Sunday, May 22, 2011

Healthy Substitutions

Sometimes I think there is this perception that healthy food tastes bad and when you make a healthy substitution, you are sacrificing flavor.  I really do not think this is the case. I regularly cook out of The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook, Now Eat This!, and I think some Weight Watchers recipes taste fantastic. I am not trying to lose weight, I just know that it does not hurt to eat healthy, so I do my best and these cookbooks help me do it.  I have learned a lot, including a number of healthy substitutions.  Here are some of my favorites:

Greek yogurt instead of salad dressing, veggie dip, mayo, sour cream and flavored yogurt
-Use it as a salad dressing mixed with a bit of vinegar and a few herbs
-Use it whenever a recipe calls for sour cream.  Greek yogurt still has the sour taste, but it is creamier and is also filled with protein and probiotics.
-Add some herbs and it makes a great veggie dip.
-Make mayonnaise out of it using this recipe
-Add fresh fruit to non-fat plain Greek yogurt and a bit of honey, and not only it is absolutely delicious, but you are cutting back on refined sugar and maybe even overly processed high fructose corn syrup.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil
-Whenever a dressing recipe calls for vegetable oil, just use EVOO or grapeseed oil. Not only will you get better flavor, but you also get monounsaturated fats (which are good) versus polyunsaturated fats which are bad.
-The problem with EVOO is it cannot withstand high temperature cooking, however--it is still great for sauteing veggies and for meats under medium high heat. Grapeseed oil has a bit higher smoke point, so it is a bit better under high temps than EVOO.

Quinoa instead of rice and oatmeal
-Quinoa is truly a wonder grain. Use it instead of rice in just about anything.  Not only does it have double the amount of protein compared to brown rice, but it has eight times as much fiber.  It also is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids for human dietary needs.
-You can also eat it as hot cereal by adding a little bit of brown sugar and milk.  

Ground turkey instead of ground beef and Italian sausage
-Use this wherever you would use ground beef.  I honestly hardly know the difference in dishes such as tacos, chili and on pizza instead of Italian sausage. I also love turkey burgers.  You are cutting down on fat and eating a lean protein in place of fattier ground beef.

Panko bread crumbs instead of deep frying
-When you love something that is deep fried, consider coating it in panko bread crumbs and baking it in the oven instead. You get the delicious crunch that comes with deep fried food without all of the calories from the oil.

Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes
-Consider making sweet potato fries rather than french fries or over fries.  Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegetables you could possibly eat containing complex carbohydrates, protein, Vitamina A & C, fiber and potassium. 
-Look for some sweet potato salads.  I plan on trying a sweet potato salad with a chili lime vinaigrette in the near future, so watch for that.
-Make twice baked sweet potatoes rather than normal twice baked potatoes. I did twice baked sweet potatoes with jalapenos, cheddar cheese and non-fat Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream and they were a hit at the party I brought them to.

Don't be afraid to try new things. I have made a lot of the substitutions mentioned above and people either do not notice or they mention they really enjoyed whatever I made. Things do not have to contain ingredients that are horrible for you in order to taste good. 

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