Many people associate eating healthy with only eating fruits, vegetables and generally bland foods. But eating foods that are good for you definitely does not mean eating foods that taste bad. One of the easiest and most delicious ways to improve your diet is to simply substitute healthier versions of your favorite foods instead of eliminating them from your life altogether. Substituting healthier ingredients for unhealthier ones means adding nutrients to your body without depriving yourself of the foods and flavors you love. Here are five of the easiest food substitutions you can make that taste great and that will instantly make your diet healthier:
Turkey for Beef
Substituting ground turkey for ground beef is an easy ingredient substitution because you can use ground turkey in essentially every way you can use ground beef, but with more health benefits. Ground turkey typically has fewer calories and is lower in fat than ground beef and additionally is higher in calcium. Both turkey and beef are great sources of protein, but choosing turkey will save you some unnecessary calories. Turkey burgers, turkey tacos, turkey meatballs and turkey meatloaf are all great-tasting healthy updates of ground beef classics.
Whole Wheat for White
Whole wheat bread is simply much more nutritious than its starchy white counterpart. In white bread, the nutrients and fiber in the flour are processed out before the bread is baked; in whole wheat bread, the nutrients and fiber stay in all the way through the baking process. Whole grains have been shown to help improve digestive health and reduce the risk of heart disease, clearly outweighing white bread’s virtually nonexistent health benefits.
Sweet Potatoes for White Potatoes
Baked potatoes are one of the easiest side dishes around; simply poke them with a fork, pop them in the oven and you have a filling side dish. But if you’re using white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, you’re not making a very healthy side dish choice. White potatoes have a lot more starch, and a lot less Vitamin C than their high-fiber orange counterparts, making them bad for your blood sugar and your waistline. Substituting baked sweet potato fries for regular deep-fried French fries is one of the healthiest food substitutions you can possibly make, since you can eliminate both the starch and the oil.
Greek Yogurt for Mayonnaise and Sour Cream
Mayonnaise and sour cream are popular condiments for a reason: most people consider them to be delicious. The problem with mayonnaise and sour cream, however, is that they are both incredibly high in fat and calorie content, making them especially unhealthy additions to your diet. Subbing Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and sour cream is a low-calorie, low-fat way to get the same creamy taste you crave without the massive amounts of fats and calories. Greek yogurt is also high in protein, high in calcium and is great for digestive health; incorporating it into your diet will do only good things for your overall health.
Frozen Bananas for Ice Cream
Craving something cold and sweet on a summer afternoon? Instead of chasing down the ice cream truck, simply grab a banana. Pureeing frozen bananas in a food processor until they are creamy gives them a texture, taste and temperature very similar to ice cream, but without all of the added sugars and excessive calories.
Try this recipe for Turkey Meatloaf with Tomato Relish to see just how simple it is to make your favorite foods a little healthier without losing any flavor. Serve your dish with baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries for a healthy and delicious update of traditional meatloaf and potatoes.
Turkey Meatloaf with Tomato Relish
Yield: 6-8 servings
Tomato Relish Ingredients:
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and finely diced
2 tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 12-oz bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
¼ cup whole milk
2 ½ pounds ground turkey
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 bacon slices
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.
Place the torn white bread in a bowl and add the milk to just barely cover, swish the bread around in the milk and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf together.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey with 1-1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the soaked bread to the meat mixture. To test, fry a small “hamburger” patty of the meatloaf until cooked; the patty should hold together but still have a soft consistency. Taste the patty for seasoning.
Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Transfer the meat mixture to the center of the cookie sheet and form into a log about 9 inches long and about 4 inches wide. Coat the top of the meatloaf with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the bacon across the top lengthwise.
Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it’s baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side.
This recipe is brought to you by Alexia Foods and Tyler Florence. Visit AlexiaFoods.com for more healthy recipes and transform an everyday meal into something extraordinary using Alexia’s wide selection of gourmet frozen foods and frozen appetizers.