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20 Easy Ingredient Swaps For Healthier Eating In Seconds
Eating healthy isn’t always the easiest thing, especially when it often means that you have to sacrifice your favorite comfort food for a salad.
One of the main problems is that only 65 percent of Americans cook their own food at home. This is pretty shocking when you consider that, in the mid 1960’s, more than 95 percent of Americans cooked the majority of their meals at home from scratch. Most people claim that this is due to their busy lifestyles, but the time spent eating out means huge sacrifices to the health of your family.
Take back control of your life by making some smart swaps for foods or ingredients that can help improve your health in an instant. Just a few swaps each week can lead to weight loss and overall improved health.
Want to know more? Keep reading, and discover the best food or ingredient swaps that can help put you back on the road to better health.
1. Instead Of Salt
If you need to cut back on salt in order to lower your blood pressure, try using some citrus juice, such as lime, lemon, or orange juice, when cooking chicken, fish, or veggie dishes. You don’t need to soak it in the juice to get the benefits — just a spritz or two will do. You can also replace that salt shaker on the table with a mix of spices that might just satisfy your “salt” tooth.
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2. Make Healthier Soups
Rather than use cream or even whole milk, substitute pureed beans or nuts. By mixing in some pureed beans or nuts, you can increase the amount of protein and fiber but remove fat. You will still have that creamy texture that you love in soups, but you will find that your soup is much more satisfying. Try some mild flavored beans, such as white beans or pinto beans, so the flavor does not overwhelm your soup.
3. Instead Of Mayo
Mayonnaise is so flavorful and creamy, it is hard to give up. But you can get all the flavor and that delicious creamy texture by substituting avocado for mayonnaise. Avocados are full of healthy fat, along with fiber and potassium. Avocados have fewer calories, much less saturated fat, and much lower in cholesterol than mayo does. Avocado is also a good substitute for butter in most recipes, including toast!
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4. Make Healthier Hamburgers
If you want to avoid those terrible fast food joints but you love hamburgers, here’s how you can have the best of both worlds. Try substituting half of the normal amount of hamburger meat with some red beans, onions, and a bit of tomato paste. You will still have the meaty flavor you love, but you will be cutting the saturated fat levels in half.
5. Instead Of Oil Or Butter
This is a huge calorie saver that you will use again and again. When baking, substitute oil or butter in any recipe with a banana. One cup of butter has more than 1,600 calories and more than 116 grams of saturated fat. Compare that with one cup of mashed bananas with just 200 tiny calories and less than half a gram of unhealthy saturated fat. You will not notice any difference in flavor or in texture. Try it once and you will be absolutely amazed at the results.
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6. Instead of Sour Cream
Sour cream is the downfall of many dieters. Some of the best Mexican food around, along with chips and vegetable dips, all start with sour cream. Substitute non-fat Greek yogurt to maintain the same creamy texture and tart flavor without all the fat and calories of sour cream. Try it on your guests sometime. They probably will not even notice the difference and neither will you.
7. Make Healthier Fries
It is really hard to say no when your kids are crying for French fries. The next time this happens, try this swap. Cut sweet potatoes into thin rounds or French fry strips and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with just a tiny bit of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and a dash of black pepper. Bake at 350 degrees, turning once, for 20 minutes. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and beta-carotene, and they have a much lower glycemic index than plain white potatoes. Skipping the frying method will also save you tons of unwanted calories and saturated fat.
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8. Make Healthier Sweets
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t fret. You can simply use cinnamon instead of sugar. Cinnamon amplifies sweetness, so you can use half (or less) of the amount of sugar you would normally use in any recipe, including coffee and baked goods.
9. Instead of Condiments
Many people find that everyday condiments, such as ketchup or barbeque sauce, contain more sugar and salt than is healthy. You don’t have to leave those baked sweet potato fries bare when you don’t want to use ketchup. Simply try some spices instead. Many people find that they enjoy spices such as Cajun, garlic, or dried onions to add flavor to their foods rather than relying on high salt and sugar-filled condiments.
