Healthy Little Food Swaps that Taste so Good

Healthy Little Food Swaps that Taste so Good

We could probably all stand to eat a little more healthfully, but traditional nutrition swaps are kind of a bummer (no, rice cakes are not an acceptable substitute for rice pudding, thank you very much). And, really, the key to sustainably cleaning up your diet is adding in more healthy foods that you actually enjoy eating. Try these delicious food swaps.

1. Swap coconut water for juice.

“Plain coconut water has electrolytes, including potassium, and a lot less natural sugar than fruit juice,” says Sharon Collison, RD, a clinical instructor of nutrition at the University of Delaware. To compare, a cup of coconut water has 9 grams of the sweet stuff, while a cup of apple juice has 25.

2. Swap a BLAT for a Cobb salad.

A Cobb salad is always a colorful riot of flavor and texture, but by the time you’ve eaten the eggs, bacon, chicken, avocado, blue cheese and creamy dressing, you’ve gone way beyond a healthy limit of saturated fat. Here’s a surprise: You can get a similar flavor combination by switching to a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) sandwich on whole-wheat bread. Consider it a health win. Not only will you consume a more balanced amount of fat and protein, but you’ll also be more satiated.

Try: Experimenting with arugula or watercress in place of lettuce for a peppery kick.

3. Swap ground bison for ground beef.

Compared with 80%-lean beef, bison meat contains less total fat and saturated fat, and it even has a few extra grams of protein per patty.

4. Swap pepitas for croutons.

Croutons might be your favorite way to add crunch to your salads, but you’re mostly topping your veggies with a bunch of refined carbs and oil. How to get the same satisfying texture without the nutritional drawbacks? Look no further than pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds). “Pepitas are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and ounce for ounce they have as much protein as meat,” says Collison.

5. Swap corn tortillas for flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas have fewer calories than flour tortillas and are lower in total fat and saturated fat. “They’re also high in fiber, which can help balance blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full while lowering cholesterol,” says nutritionist Beth Warren, RD, author of “Living a Real Life with Real Food.” Plus, they taste rich in corn flavor and have a satisfying bite.

Try: Using corn tortillas to make quesadillas or baked tortilla chips.

6. Swap tahini for mayonnaise.

Instead of reaching for mayo, get creaminess and flavor punch with a spread of tahini — a paste, made from ground sesame seeds, that you can find in the grocery store. “Tahini has fiber, calcium, magnesium and protein and is a great source of healthy, monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol,” says Warren.

Try: Spicing up tahini with minced chiles and/or herbs and using it as a spread.

(Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at