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Last Updated on January 12, 2018

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

                      More by this author

                      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 September 20, 2018

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                      1. Breathe

                      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                      2. Loosen up

                      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                      3. Chew slowly

                      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                      4. Let go

                      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                      It’s not. Promise.

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                      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                      5. Enjoy the journey

                      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                      6. Look at the big picture

                      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                      Will this matter to me…

                      • Next week?
                      • Next month?
                      • Next year?
                      • In 10 years?

                      Hint: No, it won’t.

                      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                      8. Practice patience every day

                      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                      Final thoughts

                      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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