I frequently find myself reaching for magazines rather than finding articles online- something about the tactile experience is more enjoyable (which is also why I love a good book!). A while back, I found an article that highlighted smart food substitutions that help improve eating habits. After all, if we can incorporate changes that we enjoy, we’re more likely to sustain the modifications and benefit from the healthier option. Here are a few of the suggestions from Real Simple magazine:
Enjoy a BLAT instead of a Cobb salad
A Cobb salad appears to be a healthy and delicious choice for a meal, but by the time you’ve eaten the eggs, bacon, chicken, avocado, blue cheese, and creamy dressing, you’ve gone way beyond a healthy limit of saturated fat. Plus, there’s more protein than you probably need in a single meal, says Sharon Collison, RD, clinical instructor of nutrition at the University of Delaware. You can get a similar flavor combination by switching to a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Not only will you consume a more balanced amount of fat and protein, but you’ll also be more satiated. “The whole grains in the bread mean the sandwich will hold you over longer than the salad,” says Collison. The ingredients are simple- but you can also try this recipe and add spinach, arugula, or even slivers of pickled red onion that contain many nutrients (check out our other pickled/fermented food ideas here).
Drink Coconut Water Instead of Juice
Just a couple of decades ago, a glass of OJ was considered an essential part of breakfast—and too many of us still think of sugar-laden juice as a healthy drink or smoothie ingredient. But as we’ve shared before, juice, even unsweetened juice, has been linked to cancer risk and other health issues. A better choice: plain coconut water. “It has electrolytes, including potassium, and a lot less natural sugar,” says Collison. To compare, a cup of coconut water has nine grams sugar, while a cup of apple juice has 25g. “Just don’t grab coconut milk or coconut oil by mistake,” says Collison—you’ll get a lot more saturated fat than you bargained for. Try this smoothie for a boost of energy.
Make Salad Dressing Instead Using Bottled Dressing
Store-bought salad dressings are loaded with unhealthy and unnecessary ingredients like sugar, saturated fats, and high levels of sodium. Making your own allows you the opportunity to choose the ingredients- use olive oil or avocado oil as a healthy base- and skip the salt. Instead, you can use vinegar or a citrus juice, along with some spices for flavor. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to mix up a delicious recipe. Try this delicious Greek salad dressing.
Sprinkle Pepitas On Your Salad Instead Of Croutons
Croutons might be your favorite way to add crunch to your salads, but they’re loaded with refined carbs and oil. Try pepitas to get a satisfying crunch (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds). “Pepitas are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and ounce for ounce they have as much protein as meat,” says Collison. Pepitas are also a great source of fiber, magnesium, and iron. This recipe walks you through how to roast them for an added layer of flavor.
Swap Corn Tortillas For Flour Tortillas
Corn tortillas have fewer calories than flour tortillas and are lower in total fat and saturated fat. Corn tortillas are high in fiber, and they also have a lower glycemic index– helping keep your blood sugar balanced and feeling full, too. They taste rich in corn flavor and have a satisfying bite. Some people shy away from corn tortillas because of their more rigid texture- but once you steam them (just dip them in water before tossing them on a hot pan!), they are soft and ready to fill with roasted veggies, avocado, and other delicious foods. The blog Fool Proof Living shows how to make corn tortillas from scratch if you’re up to the task- freshly made can’t be beat!
Try Ground Bison Instead of Ground Beef
Whenever people want a healthier meat to use for burgers, meatballs, or tacos, the natural tendency is to reach for ground turkey. While turkey can be a healthier choice, you might miss the hearty taste of beef; ground bison may be a more satisfying substitution. Compared with 80 percent lean beef, bison meat contains less total fat and saturated fat, and it even has a few extra grams of protein per patty. These Greek bison meatballs are also a nice alternative so you can enjoy the flavor, but also a smaller portion.
Incorporating these ideas will help keep things fun and fresh, while also staying health-conscious. Are there any favorite substitutions you’d like to share? Leave us a comment!