Looking to eat healthier in the new year? If it’s easy to do and tastes delicious, you’re more likely to make those changes stick. That’s why I suggest healthy food swaps that are simple, yet still intensely flavorful. The key is to integrate healthier ingredients into meals that you already enjoy. These five healthy food swaps will help you cut calories and fat, while increasing the good stuff for your family – like protein, fiber and vitamins.
Choose Butternut Squash Instead of Sweet Potatoes
With a similar flavor, color and texture, you can easily replace sweet potatoes with butternut squash in almost any recipe. Both vegetables are chock full of healthy vitamins and minerals, but butternut squash has almost half as many calories and carbs per serving.
Try roasting butternut squash whole or mash with goat cheese for a savory side dish. Whole squash has better flavor, but the pre-cut cubes at the store are almost as good, and save you a ton of time! This healthy food swap is an easy way to reduce overall calorie intake while keeping the flavor kids love.
Sweet Potato (1 cup cubed): 114 calories, 27 g Carbs
Butternut Squash (1 cup cubed): 63 calories, 16 g Carbs
Choose Quinoa Instead of White Rice
While they may be close in calorie count, quinoa is a whole grain with more protein and fiber per serving. This means it will keep you satisfied for longer. You can swap out quinoa in most places that you would use white rice. It has a neutral flavor, which is perfect for serving with stews and stir-fries.
I also really love using it in place of rice for a pilaf. You can mix up which herbs, vegetables, and nuts to add, but one of my favorite is a Mexican version with queso fresco and fresh veggies.
Cooked Rice (1/2 cup): 103 calories, 2.2 g protein, 0.3 g fiber
Cooked Quinoa (1/2 cup): 111 calories, 4 g protein, 2.5 g fiber
Choose Avocado Instead of Mayonnaise
You can add mashed avocado almost anywhere you would normally use mayonnaise. I use it to make creamy salad dressings and as a spread for sandwiches. It’s delicious in chicken salad and even a simple egg salad.
With far fewer calories, it’s obvious that avocado is a healthy choice. But this vegan alternative also delivers vitamins, minerals and fiber – all things that mayo lacks and kids need. And if you’re in a hurry, just grab a container of guacamole for even more added flavor.
Mayonnaise (1 Tablespoon): 94 calories, 0 g fiber
Avocado (1 Tablespoon): 23 Calories, 1 g fiber
Choose Ground Turkey Instead of Ground Beef
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that you can use ground turkey in place of ground beef in almost any recipe out there. My family actually prefers the flavor in most dishes! It is equally at home in tacos, lasagna, burgers, meatballs, and chili.
If you’ve had problems with ground turkey being dry, that’s probably because you’ve been buying ground turkey breast instead of regular ground turkey. Regular ground turkey is a blend of dark and white meat, so it has much more flavor and stays moist when you cook it. It has less calories than ground beef, more protein, and half the fat. This healthy food swap is a no-brainer.
80/20 Ground Beef (4 oz): 254 calories, 20 g fat, 17 g protein
Regular Ground Turkey (4 oz): 201 calories, 10 g fat, 27 g protein
Use Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream
(And also instead of regular yogurt, mayo, buttermilk, heavy cream – basically anything creamy!)
Greek yogurt is a great substitute for a lot of rich kitchen ingredients, but it’s most perfect in place of sour cream. This high-protein dairy product delivers all the flavor of sour cream while cutting calories and adding a ton of protein.
You can add a dollop to baked potatoes, chili, and even desserts. I also love substituting Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream to make a healthier version of Beef Stroganoff.
Sour Cream (1 cup): 445 calories, 45 g fat, 4.8 g protein
Whole Milk Greek Yogurt (1 cup): 170 calories, 4.5 g fat, 23 g protein