Top 5 High-Calorie Culprits

We all have those moments where we eat great, nice and clean, step on the scale a day later and think “What? I didn’t lose anything?!”. Well, lucky for you, I’ve compiled a short list of things that could be tacking on more empty calories than you think. This is not to say that you can’t have these foods, but that you should just watch your portions on them and as always, talk to a dietitian for more help!

Salad dressings

I used to be the kid that ordered a salad without dressing, I was so grossed out by it. Knowing that now, I can’t believe this was something I’d do! I love dressing on my salad as much as the next person but it’s important to make a conscious decision to try and keep calories low without sacrificing taste. My favorite salad dressing is honey mustard, which for one serving (2 tbsp), it can add as much as 200 calories to my already 300-400 calorie salad! So what can I do to help keep calories low but still get that honey mustardy taste? I made my own dressing of course! Mixing plain greek yogurt with equal parts honey and mustard was my solution and it’s one that I love doing every week.  I get more protein, lower sugar, and can have more without it being even close to the same amount of calories.

So that covers honey mustard, but what about all those other dressing out there? Try and look for greek yogurt-based salad dressings in your local grocer. They are often lower in sugar and much lower in calories by almost half! If you really aren’t into making your own dressing or really don’t want to stray away from your go-to dressing, always always always be sure to check the nutrition label in the back for serving size. You’ll typically find that serving sizes of salad dressings are 2 tbsp. Stick with that serving size and no more! Otherwise you can add hundreds of calories to a healthy meal without even realizing it.

Condiments

Oh yes, the ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise we all know and love. While these are always staples at your BBQ parties or 4th of July parties, they’re something that we’re adding to already high-calorie foods (hot dogs, burgers, pasta salads). So, what are some alternatives? Try and find a low sugar or no sugar added ketchup. The tomato-based staple can contain lots of extra sugar we don’t really need, so check your label and be sure there’s no more than 5g of added sugar. With mayo you can use greek yogurt instead. Just like the salad dressing, it will increase protein and decrease fat dramatically.

As for mustard, it’s already a low-calorie condiment, but will be higher in sodium. Fun fact: during a Spartan race I did one year, I saw a group of guys consuming mustard packets all throughout the course to stay hydrated because of the sodium content in them; GROSS! Sorry, but I’d rather do something else to stay hydrated. Relish is another condiment that’s very low in calories but adds tons of flavor to foods, so eat up!

Alcohol

We all know alcohol is calories and no one wants to hear that they should cut back or limit the amount of drinks they’re used to having. It’s more important to be aware of the ways in which alcohol can increase calories so drastically. Yes, hard liquor has sugar in it, but it’s the mixers you need to watch out for. It’s always better to use a seltzer/club soda as your mixer than sprite, coke, or any other high-calorie soda or juice for that matter. One vodka-tonic drink gets you 215 calories per drink, where a vodka-seltzer drink will only be around 75-100 calories. Be very conscious of tonic water. Many people think that because it’s “water” it’s got to be better than soda; FALSE. Tonic water is LOADED with sugar and only increases the chances you’ll be feeling your head pounding the next day. Ever had a gin and tonic hangover? Need I say more?

Butter

Butter; another great staple in our diet that only adds to the taste and deliciousness of foods. I am the first to go in on a good helping of bread and butter or loading up some cinnamon raisin toast with butter. Even though I love it, doesn’t mean I don’t watch how much of it I put on my foods. 1 tablespoon of butter can offer up about 100 calories. Butter is also high in saturated fat which increases our risk of heart disease, and boosts triglyceride and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. So what to use instead of butter? Olive oil! I always put olive oil on my vegetables before I roast or steam them. It’s also better to spray pans with olive oil rather than a spray non-stick concoction. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which offers up wonderful health benefits. Being an Omega-3 fat, it will decrease your risk for heart disease and HDL (good cholesterol), but will also lower triglyceride levels and LDL.

Cream and Sugar

The two most common foods we throw into our coffee. When I first started drinking coffee, I would load it with vanilla creamer and all the sugar I wanted until it was sweet enough. I can’t even imagine what it would taste like to me now. Limiting the sugar and creamer you put in your coffee can dramatically decrease your simple sugar intake first thing in the morning. If you add 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of creamer, you’re adding upwards of 10-15 grams of added sugar just in your cup of coffee! We’re only supposed to have a total of 26-34 grams in our ENTIRE day. So luckily for us there are plenty of great alternatives to make our coffee taste just as good. Try using coconut, oat milk, or almond milk creamer. Keep in mind, getting a flavored creamer can cut down on the need to add extra sugar. Also note that changing the flavor of your coffee takes some getting used to, so be patient and give it some time! It’s so important to limit added sugar intake to decrease risk of any co-morbidities.

