Welcome to my third summer shape up. Last week on Shine I shared ways to get rid of belly bloat in a few days. Now, I am going to talk about MUFAs and how they can help you slim down for summer.
If you remember the dark days of dieting, i.e., the fat-free scourge of the early '90s followed by the great carb boycott a few years later, you should be overjoyed, as I am, that losing weight does not, and I mean NOT, require you to cut out an entire food group, ever. In fact some fats, like the healthy monounsaturated variety (known as MUFAs), actually help you lose weight faster, especially around your belly. These are the five MUFA food groups: Healthy oils, olives, avocados, nuts and dark chocolate. I'm all about weight-loss realism, so you obviously can't eat these foods in unlimited quantities but combining sensible MUFA portions with lean meats, healthy whole grains and fresh produce can help you lose weight faster and still look forward to eating your next meal. These are currently my 10 favorite flat belly foods (click here for more recipes and details about the Flat Belly Diet):
1) Guacamole! Here's a quickie recipe: mash one ripe avocado and add diced red onion, cilantro, loads of lime juice, a little salt and fresh pepper and a squeeze of my latest addiction, a Thai chili sauce called China Blue (you can get it at many big chain grocery stores). A chip is really just a vehicle for guac anyway, so use raw veggies instead to save calories (I love fennel and crisp romaine boats).
2) Salad with real vinaigrette I have had enough fat-free dressing to last me a lifetime. Try experimenting with different vinegars and add a tablespoon of a healthy oil like olive, walnut or canola. Season with salt, pepper, mustard and a minced garlic clove.
3) Lean chicken breasts with a "crust" I'm a sucker for anything that has a crispy coating, which usually involves a lot of butter, white flour and breadcrumbs. But a quick roll in egg whites and crushed almonds elevates chicken breasts from diet food drudgery.
4) PB & J Just apply the cardinal rules of healthy eating: whole grain bread and natural (read: less sugar) peanut butter and fruit spread rather than jam (make sure it's free of high-fructose corn syrup). For a healthy Elvis-y twist, spritz with a little non-fat cooking spray and grill.
5) The mixed olive dish I used to avoid at dinner parties Nicoise, Picholine, even the kind with the pimento inside: They're officially off my "avoid" list. Just don't eat the whole bowl.
6) Vietnamese Beef Salad This used to be a take-out staple until I learned how easy it is to make it yourself.
7) This light but hearty pasta: Capellini, pine nuts, sun-dried tomato, plus chicken and basil make a meal somehow both summery and satisfying.
8) Those once-forbidden macadamia nuts. These are high in fat and calories so use sparingly, but crushing a few and sprinkling on fat-free yogurt or fruit tastes really decadent.
9) Pesto, Pesto, Pesto Try roasting sweet grape tomatoes and mix in a teaspoon of basil pesto--a little goes a long way, and roasting transforms tomatoes from a garnish to meal (or at least a very tasty side dish).
10) Chocolate pudding with bananas and graham crackers. 'Nuff said
Want more from Liz? Check out Flat Belly Diet to slim your tummy.
[photo credit: Getty Images]