If you're striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you've probably already swapped low-fat for whole milk and veggie burgers for quarter-pounders, but there may be some food substitutions that you haven't tried. Here are some of my favorites I use to cut calories but preserve -- and even enhance! -- taste.
I'm a frequent Starbucks customer (I know, I know, it's draining my pocketbook), and over the years I've discovered how much I like mistos. The Starbucks misto is half steamed milk and half hot coffee (also known as a café au lait). The taste is similar to a latte, but a 12-ounce misto with skim milk contains about 60 fewer calories and costs about a dollar less than a latte!
If I order a salad at a restaurant and none of the dressings seem appealing, I will often ask for a little dish of salsa, hummus, or guacamole on the side. These non-traditional toppings add a lot of flavor and are usually less processed than industrial salad dressings.
When I'm in the mood for juicy burger on the grill, I will often mix in about a half-cup of lightly sauteed mushrooms per pound of beef or turkey (form the patties and cook as usual). The mushrooms add bulk and fiber, and help cut down on fat.
When it comes to baking, the possibilities for cutting down on fat while retaining flavor abound. If a recipe calls for a half-cup of oil, try replacing the oil with Greek yogurt, canned pumpkin, applesauce, or puréed prunes. Although it sounds a little odd, puréeing dried prunes and a little hot water in your food processor is an easy way to add sweetness and reduce calories in baked goods.
Olive oil is a healthy fat, but you can have too much of a good thing. It's easy to add two-plus tablespoons of oil while making a stir-fry -- and that can add up to 250 calories. Instead, try sauteeing your veggies in a little chicken or veggie broth.
What's your favorite food substitution for healthier eating? Share your tips and tricks with us here!
Megan Kretz, is a competitive runner and founder of the blog The Runner’s Kitchen. When she’s not pounding the pavement with the Central Park Track Club, Megan enjoys baking, tweeting, and exploring her Harlem neighborhood.