‘Cook This, Not That!’: 4 transformed meals

Forget dieting. Forget joining a gym. Forget ads for the Ab-inator device you saw on QVC. If you really, truly want to lose weight, there is no quicker way to shave pounds off your body — and dollars off your food bill — than to cook more at home. That’s what our newest book, “Cook This, Not That!”, will teach you how to do. Use the simple guide below for a taste of how you can turn the expensive, unhealthy foods at America’s restaurants into fat-blasting superfoods. The best part: The “Cook This, Not That!” versions of these dishes taste better, too!

1. Chicken Fingers

Average calories in restaurant chicken fingers: 1,100

Caloric equivalent: 22 Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Munchkins

Cook This! Instead:

Rating:
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Servings:
Makes 4 servings / Cost per serving: $2
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2. Turkey Sandwich

Average calories in a restaurant turkey sandwich: 850

Caloric equivalent: 13 “fun-size” 3 Musketeers bars

Cook This! Instead:

Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
Makes 4 servings / Cost per serving: $3.54
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3. Lasagna

Average calories in restaurant lasagna: 750

Caloric equivalent: More than 8 fried eggs

Cook This! Instead:

Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
Makes 4 servings / Cost per serving: $3.50
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4. Fish Tacos

Average calories in restaurant fish tacos: 1,250

Caloric equivalent: 2.5 McRib Sandwiches from McDonald's

Cook This! Instead:

Rating:
( rated)
Servings:
Makes 4 servings / Cost per serving: $2.97
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The perfect kitchen

Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these five simple staples. They’ll help you instantly improve your diet — and your health.

Low sodium soy sauce 

Calories aren't the issue with soy sauce; it's sodium. Choosing a lighter version can save you up to 500 milligrams (mg) sodium per serving.

We like: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce (1 Tbsp)

10 calories

0 g fat

575 mg sodium

Dark chocolate

Eating chocolate in moderation isn’t a dietary death sentence, it’s actually surprisingly good for your health — as long as the chocolate contains at least 60 percent cocoa. That’s because chocolate is packed with antioxidants.

We like: Hershey’s Special Dark (1 bar)

180 calories

12 g fat (8 g saturated)

21 g sugars

Extra-virgin olive oil

When choosing vegetable oil, you want to select the one with the highest ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. Here’s a shortcut: In this category, olive oil outperforms the other bottles on the shelf. That’s because nearly 75 percent of its fat content is monounsaturated. (Soybean oil has less than 25 percent monounsaturated fat.)

We like: Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1 Tbsp)

120 calories

14 g fat (2 g saturated)

Canola oil

When choosing vegetable oil, you want to select the one with a high ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. Here’s a shortcut: In this category, olive oil outperforms the other bottles on the shelf (with about 75 percent monounsaturated fat content) — but canola oil is nearly as good, with monounsaturated fats accounting for 2/3 of the total fat. And an extra benefit of canola oil? It’s about a quarter the price of EVOO.

We like: Wesson 100% Natural Canola Oil (1 Tbsp)

120 calories

14 g fat (1 g saturated)

0 g sodium

Low-fat/organic dressing

Certain dressings are only a small step above mayonnaise (think: ranch). You wouldn't dress your salad with mayo, right? A great dressing will pack spice and tang without hitting a calorie danger zone.

We like: Annie's Naturals Organic Buttermilk (2 Tbsp)

60 calories

6 g fat (1 g saturated)

230 mg sodium

Organic quinoa

Swap quinoa for brown rice, and you're earning yourself almost double the protein and about eight times as much fiber. Quinoa also delivers more flavor and cooks almost twice as fast.

We like: Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa (1/2 cup)

170 calories

2.5 g fat

2 mg sodium

Natural peanut butter 

It may seem backward, but when it comes to peanut butter, choose the kind with the most fat. Natural varieties are made from nothing but peanuts and salt, but many commercial brands contain hydrogenated oils and corn syrup. Choose an all-natural product, and you’ll trade the bad stuff for more healthy fat.

We like: Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter, Creamy (2 Tbsp)

200 calories

16 g fat (2.5 g saturated)

90 mg sodium

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