Today I wanted to clear up a bit of nutrition confusion. There are two types of “substitutes” when it comes to food, one is good, one is not. Good substitutes help you cut saturated fats, sugars, and processed chemicals in place of healthier choices that still taste great (or at least do not alter the taste significantly). Bad substitutes take out food choices that society has inappropriately deemed “bad” and offered man-made, chemically altered choices that are, in actuality, worse for you. Herein I will try to dispel fact from fiction and clarify which substitutes you should take advantage of.
All synthetic sweeteners: Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low, Saccharine, etc. Yes, they are lower in calories, and maybe better in avoiding tooth decay, but they are created in such a chemically treated way that your body simply doesn’t know what to do with the ingredients (except to possibly turn excessive amounts into cancer cells).
GMO foods: Ah those lovely commercials from the American Corn Growers telling us that corn syrup is as harmless as maple syrup. Well let’s see, first you take corn that has been genetically modified to grow bigger and faster (same is done with our wheat and soy), then you heat it and break it down into a sugary syrup that has no nutritional value, and because of they way it is handled from lab to kitchen, your body once again finds it to be a foreign matter that after a while, your system will attack.
“Low Fat”, “Lite,” “Skinny” brands: these tend to have an overabundance of sugar (or sugar substitutes) and salts, added in to make these less “fat” foods still taste good.
Vegetarian Products featuring “textured vegetable protein”: take GMO wheat-gluten, and processed GMO soy and you’ve got textured vegetable protein. Here’s a link that will tell you a little more about this scary new food source. Textured Vegetable Protein
Applesauce: when baking, all-natural applesauce (one with NO sugar added of any kind) will allow you to remove fatty oil while still maintaining moisture content. This will also allow you to reduce (or remove) any “refined sugar” involved in the recipe.
Avocado: forget the mayo on your sandwich – avocado is NOT a bad fat like you’ve been taught. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and a small amount of protein. Avocado replaces the creaminess of mayonnaise, without the saturated fat issues.
Organic Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt: once again, when you need to have a creamy base (for dressings or sour cream replacements), yogurt is your way to go. High in calcium and protein, free of saturated fat and sugars. If you need to sweeten it, you can use honey, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, etc.
Coconut products: coconut sugar and coconut oil are fabulous substitutions for sugars and oils, keeping your glycemic index low (essential for diabetics), no saturated fat, and a lower burning point than Olive Oil (so you can cook with them at a higher temperature).
Quinoa & Quinoa Pasta: with more flavor and protein, and no gluten, Quinoa and Quinoa Pasta are great substitutes for white rice and traditional pasta. They also have no processed carbs that will turn into excess sugars in your system.
Lemon instead of Salt: Need a natural taste bud accent that is full of vitamin C and will not affect your high-blood pressure? Lemon’s the ingredient for all of you who need to watch your sodium intake!
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Now these are just a few substitutes that are on the top of my list (and always in my fridge/pantry). Below is a link with more food substitution advice, and a chart with healthy baking substitution suggestions. http://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions
Keep in mind that you might have to experiment with your favorite recipes before you get the taste exactly to your liking, but have fun, be brave and in the end you’ll be eating healthier choices, while still having your comfort foods.