Sunday, January 27, 2013

5 Healthy Food Alternatives

So I'll admit it. I have very little self control when it comes to food. While I like a lot of healthy foods, I also don't deprive myself of things that aren't all that great for me. I mean, my first food post ever on this site was fat week mac and cheese. I think that says it all.

My best way of trying to eat healthy while still eating what I want has been to cook those food I want, just with healthier ingredients. It is easier than you might think. For example, whole wheat pasta and low fat cheese don't taste all that much different than regular pasta and cheese. And it doesn't even stop there. Below, with the help of my nutritionist friend, Jessica, I have compiled 5 of my favorite healthy food alternatives.

All of these alternatives have been Joseph tested and approved :)

Almond Butter

I often use almond butter as a substitute for normal peanut butter. While peanut butter is actually more healthy than people give it credit, almond butter is higher in healthy fats and minerals than peanut butter. Also, since almond butter is less popular, and therefore less mass produced than peanut butter, it is often made with less preservatives and additives than store bough peanut butters. It also is good for your heart, has plenty of antioxidants (good for anti-aging), and helps to lower your blood pressure. While it doesn't taste exactly like peanut butter, it is pretty close.

Spaghetti Squash

Like my new found obsession with brussels sprouts, I've recently fallen in love with squash. If cooked the right way, it is delicious. Spaghetti squash is my favorite. Once it is cooked, you cut it in half and scrape the insides out with a fork, and it looks like spaghetti. I'm not going to lie and say it taste exactly like spaghetti, but it is still yummy, and the health benefits outweigh the slight difference in taste. Spaghetti squash is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and is much lower in carbs than spaghetti. It is also much lower in calories. So if you're on a diet, but are really craving spaghetti or some other type of pasta, reach for the spaghetti squash instead.


Ok. I know what you're thinking. Tofu is so bland. Why would I want to eat it? I used to think this way too, but once I started cooking with it I realized that, if cooked the right way, tofu can actually be really good. So much in fact, that I even started eating it smoked on top of my salads from The Mixx. My love of tofu started when I got the hungry girl boxed set of recipes from my mother a few years ago.

These recipes are low fat alternative recipes for high fat foods, and hungry girl often uses tofu as an alternative for meat. Since tofu is so bland, it can be seasoned to taste like whatever kind of food you want. You can even buy tofu now that is crumbled like ground beef or shaped like pasta noodles. It can be super yummy, and is so good for you! Not only is it high in protein, it is high in vitamins, minerals, and calcium, and much lower in calories than meat. It is also low in sodium and fat. Tofu's health benefits include improving bone health, heart health, higher energy, and aids in weight loss. It is definitely worth at least trying.

Greek Yogurt

I admit I jumped on the greek yogurt train as soon as it became popular a few years ago. To this day, the Fage single size greek yogurt with honey is one of my favorite snacks. It wasn't until I bought Rocco Dispirito's "Now Eat This" Cookbook did I see greek yogurt's full potential. It can be used in pastas and dips in place of cream and sour cream, as well as many other things. It is very versatile, and makes the normally high fat recipes much lower in calories! It is also high in protein and calcium, and can aid in weight loss.

Grapeseed Oil

Last, but not least, we have grape-seed oil as an alternative for olive oil. While olive oil may be considered healthy cooking already, grapeseed oil is even better. Grapeseed oil is higher in good fats, and has a higher smoke point than olive oil. It is also known to aid in cancer prevention, helps to lower blood pressure, and helps prevent Alzheimer's Disease. While I've read that it tastes different than olive oil, I've never noticed a difference when I've cooked with it. Plus, it is made with the same grapes as wine, which for some reason seemed important :)

Here are some recipes to get you started:

Almond Butter:
Almond Butter Banana Nut Muffins
Chicken Cutles With Almond Butter Sauce

Spaghetti Squash
Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats with Grilled Chicken
Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash
Roasted Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

Cheesy "Beefy" Supreme Wrap
Tofu, Edamame, and Soju
Guilt Free Southwest Shrimp Fettuccini
Turbo Tofu Stir-Fry

Greek Yogurt:
Green Monster Smoothy
Chicken Gyros
Fettuccine Alfredo
Penne alla Vodka

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