Simple Substitutions

9 Jan

As everyone kicks off their New Years resolutions with a healthy diet and exercise plan, many fail within the first few weeks as they tend to go too extreme with their new plans.

Overnight they go from eating 3500 calories a day and no exercise to 1200 calories and 5 days a week at the gym. No one can keep up with that type of drastic change when it happens so quickly. Besides, then it turns into a diet, not a lifestyle change. A diet has a definite end point, changing your lifestyle is permanent.

Trainer Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser once said if you want to lose weight, make 5 small changes. It’s true, a big change starts with small steps. So, instead of making very drastic, overnight changes to your life, do some small, simple substitutions instead.

One thing I’ve learned very, very recently is that Greek yogurt makes a fantastic substitute for sour cream and heavy cream when used in cooking sauces. I had a recipe from Rocco Di Spirito for Penne With Vodka Cream Sauce that contained neither vodka nor cream. Instead he substituted those ingredients with Greek yogurt. It tasted fabulous—not like some of that cardboard fat free stuff out there and it was only 316 calories per serving instead of 655.

After having success with that recipe, I decided to try it on my own. The other night, I got home from work late and needed something quick and easy to make. I love hamburger stroganoff, and it’s super easy. Unfortunately it’s fairly bad for you because it takes an entire container of sour cream. So I used 93% lean ground beef (120 calories for 3 oz), 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup and 1 container of Greek yogurt instead. I seasoned with onion and garlic, and I honestly could not tell the difference from the old recipe. I saved hundreds of calories with this simple substitution, but didn’t sacrifice flavor.

Lots of baking recipes call for apple sauce instead of the same amount of butter or eggs. You can’t tell the difference, but it tastes great. Try using whole wheat bread or pasta instead of white. Saves a few calories.

Changing your life to be healthier doesn’t mean having to give up your favorite foods or eating fat free cardboard the rest of your life. Small changes and substitutions are the key.

If you have any healthy substitutions you’d like to share, please comment. I’m always interested in how to make recipes healthier, but not taste like they’re healthy. 🙂

2 Responses to “Simple Substitutions”

  1. blackhuff January 11, 2011 at 2:40 AM #

    Instead of browning onions or mushrooms with a bit of oil (any oil), I use water to cook them soft and then after the water have gone, they brown in their own juices which is left in the pan.
    In sauces that call for cream, (Greek yogurt is great but sometimes I don’t have that in the house), I use low fat milk as the substitute and it taste just as good.
    Instead of mayonaise or magerine/butter on bread or in salads, I use plain cottage cheese.

  2. Noel D. January 11, 2011 at 5:32 AM #

    Great tips, thanks! I use non-stick cooking spray a lot to sautee veggies too.

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