Does it ever seem like a lot of healthy-eating advice is about “less,” “giving up” and “taking away?” Reducing fat and sodium intake, avoiding high-calorie foods and trimming portion sizes are commonly heard pieces of advice when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your diet. But health experts agree, good eating doesn’t just mean giving up bad habits, it’s also about adding foods with more nutritional value.
“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on making nutrition-packed swaps,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “A few easy swaps I tell my clients about include replacing white bread with whole grain, higher-fat protein sources with leaner ones, and upgrading your ordinary products like eggs or cereal with higher-nutrition varieties.”
Here are five better-for-you food swaps from Blatner that will jam-pack your diet with enhanced nutrition without making you feel like you’re giving anything up:
Instead of mayo
Try an avocado-based spread on your sandwiches and as a base for homemade dressings. A single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol and 90 milligrams of sodium, but zero potassium or fiber, according to the California Avocado Commission. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of fresh avocado have just 50 calories, 4.5 grams of (mostly good) fat, no cholesterol or sodium, and 150 milligrams of potassium and 2 grams of fiber.
Instead of any old egg
Try eggs with superior nutritional benefits. While all eggs are high in protein, Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and three times more vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs — both nutrients associated with heart health. Plus, they contain 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more vitamin D, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.
Instead of white rice
While carbohydrates are necessary to fuel your brain and muscles, many favorite sources are stripped of nutrition, such as white rice. Cauliflower can be an easy substitute for rice. This white veggie packs plenty of fiber, protein, potassium and vitamin C. To replace rice, simply pulse the cauliflower in a food processor for a few seconds until you achieve the desired consistency.
Instead of fried food
The crunch of fried food is alluring, but you can get that same crunch in a much healthier superfood way. Instead of coating chicken or fish with breading and plunging it into a bath of hot oil, use chopped nuts. Nuts contain healthy fat, protein, and fiber and when baked in a hot oven (about 400-425 degrees F), nut-coated protein is crunchy and delicious. Try nut-covered chicken fingers today!
Instead of ground beef
Americans love beef and eat about 25 billion pounds of it every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But depending on the quality and cut you buy, beef can be high in fat and cholesterol. Lentils can be a high-nutrition protein source that can go virtually anywhere you use ground beef, including burgers, meatloaf and taco filling. Naturally low in calories and fat free, lentils provide fiber, protein and potassium.
Food swaps focused on increasing healthful nutrients, rather than decreasing what you don’t want, can be rewarding and delicious. Try this recipe from Eggland’s best to get started on your new “more-is-better” lifestyle.
Sweet Potato Bowl
1 large sweet potato
2 teaspoons olive oil, separated
salt and pepper
2 Eggland' Best Eggs (large), poached
1 cup ground sausage
1/2 cup salsa
1 avocado, diced
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium/high heat and brown the ground sausage.
While the sausage cooks, fill a large pot with a few inches of water and place over medium/high heat until it just starts to simmer.
Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or cup and create a gentle whirlpool in the water.
Slowly pour the eggs one by one into the water and leave to cook for three minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
While the eggs poach, spiralize the sweet potato using a spiralizer.
Heat the other teaspoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add in the sweet potato noodles and cook until they just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the cooked sweet potato noodles into a large bowl.
Drain the ground sausage and add to the sweet potato noodles.
Toss with 1/2 cup of the salsa.
Divide the noodles and sausage between two bowls, top each with diced avocado and a poached egg!