August 29, 2018

Don’t Eat That! Try This Instead – Food Swaps and Healthy Alternatives

by Rachel Wyman, Clinical Nutritionist Educator

Sometimes losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight takes thinking outside of the box and moving out of our comfort zone into new food territory. It might seem weird or crazy at first, but giving even one of the following food swaps a try could make a significant difference in your health – and even taste pretty good, too!

Next time your meal calls for one of these items, consider swapping it with a similar alternative.

Butter – Replace butter with fruit purees, unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana or mashed avocado in baked goods. In cooking – try a light mist of heat-stable plant oil, or simply use less butter and wipe down the pan after buttering before sautéing.

Mayo – Spread some hummus, bean dip, mashed avocado or mustard on your sandwich or wrap. For something similar to mayo, try plain Greek yogurt, fat-free sour cream, blended fat-free cottage cheese or blended silken tofu mixed with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice in cold salads such as potato salad, pasta salad, tuna salad or chicken salad.

Ranch Dressing – Try making your own ranch dressing with plain yogurt, fat-free buttermilk or unsweetened soy milk combined with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Stir in a ranch seasoning packet or chopped flat leaf parsley, green onions or chives, dill, freshly ground black pepper and minced garlic.

Chips – Focus on crunchy raw vegetables such as cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery, mini peppers, jicama, cauliflower, broccoli or radishes as carrier for your favorite healthy dressing or dip. Crunchy fruit works well, too, including apples and Asian pears. Try roasting thinly sliced vegetables in the oven until crisp. If you still find yourself interested in a crunchy prepackaged snack occasionally, look for a whole- grain, bean- or lentil-based cracker or baked chip with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, and portion mindfully.

Cheeseburger – There are numerous great recipes online for burger swaps using ingredients such as salmon, ground turkey, beans, lentils, oats, brown rice, quinoa, mushrooms, beets, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower – and the list goes on! You can capture the traditional burger flavor profile using onion powder (or caramelized onions), a little garlic, mustard and black pepper; or you can get creative and use a variety of spice blends.

Pizza – Try making your own crust from cauliflower using whole-grain flatbreads, wraps or an English muffin as a base; or, try choosing a whole-wheat, thin crust option. Replace full-fat cheese with part-skim shredded cheese or a light sprinkling of full-flavor cheese like parmesan, feta or Gouda. Swap highly processed, high-fat pepperoni or sausage with roasted vegetables – like onion, tomato, bell pepper and mushrooms, and fresh herbs like oregano and basil.

Soda – Try a zero-calorie sparkling or flavored water instead. You can also make your own flavor-infused water by adding sliced fruit, vegetables and/or fresh herbs into a pitcher of water or your water bottle.

Cookie – Using cooked plain oatmeal as a base; you can add in ingredients such as cinnamon and raisins, cocoa powder and a few teaspoons of dark chocolate chips; a few teaspoons of peanut butter; unsweetened flaked coconut; canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; diced apples, or any number of other flavorings.

Ice Cream – Blend frozen banana with ice and unsweetened soy milk, almond milk or skim milk. Flavor with unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, mint extract, a handful of strawberries, decaf instant coffee granules and/or powdered peanut butter.


Rachel Wyman, RN, LDN, is a Clinical Nutritionist Educator with Mission Weight Management.

To learn more about Mission Weight Management or to register for a free information session, visit missionweight.org or call 828-213-4100.