6 Budget-Friendly SmartCarbs to Stock Up OnArticle posted in: Nutrisystem
Carbohydrates often have a bad reputation among people who want to lose weight. But did you know that carbs are essential to the proper functioning of your body? In fact, between 45 and 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines.
What’s most important to know is that not all carbs are alike. SmartCarbs are high in fiber and nutrition. They’re an important part of your healthy weight loss plan. On Nutrisystem, you can choose from a wide selection of SmartCarbs so your meals and snacks are always interesting. SmartCarbs can also be a great bargain, filling you up without draining your food budget. These six are versatile and they provide a lot of satisfaction, fiber and nutrition at a cheap price.
SmartCarb Serving Size: ½ cup cooked beans
Why: Black, pinto, kidney, navy. lentils, chickpeas…beans, both canned and dried, are one of the cheapest sources of protein around. You get a lot of cheap fiber from beans—a half cup serving of canned kidney beans has about eight grams, says the USDA. Plus, that some of that fiber is “soluble,” meaning it’s slow to digest so you feel full for a long time and it prevents blood sugar spikes, according to Healthline. Bonus: a half-cup of beans also comes with about 10 grams of lean protein, according to the USDA.
Know: Dried beans are very inexpensive but can take hours to cook. Canned beans cost only a little more but they are ready to heat and eat whenever you are hungry. According to the Bean Institute, one pound of dry pinto beans costs about $1.79 and will make 12 half-cup servings of cooked beans at 15 cents a serving. Canned pinto beans are about twice as expensive per serving. However, at 34 cents, it’s still a pretty great deal. When you shop for canned beans, be sure to look for low-sodium varieties. A
Try: Beans are the foundation for our deliciously sweet and creamy Black Bean Brownie Dip, which is a perfect way to add extra goodness and nutrition to fresh fruit.
SmartCarb Serving Size: ½ cup cooked quinoa
Why: Along with about 2.5 grams of fiber in a half-cup serving of cooked quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah), you also get about four grams of protein, says the USDA. That protein provides all nine amino acids, so it’s one of the few plant-based sources of “complete protein,” according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One nationwide food retailer carries it for less than $3 a pound.
Know: Quinoa is a grain like brown rice and it has a nutty flavor and lightly crunchy texture. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free, so everyone can enjoy it. Along with being a grain substitute, it can be cooked like oatmeal as a breakfast dish, replace barley or rice in soups and can even be popped like popcorn, says Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Try: One-Pan Vegetarian Mexican Quinoa is high in flavor, low in calories and so easy to make.
3. Winter Squash
SmartCarb Serving Size: 1 cup cooked winter squash
Why: Butternut, acorn and other winter squashes are nutritious and delicious. According to the USDA, butternut squash has about three grams of fiber per half-cup serving and only about 45 calories. It’s also an excellent source of beta-carotene, an essential nutrient for your immune system, and potassium, a mineral your body needs so it can manage your sodium levels, says Medical News Today. Winter squash is a great cheap source of fiber for your seasonal fall or winter menu.
Know: You can buy convenient, small servings of cubed winter squash in many supermarkets. However, you’ll save money if you get a whole squash in the produce section, cook it all at once and freeze the extra servings.
Try: Butternut Squash Turkey Chili is a belly-warming lunch or dinner that’s so flavorful, your whole family will love it.
SmartCarb Serving Size: ½ cup oatmeal prepared with water
Why: Oatmeal is one of the best nutrition bargains in the grocery store. You’ll pay less than five dollars for an 18-ounce box of the most popular brand, yet it loads you up with fiber (about five grams per half-cup serving, according to the USDA) and it provides you with substantial amounts of protein, calcium and potassium, too.
Know: Beware of “flavored” oatmeal varieties, which often come with unhealthy ingredients and lots of added sugars. Stick with the plain type and add your own fresh or frozen fruit, cinnamon and non-fat milk.
Try: The flavors of Mocha Coffee Overnight Oatmeal blend while you’re asleep so you can wake up to a treat that will fuel you for a busy day.
5. Sweet Potatoes
SmartCarb Serving Size: ½ cup cooked sweet potato
Why: Sweet potatoes are not just for holiday meals. They’re inexpensive but packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin C, which can help your body ward off colds and flu, says Medical News Today. According to the USDA, one medium-sized sweet potato also provides 3.75 grams of fiber.
Know: Sweet potatoes are so versatile—they can be baked, boiled, steamed and prepared in an air fryer. Be sure to avoid “candied” sweet potatoes (or “yams”) because they are loaded with lots of extra calories.
Try: Sweet Potato Ginger Bites are a simple snack (made with just five ingredients!) that you can pop in your mouth when you hit that late morning or mid-afternoon lull. They are loaded with nutrients and a hint of zing from ginger and cinnamon, plus plenty of fiber so you won’t feel hungry until your next mealtime.
SmartCarb Serving Size: 1 medium banana
Why: The simple banana has always been one of the best healthy and cheap foods in the supermarket, filling you up with over three grams of fiber as well as nourishing you with substantial amounts of potassium and vitamin C, says the USDA. Bananas come in their own packaging and need no preparation, so you can take them wherever you go.
Know: Eating fresh bananas is easy enough. However, after freezing they make a nutritious, low-calorie base for ice cream and smoothies. You can also make tasty, naturally sweet 3-ingredient pancakes with just mashed bananas, eggs and cinnamon.
Try: 3-Step Banana Pudding gives you all the sweet flavor and creaminess you love in a dessert but with only 150 calories per serving. Top with a dollop of fat-free whipped cream and you have a satisfying treat that won’t derail your weight loss progress.