta (or substitute with boiled and drained cauliflower rice).

Grilled chicken breast and veggies


-Healthy Alternative: 1/4 chicken (2-4 oz), 3/4 veggies (grilled asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.).

Grilled cheese


-Healthy Alternative: Whole grain bread with Diya's Chopping Block Cheddar Cheese Shreds but this still isn’t a nutrient-dense option alone. Make this a 1/4 of your meal and add veggies for the rest.

Lasagna


-Healthy Alternative: Mexican mix recipe (below) using the taco seasoning recipe (below). Meal Ratio: 1/4 ground chicken (2-4 oz), 1/2 veggies (beans, corn, sauteed onions, bell peppers), 1/4 El Milagro Corn Tortillas (only ingredients: corn, water, lime).

Beef chili


-Healthy Alternative: 1 diced medium yellow onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tbs tomato paste, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 cup dry green lentils, 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce, 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles or hot Rotel, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 2 green peppers, 3 tbs of Worcestershire, 1 can of drained kidney beans, and 1 can of drained pinto beans.

Crockpot BBQ chicken


-Healthy Alternative: Chicken breasts, green pepper strips, strips of sautéed onions and diced garlic, and Annie's Original BBQ Sauce. The chicken is only 1/4 of your meal and veggies for the rest.

Tuna salad


-Healthy Alternative: Wild Planet Wild Albacore Tuna Pouch (No Salt), 1 tbs of Real Mayo, 1tsp of Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper seasoning, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, lemon garnish, and 1-2 tsp of diced pickle or relish.

Chicken casserole (chicken, peas, cream of chicken soup, breadcrumbs)


-Healthy Alternative: Chicken breasts, peas, vegan cashew sauce (https://cookieandkate.com/vegan-mac-and-cheese-recipe/), and oats or quinoa (instead of breadcrumbs). The chicken is only 1/4 of your meal and veggies for the rest.

Tacos (chicken, lettuce, cheese, shells)


-Healthy Alternative: Mexican mix using the taco seasoning recipe. Meal Ratio: 1/4 ground chicken (2-4 oz), 1/2 veggies (beans, corn, lettuce as well as chopped spinach and green peppers marinated in squeezed lime juice), and 1/4 El Milagro Corn Tortillas (only ingredients: corn, water, lime)…no cheese.

Taco salad (same as above but in a salad)


-Healthy Alternative: Mexican mix using the taco seasoning recipe. 1/4 Ground chicken (2-4 oz), 3/4 Veggies (beans, corn, lettuce as well as chopped spinach and green peppers marinated in squeezed lime juice)…no cheese.

Beef meatloaf


-Healthy Alternative: Ground chicken, diced green peppers, diced sautéed onions and garlic, oats or quinoa (instead of breadcrumbs), Organic Large Omega-3 Brown Grade A Eggs, Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup, and Annie's Original BBQ Sauce…..but this still isn’t a nutrient-dense option alone. Make the meatloaf a 1/4 of your meal and add veggies for the rest.

Base recipes


Mexican mix


-1 lb ground organic chicken breast sauteed with 1 chopped medium onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves
-2 cans of Bushes black beans
-1 can Hot Rotel (or any diced tomatoes)
-1 can Mexican corn

Taco seasoning


-2 tbs chili powder
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
-1/2 tsp oregano
-1 tsp paprika
-3 tsp cumin
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit. com: Can grilled cheese ever be healthy?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
How to Turn Your 13 Favorite Midwestern Meals into a Weight Loss Diet
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.