Written by Siena Scanlon, Solar Springs' Integrative Health Practitioner.
While being able to enjoy your favourite foods is an important part of a well-balanced life, it is important to find healthy swaps so that you can do so in moderation. If you are looking to lose weight or get well, I hope that these tips help you achieve your goals without feeling like you are missing out or depriving yourself.
If you are left scratching your head trying to figure out what I am talking about, please use Google as your guide and you will find plenty of resources showing you the way.
Who doesn’t love pasta? Nobody! The good news is that you can still enjoy a big, delicious bowl of pasta without the calories and carbohydrate overload. My favourite swap is zucchini noodles or ‘zoodles’ as they are often referred to. You may just like to swap out half of the pasta for this vegetable alternative or go all in! If zucchinis aren’t your thing, you could try kelp or konjac (Slendier brand) noodles for a very low calorie, high fiber alternative.
A staple ingredient in so many households, rice can be a versatile base for many classic dishes. However, if you are wanting to lose weight and include more vegetables in your diet, then I highly recommend you try Cauli-rice. Made from cauliflower (grated or blitzed in a food processor) it has a mild taste that soaks up flavours well, making it a brilliant accompaniment to curries, satays and even as the base for fried (no)rice.
If Cauli-rice doesn’t take your fancy, why not try Cali-mash in place of potato mash. Simply steam and blend to create a creamy puree.
This may sound crazy but hear me out. Slicing sweet potato and baking/toasting it can be a great alternative to bread. Top it with either avocado, eggs or peanut butter and you will thank me later.
Try swapping traditional pasta sheets with sliced zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, or sweet potato. Your lasagna will still have great texture, plus the bonus of extra vegetables.
Almond meal can be a great substitute in most recipes that call for flour. While it is packed with nutritional benefits it is calorie dense, so it is best enjoyed in moderation. Did someone say almond meal cookies? Yummo.
While I can’t say that this alternative will satisfy a cheese connoisseur, I can say that it is a good option for anyone wanting to reduce or eliminate dairy from their diet. I am talking about Nutritional Yeast. It tastes most like parmesan cheese, so it is best sprinkled on top of pasta sauces or used in pesto’s. It is loaded with health benefits, so while it may lack some of that cheesiness you love, it certainly makes up for it in nutritional value.
7. Refined sugar
If you are looking to sweeten a dish, there are plenty of healthier options than your typical white or brown sugar. You can substitute it for dates, ripe banana or pureed apple in baked goods. Or try honey or maple syrup on top of your porridge or in marinades. I also recommend trying stevia as a great low-calorie sugar alternative.
8. Ice cream
If you reach for a tub of ice cream after dinner, it is time to freeze some fruit! Simply blend frozen banana, berries or mango with a dash of nut milk or water and you will have yourself a quick, delicious, sweet and healthy alternative to ice cream!
9. Snickers bar
While we are on the sweet stuff, this is my go-to dessert for when I crave sugar. Cut a Medjool date in half, deseed it, fill it with peanut butter and sprinkle with a pinch of quality sea salt. It is absolutely delicious and ALMOST as good as a snickers bar. If you are a chocolate fiend then you may also like to add some cacao nibs on top. (A healthy swap for chocolate in general is opting for dark varieties, 70% and above).
10. Soft Drink
Soft drinks are a big no-no, even the low-calorie options that use artificial sweeteners are terrible for your health. So, I am sorry to say it, but it’s time to say goodbye to soft drinks and instead opt for soda water with 1/5 fruit juice or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
I hope you enjoy experimenting with these healthy food swap ideas. Please let me know how you go by leaving a comment below. Or perhaps you have some other healthy swaps that you can share with us?