Swapportunities: Swap Unhealthy Food for Healthier Options
Changing our eating habits can be a challenge for many of us, which is why I look for “swapportunities” at meal time. By getting creative and re-thinking classic recipes, you can make small steps to a healthier lifestyle. These are four of my favorite, but I hope you’ll share your own in the comments as well.
Swap out artificial sweeteners for raw organic honey. Get rid of artificial sweeteners and don't be afraid of a little natural sugar. Raw organic honey is not processed, is high in antioxidants, and a dollop goes a long way. Your honey bear from the grocery store doesn’t count. Raw honey is the concentrated nectar of flowers that comes straight from the extractor; it is the only unheated, pure, unpasteurized, unprocessed honey. An alkaline-forming food, this type of honey contains ingredients similar to those found in fruits, which become alkaline in the digestive system. It doesn't ferment in the stomach and it can be used to counteract acid indigestion. When mixed with ginger and lemon juices, it also relieves nausea and supplies energy. Raw honey is the healthiest choice amongst the various forms of honey as it has the most nutritional value and contains amylase, an enzyme concentrated in flower pollen which helps predigest starchy foods like breads. Use a little in your tea, coffee, yogurt or toast and skip the fake stuff.
Swap out mayo for a ripe avocado. When you swap out mayo for a ripe avocado spread on your sandwich, you are avoiding cholesterol and saturated fat and increasing your intake of healthy fat, fiber and potassium. Two tablespoons of mayonnaise has 115 calories and a quarter cup of avocado has 80 calories. Avocados are also thought to help prevent certain cancers and enhance heart health.
Swap out croutons and wontons for nuts: Nuts like almonds or walnuts add crunch along with lots of nutrients and are great on salads. While homemade croutons can be healthy, most people buy the packaged kinds, loaded with unhealthy fat, fried and doused with preservatives. Nuts are rich in protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds contain the most fiber (about 3 g per ounce) of all nuts and are richest in vitamin E as well as packed with phyto-chemicals that help protect against diseases and cancer. Walnuts help decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They are the richest in omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation.
Swap out ranch dressing for hummus for a healthier dip. Ranch dressing is the most popular dressing in the United States. Invented in the 1050's at the Hidden Valley Ranch, it's full of sodium, fat and chemicals (for the non-refrigerated versions!). It’s become the curtain that veggies hide behind. We douse our veggies so we can't taste them and dunk our chicken nuggets and fries in ranch. The problem is we are consuming too much of it and not developing a taste for the veggies - only for the ranch. How about swapping out for a healthier alternative? Try homemade hummus for dipping your veggies in.
Here is my daughters’ recipe, which we make a batch of at our house every single week.
1 can of Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - drained and rinsed
1/2 c Tahini
2 cloves Garlic (1 tsp of minced garlic)
1/2 tsp of Sea Salt
1/2 tsp of Cumin
4 tblsp of Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Lemons
Toss all ingredients into a food processor and blend to your preferred consistency. Garnish with paprika to taste and store in the fridge for up to a week.
The healthy fat and low levels of saturated fat make hummus a good choice for snacking or as a side dish. The fiber from the chickpeas helps you stay full, as well as aids in your digestion. Hummus has no sugar and relatively little sodium- another nutritional bonus!
Chris Freytag is a fitness expert, public speaker, contributing editor to Prevention magazine and an author of several books, including her latest, a healthy cookbook titled, CHOOSE THIS! She appears regularly on QVC, and her latest workout DVD is called the 10lb Slimdown Xtreme, including 13 comprehensive circuit training workouts. Chris Freytag has been training, teaching, and educating in the health and fitness industry for more than 22 years. She is passionate about helping people take better care of themselves and their families.