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Summer Swap Out

Jun 01, 2015 03:41AM ● By Family Features
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The warmer weather has many people thinking about carefree days filled with abundant social offerings. Be mindful and approach your summer routine with tools to aid you in making healthier decisions throughout the season.

“Creating a better you begins with your daily food choices,” said Marisa Paolillo, nutritionist with the NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System. “If you don’t have the right food at home, how will you have the energy to stay fit and active for all those fun summer activities? How you shop, what you cook, eat and do to stay fit on a daily basis really does matter.”

From outdoor picnics with the family to poolside parties with friends, summer offers many opportunities that often involve food. An easy tool to help you shop, cook, eat and feel better is the NuVal system, which makes decision-making about better-for-you food choices simple. To find the foods that are right for you, the scoring system assigns a simple one-number, one-to-100 score, based on nutritional label factors and USDA Dietary Guidelines – the higher the score, the better the nutrition.

Whether you’re at work or play, use this guide to swap out some standard foods with healthier options.

Everyday menus.

  • Better snacks. A combination of berries – such as blueberries (NuVal 100) or cherries (NuVal 100) – and dry roasted almonds (NuVal 84) is a balanced power snack. Chock full of healthy fats, protein and fiber, this kind of "combo snack" keeps you full and energized after summer workouts or between meals.
  • Summertime lunches. Swap cold cut sandwiches for roasted white meat chicken (NuVal 57) in a yellow corn tortilla (NuVal 91). Or, toss water-packed tuna (NuVal 87) with whole grain pasta (NuVal 91), cherry tomatoes, cucumber chunks, celery and red onions (NuVal 100). Use light salad dressing or vinaigrette rather than mayonnaise. You can also incorporate half of an avocado into this mix for a creamy alternative to mayonnaise. This not only boosts flavor, but replaces saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fat.
  • Smarter suppers. Opt for a healthier main course, such as freshly prepared farm-raised catfish (NuVal 83), a nutrition-rich, high-scoring entree. If you crave Italian, swap out regular pasta (NuVal 30) with pasta made with spaghetti squash (NuVal 100).

Outdoor picnics, barbecues and more.

  • Better buns. When shopping for buns to complement grilled meats, consider grabbing a bag of whole-grain or whole-wheat buns. (Look for a NuVal score of 30 or above.)
  • Simple seasonings. Use spices and herbs to flavor meat rather than thick, sugar-packed sauces. Herbs like rosemary (NuVal 84), garlic (NuVal 100), dill (NuVal 100) and cilantro (NuVal 95) add flavor to grilled meat, fish and vegetables, and add vitamins and antioxidants to recipes.
  • Smarter sides. Forget chips and high fat sides. Fill up on grilled or fresh vegetables, which typically have a NuVal 100 score. Cut up sweet potatoes (NuVal 100) in thick slices or wedges and roast or grill for a great option to French fries.
  • Main entrees. Plan a menu that allows guests to choose from a variety of lean meat, poultry or fish and vegetable options. Pairing protein and vegetables is a better way to re-fuel after a game of baseball, basketball and other summer sports.

With the right tools as your guide, you’ll be able to enjoy all the fun the season serves up. For more ways to incorporate better foods into your routine, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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