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Guilt-Free Comfort Food Is Real With These Healthier Cooking Substitutions!

Guilt-Free Comfort Food Is Real With These Healthier Cooking Substitutions!

Do you ever wish you could get in shape without having to give up your favorite foods?

If diets allowed pizza, cookies, and brownies, losing weight and flaunting a toned body would be so easy, right?Unfortunately, when you try to get in shape, these foods are immediately forbidden.Ice cream, cake, fries, milkshakes and many comfort foods are off the menu and branded as evil.

It’s not easy when you are on a diet and your coworkers start sharing donuts around the office. It’s almost torture when you’re out for dinner with friends and you can only pick a handful of things on the menu, while everyone else can eat anything they like.

If you do indulge in a cookie or a slice of pizza, you think you “slip up” and feel guilty and disappointed in yourself.You don’t deserve to feel that way.

What if you could reach your fitness goals and still enjoy your favorite foods?

Have your cake and eat it too (Literally!)

The reason most diets fail is the majority of them are boring and hard to maintain.

Any diet that restricts the foods we love is destined to fail.

The solution? Find healthier ways to eat your favorite foods. It’s possible and easy.

Swap unhealthy ingredients

Did you know you can replace the unhealthy ingredients in your favorite foods with healthier ones and still enjoy the same tasty flavor?

When you identify the unhealthy parts in your food, you can swap them for healthier substitutions to create diet-friendly meals.

For example:

  • Pizza: Replace the refined flour in the base.
  • Brownie: Replace the sugar and oil.
  • Pancake: Replace the refined flour and sugar.
  • Fries: Replace the refined oil and excess salt.

If you get in the habit of swapping the unhealthy ingredients in your food for healthier ones, you’ll be able to make better choices, transform the way you eat and enjoy your favorite foods without guilt, all while hitting your weight-loss and fitness goals.

Healthy substitutions

Below you’ll find healthy cooking substitutions that will let you enjoy your favorite foods with half the calories.

These healthy swaps will increase the nutritional value of your food and reduce extra calories while maintaining the flavor and texture you love.

1. Chia Seed Gel Instead of Eggs and Oil

Chia seeds are nutritious Aztec seeds full of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They’re a fantastic egg or oil replacer in cakes, pancakes, cupcakes, cookies and most baked goods.

When you combine chia seeds with water, you get chia seed gel, a gelatinous mixture that works as a binder (like eggs) or to provide moisture and fat (like oil).

You can also combine chia seeds and plant milk to make a chia seed pudding that you can enjoy on its own.

In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 25% of the oil or egg in a cake could be replaced with chia seed gel without altering the flavor or texture. The cake with chia gel had more omega-3, less fat, and fewer calories. [1]

Pros:

  • Lower calories.
  • Reduces unhealthy fat.
  • Adds omega 3.
  • Adds fiber.
  • Doesn’t change the flavor.

Cons:

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  • Replacing more than 50% of oil or eggs with chia seed gel could alter the flavor of cakes.
  • It can’t be used for egg-based dishes like quiche.

How to make chia gel:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of chia seeds
  • 2 cups of water

Method: Mix the chia seeds with the water in a jar or glass container and store in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Alternative method: Make one chia egg by mixing 1 tbsp of chia seeds in 3 tbsp of water. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Substitution: 1 egg = 1 tbsp of chia seeds + 3 tbps of water = 1/4 cup of chia gel.

Use chia to make this key lime chia seed pudding:

    2. Avocado Instead Of Oil or Butter

    Avocado is a source of healthy fats that can upgrade almost any recipe that calls for butter or oil. Because of its rich and creamy texture, it can be used to replace oil or butter in brownies, pancakes, puddings, and mousses.

    Both oil and butter might contain trans fats, but avocado contains monounsaturated fat, a beneficial type of fat with heart health benefits.

    Pros:

    • Adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fats [2].
    • Provides pantothenic acid.
    • Contains fiber.
    • Adds vitamin C, K and E.
    • The flavor masks well.
    • The texture is really close to butter.
    • Great for rich and decadent desserts.