Tropical Parfait

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Parfait

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ c fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp chocolate or caramel syrup (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ and line a small baking sheet with tinfoil.
  2. Spread shredded coconut across the baking sheet.
  3. If you have a fresh pineapple, cut it up into chunks while the oven is preheating.
  4. Once oven is preheated, place coconut into oven, about 3 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Take out once coconut is browned.
  5. Assemble parfait with greek yogurt first, pineapple, chocolate or caramel syrup, and topped off with the coconut.
  6. Dig in and enjoy!

Calories 237 (with syrup). Fat 3g. Protein 19g.

KP’s Tip: Parfaits are a great option for breakfast, as yogurt offers protein and carbs. Adding fruit, granola, or whatever you prefer adds to the delicious taste of it. With its tropical taste and island-style vibe, your day will start on the bright side of things. Add some mandarin oranges, lime, or grapefruit for some more citrus bite. 

KP’s Breakfast Sammy

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Sandwich

  • 1 egg
  • 1 “sliced thin” pepper jack cheese slice
  • 2 slices canadian bacon
  • 1 “everything” bagel thin or sandwich thin
  • About 1 tsp butter
  • Cooking spray

1. Pan-fry your egg over medium heat. I have a one-egg pan that I use which works perfectly!

2. While your egg is frying, toast your bagel thin whole, don’t separate into two pieces.

3. On a separate plate, place 2 pieces of canadian and microwave for about 30 seconds to heat.

4. Once the egg is done, place aside but leave in the pan.

5. When bagel/sandwich thin is done toasting, place on a plate.

6. Add your slice of cheese to the bottom of the bagel while lightly buttering the other side.

7. Place egg on top of the cheese slice and then layer with turkey sausage (flat side down).

8. Top off your sandwich with the top part of your bagel and enjoy!

Calories 310. Fat 15g. Protein 21g.

KP’s Tip: If you want to make two at a time (which I usually end up doing), just make two separate eggs in one pan and toast your bagels at the same time since you only use one slot for one bagel.

Make Ahead Breakfast Burrito

Serves 8 , Serving size 1 Burrito

  • 1lb ground turkey sausage
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 32oz carton “Better’n Eggs” liquid eggs
  • 1 package Tumaro’s Garden Veggie “Low-In-Carb” Wraps
  • 1 bag low-fat shredded cheddar
  • Plastic Wrap
  1. Brown turkey sausage in skillet and drain excess fat. Set aside.
  2. In the same pan, on medium-high heat, sautee peppers and onions with olive oil. Throw in all the spices and cook until the onion become translucent.
  3. Add liquid eggs (I only used about ¾ of the carton so you should have some left over). Use your best judgement for a vegetable to egg ratio. When eggs start to cook, add in the turkey sausage and cook altogether until eggs are cooked through.
  4. Set up your “wrapping station” for the burritos: A space for your pieces of plastic wrap to lie flat, and somewhere to put them once they’re wrapped

5.  Lay out your piece of plastic wrap and burrito shell. Spread cheese on the bottom of the wrap, and then your egg-sausage mixture. Wrap tightly and then roll into plastic wrap securely. Repeat this process with all of wraps and place into plastic bag.

6. Throw in the freezer and enjoy whenever you want!

Calories 223. Fat 10g. Protein 23g.

KP’s Tip: I had some turkey-sausage mixture left over so I just threw the leftovers into a container in the fridge and had it for breakfast the next day. For a little spice, use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar. They freezer wonderfully and reheat nicely too.

PB & J Protein Shake

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Shake

  • 1 ¼ c frozen strawberries
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter powder
  • 1c vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Combine ingredients into blender.
  2. Blend starting at mid-speed and increase to high-speed for about 2-3 minutes until completely smooth.
  3. Pour into a fancy glass, and enjoy!

Calories 170. Fat 5g. Protein 10g.

KP’s Tip: You could also use grapes in place of the strawberries for all you grape jelly lovers out there!

Peach-Pineapple Protein Shake

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Shake

  • 1 16-oz bag frozen peaches
  • 1 can sliced pineapples (in water or natural juice)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  1. Using only half of the bag of frozen peaches and 5 slices of pineapple, place in blender.
  2. Add protein powder and almond milk.
  3. Start blending at medium speed, increasing speed after about 1 minute to make sure all chunks are blended.
  4. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Calories 210. Fat 2g. Protein 14g.

