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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

                      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 January 17, 2019

                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                      In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                      Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                      Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                      Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                      Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                      The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                      There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                      How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                      According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                      Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                      Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                      The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                      Listen carefully:

                      We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                      The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                      Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                      8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                      There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                      Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                      1. Pray Daily

                      You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                      When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                      Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                      Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                      2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                      A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                      By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                      Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                      If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                      This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                      How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                      3. Smile Often

                      Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                      Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                      Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                      The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                      4. Organize Your Working Desk

                      A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                      When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                      Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                      Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                      5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                      I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                      Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                      What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                      6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                      God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                      I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                      I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                      7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                      You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                      How do you do that? This is my formula:

                      First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                      If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                      If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                      If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                      Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                      8. Go Exercise

                      Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                      The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                      You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                      12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                      The Bottom Line

                      It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                      It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                      Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                      More Resources About Mindfulness

                      Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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