    Cons:

    • It could change the color of the batter (green pancakes, waffles, cookies).
    • Not the best choice for airy and light desserts.

    Substitution: 1 cup of butter/oil = 1 cup of mashed avocado.

    Use avocado in this fudgy avocado brownie recipe:

      3. Banana And Oats Instead Of Sugar and Flour

      You won’t need refined sugar or flour as long as you have bananas and oats in your pantry.

      Bananas are a natural sweetener, so they’re perfect for smoothies, pancakes, brownies, cookies, bars, and most recipes that call for sugar. Unlike regular sugar, bananas contain fiber, which helps to keep your blood sugar stable.

      Oat flour is a fiber-rich gluten-free flour alternative. Unlike processed wheat, oats are a complex carbohydrate with a high fiber content and heart health benefits. To make oat flour, blend 2 cups of rolled oats until you get a fine powder.

      Pros:

      • Bananas provide nutrients like vitamin B6, manganese and potassium. [3]
      • Bananas can be used in almost any recipe.
      • Oats are heart-healthy.
      • The fiber in oats helps to stabilize blood sugar.

      Cons:

      • Oat flour is denser than other healthy flours.
      • Some recipes, like pizza crust, require lighter flours.

      Substitution:

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      1 cup of sugar = 1 cup of mashed bananas.

      1 cup of all-purpose flour =1 cup of oat flour.

      Try these banana oat pancakes:

        4. Baked Sweet Potato Fries Instead of Regular Fries

        Swap regular fries with baked sweet potato fries. They’re just as good! Sweet potatoes have less carbs, less calories, more fiber, and just one cup provides 214% DV of vitamin A.

        Baking the sweet potatoes instead of frying reduces the fat content. What’s not to love about this smart substitution?

        Tip: If salted, use sea salt instead of table salt.

        Pros:

        • Provides vitamin A, manganese, copper, and vitamin C.
        • Contains less carbs and calories.
        • Improves blood sugar regulation.
        • Baking reduces fat content.

        Cons:

        • Sweet potatoes are still high in carbs, so enjoy in moderation.

        Try this delish sweet potato fries recipe:

          5. Cauliflower Pizza Base Instead of Regular Pizza Crust

          Cauliflower can be used in many low-carb recipes, including pizza. It’s low in calories, carbs, and provides vitamins C, K, and folate.

          A cauliflower pizza crust helps to regulate your blood sugar levels because it has fewer carbs and more fiber than a regular flour crust.

          Pros:

          • Low-carb.
          • Provides vitamin C and other vitamins.
          • Provides more fiber.
          • Contains antioxidant properties.
          • Easily masked flavor.

          Cons:

          • The crust is thinner and crispier than regular pizza crust, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

          Try this cauliflower crust recipe:

            6. Zucchini Noodles Instead of Regular Pasta

            If you love pasta, zucchini is your new best friend. Spiralized zucchini makes an excellent low carb pasta you can enjoy without guilt.

            Zucchini is rich in manganese, riboflavin, vitamin C, and has anti-inflammatory properties [4].

            Add your favorite marinara sauce to it and you have a nourishing dinner.

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            Pros:

            • Low carb.
            • Low in calories.
            • Anti-inflamatory.
            • Rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, and manganese.
            • Mild flavor.

            Cons:

            • Be careful when cooking zucchini. If you cook it for too long, it will get soggy because of its high water content.

            How to make zucchini noodles:

            1. Clean your zucchini.

            2. Using a spiralizer, spiralize your zucchini to form noodles.

            3. Heat a pan over medium heat.

            4. Once hot, add a bit olive oil.

            5. Once your oil is hot, add the zucchini noodles and saute for 3-5 minutes.

            6. Make sure to stop cooking when the noodles are still firm. If you wait too long, they will get soggy.

            Try this zucchini pasta:

              7. Nicecream Instead of Ice Cream

              Nicecream – or banana ice cream – has only one ingredient: frozen bananas. When you freeze bananas and blend them in a food processor, you get a creamy and fluffy dairy-free ice cream (just like magic).

