Do you think you might like to start eating healthier, but you’re not sure where to start? Or maybe you want to create a healthier diet but don’t want a major overhaul that will be hard to maintain. Today I’ve created a list of 18 food and ingredient substitutions you can make that are easy and simple and (most importantly) won’t make you compromise flavor.
1. Use herbs instead of salt. Many people add salt to their food to add flavor. Try experimenting with basil, oregano, pepper, turmeric, cumin, or anything else you find interesting. Or make it even easier on yourself and buy a blend like Mrs. Dash Salt Free Seasoning Blend. At our house, we love to use Costco’s Organic No-Salt Seasoning , which you can also get on Amazon if you don’t have a Costco membership.
2. If you use milk in your cereal or coffee, switch to skim. You can get your taste buds used to this by gradually stepping down from whole milk, then to 2%, then to 1%, and then to skim
3. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef for your burgers. No, the taste isn’t exactly the same, but you can find middle ground by using the ground turkey that is 93% lean instead of the one that is 99% fat free. The 93% lean variety has just eight grams of fat per serving – just enough to make it tasty and juicy, but not nearly as much as you’ll find in ground beef.
4. Use salsa instead of salad dressing. Lots of dressings are high in calories and fat, but salsa adds a great flavor to your salad without the fat and with fewer calories. Some people like balsamic vinegar for their salads, which is another great option.
5. Use whole grain pastas instead of standard semolina pasta.
6. Even better, substitute spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti! If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash before, you’ll find that its flesh becomes noodle-like when cooked. Just cut the squash in half lengthwise, steam in the microwave for about 10 minutes, and then harvest your pasta strands!
7. You can also try Tofu Noodles, which come in a variety of pasta shapes. Rinse the noodles first if you don’t care for too strong of a tofu flavor. Top with sauce, and you’ll never know the difference!
8. Make lettuce wraps instead of sandwiches.
9. Satisfy your sweet tooth with dried fruit. Apricots, figs, and dates are loaded with fiber and minerals.
10. When baking, substitute applesauce for the butter or oil in the recipe. It’s as easy as using the same amount (instead of 1/2 cup butter, use 1/2 cup applesauce), and it really does work!
11. Bake sweet potato wedges instead of making french fries. Just brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt or seasoning on top and roast. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, and baking will save you tons of calories and saturated fat.
12. A couple days a week, make steel cut oats for breakfast instead of cold cereal. Oats are good for your heart and can also lower cholesterol. Flavor with fruit instead of sugar.
13. Use frozen or fresh vegetables instead of canned to avoid all the extra sodium.
14. Use Canadian bacon instead of standard pork bacon to save on fat and calories. For the same reason, use mustard instead of mayo and jam instead of butter or cream cheese.
15. Enjoy a small dish of sherbet or sorbet instead of ice cream.
16. Substitute plain, no-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
17. Look for part-skim cheeses to use instead of the full fat varieties. You can find part-skim mozzarella and ricotta, and you can also find lower fat cheeses like cheddar, swiss, and jack.
18. Make the switch to whole grain foods. Instead of white rice, choose brown. Make quinoa instead of couscous. You can even use ground whole oats instead of breadcrumbs!
Those are just a few of the many ideas you can try to get started with healthier eating. You can find more online, and I’ll have additional articles down the road with other tips and tricks to help you gradually make changes. For now, try a few, see what works for you, and start taking those small steps to a healthier diet and a healthier you!