5 Magic Dinner Menus

You’ll want to make one of these for dinner tonight.

Typical Dinner
7 ounces (200 g) grilled “select” sirloin steak
1 medium baked potato with 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup salad with 1 tablespoon ranch dressing
1 slice French bread with 1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces (125 ml) red wine

Total GL: 64
Total calories: 1,003

Magic Dinner
7 ounces (200 g) grilled “select” sirloin steak
1/2 baked medium sweet potato with:
1/2 tablespoon good-for-you margarine
1/2 cup steamed broccoli
2 cups mixed greens salad with:
Roasted red and yellow bell peppers
2 tablespoons oil and vinegar dressing
4 ounces (125 ml) red wine

Total GL: 12
Total calories: 481

The Fixes
Replaced the white potato with half a sweet potato to dramatically decrease the GL. Eat the skin for added fiber.

Doubled the salad size. Salad is filling and full of low-GL nutrition.

Changed the ranch dressing to oil and vinegar to decrease unhealthy saturated fat and provide extra acidity, which lowers the meal’s GL.

Replaced the bread with broccoli to add vitamins and fiber and lower the GL.
Typical Dinner
2 cups cooked regular spaghetti with 1 cup tomato sauce, 3.5 ounces (100 g) beef meatballs
2 small slices Italian bread with 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup salad with cucumber, tomato, 1 tablespoon blue cheese dressing
8 ounces (250 ml) soda

Total GL: 62
Total calories: 1,170

Magic Dinner
1 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti with:
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3.5 ounces (100 g) turkey meatballs (made with 90% fat-free ground turkey)
2 cups salad with:
Tomato, cucumber, olives, and red onion
2 tablespoons oil and vinegar dressing
8 ounces (250 ml) unsweetened iced tea

Total GL: 14
Total calories: 550

The Fixes
Cut the spaghetti portion in half and switched to whole wheat spaghetti to add fiber and lower the GL.

Eliminated the bread and doubled the size of the salad (just as filling as bread), thus swapping empty calories for fiber and vitamins and lowering the GL.

Topped the salad with oil and vinegar dressing instead of blue cheese to cut saturated fat and add a dose of sugar-lowering acid from the vinegar.

Better Still
Choose a pasta like Barilla Plus, which contains extra protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Typical Dinner
1 4-ounce (125-g) pork chop
1 1/2 cups cooked fettucine with 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley
1 white dinner roll with 1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces (341 ml) beer

Total GL: 33
Total calories: 627

Magic Dinner
1 4-ounce (125-g) pork chop
1/2 cup Bulgur with Ginger and Orange
Sautéed Spinach with Ginger and Soy Sauce
12 ounces (341 ml) light beer

Total GL: 17
Total calories: 665

The Fixes
Swapped the fettuccine for a better carbohydrate choice, bulgur. Pasta’s not bad for you, but bulgur has more fiber and a lower GL.

Eliminated the white roll, which adds nothing but GL to the meal.

Added sautéed spinach to replace the roll. Spinach is loaded with fiber and nutrients and has a very low GL (and far fewer calories).

Changed the regular beer to light beer to reduce carbs and calories.
Typical Dinner
1 1/2 cups takeout beef and broccoli stir-fry
1 cup white rice
8 ounces (250 ml) soda

Total GL: 49
Total calories: 1,223

Magic Dinner
1 cup unshelled edamame
1 1/2 cups Orange Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Red Pepper
1/2 cup brown rice
Black or green tea

Total GL: 14
Total calories: 612

The Fixes
Made the stir-fry at home using leaner beef, less oil, and more vegetables. The result: fewer calories and less saturated fat, which clogs arteries and hampers insulin sensitivity.

Substituted brown rice for white and cut the portion in half to dramatically decrease the meal’s GL.

Started the meal with edamame (steamed green soybeans) to fill you up on a low-GL, fiber- and protein-rich food so you won’t miss the rest of the rice. Edamame also slows eating because it takes time to get the beans out of their shells.

Replaced high-GL soda with no-GL green tea.
Typical Dinner
1 roasted chicken breast with skin
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 cup gravy
1 cup stuffing
Mineral water with lemon

Total GL: 51
Total calories: 1,053

Magic Dinner
1 roasted chicken breast without skin
1/3 cup gravy
1 cup apple-walnut stuffing
3/4 cup Moroccan Spiced Carrots
Mineral water with lemon

Total GL: 28
Total calories: 760

The Fixes
Eliminated the chicken skin, a significant source of saturated fat (which hampers insulin sensitivity) and calories.

Cut out the un-Magic mashed potatoes and replaced them with carrots to increase fiber and vitamins and substantially lower the GL of the meal.

Added apples and walnuts to the stuffing to decrease the GL (more apples and walnuts mean less bread) and add some “good” fat from the nuts to further lower the GL.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest