Healthy substitutes for unhealthy foods


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Healthy substitutes for unhealthy foods

No matter how hard you try, the temptation to give in to that bowl of chocolate ice cream or that bite of steamy hot pizza is always there.

Junk food attacks us everywhere - in our work places, parties, malls, television shows - you name it and it's there. While completely avoiding junk food is not feasible, at the very least, you can satisfy your cravings by substituting junk foods with healthy substitutes.

Mustard instead of cheese:

Mustard is better used as a sauce or flavouring agent to salad dressings or sandwiches. About 100 grams is very low in calories at just 66 Kcal. It is rich in nutrients such as selenium, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acid. Whereas, cheese such as cheddar has approx 500 Kcal per 100 grams with almost most calories from saturated fat, no dietary fiber and fewer nutrients.

Tea instead of ice cream milkshakes:

Tea has very few calories in comparison to milkshake and has numerous health benefits. Tea leaves contain a chemical polyphenol which promotes BMR. It prevents blood clotting and slows down the process of aging. On the other hand, usually flavoured milkshakes are just a rich source of extra empty calories through carbohydrates, trans fats and preservatives.

Go for brown rice crackers or nachos instead of french fries:

Brown Rice Crackers have 120 Kcal in a 30 grams serving of 8 crackers of medium size. They are high in fiber and almost negligible fats. French Fries, on the other hand, are high in saturated fats and have almost 200 Kcal in 30 grams. They have negligible fiber and most calories come from fat which is not very healthy for regular consumption.

Go for lemonade instead of fizzy drinks:

Lemonade has the goodness of Vitamin C through lemon and the freshness of water. The calorie count is just the amount of sugar if added to lemonade. In fizzy drinks, we find numerous empty calories, loads of caffeine and almost no valuable nutrient your body may use. So, lemonade is a complete win over fizzy drinks.

Cream biscuits can be replaced by fresh fruit:

Cream biscuits even 2 (38 grams) would be an average 200 Kcal. And they are rich in carbohydrates and fats. Whereas, fresh fruits have a low calorie count hardly 100 Kcal in 38 grams of fruits such as oranges, apples and cherries. Fresh fruits have the goodness of fibers, antioxidants that prevent aging, vitamins B, C and E and minerals like calcium, magnesium and many more. They have no fat and are a treasure for our health.

Cooking healthy meals is no rocket science. Unfortunately, due to habit or lack of experimenting, we often fall into a rut with cooking methods and staple dishes.

Additionally, our tastebuds are wired a certain way and we can't go two days without craving for the very foods we need to banish from our lives. The key to moving from size 14 to size 8 lies in being able to control these cravings. Simple substitution is a great way of ensuring that you feel fulfilled with an old family favourite recipe, and yet are content in the knowledge that you're eating healthy. Here are some simple substitutions that will make meal times healthier, while giving you what you want.

Substitute cream with yogurt

Most Indian curries call for cream to thicken and enhance the spices, and flavours. But have you ever tried whole milk yogurt, or better still - skimmed yogurt? You can begin with halving the cream content and replacing the remaining half with yogurt. Then reduce the cream each time you cook the dish. Before long, your tastebuds will find the yogurt-based curries just as delicious, if not more. In fact, whether it is a healthy dessert, a quick evening snack, or a curry base, yogurt is your best friend in a healthy diet.

Substitute refined flour with whole grain flours like soy, millet, corn or barley
Whole grain comes packed with dietary fibre, protein and other essential nutrients. Begin with substituting your regular roti dough with these flours, and move on to cake batters, cookie doughs and pastas. You can even use whole wheat as a great thickening agent instead of cream or refined and processed flour.

Substitute cashew nuts with almonds

While cashew nuts are perfectly okay by themselves, they aren't as healthy as almonds. So when you add them to desserts and dishes, just replace them with soaked almonds. Several Indian recipes call for cashew nut garnishes or pastes. Cut down on the quantities, and simultaneously introduce almonds to the recipes.

Substitute ice cream with frozen and blended banana

If you've got a sweet tooth that hankers for ice cream every single day, then keep a reserve of chopped, peeled and frozen bananas in the freezer. When the craving kicks in, simple blend these frozen pieces of bananas, and add any flavour you want. The result will be a smooth, creamy, almost-ice cream like texture. You can add peanut butter, nuts, honey, cinnamon powder, even a single ice cream scoop to this dessert and satisfy your sweet craving.

Substitute mayo with butter or mustard

No ingredients substitute list is complete without this one. Due to our love for junk food, a lot of us are hooked on to the mayonnaise taste that unhealthy burgers, potato wedges and zero-nutrient sandwiches have. This worrisome association with 'fun' food and 'mayo' enter our kitchens and before long you're eating 1-2 teaspoons with store-bought mayo with every breakfast. Curb this habit by substituting mayo with butter or mustard, both perfectly healthy sandwich, burger and toast additions.

You will need to make some sacrifices on the road to fitness. But these healthy substitutes will help you realise that you really don't need to compromise on taste to get what you like on the table. And don't stop here - experiment with more foods.
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Commander's of Penmai
Apr 4, 2011
healthy alternatives to the ‘bad’ foods

Whether you want to lose weight or boost your health, there are many small changes you can make to your diet to achieve these results. To help cut out the bad stuff without compromising on taste, check out our top 10 healthy food swaps.

Porridge instead of breakfast cereals

While packaged breakfast cereals may look like a healthy option, in reality most cereals are laden with sugar. Not only does this add to the overall calories consumed, but it can lead to a mid-morning sugar slump which will have you craving more. Instead, try starting your morning with a bowl of low-GI porridge, which is not only packed with nutrients but is a good source of slow-release energy that will fill you up quicker and keep you feeling full for longer.

Pure fruit spread instead of jam and preserves

If you prefer to start your mornings with a few slices of toast, it may be worthwhile substituting jam and marmalades for a healthier spread. While most fruit jams are packed with added sugars or chemical sweeteners, pure fruit spreads are sweetened only with sugars that occur naturally in fruits. Because of this, they deliver the same sweet taste only with fewer calories and no artificial additives.

Maple syrup instead of sugar

Although all sugars are high in calories and should be consumed in moderation, if you must use a sweetening product, pure maple syrup is a healthier option than refined sugars. While refined sugars are stripped of nutrients, maple syrup is packed with minerals - including manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc - as well as antioxidants. Maple syrup also has a lower GI ranking than table sugar.

Popcorn instead of crisps

In terms of health, most crisps don't have much going for them. Not only are they high in saturated fats, calories and salt, but they have next to no nutritional value. If you find yourself craving a salty snack between meals, try swapping your crisps for a packet of plain or lightly seasoned popcorn. Not only will you be giving your body a boost of antioxidants, nutrients and fibre, you could be saving yourself around eight grams of fat and 50 calories per 25g serving.


Commander's of Penmai
Apr 4, 2011
Fruit instead of snack bars

Many people believe that cereal, fruit and nut bars are the perfect in-between meals snack. However, as with so-called healthy cereals, many of these bars are actually packed with cane sugar, corn syrup and saturated fat. In fact, cereal bars can contain as much fat, sugar and calories as a chocolate bar or a couple of biscuits. If you fancy a sweet snack between meals, reach for a piece of fruit instead and save yourself over 100 calorie

Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes

Although potatoes contain several nutrients, sweet potatoes may be a better option for those watching their weight. While potatoes are high on the glycemic index, so can lead to energy slumps and cravings, sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate with a much lower GI ranking. In addition to this, sweet potatoes are packed with minerals and vitamins including antioxidant beta-carotene. Try swapping your jacket spud for a baked sweet potato, and chips for sweet potato wedges.

Extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest oils around due to its high monounsaturated fat content and antioxidant properties. The monounsaturated fats ('good' fats) in olive oil can not only help with weight loss, but they can help control cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Try to buy olive oil in glass bottles to avoid the PCVs absorbed from plastic containers, and use in place of vegetable oil for salad dressings and low- to medium-heat cooking.

Quinoa instead of couscous

As with potatoes, there is nothing wrong with couscous in itself, however by swapping the processed grain for quinoa you could benefit from a far more nutrient-dense and waist-friendly meal. Quinoa is not only less processed, gluten-free and a good source of slow-release energy, it is a much better source of fibre and one of the best plant sources of protein. In addition to this, quinoa is packed with nutrients including iron, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.

Homemade sauces instead of jarred

Most pre-made sauces are heavily processed, packed with unnecessary sugars and salt, and contain chemical preservatives to keep them fresh. Rather than filling your cupboards with jars and bottles, try making your own sauces from chopped tomatoes, herbs, spices and a variety of fresh vegetables. Not only will you be skipping all the nasty additives and extra calories, but you will help boost your intake of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Frozen dessert instead of ice cream

Ice cream may be one of the most popular desserts around, but unfortunately the frozen treat is extremely high in sugar and fat. If you are craving dessert but want to save on calories, try swapping ice cream for a bowl of low fat frozen yoghurt. Alternatively, try a sugar-free fruit sorbet or dairy-free ice cream alternative made from oats or cashew nuts. Not only are these easier to digest, they are generally a lot purer and lower in saturated fats and refined sugars

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