Did you resolve to make better choices in food and beverages this year? Sticking to that goal is easier than you might think as long as you take small individual steps rather than trying to drastically change your diet all at once. Check out these 10 easy ways to eat healthier, which swap out more nutritious choices in everything from sandwiches to soda.
Use Avocado Instead of Mayo
Keep avocados handy for a dose of healthy fats, and mash up a little bit for a tasty sandwich spread that can take the place of butter on your morning toast or mayo on your lunch. Natasha’s Kitchen has a simple recipe for open-faced avocado sandwiches that could give you some ideas of your own. While avocado is certainly rich in fats, two tablespoons has just 50 calories compared to over 100 in the same amount of mayonnaise or 200 in butter.
Switch to Stevia in Your Coffee and Tea
That spoonful of sugar you put in every cup of coffee or tea adds up quickly over the course of a day and can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, causing a crash later on. Try a calorie-free natural sweetener like stevia, which is plant-derived and far sweeter than sugar (so you can use a lot less of it.) Or, just get used to drinking your coffee black. A bit of a spice like cinnamon can also add flavor without adding calories.
Trade Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream
Plain greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream in virtually any recipe or dish, from taco and baked potato toppings to creamy soups. A single cup has up to 20 grams of protein, giving it a lot more nutritional power. It also works as a great substitute for most or all of the mayo called for in many recipes, like veggie dips.
Make Soups and Sauces Creamy with Cashews
Blend up raw unsalted cashews in a food processor and use them in place of dairy to make soups creamy for a healthier form of fat with a bit of extra protein. Try it in this butternut squash soup recipe from the New York Times, or any other soup that calls for the addition of heavy cream.
Whole Fruits Instead of Juice
While juicing certainly has its benefits, if you don’t have a juicer of your own, you’re probably better off eating whole fruits than purchasing pre-made, store-bought juices, which typically have a lot of added sugar. Certain types of fruits, like mango, pineapple and apples, are also naturally packed with sugar; getting the fiber from these fruits in whole form will give you more satisfaction and health benefits.
Vegetable Slices in Place of Crackers
Try using slices of crisp vegetables, like zucchini, carrots, cucumber and beets instead of crackers for appetizers. Good Dinner Mom has a quick, simple and healthy idea that spreads herbed cream cheese on top of cucumbers.
Make Your Own Soda with Sparkling Water
We’re all aware that soda is full of empty calories, but sometimes you just want a sweet and fizzy beverage. Try making your own natural sodas using sparkling water, fresh fruit and honey – or concoct some of your own flavored syrups. Bon Appetit has four healthy recipes, and you can find 5 more at Naturally Savvy.
Try Veggie Noodles Instead of Pasta
Popularized by the recent ‘paleo diet’ craze, veggie noodles eliminate lots of carbs and calories and add extra nutrition when they’re used in place of conventional pasta. You can find ‘veggie spiralizers’ on Amazon and at houseware retailers that make it easy to turn a whole zucchini into a bowl of noodles within minutes. Try Paleo Cupboard’s zucchini noodles with avocado cream sauce.
Make Frozen Fruit-Based Desserts
Make your own healthy ice cream with just one ingredient – no need for an ice cream machine! Frozen bananas can easily be blended into a creamy treat that tastes far more decadent than it really is. Try mixing in cocoa powder, nutmeg, vanilla or additional fruits to add more flavor. Frozen grapes make a great treat, too.
Use Cauliflower in Place of Potatoes
Cauliflower is very low in calories and carbohydrates but more filling than you might expect, with a mild flavor, making it a great stand-in for potatoes. Try cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’ or bacon-cheddar cauliflower chowder.