For many people, creating a balanced diet is one of the hardest tasks imaginable and when you try to make that diet include foods that actually tastes good, it starts to seem practically impossible.
The good news is that it’s actually incredibly easy to eat healthy and tasty foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients. Read on to learn about six smart and simple food swaps to save you some serious calories.
Oatmeal instead of Sugar Cereal
The kid in you might be tempted to have a bowl of sugary cereal in the morning, but it’s going to pack on hundreds of empty calories without giving you any real nutritional benefit. The same goes for some brands of granola, which can include a huge amount of refined sugars that equate to deceptively high calories. One cup of cooked oatmeal only has around 150 calories and can include a huge dose of dietary fiber, iron and other nutrients that are great for your heart health.
Plain Yogurt and Fresh Fruit instead of Flavored Yogurt
Don’t be fooled by those fruit on the bottom yogurts, which can seem like a healthy combination of milk proteins and fruits. Many of these yogurts pack the sugar into the yogurt, which already increase the calorie count, and don’t actually include any fresh fruits.
Instead, they coat the fruits in syrups that do nothing for you aside from increase your sugar intake. Ditch these yogurts for a plain yogurt that doesn’t include any additional flavorings or add-ins. You can even try a low-fat plain yogurt to lower the calories even more. Top it all up with some fresh fruits and berries, which only have natural sugars and include vital nutrients.
Spaghetti Squash instead of Pasta
Pasta is notorious for being high in calories, even if you choose whole-grain pastas, with approximately 200 calories per cup. Moreover, since most people end up eating more than a single cup in a meal, this can add up fast.
Ditch the pasta, try out a spaghetti squash, which has an amazing 30 calories per cup, and include a good amount of fiber and other nutrients. All you need to do is cut the squash in half and bake it, then use a fork to scrape out the insides.
This turns the squash into a stringy product that looks, and tastes, almost exactly like spaghetti without any of the extra calories that come from processed grains.
Cauliflower instead of Potatoes
It might not seem like it, but cauliflower is actually an incredibly versatile replacement for potatoes. A single medium potato can have around 160 calories, whereas the same amount of cauliflower only has around 50 calories, not to mention the huge savings in carbs. You can easily boil and blend chopped cauliflower florets to make mashed potatoes, or bake them whole and eat them like you would fried potato products.
Frozen Bananas instead of Ice Cream
Everyone loves ice cream, but not everyone loves all the extra calories and fat that it comes with. A half cup of vanilla ice cream start out anywhere from 130 to 160 calories, and it only goes up from there once you start looking at different flavors or adding in toppings like chocolate and cookies.
An easy swap here is to use frozen bananas to create a natural soft serve, sometimes known as “nice” cream. Simple chop up a few bananas and place them in the freezer for a few hours.
Once they are solid, place them in a blender, and blend until they reach a smooth consistency. A half cup of banana soft serve can have 100 calories or less while also giving you a serious boost in potassium, Vitamin C, and dietary fiber.