There are so many ways to turn your favorite savory or sweet dishes healthy. Save yourself thousands of calories by swapping out traditional ingredients for healthier ones. Below is a list of alternatives for everything high calorie, from salad dressings, maple syrup, pasta sauces, butter, oil, and especially things laden with tons of hidden calories. The amount of sugar and fat in the American diet has increased tremendously, as have the rates of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Currently, 66% of the population is overweight and 34% of the population is obese. Those numbers are not only scary but continue to rise steadily. A way to address overeating is to remove the excess sugar and fat from your diet through healthy substitutions! See my recommendations below for ways to keep your favorite dishes in your diet, while eliminating all of the unwanted and unnecessary calories. Food should be fun, and calories shouldn't limit you to not enjoying your favorite foods. Hope you enjoy my suggestions and happy eating!!
Avocado instead of Mayo Butter or Oil
1 cup Avocado: 234 calories
1 cup Mayo: 1,495 calories
1 cup Butter: 1,627 calories
1 cup Oil: 1,910 calories
I almost never bake with mayo, butter or oil strictly because of the numbers listed above! Save yourself literally thousands of calories and enjoy the numerous benefits of avocados. They are packed with healthy fats, loaded with fiber, and will leave you with a softer and chewier texture if you use it to bake. Always use a 1:1 substitution (1 cup of avocado instead of 1 cup of butter or oil). Another tip for baking with avocado: reduce oven temp by 25% and increase your baking time by a few minutes in order to prevent your baked goods from browning too quickly or caving in!
Applesauce instead of Sugar
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce: 103 calories, 23g of sugar
1 cup of sugar: 773 calories, 200g of sugar
YUP! There's THAT many calories in sugar. Next time you're baking, opt for unsweetened applesauce, which will save you hundreds of calories and you won't be able to tell the difference. You can substitute the applesauce for sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes, but you must reduce the liquid in the recipe. Usually reducing the liquid (water, milk, etc.) by 1/4 will be fine.
Soda Water/Seltzer instead of Tonic Water
Soda Water/Seltzer: 0 calories, 0g sugar
Tonic Water: 80 calories, 20g sugar
Save yourself the sugar calories and order seltzer or soda water with your mixed drink at the bar. Top it off with a lime or lemon for the extra punch!
Almond or Cashew Milk instead of Dairy Milk
1 cup of almond/cashew milk: 30 calories
1 cup of dairy milk: 100 calories
Unsweetened almond and cashew milk is a great alternative to cow's milk in recipes. It will save you 70 calories per serving, and when used in baking or cooking, you won't be able to know the difference.
Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini instead of Pasta
1 cup of Spaghetti Squash: 31 calories
1 cup of Zucchini: 33 calories
1 cup of Pasta: 130 calories
Save yourself hundreds of calories by making this substitute! Use a veggie spiralizer or a mandoline to make long, thin noodle-like slices of zucchini. Or, stab holes in a spaghetti squash and put in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size. These veggies are super low in carbs allowing you to eat more and not feel guilty, and also contain much more fiber leaving you more full!
Frozen Bananas instead of Ice Cream
1 Frozen Banana: 105 calories, 0g fat
1/2 cup of Dairy Ice Cream: approx 275 calories, 14g fat
Mix 1 frozen banana with a 1/2 cup of almond milk in a blender or food processor until creamy.. this will leave you with an incredible concoction commonly referred to as nice cream! This alternative is fat-free, contains 3g of fiber and will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free. You can add cacao powder or other berries to the mix in order to achieve the flavor you're craving.
Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream
1 Serving of Greek Yogurt: 60 calories
1 Serving of Sour Cream: 193 calories
Use greek yogurt instead of sour cream in your recipes and you'll save yourself a TON of unnecessary calories. You won't be able to tell the difference and the texture is very similar.
Mustard or Walden Farms Mayo instead of Mayo
1 packet of Mustard: 5 calories
1 serving Walden Farms Mayo: 0 calories
1 packet of Mayo: 70 calories
Mayo is mostly all fat and adds a good amount of calories to any sandwich! Sub out mayo for mustard and save yourself the artery clogging saturated fat. If you are craving mayo, opt for Walden Farms' mayo, they have plain, chipotle, honey mustard, ranch and pomegranate mayo!
