Making easy, healthy food swapsPosted: October 15, 2011
I am my no means a “healthy food only” eater. I enjoy my chocolate, ice cream, and chocolate ice cream just as much as the next guy (probably more when it comes to chocolate ice cream). However, when I’m cooking at home I try to make healthy alternatives. For instances, whenever I make boxed mac and cheese I never add the butter/margarine that the directions say to add. And guess what? No one has ever noticed. With other recipes that say to add butter to the pan when cooking meat, no way Jose. I add a light coating of canola oil to the pan and save myself a nice hunk of calories and fat.
I also use the same swapping concept when I’m buying foods. When I’m faced with two choices for a particular food at the grocery store, I will almost always go with the healthier of the two. I do this by reading nutrition labels. Whichever option is lower in fat, calories or sugar chances are I’m going to be buying that one.
I’m sure the question that is wondered right now is “yeah, that sounds nice, but doesn’t those “light” foods taste bland/worse/gross when compared to the original?” To which I will say, Nope! In fact, I’ve been pleasantly when I’ve eaten the “healthy” version to find that it tastes the same as the “non-healthy” version.
Below are some examples of food swaps that I’ve made that 1. reduce unhealthy ingredients or 2. increase the amount of healthy ingredients without sacrificing flavor.
A quick Google search will reveal 23.2 million hits on why brown rice is better than white rice. I found on LiveStrong.comthe most concise comparison between brown and white rice. It basically comes down to processing. White rice is way more processed than brown rice. As a result brown is more natural which means that it keeps all of it’s original nutritional value (in this case 3x the fiber as well as magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, and more of 5 other minerals, including selenium, manganese and zinc). Brown rice does take longer to cook (10 minutes versus white’s 3 minutes) but that is a non-issue considering it’ll take at least that long to get everything else cooked and served up. Taste comparison: I’ve never been able to tell the difference.
Right before Easter this year, I got a horrible sore throat. One of the things that really helps me with a sore throat is eating cold things. Because I knew I would be eating so many when I went to Wal-Mart I opted to try out the sugar free variety of the cheap popsicles instead of the regular kind, not really wanting to be consume 1/2 a pound of sugar a day in popsicles. And to my surprise, they tasted great! I’m pretty sure I spent that whole week lauding how good they tasted. And considering I went through about 4 bags of popsicles that week, I’m very grateful they were sugar free. These are now a fairly regular staple in our house and a great go-to treat when I get a sweet tooth. The best part is that because they are sugar free I don’t feel bad if/when I eat 3 of them in one sitting!
These are another new find that I was surprised with. I bought these a couple of weeks ago during a cereal sale. We were completely out of cereal and I bought this with a “It probably wont taste very good but at least it’ll be something until some good cereal goes on sale,” mindset. However when I went home and tried it the next day, YUM! It tasted just like Cinnamon Toast Crunch without leaving sugar film on your teeth after eating it. We also happened to have a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch at the house so I looked at the ingredients of both and noticed that even though they taste the same, Chex as 2 grams of sugar and 10 calories less per serving!
We are not very good vegetable eaters. However, we (especially hubby) are juice drinkers. So when V8 Fusion and Mott’s Medley’s came out I was grateful to find a way to get more veggies in our diet without having to alter anything. Both of these drinks combine a blend of fruits and veggies in their juice. Regular V8 Fusion has a full serving of BOTH fruits and vegetables per serving. V8 Fusion light has a 1/2 serving of both (it dilutes the concentration with water to reduce the sugar). Mott’s Medley has 2 total servings of fruits and veggies per serving (I would guess that means there’s more fruit than veggie juice in each serving but it equals 2 combined servings).
These are just a few of the easy, healthy food switches that we have made. None of these foods have made us sacrifice on flavor or eating habits in order to add some health benefits to our diets. What are some easy food swaps that y’all have made?