KP’s Tip: It may look like the carb content is high, but it’s all natural carbohydrate which your body needs for immediate energy!

Cromosa

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Drink

  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • 1 bottle of Trop50 Orange juice
  • 1 bottle of Ocean Spray “Light” Cranberry and Raspberry Juice
  • Clementines
  1. Pour desired amount of champagne into glass, leaving some room for juice splash.
  2. Splash the orange juice, and then the cranberry juice (about ½ oz each) making sure not to overfill the glass.
  3. Garnish with a clementine slice and enjoy!

Calories 84. Fat 0g. Protein 0g.

KP’s Tip: I love this drink because it’s DELICIOUS, but it’s also friendly to your waist line. Less than 100 calories per drink is lower than almost any other mixed drink or beer. 

Put a Little “Everything” In Your Life

Everything bagel seasoning has emerged as the latest thing to literally put on everything. So why not provide you with some knowledge on why it can be great for you and how you can use it more often! It all started with a grocery store called Trader Joe’s. They came out with a little bottle of magic called “Everything but the bagel” seasoning, and it sounds exactly like it is…everything but the bagel.

It’s simply the seasoning that you find on an everything bagel, but guess what….it’s good on everything!! 

It’s comprised of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, and sea salt. All these flavors formed into one make a super seasoning! So why should we use it on foods? The poppy and sesame seeds are going to offer up more healthy fats (omega-3s), offer more satiety in meals, and of course load it up with flavor. Calories are moderately low, so this seasoning is a great choice to add a burst of flavor. A serving size is considered ¼ tsp which offers up a whopping 5 calories, so while it still provides calories, it’s not going to load calories onto a meal like a sauce or marinade would. You do still have to be aware of the sodium, since sea salt is one of the ingredients, but as a whole, this can be a great choice on lots of different foods. 

If you haven’t tried “everything” seasoning yet, here are a couple of foods you could try it with to see if you truly like it. I’ve personally thrown it onto my eggs (which is amazing), coated chicken and steak with it, added it to roasted veggies, and you could also add it to a soup, salad or avocado toast as well! There are SO many ways you can use this seasoning that it’s almost silly not to try it. 

Finding this seasoning used to be much harder, but with the popularity of it growing, it’s easier to find. Some big stores you can find it in include Walmart, Costco,Giant, Redner’s and of course the OG Trader Joe’s. If you don’t feel like buying it, chances are you have all the ingredients to make it at home too! Here are the ratios:

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cups poppy seeds

3 tbsp dried onion flakes

3 tbsp dried garlic flakes 

2 tbsp course sea salt 

Mix all this together and you’ll get 1 cup of deliciousness! Try it for yourself and comment below to let me know what you thought! Time to take your meals up a notch!

Berry Banana Breakfast Shake

Serves 1 , Serving size 1 Drink

  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1/3c low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2c raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 ½ c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
  1. Add all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Start out at medium speed until the fruit is mostly chopped into tiny pieces.
  3. Increase the blender speed to high and run for about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour and enjoy!

Calories 291. Fat 6g. Protein 21g.

KP’s Tip: This is a great shake to start your day. It’s important to make sure you get a good balance of your macronutrients first thing in the morning; carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

Chicken Caesar Flatbread

Serves 4 , Serving size 2 slices

  • 1 refrigerated thin crust pizza dough
  • 5oz plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small can sliced olives
  • ½ c cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
  • 2-3 cooked chicken breast tenderloins
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp light Caesar dressing
  • 1 bag romaine lettuce
  1. Preheat oven to 425⁰.
  2. Coat your pizza stone or sheet pan with flour and roll out pizza dough evenly.
  3. Place in preheated oven for 6 minutes. This is to make sure the middle of the crust cooks evenly after all the toppings have been added.
  4. In small bowl, mix yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper.
  5. Take dough out of oven, top with greek yogurt mixture, tomatoes, olives, and chicken.
  6. Place in oven for another 10 minutes, or until crust is golden.
  7. Top off with romaine lettuce, drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  8. Let cool about 5 minutes, slice, and serve!

Calories 326. Fat 7g. Protein 24g.

KP’s Tip: To speed things up, you can always use rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken pieces for the pizza. This way, all your ingredients are ready to be made into a delicious, colorful meal.