It’s actually much easier than you might imagine to add more healthy foods into your diet. There are lots of things that you probably eat and drink on a regular basis than can be easily substituted for brilliant alternatives with far less fat, sugar and calories.
Here are eight foods that you can easily replace, provided by fitness expert Lloyd Wells – working together with kitchen specialists Halcyon Interiors.
- Substitute peanut butter with almond butter
Peanut butter is one of life’s great pleasures and trying to give it up in the name of healthy eating is a step too far for money people. The sad truth is that the peanuts aren’t actually the problem. Sure, peanut butter contains quite a lot of fat (16g for two tablespoons) but it’s actually a very good source of omega-6 fatty acids which are important in maintaining strong bones as well as improving metabolism. But peanut butter is mass produced product and you will struggle to find a brand that doesn’t add large quantities of sugar and salt as well as unhealthy oils.
This is why almond butter can be a great way to get the delicious flavour of peanut butter without the added rubbish. Almond butter also has plenty of omega-6 fatty acids but it also has higher level of additional nutrients as well better levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Because of almond butter’s reputation for being a healthier nut, you can easily find brands without anything added which will be much better for you. Always check the ingredients to be sure, of course, and ideally opt for a jar with just the single ingredient: almonds.
- Substitute potato with sweet potato
Did you know that potatoes don’t even count as one of your five-a-day? With barely any nutrients, vitamins or minerals, potato is simply a starchy source of carbohydrates, so it’s not adding anything healthy to your body. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are nutrient dense, and while they contain slightly more sugar than potatoes they are also lower in calories and carbohydrates and higher in fibre.
Equally, potatoes are relatively flavourless which often means you’ll be tempted to add other unhealthy ingredients to improve them (think about the butter in your mash potato and the oil and salt on your chips). Sweet potato tastes great on its own and can be improved with spices which are much better for you than salt.
Sweet potato can be swapped for potato in almost any meal you can think of. Perfect as mash, wedges, fries or to put in dishes like curries, it’s really easy to add sweet potato to your diet.
- Substitute sugary drinks with coconut water
Drink a standard 330ml can of Coca Cola and you’ll be treating your body to 35g of sugar. That’s the equivalent to eating a bit more than two tablespoons of sugar. You could switch to diet or low sugar alternatives but the problem with these is that they are full of chemical sweeteners which might well be worse for you in the long term.
So if you’re looking for a delicious alternative – how about coconut water? A can of coconut water still has around 9g of sugar, but those are naturally occurring. Even better, coconut water is full of nutrients like potassium and magnesium which is great for your body. Of course, almost any drink is better for you than a sugary fizzy drink but coconut water adds minerals to your diet.
- Substitute sour cream with Greek yoghurt
You’d be surprised how often you can switch sour cream with Greek yoghurt without any noticeable difference to the flavour. This is great news because yoghurt has much less fat and far fewer calories than sour cream. Yoghurt also features more protein than sour cream, so you’ll actually get more out of eating it.
You can make the substitute whether you’re adding using it within recipes, adding it to your fajitas or creating sauces. Try it out and you’ll be very pleased with the results.
- Substitute croutons with nuts
When many people want to change their diet, one of the things that they will inevitably try is to incorporate more salads. Salads are a great way to increase your vegetable intake, which is always going to be great for you, however, where people tend to fall down is they will add loads of croutons and salad dressing, both of which are high in fat and don’t offer much in the way of nutrients – they are just empty calories.
So how do you ensure that your salad stays healthy? You can swap out the dressing for a vinaigrette and it will still taste fantastic. For the groups you can simply add a few nuts instead. They’ll give you the same crunch that you’re looking for, with the added bonus of having more protein and plenty more vitamins and minerals than croutons.
- Substitute spaghetti for courgetti
Vegetable substitutions for pasta and noodles are becoming increasingly popular. Instead of high-carb white pasta like spaghetti you can use ‘courgetti’. All you need is a spiralizer and it’s easy to turn veggies like courgettes into a brilliant substitute for traditional pasta. Not only are you getting rid of the nutrient-free calories of white pasta, you’re gaining all the benefits of courgette.
If you’re not a big fan of courgettes you could also use aubergine, carrots or squash as a brilliant pasta alternative. Try them out with different meals and sauces to see which combination works best for you.
- Substitute rice with cauliflower rice
Much like the vegetable alternatives to pasta, you can also find healthier veggie substitutes for rice. Cauliflower rice is one of the most popular. Rice, while filling and starchy, doesn’t really contain any valuable nutrients and is also high in calories. Cauliflower rice, which is actually quicker to cook, is far lower in calories and contains the goodness of the cauliflower.
A word of warning: for best results with cauliflower rice you’ll need to fry it rather than boil it. For this it’s best to use a healthier oil like coconut oil and to use it sparingly, otherwise the benefits will be outweighed by the negative aspects.
- Substitute cereals with oats
Most mass produced cereals have an extremely high sugar content – even apparently healthy options like cornflakes and bran flakes surprisingly still have sugar added. Try having oats instead either as a homemade muesli or heat them up for a delicious porridge. Again, you’ll have to resist the temptation to add a big spoonful of sugar though – try naturally occurring sweetness like dried fruit or jam instead.