One of the gateways that can impede making major dietary changes is comfort. We enjoy eating because it’s a pleasurable experience, and the idea of depriving ourselves of the foods we love seems untenable and more than a little intimidating.
But it’s easier to make positive changes to your diet than you might think. In fact, you can continue to enjoy the foods you love and eat healthier fairly easily. All it takes is some creativity when it comes to ingredients.
Rich in fiber and antioxidants, cauliflower is a great vegetable for quick snacking. Brianna Elliot, a registered dietician writing for Healthline, notes this veggie can help promote weight loss — and that especially holds true if you can use it as a substitute in recipes.
Rice is very rich in carbohydrates. By creating cauliflower rice in a food processor, you can easily craft lower-carb versions of favorites like fried rice and casseroles. Not only does cauliflower rice have a lower caloric impact, it’s a great option if you’re on a keto diet.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile health-friendly ingredients you can use because its texture and neutral flavor lend well to a variety of dishes. Sienna Livermore, a commerce editor for Delish, notes you can use cauliflower to recreate healthier versions of dishes like mashed potatoes, tater tots, fried chicken, and even mac and cheese.
If you’re looking for a versatile ingredient in a balanced diet, Greek yogurt fits the bill. According to David Heitz of Healthline, Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein, gut-healthy probiotics, and calcium. It also makes a great substitute in several dishes.
Gina Homolka, a recipe developer writing for Skinnytaste, suggests Greek yogurt as a substitute for common ingredients like mayonnaise, heavy cream, butter, and sour cream. If the sharp, distinct flavor of Greek yogurt doesn’t appeal to you, you can use seasoning to smooth it out so it better matches the dish. Homolka also recommends using Greek yogurt to cut butter or create a healthier version of buttermilk, helping you cut down on fat.
Like to bake? Homolka also notes the usefulness of Greek yogurt in dishes like muffins, bread, and pizza crust. By mixing one part Greek yogurt and one part self-rising flour, you can enjoy a healthier take on your favorite breads and pastries.
Seasonings and condiments
One of the smartest things you can do to change your diet for the better is to be as mindful about what you’re putting on your food as what you put in it. Condiments like barbecue sauce and salad dressing are high sources of calories that can torpedo otherwise healthy foods.
To avoid sabotaging your meal, check the caloric information and serving sizes on condiments. Avoid any sauce that’s high in sugar or calories where possible. Maria Zamarripa writes for Healthline you can get your fix of flavor with healthier, lower-calorie condiments like mustard, salsa, vinegar, and natural citrus juice instead.
Salt adds a lot of flavor to dishes, but it also adds a tremendous amount of sodium. The Food and Drug Administration notes high-sodium diets can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of stroke. To avoid this, the British Heart Foundation recommends a wide array of flavorful substitutions like paprika, cayenne, rosemary, thyme, and mint.
Once you get into the habit of using healthier ingredients, you’ll realize that eating right doesn’t have to mean not eating what you want.