In my quest to cook and eat healthier (except when stressed, when I eat Skittles in a gross and shameful quantity), I’ve discovered a few handy ingredient swapping tips.
Whole Wheat Pasta
When I first started eating this, I didn’t like it. I thought it tasted dry and had a sort of sandy texture to it. But now that it’s been ALL I’ve eaten for a while, I love it. I actually sort of prefer it. The same thing happened to me with white and brown rice. Once I made the switch, I liked the healthier version a lot more. Now pasta is a bigger part of our diet, which is great, since it’s such a simple meal.
Favorite dish: Whole wheat pasta tossed with vinaigrette, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and feta
Potatoes get a bad rap. They’re full of nutrients and, if you’re good about how you accessorize them, naturally fat-free. Bread and pasta made with potato flour is healthier than the white-flour equivalent and much tastier too.
Favorite dish: Gnocchi with fresh sauteed green beans, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and pesto
Whenever a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, you have two healthier and tastier options. When the recipe is like meatloaf or meatballs and calls for breadcrumbs to act as a binding agent in the mixture, you can substitute quick-cooking oats instead. While the mix will look like you dumped meat into a bowl of cereal, the finished product will not have visible oatmeal all over it, I promise.
Panko breadcrumbs are a healthier (and all-around better) substitute for traditional breading. Yum! A third option is to grind up whole wheat crackers and use cracker meal, but I rarely do this because it still involves a flour step.
Favorite dish: Italian-seasoned meatballs made with oats and herbs.
Eggs are the best breakfast. Because they’re so high in protein, they keep you feeling fuller longer and magically prevent you from over-eating later in the day (seriously). When I eat eggs at 7:30, I don’t get hungry for lunch until 1:30. If I eat cereal at the same time, I’m hungry at 11.
Favorite dish: scrambled eggs with Chipotle Tobasco
Fat-free cottage cheese is another miracle food that keeps you feeling fuller, has good vitamin content, and is high in protein. Plus, it cries out to be combined with all sorts of healthy stuff: dried fruit, whole fruit, peanut butter, even herby stuff like pesto. You can mash it into egg salad! You can use it to make lasagna (if you live in the midwest)!
Favorite dish: cottage cheese with dried cranberries