10 Clean Swaps to Reduce Calories in the Kitchen
Probably one of the number one things that I get asked by people is how do they cut calories. Or, rather, how can they cut calories in their diet without feeling like they’re starving themselves or somehow depriving themselves of the foods they love. I absolutely get it. A diet should be something that is completely maintainable to you - for you. Each person is going to be different, but ultimately, you shouldn’t feel as though you’re constantly having to control yourself. I’ve talked about it before in the below articles, but the best diet is the one that you can stick to. And, if that means still having your favorite foods and recipes, I’m here to give you a few guilt free ways to do that, while still saving a few calories.
Use Avocado Instead of Mayo
And I’m not just talking about sandwiches (although, that could be a delicious option as well)! Consider using a small amount of avocado in any recipe that calls for mayonnaise, such as tuna, chicken or potato salad. The thick, creamy texture of the avocado mimics the consistency of the mayo as is packed with tons of heart-healthy fats. A two-tablespoon serving of mayonnaise contains 188 calories and 20g of fat! Now, while all fat is not bad, (in fact, healthy fats are an important part of your diet!), cutting out foods high in saturated and trans fat is very important.
Consider substituting for 1/3 of an avocado (50g) - it contains only 80 calories and 8g of fat!
USE Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream
I grew up adding sour cream to my baked potatoes or as a dip for a relish tray. But, unfortunately, sour cream is another way to add completely empty calories into your diet. A two-tablespoon serving of sour cream has 60 calories and 5g of fat, and one measly gram of protein. Instead, consider using a plain Greek yogurt. You’ll still get the same consistency and tang to your salads and dips, but with a huge added bonus of protein! My personal favorite is adding it into chili with some fresh chives dashed on top!
Consider substituting a 2 oz serving of Greek Yogurt - contains 70 calories, 2g of fat and 10g of protein!
Try Mashed Bananas instead of Oil or Butter
If you’re a baker, you’ve likely heard of this easy way to cut out extra fat and calories. Like I said previously, fat isn’t necessarily bad, but many baking recipes call for vegetable oils, many of which are just plain bad. There are so many great oils out there - why do we use vegetable oil? Many of these oils are genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides. If you’re not ready to commit to the banana swap, at least consider switching to coconut oil, which is beneficial to our HDL cholesterol.
However, if you’re worried about your baked goods having a “banana” taste - don’t be! This simple swap is the perfect way to get rid of any overripe or “mushy” bananas you might have laying around your kitchen. One cup of butter has an incredible 1,628 calories and 116 grams of saturated fat!
Consider substituting for one cup of bananas - 200 calories and less than half a gram of saturated fat! (Phew!)
USE Unsweetened Applesauce instead of Sugar
While we’re on the subject of backing, have you ever heard of using applesauce instead of sugar? This is another common swap for baking that helps cut down on the amount of total sugar, while simultaneously bringing up the fiber content with apples! One cup of sugar has 770 completely empty calories! You can also substitute applesauce into your recipe as a 1:1 ratio with sugar, although you’ll want to make sure to decrease the liquid content by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce to prevent overly dense baked goods.
Consider swapping for one cup of unsweetened applesauce - 100 calories and 3g of fiber!
Substitute Vanilla Extract for Sugar
If I haven’t quite convinced you that these are some hidden swaps, then perhaps this one will be slightly tamer. It’s not unusual to see both sugar and vanilla extract in a cookie recipe. But, did you know that you can reduce some of the sugar content by adding a bit of extra vanilla extract? If you cut your cup of sugar in half, you’re saving 385 calories!
Consider adding one teaspoon vanilla extra for every 1/2 cup of sugar you remove!
Substitute Cacao Nibs for Chocolate Chips
Before it ever becomes a chocolate chip, chocolate actually starts as a cacao nib! Cacao nibs are actually chocolate in its purest form - dried and fermented beans! Nibs are slightly crunchy (think of a coffee bean) and have a chocolate taste that you might describe as a bit nutty and bitter. But, without the added sugars and oils, cacao nibs are much better for you and provide an important dose of antioxidants! 1 oz of chocolate chips has 16 grams of sugar and only one gram of protein
Consider swapping for 1 oz of cacao nibs - 0.3grams of sugar and 4 grams of protein !
Try Spaghetti Squash instead of pasta
I’m a big fan of always using fresh vegetables whenever possible. So, it’s not going to come as any surprise that I would swap out squash for pasta. The best thing about spaghetti squash is that it’s nearly foolproof. Making spaghetti squash is incredibly simple and makes dinner variety a breeze. The best part? You’re saving tons of calories! One cup of cooked penne contains 200 calories. That might not seem like a lot, but most people eat more than the recommended serving size.
Consider swapping for one cup of spaghetti squash - 42 calories and 2 grams of fiber!
Try Riced Cauliflower instead of White Rice
While we’re on the topic of vegetable substitutions, let’s not forget everyone’s favorite vegetable - cauliflower! Okay, so it might not be your favorite but cauliflower has a way of blending into a dish in a slightly flavorless way, much in the way of white rice. The next time that you’re making your favorite asian fried rice, consider using cauliflower instead of white rice. One cup of white rice contains 206 calories.
Consider using one cup of riced cauliflower - 25 calories per cup!
Try Coconut Aminos vs. Soy Sauce
There’s been a lot of discussion recently regarding soy consumption and its estrogen-mimicking properties. Regardless if you’re avoiding soy due to dietary restrictions or a food allergy, coconut aminos are an excellent food swap. Coconut aminos are a soy-free alternative to, well, soy sauce and contain only two ingredients: coconut tree sap and salt. Aminos also contain far lower levels of sodium and have a slightly sweeter flavor.
Looking to lower your sodium consumption? Consider substituting 1:1 ratio of coconut aminos for soy sauce
Use Evaporated SkiM Milk vs Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is full of fat. In fact, that is exactly what heavy cream is! While there is a time and place for full fat, if you’re looking to cut a few additional calories from your morning coffee or a baking recipe (even soups!), you can use these substitution of evaporated skim milk. One cup of heavy cream has 821 calories and 88 grams of fat, that’s twice the calories and FIVE times the fat content of evaporated skim milk!
Consider swapping 1 cup of evaporated skim milk - 338 calories!
Use Coconut Wraps instead of Bread
I’ve got one last one for you and that’s one of my new favorite obsessions. When I was doing a round of Autoimmune Protocol earlier this year, I started using coconut wraps as a way to get a quick snack in throughout the day. One of my favorite snacks - smoked salmon, arugula & Primal Kitchen Chipotle Mayo - just taste better in a thin coconut wrap. Besides, it was completely on my diet protocol. Here’s the thing: there’s nothing especially useful about the calories found in white bread. It’s processed flour, full of hidden sugars. One slice of white bread contains 90 calories.
Consider swapping for coconut wraps - 70 calories!
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