Swaps to Make Any Recipe Healthy

Nutrition is the key to getting amazing results. To blast body fat while adding shape and tone to your body, you need to be eating healthy 90% of the time during the course of a week. This leaves 10% flexibility for indulgences without feeling guilty or affecting your results.

This guide will show you how to pick any recipe, give it a makeover, and bam! you have a healthy meal you can feel good about eating. When you eat healthy, you don't need to compromise on flavor and satiety. You should never feel like you're eating "diet food". Here are my top tips and tricks.

Dairy
Most adults have an intolerance to lactose. If you often feel bloated, gassy, get indigestion, or get a stomach ache or constipation after consuming dairy it's a good idea to explore non-dairy alternatives. Cow's milk isn't what it used to be when our parents were growing up. Much of our milk now contains added hormones which can affect your weight. If you can tolerate dairy, be sure to buy organic or grass-fed milk. Great non-dairy alternatives include almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk. Be sure to buy unsweetened. Other healthy swaps:

  • Goat and sheep's cheese can be easier to digest than cow's milk. They have less lactose than cow's milk and are made of different proteins. Goat cheese contains more nutrients and less calories and fat than cheddar cheese.
  • Greek yogurt instead of cream or sour cream. Yogurt's creamy texture and rich, tangy flavor make it a perfect substitute.
  • Avocado or guacamole in place of cheese as a dip, salad topper or spread.
  • Tahini (sesame paste) is a healthy fat with a creamy texture, that works great as a spread or in salad dressings. Just use portion control as it's calorically dense. 

Gluten
Gluten is another common allergen and pro-inflammatory food that many people don't even realize they have an intolerance to. It's a good idea to reduce the amount of gluten containing foods you eat on a regular basis. Instead focus on unprocessed nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates and vegetables.

  • Wild rice or quinoa instead of orzo, bulgur or barley.
  • Brown rice or quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta. 
  • Spaghetti squash or "zoodles" (spiralized zucchini) instead of pasta. I sometimes mix vegetable noodles with the gluten-free pasta to make the meal higher in nutrients and volume.
  • Serve two vegetables with dinner such as roasted brussel sprouts and a chopped spinach salad.
  • Use rice or greens as your base instead of buns, tortillas, bread, etc.
  • Gluten free old fashioned oats instead of packaged quick oats.

Sugar
Sugar can be the reason your diet isn't working. It's hidden in almost all processed and packaged foods. Sugar is highly addictive and disrupts your hormones. Sugar lowers insulin sensitivity, causing your body to store more of the food you eat as fat. Next time you are craving something sweet, ask yourself if you are one of the following: simply bored, dehydrated, or not eating enough calories from real food to support your activity level. These are all great options to add sweetness:

  • Stevia in oatmeal, coffee, smoothies, etc.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Raw cacao powder
  • 85% or higher organic dark chocolate

Fats and Oils
Use healthy monounsaturated and saturated fats when cooking. We need a healthy balance between polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Smoke point is important to consider. Some fats like olive oil have a low smoke point meaning they break down at higher temperatures. Coconut oil has a higher smoke point so holds up better for cooking. While healthy fats are an essential part of your diet, I will typically lower the amount of oil and/or butter in a recipe and add citrus and herbs to jazz up the meal.

  • Coconut oil (great for medium to high heat)
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil (salad dressings)
  • Citrus juices from lemon and lime are great for topping off a dish or salad. They add no calories while giving you a vitamin C and anti-aging collagen boost.
  • Herbs like parsley, mint, cilantro and basil are wonderful toppings. They easily add flavor and detoxifying benefits. 
  • When cooking vegetables on the stove, I always use a non-stick pan. I heat coconut oil, add the vegetables and toss them to coat. Then I add about 2 tablespoons of water and cover the pan so they steam.

Drinks
Drinking your calories can quickly add up. Soda, juice, sugary cocktails, or coffee with cream and sugar are everywhere and easily creep into our diets. Calorie-laden drinks will block your fat loss efforts. A frozen margarita contains an average 600 calories and a beer around 200. Here are some lighter options:

  • Zero-calorie naturally flavored seltzer. I like the brand La Croix.
  • Red wine 
  • Clear spirits like vodka, tequila, gin and rum with seltzer and a lime
  • Use water as a base for smoothies or a mixture of half water and half milk
  • Coffee with a splash of cream

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