By Rebecca Maxwell
It goes without saying that a nutritious diet is essential for anyone looking to get in shape, lose weight, or simply improve their overall health. Eating patterns that give your body enough of the vitamins and minerals it needs and stay within your recommended daily calorie intake have been proven to boost overall health and well-being. Anyone can implement a more healthful diet into their lifestyles with some time and effort.
The one of the biggest obstacles, however, to eating better is finding healthy foods and recipes that are not chocked full of substances considered more harmful to your health like saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugar. If a recipe is high in those substances or too calorie-dense, you should think twice. It can also be discouraging when you consider giving up your favorite dishes.
Even you come across a delicious recipe that is not necessarily healthful, though, there are plenty of cooking substitutes to use in place of other ingredients. Here are some of the most common substation items for baking or cooking recipes:
1. Whole Wheat White Flour – Use whole wheat flour when baking instead of all-purpose white flour that has been processed. Whole wheat flour, and whole grains in general, have more fiber that will help to keep you full and reduce cravings throughout the day. Whole grains are also more nutritious.
2. Unsweetened Applesauce – When a recipe calls for sugar, try using unsweetened applesauce instead. Using applesauce for baked goods like bread and muffins will cut down on saturated fat and calories while increasing the fiber content. You can also try any fruit puree or some natural sweeteners like honey, fruit juice concentrate, or Stevia instead of granulated sugar.
3. Plain Greek Yogurt – Mayonnaise and sour cream are loaded with calories and saturated fat. Try low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt in their place. Greek yogurt contains healthful probiotics for your gut and lots of protein. Be sure to check the labels, though, because many kinds of Greek yogurt are full of added sugars.
4. Avocado and Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Try using avocado in place of either oil or butter. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, and these types of fats have been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Extra-virgin olive oil is also a healthier substitute for other types of cooking oils. Extra-virgin olive oil can be used for sautéing, and it can serve as a great alternative for creamy salad dressings that are high in saturated fat.
5. Ground Turkey – Red meats like beef and pork are high in fat content and have been linked to all kinds of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Try using ground turkey instead or consider vegetarian substitutions like tofu or vegetarian ground beef crumbles.
When looking at recipes, either online or ones given to you, it is always important to look at their nutrition facts first. If they are not provided, there are several recipe analyzers that can provide this information. Moreover, using more healthful cooking substitutes can help you eat better and still enjoy your favorite food combinations.