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Substituting Healthy Alternatives for Unhealthy Favorites

Posted April 27, 2010 by

Do you have trouble depriving yourself of certain foods that are unhealthy, but oh-so tempting?  Do you absolutely hate some of the foods that you should be eating and don’t know how you’ll get them into your diet? While a healthy lifestyle will require a lifestyle adjustment for the average person, this doesn’t mean you need to become miserable with the foods you need to eat more of, or without the foods you enjoy. Some clever thinking and proper planning can help you eat enjoyably while still meeting your nutritional goals.  Below are some of the main tricks that both Chris and I use in our own lives to keep our diets interesting but healthy.

Oatmeal is one of the best sources of carbohydrates you can eat. It is complex, includes a substantial amount of protein and has vitamins and good fats in it. However, if you’re used to eating french toast, pancakes and sugary cereal every morning, the thought of replacing that with oatmeal may seem boring to you. Grind your dry oatmeal up with a coffee grinder to make oat flour. This can be used to make healthy pancake batter, a base for smoothies, cream of oats (similar to cream of wheat) and pretty much anything else you can think of in place of baking flour, breadcrumbs, etc. Ground flaxseed can be used in a similar fashion and combined with ground oats for a nutty-flavored, wholesome and versatile food.

Spinach is extremely healthy, and gram for gram is one of the most nutrient-laden foods available. However, as with most vegetables, cooking spinach typically destroys a large majority of the vitamins and minerals. Eating three cups of raw spinach every day may not be for everyone (it certainly isn’t for me). Little do most people know, spinach has a mild flavor and is easily masked by other foods.  Thus, it can be a great addition to a breakfast smoothie. Simply add a couple handfuls of raw spinach leaves to the blender with a banana, some strawberries/blueberries, and whatever other ingredients you’re using and you’ll end up with a very creamy drink that doesn’t taste like spinach, but includes all of its wonderful nutrients.

Nonfat cottage cheese is a great source of pure protein. Many folks are lactose intolerant without even realizing it, but can usually eat cottage cheese due to the fact that unlike most dairy products, it has a very low level of lactose (milk sugar). However, cottage cheese has a texture that can be an acquired taste to say the least. Rather than trying to choke it down, simply pour a serving into your blender with a bit of water, and liquify it. You can now use it in place of sour cream, yogurt, cheese sauce, etc. Mix it with chocolate fat-free sugar-free pudding mix for an amazing desert that has a much thicker consistency than typical pudding—more like mousse, but no fat/sugar and high in protein! Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Stay tuned for many more tricks like these, as well as recipes that we’ve devised that use ingredients like these instead of their unhealthy alternatives.

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