Healthy Ingredients to Substitute

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating boring. You can stick to a healthy diet and still eat many of your favorite foods. The key is to substitute the ingredients that add extra fat, calories and cholesterol to your favorites. Use these substitutions to create healthy versions of your favorites.

The more expensive the beef, the fattier it is. Ribeye, NY strip and porterhouse get their tenderness and flavor from the extra fat in those cuts. Sirloin, flank and skirt steak have less fat, cost less and taste delicious with slower cooking times. Marinate these cuts of beef or add small pieces to stir frys for healthy beef in your meal.

With ground beef, the more expensive, the less fat. Ground beef is the cheapest and fattiest. Ground chuck is the middle-grade choice, with ground round and ground sirloin the leanest. Look at the labels on ground beef packages to choose the leanest available.

Chicken and turkey are healthy, high-protein alternatives to beef, but stick with the breast meat for the least fat. If you’ve never tried ground turkey, but some shin-guards and try a pound — you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner. Ground turkey is sweet, meaty and delicious and makes awesome burgers kids and adults love. You can use also use it for meatballs, tacos, spaghetti sauce and any other dish you make with ground beef.

Buy low-fat and fat-free versions of the following:

•Sour cream
•Ice cream

Low-Fat Mayo
Ordering a Whopper without mayo cuts the fat content by 45%, the calories by 25% the cholesterol by almost 20% and the sodium by 15%, according to the nutrition information at Burger King’s website. New dietary information reveals that cholesterol and even saturated fat aren’t the bad guys they once were, but reducing these ingredients can cut calories and problems with too much fat intake.

Mayo makes sandwiches moist and chicken, tuna and egg salads creamy, so it’s an important ingredient to find a substitute for. Use a low-fat version and add spices to make up for the lost fat flavor. Curry powder is a a great addition to chicken, tuna and egg salad.

Margarine is not a healthy substitute for butter. Butter contains saturated fat, while margarine has trans fat — the really bad fat. (Turns out even saturated fat, in moderation, is not the bad guy as much as we thought). Look for butter substitutes that have little or no saturated and trans fats. Cook with a monounsaturated cooking oil like olive, safflower, canola or peanut oil.

For a great garlic bread, roast cloves of garlic, then mash them with some olive oil and spread on a crusty, whole-grain bread.

Eggs are a great source of protein and provide other helpful nutrients. Because we now know that dietary cholesterol doesn’t contribute to heart disease, you don’t need to limit your intake to a few eggs each week anymore.

Dice up onions, green and red peppers and tomatoes and add them to your scrambles or omelettes with some low-fat cheese or fat-free sour cream. Crumble in some turkey bacon. Use olive oil to cook the dish.

For a quick, healthy breakfast souffle, crack one egg into a coffee cup, add a dash of skim milk and salt and pepper to taste. Put the cup in the microwave for 45 seconds, remove and fluff. Put it back in the microwave for another 30-45 seconds and you’ve got a quick, delicious breakfast that uses no cooking oil. Dice up some veggies the night before if you want a heartier, healthier dish.

Tuna is a rich source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Canned or fresh, tuna is a healthy alternative to beef or fish like tilapia and catfish, which have lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and higher amounts of potentially unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids.

Add tuna to spaghetti sauce instead of ground beef — you’ll be surprised how well is complements tomato sauce. Serve small tuna steaks you broil or grill, rather than bread and fry.

Nuts are fat-dense, depending on which you choose. But the fats come from healthy sources, and a little goes a long way. Add crushed nuts to salads instead of croutons. Peanuts add crunch to a veggie stir fry and slice almonds go great with a light chicken salad.

Additional References

American Heart Association: Smart Substitutions for Healthy Cooking