I was thinking a lot about “food substitutions” when I was at the grocery store today; what sorts of lower calorie switchoffs “work” for me, and which don’t. I’m still experimenting with a lot of things, but here are a few things I’ve figured out.

  • my morning coffee: I have to have half-and-half in my coffee in the morning. That’s about 100 calories. Ouch. So far I’ve been just using my WW weekly “extra” points on that. I’d seriously rather skip any sort of dessert than go without my coffee OR my half-and-half. I can’t even deal with whole milk in my coffee, so skim or lowfat milk is out of the question.  But today when I at the store I picked up a little can of Sugar-Free Chai Latte. I KNOW. It’s all chemicals. They are nasty chemicals. But it’s only 30 calories. Is it better to have 100 calories of cream, or 30 calories of chemicals? Hmmm…. I first started drinking that stuff many years ago, when I was living with a family in rural Nicaragua. There was no fresh half and half there (ha!), no refrigeration to speak of, and I just can’t drink black coffee, so I brought a big ziplock bag of this. They used to laugh and tease me and call it “cafe de mentira,” which translates to “coffee of the lie.” HA.  Wow, that was a long rumination on my morning beverage, wasn’t it?
  • Tuna melts. I happen to have a longstanding love of tuna melts, which I prepare open-faced on an English muffin. If I use Light English Muffins, they are 1/4 of the calories. I actually think the light ones taste better. And if I use light mayo and lowfat cheese (rrr, not so sure) it is a VERY acceptable, even very delicious facsimile. Hooray!
  • Dessert: I have developed an inordinate fondness for Kozy Shack no-sugar Tapioca Pudding. Mmmm. But I’ve been learning to really “check in” with my hunger and often after I eat dinner I am full. But still craving something sweet. I can have a hard candy which totally satisfies, and lasts about 15 minutes. Yay.
  • Lasagna: ha. I learned something this week. I made a super healthy whole wheat lasagna-with-veggies this week. It was good. But you know, NO WAY was it what I call “lasagna.” I could call what I made “layered pasta veggie casserole” and feel fine with it, but if I was getting psyched up for lasagne, it could make me CRY. I declared that I would rather have two bites of “regular” lasagne, than a big plate of the veggie kind.   So, that one was basically a thumbs down.
  • Egg beaters: For some reason I find yellow dyed Egg Beaters objectionable. It’s sort of like fat-free Half and Half, which I find unfathomably icky. I would rather have pure, regular egg whites. Or just a regular whole egg.
  • Lowfat cheese: I can accept this in a quesadilla, or on a tuna melt, but if I’m just plain.. eating cheese, I need the real thing. Lowfat or nonfat cheese tastes like candle wax to me. The only exception to this is this, which my family affectionately dubbed “moo-moo cheese” when my kids were in preschool. Still love them.
  • Hamburgers: I am totally psyched and happy to switch-out a hamburger for a portobello mushroom “burger” – not a real burger, but an actual mushroom on a bun. It’s super delicious and JUICY. Yum.

Things for which there ARE no acceptable substitute and so I must sadly do without for now:

  • macaroni and cheese. See low-fat cheese, above.
  • pizza. I think it also has something to do with the cheese.
  • chicken pot pie. One night we had grilled chicken breast, with diced veggies on the side, and my daughter sadly said, “This is like chicken pot pie without the crust isn’t it?”  The original light chicken pot pie recipe I got was from Weight Watchers. But what to do about that crust?
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