Cooking for Weight Loss: My Favourite Swaps

You can substitute all of the bad foods with these healthy alternatives.I enjoy trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. For me, making meals at home is necessary for a healthy diet. It’s always good to be able to control the oil, butter and portion size. Not only does eating in and packing a lunch every day save calories, it saves a lot of money, too. A win-win!

Cooking can be intimidating for some, especially those trying to lose weight or eat a bit cleaner. However, with a few simple swaps, you can make tasty, filling meals that will fit within your personal eating plan. Here are some of my favourite swaps to help clean up your recipes.

1. Beans for Meat

For some folks, wandering down the road of vegetarianism can be a bit tricky. In many dishes, the meat source can seamlessly be subbed for a bean or other protein source.

Beef enchiladas become black bean and brown rice enchiladas. Spaghetti and turkey meatballs become whole-grain penne and white beans. Chicken fried rice becomes tofu stir-fry.

Honestly, folks – it’s THAT easy. The amount of fat and calories you remove, not to mention the amount of fibre you add, makes this swap number one in my book. Have a dish in mind where you want to sub out the meat? Email me for suggestions!

2. Hummus for Salad Dressing

This swap might seem like a stretch for non-hummus believers, but trust me it works. I often sub mustard or salsa for salad dressing when dining out or when healthy options are non-existent. I also use hummus as dressing which I pack a salad for work, for one very practical reason – the hummus will sit on top of the veggies for several hours without wilting the lettuce, such as a dressing would.

Outside of its practical uses, it’s absolutely delicious, makes for a very creamy topping and is low-calorie, approximately 30-60 calories for 2 tablespoons. Purchase a flavoured variety (I love roasted vegetable and roasted red pepper) for extra pizzazz!

3. Heat for Fat

Here’s a little secret from me to you.

  • Meat and dairy contain fat.
  • Fat makes dishes taste good.
  • Fat makes people happy.

When you remove fat from any recipe, you lose that special little something that lulls people into food comas.

I’m not immune to this phenomenon. When I’m feeling like I need something, the husband rushes out to bring me vanilla frozen custard with hot fudge and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. And suddenly, I’m purring with animal fat-induced food coma satisfaction!

Once you pull out the beef and cheese and butter, what do you have left in your arsenal? Spice! When cooking vegetarian, and especially when cooking vegan, you must remember to season every component and even kick it up a notch to disguise your low-fat dish.

Some of my favourite ways to replace fat include:

  • Fresh herbs & spices: garlic, basil, dill, red pepper flakes
  • Hot sauce: cayenne, buffalo, sriracha
  • Pickled vegetables: jalapenos, giardiniera, pickles, etc.

I’m headed into the kitchen tomorrow night to try a new Pasta Primavera recipe – can’t wait to share it with you!

Tell me – what are your favourite healthy swaps in the kitchen?

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