Tuesday, January 22, 2013

3 simple swaps to clean up your diet (part 1)

In my last [extremely long] post, I told you about two new series that I would be starting here at The New Healthy. So here is the first installment of simple swaps to clean up your diet!

When it comes to food, I am all about simplicity. You know those recipes that contain 1,000 obscure ingredients and 85 steps? Regardless of how delicious the final product sounds, those are just not for me.

The awesome thing about eating clean is that you can just take it back to basics. All of those wonderful super foods found in the produce aisle? Those are one ingredient wonders.

So in the spirit of getting back to the basics, I am going to share some simple swaps to clean up your kitchen and ultimately your diet.

I’m sure you these simple swaps are not new to many of you - but a little reminder never hurts, right?

Here we go!

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You are making a sandwich, what’s the first condiment you reach for? If you said mayonnaise, then this swap is for you!

Drop it – full fat Mayonnaise

Stock it – fresh avocado or Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie packs

Fresh avocado is chock full of fiber, potassium, vitamins, and healthy fats! And wholly guacamole snack packs are one of my kitchen must-haves these days. While I prefer fresh avocado, these packs are amazingly simple to grab-and-go!

So swap out mayo for a thick layer of creamy avocado, a dash of freshly ground salt and pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lime. You won’t be sacrificing creaminess or flavor with this smart swap!

Tip: to preserve fresh avocado - leave in the pit, squeeze a bit of lemon over the green flesh, and store in an airtight glass container (I used old salsa jars). Works like a charm.

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Next up? Let’s talk French fries. So, I’ll be the first to admit that they’re delicious. BUT (and this is a big but) – they’re loaded with trans-fats and a crazy amount of calories.

Plus, they might taste good for a few moments, but do you ever feel good after consuming them? I definitely don’t.

Now, we don’t have to cut out fries completely. Let’s just clean them up! Why not do your body a favor and swap out traditional fries for those of the baked variety? Personally, I prefer baked sweet potato fries – but any type of potato will work!

Drop it – French fries

  Food Differring Meal French Fries

Stock it – Baked Sweet Potato Fries

DSC04922

For these fries, I spiralized three huge potatoes and then tossed them in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Finally, I baked them at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes until they were nice and crispy. For me, crispier equals better.

If you don’t have a spiralizer, simply cut the potatoes to your desired size and shape. You can make circular chips, potato wedges, or traditional skinny fries. If you’re short on time, chips are the way to go!

An alternative? Toss your homemade fries in coconut oil, cinnamon, and a dash of sea salt. Yum!

Want your fries sweet n’ spicy? Add cayenne and a bit of stevia to the mix! Fresh and clean? Add lemon juice and chopped fresh basil for a unique treat. Check out your spice cabinet for endless flavor variation.

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Drop it – Artificially Sweetened Diet Soda (and other beverages)

How many times have you been told that diet soda is the smart choice? No calories, no fat, no sugar – sounds kind of legit, right? Well, that is until you consider the myriad of chemicals that have replaced the calories and sugar. Artificial sweeteners, artificial colors…artificial everything!

I used to drink diet pop ALL THE TIME. I just assumed that it was better for me than the sugar-laden regular pop. Yes, it tastes good. But no, despite some great marketing campaigns that say otherwise, it’s not a good choice. Ever.

One study (Fowler et al., 2008) found that those who consume artificially sweetened diet soda (compared to those who do not) over a 7-8 year period had nearly double the risk of being overweight/obese. This was merely an association so causality can’t be determined. However, consuming diet soda regularly over an extended length of time may put even normal-weight individuals at risk for weight gain.

So why not, swap out that diet soda for naturally flavored drinks?

Stock it – flavored water (cucumber slices, lemon, lime, etc.)

At the beginning of the day, fill a large pitcher with filtered water and fresh lime/lemon/orange slices! Sip on that throughout the day rather than reaching for an artificially sweetened soda.

I also like to have a pitcher of chilled iced tea in the refrigerator when water isn’t cutting it and I need a little sweetness.

green tea lemonade

Try this low calorie iced green tea lemonade {click for recipe}!

So there you go – SWAP mayo for avocado; FORGET about traditional French fries and BAKE some sweet potato fries; lastly, SKIP the artificially sweetened drinks and SIP some naturally flavored water or iced tea instead!

I already have some more simple swaps in mind – so if you liked this post, be sure to check back for the next installment. :)

-Stefanie

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References

Fowler, S. P., Williams, K., Resendez, R. G., Hunt, K. J., Hazuda, H. P., & Stern, M. P.(2008). Fueling the Obesity Epidemic: Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long term Weight Gain. Obesity, 16(8), 1894-1900.

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