Everyone turns to their favorite comfort food when times are tough or when the weather gets colder. When looking through some of your favorite recipes, you may find ingredients that don’t fit your current dietary needs, or you’d just like to find a healthier version (Do any of you remember your grandma’s recipes calling for “Oleo”?!). Many ingredients have easy, healthier substitutions that won’t impact the flavor of the dish.
Keep It Easy
Did you know that staple pantry ingredients already have a healthier version? Regular white rice can be swapped out for brown rice or wild rice. These whole grains provide digestive friendly fiber, minerals and vitamins. Another great substitution is cauliflower rice! It’s a delicious way to sneak in some veggies. Instead of regular all-purpose flour, use 50% whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is higher in protein and fiber, and has more flavor than regular flour. Many boxed pasta brands also sell a whole grain version which provides more natural fiber and micronutrients than regular pastas.
When substituting in recipes it’s important to think of ingredients that will not only taste similar, but will also be of a similar consistency and react similarly when cooking. Here are some of the most common substitutions that you probably already have on hand in your pantry:
- Mayonnaise or Sour Cream
- Butter, shortening or oil in baked goods
- Ground Beef
- Greek Yogurt
- Ground Rolled Oats or Bran Cereal
- Ground Chicken or Turkey
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fat-free half & half or evaporated skim milk
Milk, butter & cheese, while delicious favorites can be high in fat and calories, not to mention they can be a common allergen for many individuals. Luckily there are many good quality non-dairy substations. While in cooking it’s easy to swap out regular milk for almond milk or oat milk without changing the flavor or consistency, baking can be a bit trickier. A good substitution is a nut or seed milk – you can even add a tablespoon of lemon juice to “curdle” it if your recipe calls for buttermilk.
Butter can be substituted with coconut oil in many recipes. Similar to butter, it is solid at room temperature and can be melted, making it an easy swap. Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat that is great for digestion, appetite control, and can benefit your skin.
While there are some readily available non-dairy cheeses out there, you can make a simple nut cheese that’s perfect for sprinkling. Blend 1/2 cup of nuts or seeds with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt in your blender or food processor.
It’s not about eliminating items, it’s all about finding healthy easy ways to lighten up your family favorites. Don’t forget to incorporate seasonal produce into your cooking. For example, during fall add cubed squash to your favorite sauce or add apples the next time you bake something savory like a porkchop. It’s a fun way to try and incorporate a few more fruits and veggies into your dinner time.
Loyalty Fitness personal trainers and nutrition coaches are always here to offer new suggestions. They will not only help you with your strength training, they can also help with your nutritional goals as well. Whether it’s helping you find healthy substitutions, starting a food log, or meal planning our experts will construct a plan that will help you reach your fitness and wellness goals. Contact us today to get started and to book your free session at our Greenwich, CT or Syosset, NY location.