In my recent years of evolving into a health nut, I have come across a few ways to create my family’s favorite foods while discreetly substituting some ingredients for healthier alternatives. Because some are more obvious than others, it can be hard to fool people into believing the green in their chocolate chip cookies is actually butter. But there are some ingredients that fly completely under the radar and make a deliciously healthier product. Either way, these healthier options might take some convincing, but they are definitely worth it.
1. Forget flour, use bananas.
Pancakes are a staple of a Sunday morning breakfast. Instead of using flour, eggs and butter, try using bananas, eggs and peanut butter. Without the starch from the flour, the calories will significantly decrease, and without the bad fat content from the butter, the peanut butter adds great taste, and good fats.
2. Strawberry Syrup
This is one of those ingredient switches that might be a little more obvious, but worth it. Instead of pouring sugary, store-bought syrup all over your healthy banana and peanut butter pancakes, a warm strawberry sauce is a sweet alternative. There are dozens of strawberry sauce recipes that are only a Google search away—and well worth a try.
3. Zucchini Fries
French fries are an all-time favorite of mine, so trying zucchini fries made me incredibly skeptical. Once I tried them, I realized my favorite part of french fries was the crunch and the salt. Zucchini fries can incorporate both, and they taste much better and are healthier. Cutting zucchini into fry-like strips, coating them with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and baking them in the oven is a well-kept secret that everyone should try.
4. Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream
Sour cream is included in all sorts of delicious dishes but can easily be substituted by the much healthier alternative of greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has a third of the calories of sour cream. Also, sour cream contains roughly 10 times the amount of cholesterol.
5. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Instead of using flour for pizza dough, you can put cauliflower through a food processor to create the same texture, but with significantly less starch. Cover the crust with pizza sauce, cheese and toppings, and you will have a healthier classic.
6. Frozen Grapes and Blueberries
After trying frozen grapes and blueberries, I can barely eat them at room temperature anymore. Freeze the fruit for about a day and a half or two days, pull them out and place them in a bowl for a candy-like sweet snack.
7. Black Bean Brownies
Vegan alternatives aren’t for everyone, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take some getting used to. When I first read about the idea of using black beans instead of flour in my brownies, I thought there was no way my family would go for it. After trying it, I realized that although the texture is different, the chocolate overpowers the beans and makes for a delicious brownie. There are dozens of recipes to search, and I advise you start with the one including the most chocolate.
8. No mayo, add avocado
As a stereotypical health nut, I love avocado. I can find a way to add avocado to just about any meal. But for those who are trying to gradually make their way into an avocado obsession, I suggest swapping mayo on your next sandwich for a big, deliciously salted slice of avocado. The textures are similar, and the avocado has more health benefits.
9. Almond Meal Baking
Based on this list, it probably seems as if I have something huge against flour. I don’t, I just think if there is a possibility to bake healthier, we should at least try. Almond meal, also referred to as almond flour, is a great alternative to regular white flour, which creates healthier but still delicious baked foods. My favorite use of almond meal in baking is blueberry muffins. DAMY Health has my favorite recipe on their site.
10. Tofu Pudding
This is an idea for the more daring. Using silken tofu, cocoa powder, agave nectar and vanilla extract, you can make an incredibly creamy and healthy chocolate pudding. I’m familiar with chocolate cravings, and this is one of the healthiest ways to indulge.