All Of The Flavor, None Of The Calories: Healthy Food Substitutions You Have To Try
While we’re bombarded with information about making healthy food choices, it can sometimes seem as though all the positive aspects of food can get lost in the mix. Some diet plans are great for ensuring flavors and textures are still at the forefront of the eating experience, but others seem to be encouraging us to eat brown goo for three meals a day. It’s so important when you make the decision to embark on a healthier lifestyle that the changes made a both healthy and sustainable. There’s no point making such an enormous change to your life that there’s no way you can keep it up for more than a few weeks. Learning to make healthy food substitutes is a great way to continue eating great food, just without the calories, fat, and additives.
Choose lentils instead of red meat
Red meat, while delicious, isn’t necessarily good for us in the quantities in which we eat it. When you’re making burgers, why not use only an ounce or two of ground beef, and substitute the rest for lentils or beans? The flavor will still be meaty, and the texture will still be dense, but instead of the fats that come from ground beef, you’ve got the healthy, nutrient-rich lentils and beans in there as well.
Opt for low-fat dairy
While it’s great to have dairy in our diets for its richness in bone-building calcium, it also includes a whole lot of fats and salts that our bodies really don’t need. So instead of getting rid of it from your diet entirely, next time you’re at the store opt for low-fat cheese, cream cheese, and even cream, such as the lighter Dairypure cream. You’ll still get all the great flavor and richness, without the fat.
Make your own sweet potato fries
Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber and vitamins, and have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, meaning your blood sugar will stay more level, and you won’t experience insulin highs and lows. Rather than buying fatty fries made from white potatoes, simply cut a sweet potato lengthways a few times, season with olive oil and sea salt, and bake until crispy. Yum!
Use vanilla instead of sugar
Large quantities of sugar in our meals can play havoc with our blood sugar levels, as well as encourage our bodies to store fat like mad. There are plenty of naturally sweet substitutes we can use in our everyday cooking which won’t cause us so much harm. Vanilla, unsweetened applesauce, ripe banana, and cinnamon all work well, depending on the dish.
Try nut spreads instead of butter
Both vegan and delicious, nut spreads are growing vastly in popularity. They’re much lower in saturated fats, and instead full of nut oils which, in small quantities, are really good for us. There is so much variety available, from cashew to almond butter, and all manner of different flavors - you can even make your own without much difficulty.
Quinoa for couscous
Couscous is a processed grain made from wheat flour, which can releases energy quickly causing a spike in insulin levels and peaks and troughs of energy. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a protein and nutrient rich food which is packed full of energy which will be released slowly into your body, keeping your blood sugar level the same and allowing you to feel energized for longer. They even taste similar and have almost the same texture, so you’ll barely notice the substitution.
Go for homemade salad dressing
While salad might seem like the healthy option, store bought salad dressings are full of salt and fats, and it’s far more difficult to control your diet that way. Try making your own salad dressing instead; it’s simple to do and really tasty. All you’ll need is a good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a vinegar of your choice - I like red wine vinegar. Then you can add anything else you might enjoy, including garlic, mustard, honey - the possibilities are endless.
Substitute frozen bananas instead of ice-cream
Frozen bananas and cocoa powder, whizzed up in the blender makes a great ice cream substitute, with less than half the calorie or fat content of normal ice cream. Frozen berries and nuts can be added to take it to a whole new dimension - just play around with the recipe until you find something which works for you.
Cook with whole grain flour
Whole grain flour is full of fiber, and so it’s absolutely great for maintaining a healthy digestion and even helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers. On the other hand, white flour is heavily processed and does your blood sugar levels no good at all.
Spiralize for spaghetti
Instead of pasta, which is usually made from white flour so high in refined carbohydrates, making it calorie rich, invest in a spiralizer. This will allow you to form vegetables such a zucchini into spaghetti-shaped strands and makes a perfect substitute in pasta dishes. Spaghetti squash is also a great pasta substitute, while also being high in fiber and completely delicious.
Try seltzer with citrus instead of soda
You don’t need me to tell you how unhealthy soda is. With sky-high sugar contents and all the additives for flavor, they’re never a great option. If you’re thirsty and fancy something with a bit of a tangy, go ahead and reach for a seltzer with citrus. It’s virtually calorie free, great for hydration, and the oils in citrus fruits are even said to be good for your heart. If you’d prefer something more highly flavored, reach for the naturally sweetened iced tea.
Pop that popcorn
We all get a craving for the salty goodness of potato chips from time to time. Popcorn is a great way to satisfy this craving, without all the saturated fats that come along with potato chips. Make your own in a pan or microwave and add whatever delicious flavorings you fancy, or even buy a bag from a store. Making this switch can save you huge numbers of calories in your diet, so it’s a great habit to get into.
Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring; it can be as simple as swapping one unhealthy ingredient for a similar, better substitute. Just remember to have fun trying them all out.