There is no denying that there are times when a cookie is a lot more satisfying than a piece of fruit. Contrary to popular belief which claims you should go cold turkey with all of your “food sins”, a true sign of a healthy lifestyle is when you are able to enjoy the foods you love guilt-free.
Having said that, there are also healthy alternatives to the foods you love, from pizza to French fries. I have outlined some of the most popular “food sins” and provided healthy alternatives and substitutions you can make that will enable you to fit each and every food into your healthy meal plan.
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Not only are homemade baked goods tastier than store bought, but they can also be healthier since you are in charge of what ingredients you use. There are a variety of healthy substitutions you can make when baking whether it be cookies, cakes or pies.
Let’s start with flour. If a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, you can either switch completely to whole wheat flour, or use half whole wheat and half all-purpose. This will allow you to add fiber and nutrients to your baked product.
To cut down on the amount of fat in your recipe, use egg whites rather than whole eggs or small amounts of unsweetened applesauce or low fat yogurt in place of vegetable oil or butter to provide a lower fat product with the same moist texture of a high fat one. You can also choose a healthier fat such as canola oil or incorporate peanut butter as both a healthy fat and a source of protein.
You’d also be surprised to find out that sugar can easily be reduced in a recipe by a third without having much of an effect on the end product or by substituting as little as a tablespoon of honey for sugar.
It is often times said that even bad pizza is good pizza, because the combination of bread, sauce and cheese is a trio that many people just cannot pass up. When getting a slice at your favourite pizza shop, look to see if they offer a vegetable slice.
It is very common for pizza shops to make a variety of specialty pies, so if you can choose a slice that provides some nutrients alongside the cheese and sauce that is a great place to start. You can also check to see if they are able to make pizza with a whole wheat crust, which would be a healthier option as well. However, as it goes for most foods, it is always healthier to cook from home.
You can make a fresh homemade pizza pie using a whole wheat dough and low fat sauce and cheese. You can also find recipes for cauliflower pizza crust which mimics the appearance and texture of actual pizza crust!
Other suggestions would be to use whole wheat English muffins or even vegetables like zucchini and eggplant as the foundation of your pizza instead of using dough. And always remember to try and incorporate balance in every meal by topping your pizza with grilled chicken, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions or carrots.
Frozen treats like ice cream, ice cream bars and milkshakes are hard to pass up, but there are definitely healthy alternatives to these commonly craved foods. One of the most important rules of thumb when it comes to frozen desserts (or any food for that matter) is to watch your serving size because the amount you eat is usually what gets you in terms of sugar and fat overload.
Choose frozen yogurt in place of ice cream, but always make sure you read the label first to make sure that the fat wasn’t replaced with a ton of sugar. The supermarket offers many healthier options for frozen desserts that contain less fat and sugar in a single serving.
Milkshakes are one frozen treat that is very easy to make healthier at home and customize to include whatever ingredients you want! In your blender, combine ingredients such as fat free or low fat milk, low fat yogurt, frozen bananas or strawberries, natural peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder or even some dark chocolate chips.
This will produce a thick, cold milkshake that is a lot healthier than one using high fat milk and ice cream. You can even top it off with a squirt of whipped cream to complete the look!
This is for all you greasy food lovers! French fries have ironically become a staple food in American culture and they are hard to pass up for most people. French fries don’t have to be unhealthy because potato, their main ingredient, is a starchy vegetable that is actually healthy for you (prior to being processed and fried).
When eating out, avoid super-sizing your French fries and try to choose thick cut fries that contain more potato and less of an unhealthy fried surface than smaller fries. My suggestion is to make French fries at home rather than ordering them out.
When making homemade French fries, try using sweet potatoes and cut them up to resemble regular fries. Brush them with olive oil and bake them in the oven for a healthier alternative with healthy fat, high fiber and a good source of vitamin A.
You can do the same with green beans or cutting zucchini lengthwise, brushing with olive oil and seasonings and popping in the oven. The crunch of the baked vegetables resembles that of French fries, but is a lot more nutritious.
Chocolate and Other Candies:
Many people might say that their sweet tooth gets them in trouble, but it doesn’t have to! Chocolate probably tops the charts as being the most craved food out there.
When it comes to chocolate it is not about choosing an alternative because let’s be honest, nothing can replace the satisfaction you get from eating a piece of chocolate. Rather, it is about the kind of chocolate you choose. You may have heard that dark chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolate, but why?
Dark chocolate with a high percent cocoa contains antioxidants known as flavonoids. These flavonoids protect cells in your body from becoming oxidised, which can contribute to ageing and disease development.
The percent cocoa labeled on the front of a dark chocolate package indicates the flavonoid content – the higher the percentage, the more flavonoids it contains. This doesn’t mean you can eat as much dark chocolate as you want, because it is still high in calories, fat and sugar. Instead, choose dark chocolate that contains about 70% cocoa or more and limit the serving size to 1-2 ounces per day.
So there you have it, 5 of your biggest “food sins” made healthier. By choosing these healthy alternatives and substitutions you will able to eat your favorite foods worry- free!
What other favorite foods do you have that you can turn into healthier alternatives?