Most of us wish we could be healthier, but sometimes it’s hard to make or find the right amounts of moderation for yourself and your family. Here’s a set of guidelines to help you develop some healthy alternatives, so you can decide what works best for your palate, budget, and lifestyle. It’s not all about total deprivation, soy cheese, and compromised baking (though we may be better off cutting back on sweets). These are mostly fast, easy changes, small adjustments you might even come to prefer.
Curb the Carbs
Rather than eliminate any particular food group from your diet, opt for moderation. And when it comes to sugar, you will notice that the less you have it, the less you crave it!
1. Less bread: replace breadcrumbs with rolled oats, quinoa, wheat germ, or crushed bran cereal. Swap croutons for nuts, ideally almonds, which have relatively low fat and high protein content.
2. Less potato: try cauliflower or turnips for mashers, sweet potatoes for fries (still sweet, but less sugar, more fiber and vitamins), or kale chips .
3. Less pasta: try forming carrots, zucchini, or other squash into thin ribbons on a mandolin.
4. Switch to unsweetened drinks (seltzer waters, even for cocktails, ice tea, coffee).
5. For the relentless sweet tooth, try using fresh fruit, purees, or other sweeteners such as honey, agave, Stevia, or Splenda, like in Magical Peanut Butter Cookies, or Apple Dumplings.
Trim the Fat
The best case is to eat less fat altogether, but as a general rule, the mono- and poly-unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, and bananas are preferable to those in butter, red meat, and junk food products. Also, unless you make your own food, you may be consuming far more fat (and salt) than you think; this goes for anything from salad dressing to mac and cheese!
1. Buy olive oil or grapeseed oil. Olive oil mayonnaise and cooking spray products are now widely available.
2. Tweak your egg and dairy choices by using egg whites or egg substitute, as in Paula’s Egg White Omelette.
3. Replace cheese, sour cream, and cream in sauces, fillings, dips and desserts with reduced fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and ricotta (other common lower fat cheese options include mozzarella, pecorino, feta and parmesan). Try this delicious Asparagus, Sausage and Arugula Pizza.
4. Get creative with your baking. There’s lots of tricks involving butter replacement, but if you don’t feel like reading up on it, check out our many “Bobby’s Lighter” dessert recipes using Greek yogurt, reduced fat cream cheese, and evaporated skim milk or buttermilk, like his Lighter Gooey Butter Cake, or Blueberry Tart.
Choose skinless, white meat poultry or fish where possible, with dry-rubs or marinades if you’re missing flavor, and start to consider the veggie version (for quick veggie chili).
1. Try alternatives to hamburgers, steaks, or hot dogs, such as ground turkey, tofu, veggie patties, fish melts, or chicken burgers.
2. Bacon, tough one: turkey bacon is healthier, though die-hard bacon lovers may prefer substituting pancetta, lean prosciutto, Canadian bacon, or other lean smoked turkey or ham products.
3. For individual protein cuts, seek out local lean game meats like venison, bison, elk, or rabbit
Bring on the Produce
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever you have a choice. They have more flavor and retain more nutrients than canned ones, which often have added sugars like corn syrup, tons of extra sodium, and other chemicals, so frozen or dried are generally better than canned.
1. Make a filling, nutritious smoothie: throw some veggies (and your new best friend Greek yogurt) in the blender. Our favorites are Jack’s Favorite Smoothie and Good Morning Green Smoothie.
2. Combine fruit with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream with candy toppings:
3. Experiment with citrus and herb garnishes and sauces for guilt-free flavor bursts (and eye-popping presentation), such as with Avocado and Black Bean Salad.