Lettuce Wraps instead of Taco Shell or Hamburger Buns
Lettuce Wrap: 5 calories
Taco Shell: 70-180 calories
Hamburger Bun (which is most likely toasted with butter): 200-250 calories
Use lettuce to wrap your tacos or go bunless on your burger or chicken sandwich and enjoy the side of fries. Life's about balance after all! Lettuce is almost calorie-free.. so why not wrap your bun in lettuce which still gives it the crunch, but saves you between 200-250 calories!
Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef
4 oz (99/1) extra lean ground turkey: 120 calories, 1g fat
4 oz (93/7) lean ground turkey: 170 calories, 8g fat
4 oz (80/20) ground beef: 290 calories, 23g of fat
Always opt for ground turkey when possible, which spares you loads of unnecessary fat. I love to season mine with McCormick's Perfect Pinch southwest seasoning. If you don't want to splurge and spend the extra few dollars to buy extra lean 99/1, definitely go for the 93/7 ground turkey, and you and your arteries will be glad you did.
Walden Farms No Calorie Syrup vs. Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Walden Farms Syrup: 0 calories, 0g sugar
1/2 cup Maple Syrup: 410 calories, 112g sugar
This is a no brainer. Traditional maple syrup contains SO MUCH SUGAR. Either dress your pancakes or waffles up with fresh berries, or buy Walden Farms syrups.. they have pancake (my fav!), maple walnut (my #2!), chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, and caramel syrups!
Coconut Flour vs. White/Wheat Flour
Coconut Flour: 120 calories, 10g fiber (keeps you full!)
Wheat Flour: 105 calories, 4g fiber
White Flour: 115 calories, 1g fiber
Coconut flour is gluten-free, rich in fiber and very little is needed in recipes compared to normal grain based flours, which means less calories. When using coconut flour instead of white or whole wheat flour, the general ratio is to use 1/4-1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of white/wheat flour. Coconut flour also contains much more fiber, which will keep you full and prevent you from eating too much! I'd suggest checking out this article to get even more information on coconut flour substitutions: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/10/26/cooking-with-coconut-flour.aspx
Canned Diced Tomatoes or Walden Farms instead of Tomato Sauce:
Canned Diced Tomatoes: 35 calories
Walden Farms Sauce: 0 calories
Traditional Tomato Sauce: 80-180 calories
Opt for a lighter and less fattening sauce by using canned diced tomatoes, or better yet, Walden's 0 calorie sauces. They have alfredo, tomato and basil, and garlic and herb.. YUM!
Salsa or Walden Farms No Calorie Dressing instead of Salad Dressing
2 tbsp Salsa: 10 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms Dressing: 0 calories
2 tbsp Salad Dressing: 80-160 calories
This is another no brainer.. salad dressings are laced with tons of sugars and fats and we often underestimate how much we really use. Leave out the excess calories and opt for fresh salsa or Walden Farms' dressing! I love dressing up my salads with pico de gallo, salsa and a pinch of lime with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Another option is Walden Farms, which is a great company that makes a variety of different dressings that are super tasty, contain no fat or sugar, and are a whopping 0 calories!!
Hot Sauce or 0 Calorie Ketchup instead of Regular Ketchup
2 tbsp hot sauce: 0 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms ketchup: 0 calories
2 tbsp reduced sugar ketchup: 5 calories, 1g sugar
2 tbsp ketchup: 40 calories, 7g sugar
Ketchup is surprisingly loaded with sugar and let's be real.. no one only uses 2 tablespoons. Back in my soccer days when I would come home and eat half the bag of frozen tater tots, I probably used close to 1/2 cup of ketchup (135 calories and 26g of sugar.. ew!!). Opt for hot sauce, Walden Farms 0-calorie ketchup, or if you don't want to give up ketchup, go for the reduced sugar option.