Sticking to a diet is never easy. It takes real discipline and determination to overcome cravings and stick to the plan. Sometimes, however, it is possible to enjoy some of your favorite foods without wrecking your diet.
Making small and simple substitutions to your favorite recipes can significantly reduce fat, sugar and calories, allowing you to enjoy these foods without falling off the wagon. Here are a few weight-loss-friendly recipe substitutions to try.
Instead of a quarter-pound hamburger that’s all red meat, try using 1 ounce of ground beef and substituting a mix of red beans, mushrooms, onions, oatmeal and tomato paste for the remaining 3 ounces.
It’s tough to find a mashed potato substitute that will give you the same creamy texture you expect, but root vegetables are worth a try. Root vegetables such as turnips contain a fraction of the calories and carbs found in potatoes and don’t require milk or butter to get the creamy consistency you love. Mashed cauliflower is another good option when you’re craving mashed potatoes.
In soups and stews, substitute coconut milk for heavy creams and whole milk. While it does have a subtle coconut flavor, it won’t alter the flavor of your favorite recipe so much that you feel like you’re eating a tropical dessert rather than a hearty stew.
Avocado is a healthy fat with plenty of health benefits and can be easily subbed for mayo on your sandwich or in chicken salad. Not a fan of avocado? Try Greek yogurt with herb seasoning instead. Or cut your fat and calories in half with low-fat cottage cheese in place of sour cream on your baked potato for an added dose of protein instead of fat and empty calories.
Avocado puree can also replace butter cup for cup in a baking recipe, especially chocolate cakes and brownies. For sweets like muffins and sweet breads, you can swap out at least half of the fat (oil or butter) with unsweetened applesauce. Mashed banana also works just the same.
To satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard, cut the sugar in dessert recipes and sub vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon — whichever is most appropriate for the recipe — to intensify the sweetness without the calories. You can also use unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for sugar in a 1:1 ratio when baking. Just don’t forget to decrease the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce you use.
Think you can’t live without chocolate? Maybe you can. Rather than chocolate ice cream, try blending two ripe frozen bananas with two to three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder for a few minutes until smooth. It’s just as thick and rich as chocolate ice cream. Serve immediately!
Sometimes success is simply about trying something new. If you’re struggling to stick to your weight loss plan, try these simple recipe substitutions that will allow you to enjoy a healthier version of some of your favorite foods.