Just because you’re trying to eat more healthily doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite food preparations! There are a number of nutritious ingredients that can replace your naughtier preferences without forgoing flavor. Try the following examples and see if your palate isn’t as pleased as your waistline!
1. Quinoa instead of rice or pasta
White rice and pasta are “bad” or simple carbs—you know, the ones that don’t provide much in the way of nutrition. But quinoa! This amazing ancient grain not only acts as a perfect platform for soaking up sauces, just like pasta and rice, but also it’s a complete protein, which means it delivers all nine of the essential amino acids.
2. Shaved zucchini instead of pasta
Another magical swap, shaved zucchini (created by shaving zucchini into strands with a vegetable peeler) can carry sauces from the plate to your palate—and add a serving of veggies to your dish to boot. Bonus: You don’t even have to cook it and it’s a refreshing way to serve saucy dishes during summer’s heat!
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3. Coconut water instead of Gatorade
Unless you’re a serious athlete, you don’t need the kind of potassium and electrolytes found in Gatorade anyway; gulping down a good amount of water will more than do the trick for the average gym goer. But coconut water, or the water harvested from inside young coconuts, does provide additional nutritional value over water—without the additives found in sports drinks. Expect great, refreshing, even sweet taste plus about as much potassium as you’d find in a banana.
4. Spinach and tomato sauce instead of spaghetti with sauce
Let’s be honest. Pasta’s main purpose is to be a vehicle for sauce. So why not drive your favorite pasta sauce into your mouth via a more healthy vehicle? Cooked spinach can be a perfect partner for tomato sauces—not to mention a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which are known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.
5. Kale chips instead of potato chips
We don’t need to tell you how unhealthy potato chips are. But you might like to know you can enjoy similarly crisp, greasy flavor and eat healthily if you reach for kale chips. There is a catch—you’ll need to make them yourself. But on the upside, all you need to do is de-stem kale leaves, spray them with a tiny bit of oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them for 10 to 15 minutes at an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you ate an entire bunch, you’d have satisfied your greens requirement for the day and only ingested about 200 calories!
Related: 17 Ways to Use Kale
6. Cauliflower instead of potatoes
Taste aside, there’s not much good that comes from mashed potatoes. But substitute even half of your spuds with cooked and mashed cauliflower and you’ll cut calories and add protein to your favorite rib-gripping side dish. After all, pound for pound, potatoes have nearly four times as many calories as cauliflower.
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7. Walnuts instead of croutons
We all love good, flavor-packed crunch atop our salads. But croutons don’t deliver much more than that nutritionally. Not so for walnuts, which lend spectacular flavor to salads as well as Omega 3 fatty acid, protein, and fiber. The trick is not to overindulge, as like all nuts, they are high in calories.
8. Low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or regular yogurt
With nearly twice the protein and less carbohydrates and salt than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for a snack or dip recipes that call for sour cream.