Smart Substitutions To Make Your Favorite Meals Healthier

September 23, 2015

One of the hardest aspects of eating healthily is giving up the foods you love. Often, the foods we enjoy most are the ones we know we should eat less of but as soon as we are told that we have to give them up, even for health or weight loss reasons, we tend to crave them more – it’s human nature!

In this article I’d like to share with you some smart food substitutions that allow you to modify those favorite meals to make them healthier so you don’t have to give them up.

Low-carb lasagna

Lasagna is a perfect comfort food; high in protein fat and carbs it’s as filling as it is tasty. But, that combination of fat and carbs is like a fat-gain bomb waiting to go off around your waist!

There is nothing especially wrong with fat or carbs but when these two food groups are combined together they create the perfect environment for weight gain.

Lasagna without the creamy sauce or minced beef is all but impossible to imagine but you can make lasagna much lower in calories and carbs by replacing the pasta sheets with thinly sliced zucchini. Simply remove the ends from several zucchini and then slice them thinly length ways. Layer them as you would your pasta and you’ll slash the calories and carb content of this Italian favorite.

Bread-free wraps

Sandwiches are the ultimate in convenience foods – especially when you need to eat on the go. Taking mere minutes to prepare, sandwiches are many people’s “go to” lunch. However, the large amount of bread that makes up a typical sandwich means that they pack quite a big calorie punch and also contain a lot of carbs.

Carbs aren’t inherently unhealthy, especially if you are very active, but if you are predominately sedentary, have issues with gluten or are simply trying to drop a few pounds, eating less bread is a good idea.

However, no bread means no sandwiches which can make lunch a tricky meal to cater for.

Instead of bread, place your normal sandwich filling in a large lettuce leaf and make a wrap instead. After all, the bread is simply a convenient way to transport that filling from your plate to your mouth without dirtying your fingers!

Substituting bread with lettuce leafs slashes the carb and calorie content of your sandwich but preserves the taste!

Low-calorie rice

Rice is a nice accompaniment to many meals but it’s very high in carbs and even a small portion contains a lot of calories. This high caloric density means that rice isn’t especially filling and white rice digests very quickly which can leave you feeling hungry again soon after you have finished your meal.

To save carbs and calories, replace rice with grated, lightly cooked cauliflower florets. Simply coarsely grate the cauliflower by hand or in a food processer and then either boil or lightly sauté it until tender – just a few minutes is all that is needed. Drain it, season to taste and serve with a drizzle of real butter for a great rice substitute.

Cauliflower also makes a great mashed potato substitute – just boil it and mash it and serve as normal.

Protein-packed pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Unfortunately, like many of the foods we love, pizza is hardly healthy. The bread base makes it high in calories and carbs and even the meatiest pizza is low in protein. However, you can make this Friday night favorite much more diet-friendly by skipping that doughy base for one made from eggs; enter the omelet pizza!

Take three eggs and crack them into a bowl. Whisk them thoroughly and then pour into a lightly oiled pan and cook on one side only. Place your favorite pizza ingredients on the top and then place in a medium to hot oven and cook until the toppings are done. High in protein, low in carbs and really tasty – what’s not to love!

Bread-free hamburgers

Burgers are often viewed as junk food but providing they are made with good quality ground beef this needn’t be the case. Top with some lettuce and tomato and maybe some mustard and you have a pretty decent meal – except for the bread bun of course.

Hamburger buns are inevitably made from highly refined white flour which makes them all but devoid of meaningful nutritional value and high in both calories and carbs.

Not to worry; you can still enjoy a burger – simply replace the bun with a couple of large, de-stalked, lightly grilled, Portobello mushrooms. The main job of the bun is to separate your fingers from the burger and a virtually calorie-free mushroom will do the job just as well while providing a nice hit of vitamin D, selenium, chromium, copper, potassium and phosphorus.

Many people mistakenly believe that eating healthily means adopting a boring or restrictive diet – this is not necessarily the case. It might take a little imagination and experimentation but it’s actually possible to eat at least some of the foods that are deemed unhealthy simply by making a few smart substitutions. 

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