One of the things I’m always on the lookout for are healthy food alternatives. That comes in the form of individual food products (e.g. using low fat cheese instead of full fat cheese in meals), or healthy recipes (like making mac n’cheese or pizza healthier & lower in calories). As a picky eater, I never accept a meal or food product as is – I usually question whether it’s as healthy as I’d like it, or whether I could make it healthier using a few substitutions. So I was really excited when Health Magazine posted an article on this very topic!
I thought I’d use this post to share 25 of my favorite substituions, including a few from Health Magazine. So – here goes!
Easy, Healthy Food Substitutions
1. Always substitute whole wheat bread for regular white/sourdough/cibatta/anything that’s not whole wheat or whole grain
2. Always use low fat or fat free milk instead of full fat (regular whole) milk
3. Try to use low fat cheeses instead of full fat/regular cheese
4. Baked potato or tortilla chips instead of regular/fried!
5. Whole wheat/whole grain cereal with at least 3g fiber per serving instead of … Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp – you get the idea 🙂
6. Carrot sticks or a salad instead of fries
7. Laughing Cow Cheese instead of cream cheese!
8. Veggie burgers or turkey burgers instead of regular full fat/beef burgers
9. Refried vegetarian/low fat black beans instead of regular refried beans
10. Fat free sour cream instead of regular
11. Ketchup & mustard instead of mayo/dressings/oil/vinegar
12. Hummus as a spread in sandwiches instead of cream cheese, mayo, mixed creamy spreads, etc.
13. Honey, brown sugar instead of refined white sugar (or if you’re trying to cut calories – Splenda instead of Equal or any sweetner with Aspartame)
14. Diet soda or sparkling flavored water instead of regular sugary soda
15. Fat free salad dressings or a tiny bit (1-2 tsp) of olive oil/vinegar/salt/pepper instead of regular creamy salad dressing
16. Broth based soups (tomato, vegetable stock, etc.) instead of cream based soups
17. Red wine instead of hard alcohol/mixed drinks (1 glass of red has ~100 calories compared to 300-500 in mixed drinks!)
18. White meat (chicken, turkey, fish) instead of red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
19. Whole wheat couscous instead of regular, or brown rice instead of white rice
20. Regular Oatmeal instead of pre-sweetened/sugary oatmeal or cream of wheat (you can make your regular oatmeal flavorful on your own with dried fruits, nuts, brown sugar, honey, fresh fruits!)
21. Use soy milk or yogurt in smoothies instead of frozen yogurt or ice cream
22. Fage non fat Greek yogurt instead of sweetened yoplait (1 container of sweetned Yoplait can have up to 200 calories, 1 container of Fage sweetened with splenda will have only 90-100 calories and TONS more protein!)
23. Baked sweet potatoes/yams instead of regular potatoes
24. Olive or canola oil instead of other cooking oils (and I only use a very tiny amount! no more than 1 Tbsp in most recipes)
25. Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate! (Granted, the calories are the same but you get the antioxidant boost if you eat dark chocolate 🙂 )
Remember, if you’re creative and don’t accept food products as is – you can come up with a lot of great, healthy substitutions that give you all the flavor & nutrition but reduce the number of calories/fat/unhealthy ingredients you consume!