Updated: July 25, 2013

All this week, my blogs have been focusing on finding balance. Unfortunately the reality is that Americans struggle with this concept. We tend to eat far more calories than we need, and often eat for reasons that have nothing to do with what's optimal for our bodies. If you're on a quest to find balance, here are some examples of meal "makeovers" that slash excess calories while boosting overall nutrition - and none require becoming a gourmet cook or buying specialty ingredients!


2 large buttermilk pancakes with 2 Tbsp butter, one quarter cup syrup and 3 small sausage links

Total: 1,342 calories

Breakfast in balance:

1 slice whole wheat bread sliced diagonal, dipped in one quarter cup organic egg whites topped with one half cup fresh mixed berries and 2 Tbsp slivered almonds, dusted with cinnamon

Total: 240 calories

Nutrition upgrades:

Berries add natural sweetness with over 3 times fewer calories for double the volume compared to syrup and they're packed with anti-aging, memory-boosting antioxidants.

Trading sausage links for egg whites and almonds slashes saturated fat and sodium while upping the protein, magnesium and B vitamins in this breakfast.

Total breakfast savings: 1,102 calories


Homemade mac and cheese

Total: 1,074 calories

Lunch in balance:

Half cup tomato soup made with organic skim milk

1 grilled cheese sandwich each made with 2 slices whole grain bread, 1 ounce cheddar cheese and one quarter of a ripe avocado

Total: 350 calories

Nutrition upgrades:

Creamy, carb-rich foods can help you feel relaxed, but healthier versions of comfort foods work too – using organic skim milk in your soup and ripe avocado instead of butter in your sandwich drastically reduces artery clogging saturated fat and boosts the intake of blood pressure lowering potassium and antioxidants.

Cooked tomatoes deliver heart protective lycopene (over 150% more than raw tomatoes) and immune-boosting vitamin A.

Total lunch savings: 724 calories


Fish & chips

Side of coleslaw

Total: 1,340 calories

Dinner in balance:

3 oz grilled trout

1 cup steamed green beans cooked with garlic, lemon juice and misted with herb infused oil

One half cup cooked wild rice

One half cup fresh cherries

Total: 267 calories

Nutrition upgrades:

Mix things up at dinner by trying wild rice – it has twice the protein and fiber of brown rice.

Trout provides omega-3 fatty acids, linked to heart and brain protection including warding off Alzheimer's and dementia.

Total dinner savings: 1,073 calories


Apple pie ala mode

Total: 730 calories

Dessert in balance:

Parfait made from 4 oz 0% Greek yogurt layered with 1 small sliced apple, fresh or baked, topped with 1 tsp honey, a dash of apple pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and 2 Tbsp toasted whole oats

Total: 160 calories

Nutrition upgrades:

Replacing vanilla ice cream with nonfat Greek yogurt automatically saves 300 calories, doubles the intake of metabolism-boosting protein and adds probiotics, "good bacteria" linked to better digestion, immune protection and possibly weight control.

Eating apples with the skin boosts flavonoid intake, an antioxidant that protects the heart and liver, lowers inflammation (a trigger for aging and disease) and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Total dessert savings: 570 calories

Calorie savings for the day: 3,469



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