By Mary Kearl
When it comes to eating healthy men may need a little direction, according to a recent telephone survey of 14,000 Americans in 10 U.S. states. The result of the collaboration between state and federal health officials found that men were much more likely to eat asparagus, Brussels sprouts, peas and peanuts than women. But, they also ate more frozen food, like pizzas, hamburgers and Mexican dinners. Try this list of male-centric healthy options guaranteed to set even the biggest junk foodies on the path to healthy (and tasty) eating.
Guilty Foods with a Twist
Men can still eat the "ultimate bar food," says Missy Chase Lapine, author of 'The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) Hiding Healthy Foods in Hearty Meals Any Guy with Love.' As long you make them at home where you can turn fried calamari and onion rings, or what Lapine calls "heart attack on a plate," into healthful baked dishes. Instead of using breaded dough, grind up heart-healthy almonds and mix with fiber-rich crunchy cornmeal, shake over the calamari or onions and bake at about 425 degrees. Sprinkle cayenne pepper or bay leaves for flavor. Mist lightly with olive oil. This preparation swaps unhealthy oils, fats and carbs for smaller amounts of healthy fats.
For Cheese Lovers
From beer-guzzling, mozzarella-stick snacking to wine-sipping and brie-tasting, men love their cheeses. And who says it has to be off-limits? One diet-smart choice is cottage cheese which packs 28 g of protein, and only costs about 2 fat g and 160 calories. It can be subbed for higher-fat (and less-filling) cheddar cheese in tacos, burritos and even in pastas. For a stronger cheese taste, consider sprinkling parmesan cheese which has 3 fat grams for every 2 tablespoons. Remember: A little goes a long way.
At the Grill
This archetypal male bastion is where healthy eating can reign supreme. Not only is grilling a leaner alternative to frying, grilled veggie kebabs or patties allow men to get necessary veggie servings. But be sure to choose lean or extra-lean meats (the label should read at least "90 lean") and buy skinless or remove the skin (this can cut down fat content by 40), along with any visible fat before preparing. Ditch overly processed meats to avoid going overboard on sodium intake -- a notorious diet trap.
Yes, You Can Eat Meatloaf
"Guys don't really go for the 'chick foods,'" says Lapine. "They want something very rich and satisfying." Enter Lapine's tips for modifying the fat content, but not the taste or filling-effects of guys' favorite foods. Lapine reduces fat in her meatloaf by using turkey or lean beef. And in place of bread crumbs (just two tablespoons have 90 calories), Lapine combines a white bean puree, tomato paste, oat bran and spices. For barbecue lovers, combine a puree of blueberries and spinach, tomato paste, wheat germ, and glaze over with barbecue sauce.
Quick and Healthy
You don't have to miss out on the convenience of packaged ready-made foods -- just add the healthy part yourself. Make an out-of-the-jar manwich sandwich and add a veggie or bean puree (which takes about two minutes to make in a food processor). Or, sub this puree in place of mayo, replacing unhealthy fats with heart-healthy fiber and folic acids. "A can of tomato paste could be the single best resource for a guy," adds Lapine. Consider adding it to your favorite chili. Both of these are easy ways to add superfoods to your meal, says Lapine, "Even a bachelor can do it."
Russet potatoes, used in mashed potatoes, are very high antioxidant food, says Lapine, but also a high starch, so watch out. Classic mashed potatoes are loaded with butter -- plus some people use heavy cream, sour cream and/or milk, says Lapine. Lapine's tips: Skip all that fat, and use about 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil and about cup low-fat plain yogurt; add a white bean, or cauliflower and zucchini puree to add protein and/or fiber to your potatoes; lastly, add a "flavor decoy" like a small amount of parmesan, roasted garlic, chipotle or pesto.
For Your Sweet Tooth
Try swapping solids for healthful, filling liquids: Chocolate milk will cost you 150 calories, but that's less than a serving of soda, and serves up a healthy amount of calcium and protein. Or for guys who really want something filling, subbing some ingredients can help cut out fat and calories. In her molten chocolate cake the Sneaky Chef replaces 2/3 the white flour traditional recipes call for with a mix of wheat germ and whole wheat flour. Cutting back on butter where possible and using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate are other ways to add diet-smarts to a sweet indulgence.
Best Tex Mex
Men really can have it all -- full-flavored foods without added fat, cholesterol and calories. You just have to be picky about picking toppings: Skip cheese and add jalepenos, salsa, and/or grilled veggies like fiber-rich eggplant. You'll add a variety of flavors without adding extra fat. When cooking on your own use skinless meats or beans to reduce fats. Plus, baked tortilla chips can make for a nice whole-grain snack, and add guacamole (without sour cream, to reduce calories) for its savory taste and heart-healthy fats.
"The smaller the fish the bigger the benefits," Says Lapine. "Compare sardines to tuna. Sardines are small fish with almost no mercury and loaded with omega 3 fatty acids." What if you hate sardines? Incorporate sardines with tuna fish and you won't even notice them, says the Sneaky chef. While salmon on the whole is a healthy choice, opt for wild salmon because it has fewer impurities than farmed salmon. It even comes in a can.