Healthier Ingredient Substitutions

August 22, 2016

  • Kale chips instead of potato chips.  Kale chips satisfy the need for a crunchy and salty snack but had the added advantage of being good for you.

  • Zucchini ribbons instead of pasta.  Even if you dont have a fancy spiralizer you can make zucchini ribbons using a peeler.  Simply use the peeler down the length of the zucchini until you reach the core, then flip over and do the same to the other size.  Sautee or use raw in any dish that calls for noodles.

  • Cauliflower instead of rice.  With a food processor, this is actually quicker than cooking rice grains.  Simply process cauliflower until it is in rice sized bits and sautee or bake.  My favorite way to cook it is to spread it out on an oiled pan, season with salt and pepper and bake until the top is golden brown then toss with green onions and toasted and chopped almonds.

                   

Image from: totalbeauty.com

  • Frozen bananas instead of ice cream.  Great on its own, but adding fresh mint leaves and cacao nibs is even better

  • Yogurt instead instead of sour cream.  While I always have yogurt on hand, it is rare that I would ever keep sour cream in the refrigerator.  Plain yogurt has the same consistency and taste as sour cream and is much healthier.  I don’t know why I would ever use anything else.

  • Flax meal instead of breadcrumbs.  This is a great substitution that produces a healthier and tastier result.  Plus it is way more likely that I will have flax seeds on hand than stale bread.

  • Grass fed beef instead of regular beef.  Not only is it more humane, in my opinion, for a cow to live the entirety of its life grazing on grass pastures- but it produces a meat that is higher in vitamins and minerals and is more lean.  

  • Cauliflower or parsnip puree instead of mashed potatoes.  Much lower on the glycemic index these purees mimic the consistency of mashed potatoes and can be dressed up with some butter, salt and pepper just like taters.

  • Homemade mayo instead of store bought mayo.  Homemade mayo is incredibly easy to make and you can then use healthier oils, like avocado oil.  For approx. 2 cups of mayo you will need one room temperature egg, 2 tablespoons of lemon, 1.25 cups avocado oil, 1 teaspoon each of mustard powder and salt.  Blend together with a hand blender and you have fresh homemade mayo without any preservatives or nasty oils.

  • Baking instead of frying.  Baking uses way less oil and is a healthier way to cook.  You can still get the crunch of frying by cooking on a metal pan and flipping often.

  • Homemade salad dressing instead of store bought.  Knowing the basic ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or acid like citrus)  is key in making salad dressing at home.  Jazz it up with herbs, mustard, honey, tahini, garlic, green onions, shallots, or whatever else you might have.  

  • Spaghetti squash instead of noodles.  I love spaghetti squash and it such a perfect substitution for actual spaghetti.  I love to serve it in its own skin and let people peel it back themselves.  It’s like magic!

  • Steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal.  Much more nutrient dense and complex in flavor steel cut oats need not to be a labor of love.  Simply soak overnight and then cook for 10 minutes in the morning.

  • Whole grains instead of cereal.  Making porridge out of quinoa or brown rice is not only better for you than cereal, it is a meal that can be made either sweet or savory.  Try congee with a soft boiled egg and gomasio or a bowl of steel cut oats with butter, yogurt, honey, cacao and cayenne.

  • Chia or flax instead of eggs.  While I am a lover of eggs, every once in awhile I will be hosting someone who doesn’t eat eggs for one reason or another.  Substituting with a flax or chia egg produces similar results when needing a binding agent.

  • Dark chocolate or cacao nibs instead of milk chocolate. Way less sugar, or zero sugar in the case of cacao nibs.  This is a great way to get the taste of chocolate but with less sugar and a higher antioxidant punch.

  • Whole grain instead of refined.  Using whole grain flours, pastas or bread products is much better than using refined counterparts.  Using whole grains means you are getting more fiber, nutrients and less of a glycemic spike.

  • Marshmallow fluff instead of frosting.  I am not a big sweets person, like at all.  But every once in awhile I need to make some sort of treat for a friends birthday or some other special event.  I feel the need to make everything from scratch and as healthy as it can be.  The end result is generally something that no one would voluntarily eat.  So this swap seems like a good solution to traditional frosting as it contains more than 50% less sugar and calories.  Plus I think it would be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

  • Homemade tomato sauce.  Making your own tomato sauce out of canned tomatoes and tomato paste is easy and produces delicious results.  You can feel like an Italian nonna when with a pot of sauce bubbling away on the stovetop and you can spice it up with garlic, onion, mushrooms, fresh basil, or whatever else you prefer.

  • Avocado oil instead of olive oil for cooking.  While olive oil is delicious for salad dressing and dipping bread in, avocado oil has a much higher smoke point and should be the go to for sauteeing to minimize oxidation and free radicals.

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