              While ice cream is high in sugar and fat, nicecream is naturally low in fat and contains vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.

              Pros:

              • It only requires one ingredient.
              • Low fat.
              • Naturally sweetened.
              • Rich in vitamins and minerals.
              • Easy to make.

              Cons:

              • Enjoy in moderation, because bananas are one of the sweetest fruits.

              How to make basic nicecream:

              Ingredients:

              • 2 frozen bananas
              • Optional: coconut oil, vanilla essence, or soaked cashews.

              Method: Blend the bananas in the food processor until smooth. Serve immediately and enjoy.

              Try this 5-ingredient nicecream recipe:

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                8. Fruit Compote Instead of Syrup

                Next time you make pancakes, top them with homemade fruit compote instead of store-bought syrup.

                Commercial syrup is packed with refined sugar, corn syrup, flavorings, and colorants. Fruit compote is made with fresh fruits and limited amounts of healthier sweeteners.

                Tip: Start by making berry compotes. A strawberry compote is perfectly sweet and fresh. You’ll love it.

                Pros:

                • Made with fresh fruits (strawberries, blueberries, mango, peach, etc).
                • Healthier sweeteners.
                • Customizable.
                • Contains the vitamins and minerals of the fruits you choose.

                Cons:

                • None.

                Try this berry compote:

                  9. Oats Instead of Breadcrumbs

                  Again, oats save the day and cut calories in recipes calling for breadcrumbs.

                  Breadcrumbs are high in carbs, calories, and low in fiber, while oats provide more fiber and contain fewer calories.

                  Before using your oats, pulse them for a few seconds in the blender to make them less coarse and more similar to breadcrumbs.

                  Pros:

                  • High in fiber.
                  • Less calories.
                  • Less carbs.
                  • Heart-healthy.
                  • Helps to regulate blood sugar.

                  Cons:

                  • Oats might not be suitable for fried recipes because they’re more chewy than crispy.

                  Try this vegan meatball recipe that uses oats instead of breadcrumbs:

                    10. Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour cream

                    Greek yogurt is a perfect substitute for sour cream in muffins, cakes, dips, and many baked goods. It dramatically reduces the fat content of your foods while keeping all the flavor.

                    Just one cup of sour cream contains 45g of fat. Meanwhile, 1 container of greek yogurt contains only 0.7g of fat [5].

                    Greek yogurt also contains probiotics that help keep your gut microflora healthy.

                    Pros:

                    • Low fat.
                    • Low sugar.
                    • Contains probiotics.
                    • Contains protein.

                    Cons:

                    • Greek yogurt is tangier than sour cream, so you’ll need to adjust the flavors of dips and non-baked foods accordingly.

                    Try these blueberry muffins with greek yogurt:

                      Reference

                      [1] The National Center of Biotechnology Information : Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as egg or oil replacer in cake formulations.
                      [2] The World’s Healthiest Foods: Avocados
                      [3] The World’s Healthiest Foods: Bananas
                      [4] Dr. Axe: Zucchini Nutrition
                      [5] Two Foods: Greek Yogurt vs Sour Cream

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                      Brenda Godinez

                      Health writer, blogger & food photographer

                      Guilt-Free Comfort Food Is Real With These Healthier Cooking Substitutions!

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                      Last Updated on November 9, 2020

                      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                      Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

                      Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

                      Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

                      If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

                      Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

                      1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

                      Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

                      Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

                      Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

                      2. No Motivation

                      Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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                      This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

                      If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

                      3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

                      Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

                      A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

                      A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

                      The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

                      4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

                      One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

                      We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

                      Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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                      You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

                      5. Upward Comparisons

                      Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

                      The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

                      These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

                      Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

                      6. No Alternative

                      This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

                      Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

                      Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

                      Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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                      7. Stress

                      As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

                      When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

                      We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

                      If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

                      8. Sense of Failure

                      People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

                      Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

                      Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

                      If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

                      9. The Need to Be All-New

                      People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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                      These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

                      10. Force of Habit

                      Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

                      Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

                      These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

                      Final Thoughts

                      These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

                      There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

                      More on Breaking Bad Habits

                      Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
                      [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
                      [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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