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10. Instead of Pasta
Pasta is an extremely popular food all over the world because of its versatility. But eating too many carbohydrates easily turns into excess weight. Many people find that they can substitute spaghetti squash for pasta and never notice the difference. There is even a kitchen tool called a “Zoodle,” which turns squash into noodle shapes. Spaghetti squash cooks in about the same amount of time and tastes almost exactly the same.
11. Make Healthier Mexican Dishes
Mexican dishes rely on a great deal of cheese. Although cheese does contain healthy calcium, it is also full of fat and many calories. To cut both fat and calories, substitute some refried beans for cheese. You still want some cheese for flavor, but rather than fill those enchiladas with cheese, use refried beans and simply sprinkle some cheese on the top for flavor. You can also substitute non-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
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12. Instead of Sugar
We already gave you one substitution for sugar (cinnamon), but here is one more substitute. When you are making baked goods, most recipes call for some type of sugar. Without it, you won’t get the type of texture or flavor that you are looking for. Since sugar only leads to weight gain and has nothing to offer nutritionally, try this great substitution. The next time you make your favorite recipe, replace that sugar with unsweetened applesauce. This will give you the texture and sweetness you love without the calories.
13. Make Healthier Spreads
Most people cannot resist butter or balsamic-flavored oils on their bread. Then there are those veggies. Who doesn’t want to dip them in some creamy flavored sauce or dip? Make a healthier choice by using pureed nuts instead of butter. For super flavor, roast some garlic and mix it with some cashews in the blender for a taste you will not soon forget. For a change of pace, substitute garlic for lemon, basil, or mustard.
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14. Make A Healthier Salad
Salads are a great way to drop pounds quickly and add healthy vegetables to your diet, but we ruin them when we drown them in those fat- and sugar-filled salad dressings. For a healthier salad, try switching that calorie-laden salad dressing for fresh salsa and lime juice. You can also try making your own dressing by mixing some white wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar, and adding cashews or sunflower seeds.
15. Instead Of Eggs
You can substitute ripe bananas for eggs in any recipe that calls for whole eggs. Use one medium sized ripe banana for every one egg and get tons of potassium with no loss of texture or flavor.
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16. Make Healthier Chinese Food
If you are like us, you love that hoisin sauce on Chinese food. Oyster sauce and duck sauce also have their appeal. However, unless you make it from scratch, most bottled sauces have tons of added sugar. Skip the sugar, and simply use Chinese five spice powder instead. You won’t get the exact same flavor, but you will get a rich flavor that you are sure to love, especially when you remember that you are not eating your Chinese food covered in a sugary sauce.
17. Instead Of One Whole Egg
Although many people will beg to differ, study after study shows that whole eggs are healthy. However, if you are trying to cut calories, egg whites will be your new best friend. You can substitute two egg whites for one egg and save a bunch of calories. This is especially helpful when making things like veggie scrambles and omelets.
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18. Instead Of White Flour
There are so many drawbacks to white flour, but some things simply don’t seem to taste the same otherwise. Next time a recipe calls for some white flour, substitute some pureed black beans. You can substitute black beans cup for cup in any recipe that calls for flour.
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19. Instead Of Bread Crumbs
Although you might think that adding a bit of bread crumbs to your meatloaf or meatballs is fairly harmless, consider this: Just half a cup of breadcrumbs has more than 200 calories. Yikes! Substitute rolled oats for bread crumbs in any recipe for lower cholesterol levels and half the calories of bread crumbs.
20. Instead Of Any Type Of Flour
If you love making bread or muffins or if you are trying to cut out the amount of gluten in your life, substitute oat bran (not rolled oats, but oat bran!) for any recipe calling for flour. You can start by cutting the amount of flour in half. If you are happy with the way your favorite recipe turned out, next time, try adding a bit more oat bran. Oat bran is a great source of fiber, and lowers cholesterol. You will also love the way oat bran keeps your baked goods super moist.