Swapping out food items is something we've all done or seen, although mostly in the context of school lunches as in "I'll trade you my tuna fish sandwich for your peanut butter and jelly." This is a little different because you're opting for something else without a trading partner so the decision is entirely yours. The good news is that there are some healthier and delicious choices to make those food swaps easier. In celebration of Food Day (see article in this month's newsletter) here are five enjoyable food switches you can try:
1. There will still be some perfect outdoor BBQ days this October, so instead of grilling up your usual beef patty, try a thick slice of a portabella mushroom. If you've never tried it you'll be surprised at the excellent taste and consistency – and the mushroom contains potassium, cancer-fighting phytochemicals and gives you an enjoyable option to cut back on red meat.
2. This may seem a little unconventional but it's a smart trade. Instead of guacamole made with 100% avocado, blend in some cooked zucchini. The monosaturated fats in avocado are considered to be heart-healthy, but they also add quite a few extra calories. Substitute some cooked zucchini to create an "avocado extender" and you'll shave off approximately half the calories for the same amount. It may not be the classic recipe, but it's quite tasty and your waistline will appreciate the creativity.
3. This is a swap that's not only a bit healthier but you might even enjoy it more. Trade out sour cream for plain yogurt – nonfat or low-fat will give you the biggest calorie savings – and you also gain some additional calcium. As an added bonus, the yogurt adds a similar tang and texture to foods like baked potatoes, burritos and black bean soup so you'll scarcely know you've made the switch.
4. Here's a trade out that offers a delicious alternative along with some definite calorie savings (about 30 calories a cup compared to around 130). Try lightly steaming or sautéing, then mashing cauliflower in place of the usual mashed potatoes. In addition to providing fewer calories, the cauliflower is packed with nutrients and is a good source of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. It may not replace your mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, but it's a surprisingly good alternative you'll want to try.
5. Fall is a good time for spaghetti squash and spaghetti squash is a good swap for … you guessed it … spaghetti. Once it's baked the spaghetti-like interior of the squash makes an excellent base for pasta sauce. This particular swap significantly cuts calories while also upping your veggie intake. Nobody is going to confuse squash for pasta when it comes to the taste test, but the spaghetti squash and sauce are a taste treat all on their own, and a healthy trade you'll enjoy making from time to time.
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