Easy Foods To Help Lighten Up Your Recipes
Gave up candy, soda and fast food but still can't lose weight? The answer to your bulge may lie in the dressings that adorn your salads and the sour cream you add to your nachos. Skip the weight gain and still enjoy your favorite meals by making a few simple swaps, like substituting sweet potatoes for white and using applesauce instead of butter. Check out these and eight other great, healthy swaps that are easy, delicious and affordable!
A simple swap of Greek yogurt for sour cream or applesauce for butter can cut the fat and calories of your favorite dish without compromising the taste or texture. Now that's a win-win.
In most restaurants or fast food joints, a salad is often the healthiest choice. However, once you add the dressing, cheese and croutons, you have a dish with just as many, if not more, calories and fat than a burger! Too many carbohydrates (one cup of crunchy croutons has more than 25 grams) can cause high levels of LDL (or bad cholesterol). Skip the added bread and add some healthy nuts, like walnuts, pecans or pine nuts, for less carbs and added protein.
for white potatoes
Although white potatoes are good sources of fiber and potassium, they don't hold a candle to the nutritional benefits of another starchy root vegetable, the sweet potato. Not only are these potatoes full of fiber (three times that of the white potato) and vitamin A, they also help to keep your skin smooth and radiant. These potatoes are a little sweeter than their distant relative the white potato, but work as perfect replacements in recipes for mashed, chips and fries!
Low-fat dairy for
If you're having trouble with weight loss, take a look at what you're putting in your coffee and on cereal! One cup of whole milk has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat while nonfat milk has just 86 calories and 0 grams of fat. If you don't like the taste or texture of skim milk, go for 2 percent instead! You'll still save more than 30 calories and 4 grams of fat. The same goes for yogurt or cheeses, so choose part-skim instead of regular for a healthier addition to your meal.
Turkey for pork or beef
Red meat can be a high source of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, which can lead to a high level of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and heart disease. When making burgers or meat sauce, use ground turkey, which has half the saturated fat of ground beef and one-third the fat. Instead of pork bacon, make low-sodium turkey bacon to shave fat and sodium.
Hummus for vegetable dip
So you're running late to your friend's party and need a quick snack to bring. Naturally, you think you're making a healthy decision by picking up a tray of vegetables with that creamy dip. The vegetables are healthy, but that dip? Just two tablespoons contains more than 12 grams of fat! Skip the fat, creamy stuff and opt for hummus instead! Two tablespoons of hummus has just three grams of fat and 30 calories. Even with fresh pita, you are still eating five fewer grams of fat. Plus chickpeas (main ingredient in hummus) are a great source of fiber so you'll stay fuller longer.
Lemon juice & vinegar
for ranch/blue cheese
Think a little ranch or blue cheese won't kill your diet? Think again! One packet of fast food ranch dressing can have up to 20 grams of fat, while lemon juice and vinegar will set you back less than 5! In addition, the lemon juice holds antioxidants and anti-cancer properties, and it works to prevent diabetes, constipation and high blood pressure. Keep your salad healthy by avoiding the thick and creamy dressings.
Quinoa for rice or pasta
If you haven't heard of quinoa, you've been living under a rock. This superfood is one of the most popular foods on the market now, and it's not just because it's healthy. Quinoa is mild flavored so it works in just about any dish you add it too, including dishes that you'd traditionally add rice or pasta. Instead of spaghetti marinara or chicken fried rice, use quinoa instead. One cup of cooked quinoa has 15 percent fewer carbohydrates, 60 percent more protein and 25 percent more fiber than most rice and pastas.
Looking for a way to lighten up your favorite cupcake, cake, muffin or cookie recipe? Swap out the butter for applesauce! Butter adds fat and moisture to baked goods, but how much fat do you really need? One cup of butter adds more than 1,500 calories and 180 grams of fat! Use unsweetened applesauce as a replacement since it has a very neutral flavor and adds just as much moisture and fiber as butter with about 75 percent less fat.
Think eating just a few handfuls of those M&Ms won't set your diet back? Three handfuls of chocolate candies have more than 100 calories while one handful of dried cranberries, mangoes or strawberries has less than 75. Plus, dried fruit still contains the antioxidants, vitamins and fiber in regular fruit, so you are not only snacking lighter, but snacking healthier. Add some nuts to your dried fruit mixture for a protein-packed, fiber-enriched snack!
for sour cream
Even a little sour cream can derail your healthy diet. One-fourth cup of sour cream adds more than 100 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat to your baked potato or soup. Save some calories, double the protein and get rid of the bad fat by swapping in Greek yogurt! Although Greek yogurt is a bit tangier than sour cream, it's a perfect replacement. Skip the dollop of Daisy and add a tablespoon of low-fat Greek yogurt to your favorite nachos, in your favorite dips or even baked into your favorite coffeecake. A lighter way to enjoy nachos and baked goods? No wonder this was our number one swap!
More healthy food tips
Healthy eating tips: Beyond the calorie count
Tips for choosing healthy foods
5 Simple tips for healthy eating on the go