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Healthier Substitutions Made Simple


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 tips 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.

If you are looking to….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, unsweetened ice tea, black 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.

If you are looking to….Trim the Fat

1. Buy olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.  Olive oil mayonnaise and cooking spray products are now widely available too.

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 Greek 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.

If you are looking to…Swap Meat

1. 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).

2. Try alternatives to hamburgers, steaks, or hot dogs, such as ground turkey, tofu, veggie patties, fish melts, or chicken burgers.

3. For individual protein cuts, seek out local lean game meats like venison, bison, elk, or rabbit.

4. Portebella mushrooms are a great meat substitute. A little oil, salt and pepper, and it’s ready for the grill as a guilt-free and delicious burger. Or slice it up with some peppers and onions, and throw some cheese on top for vegetarian Philly cheesesteak.

If you are looking to…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 Fruit Smoothie and Good Morning Green Smoothie. Kale is also always a great addition to any 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.

These are just our suggestions for healthier options. They are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a health-care provider with any questions, concerns, or changes to your health or diet.

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