I have no desire to overload my system with unnecessary sugar, fat and salt, but I won’t diet or sacrifice taste in the name of health. Luckily, small changes add up in big ways. Here are a few healthy food swaps I’ve used to clean up my diet and make my daily eats more nutritious.
Slash the Saturated Fat
- Backyard burgers don’t have to be high in fat. If you are accustomed to buying ground beef (27% fat) choose ground chuck to cut the fat by 7%. (Ground sirloin and ground round are even leaner choices at only 15% and 10% fat.) Make up for any lost flavor (fat has flavor) with salsa or sriracha.
- And to go along with that burger — toss that American style potato salad recipe in the trash and make this French potato salad instead. Made with Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar and chicken stock, French potato salad is low in fat and picnic-friendly also.
- Come autumn, replace high fat cream in your favorite soup recipe with pureed white beans for a rich, smooth flavor.
Cut Back on Processed Sugar
- Medjool date paste makes an excellent natural sugar substitute. Place two cups of coarsely chopped dates and ½ cup very hot water in a food processor and blend until creamy. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one month.
- With more micronutrients and less fructose than regular white sugar, sorghum syrup is a ready-to-use, unprocessed sugar substitute.
Nix the Sodium
- Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein. Unfortunately it is also notoriously salty. A one-ounce chunk of cheddar contains approximately 180 mg of sodium, and blue cheese is saltier than seawater! To cut back on sodium choose swiss (53 mg per ounce) or mozzarella (only 4 mg per ounce).
- Don’t sprinkle your meal with extra salt; instead use lemon juice or flavored vinegar to increase its flavor. The acidity of the lemons and vinegar act as a flavor enhancer and trick the taste buds into thinking you’ve added salt.
- Substitute Chinese five-spice powder, made with Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, fennel seeds, cloves and cinnamon, in lieu of high sodium hoisin, oyster or duck sauce for a similar flavor.
- Next time you make pizza crust or a baked treat, swap out a portion of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat. You’ll add texture, flavor and get four times the amount of fiber.
- Swap quinoa for traditional couscous in sides and salads. You’ll not only double the fiber, but you’ll amp up the protein also.
Want more? Check out these vegan food swaps! — Karen