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Food Play

You can have fun in your kitchen and still stay on track for your weight loss goals by ‘playing’ with the way you normally cook and prepare meals. Think about your time in the kitchen as an adventure -- you may not always get where you are going the way you initially planned, but there is a lot to be learned and enjoyed along the way.

● Use the Fresh & Free Additions with sandwiches, burgers, pizza and pasta dishes by loading on fresh vegetables -- experiment with different combinations: arugula and onion; bell peppers, carrots and snap peas; cauliflower and yellow squash.

● Incorporate nonfat flavor enhancers like lemon or lime juice, vegetable juice, basil, cayenne pepper, cilantro, curry, garlic, sage, tarragon and thyme.

● Get your smoothie on -- come up with creative combinations to blend with 1 cup nonfat milk: 1 small banana and ¾ cup berries; ½ cup coconut water, leftover steamed broccoli (really!) and 1 small mango; ½ cup each cantaloupe and honeydew melon.

● Replace all your regular ingredients with low-fat or nonfat versions of the same: mayo, cream cheese, salad dressing, milk, yogurt.

● Use whole grains in place of white breads or processed pastas. Whole-grain cereals, oatmeal and cooked grains get lively when you mix in fruits or vegetables.

When it’s time to sit down, enjoy your cooking experience even more by arranging your meals on your favorite plates and bowls. Make an occasion out of cooking well for yourself, and enjoy being in your kitchen as part of your meal planning!