There’s one four-letter word that I particularly despise. DIET. Diets are just so darn hard to stick to. Instead, I’ve found balance in my life by making smart food choices when I can. Sure, I splurge like the best of ‘em. But, why not make some healthy swaps when cooking at home?
And, if you are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo (or whatever floats your boat), some of these recipes will be ones you’ll want to bookmark.
1. Veggie Spirals instead of Pasta
I love, love, love zoodles. Sure, fresh pasta is my jam. But sometimes, I’m just as much in it for the sauce. Don’t miss the fresh spiralized veggies available in the produce section at your local Harris Teeter for a quick dinner.
Recipe to try: Kung Pao Chicken with Zucchini Noodles
2. Zucchini Boats instead of Bread
Call it a ‘boat’ and my kids are in. Smother it in tomato sauce and cheese and I’m in.
Recipe to try: Organic Zucchini Boats with Beef
3. Lettuce Wraps instead of Tortillas
Leave the tortillas in the pantry and swap out large lettuce leaves (like romaine or iceberg), instead. You’ll save 150 calories PER TACO on average!
Recipe to try: Organic Mango and Beef Lettuce Cups
4. Veggie Rounds & Sheets for Noodles
When covered in marinara and loaded with cheese, who cares? Now’s the time to save some calories and carbs by slicing eggplants, zucchini and squash to replicate favorite pasta like ravioli and lasagna.
Recipe to try: Summer Vegetable Shrimp and Pesto Bake
5. Mushrooms instead of Beef
Sometimes I just want a comfort food. On those occasions when I also want to make smart food choices, I like to substitute beef or sausage for chopped mushrooms.
Recipe to try: Spinach Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
6. Cauliflower ‘Rice’ instead of White or Brown Rice
Fried rice is sooooo delicious. You know what is also really darn good? Fried cauliflower rice. Whiz a head of cauliflower in the food processor or pick up a fresh package of cauliflower rice in the produce section at your local Harris Teeter. It’s also fab in your favorite rice bowl recipes.
Recipe to try: Butternut Squash Noodle Bowl
7. Spaghetti Squash instead of Pasta
Have you tried making spaghetti squash at home yet? It’s so easy and fun. I feel like a magician when I pull out the perfect spaghetti strands from a squash! Sneak it onto the kids’ plates, too.
8. Applesauce instead of Butter
It’s an option on the back of the cake box for a reason. Applesauce is often a great substitute for butter and oil in baking.
Recipe to try: Replace butter with 1 Tb. applesauce to lighten up these Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies!
9. Lean Turkey instead of Beef
Plan on lighting up the grill this summer? Swap out high-fat beef burgers and make lean ground turkey patties instead! Or serve up turkey meatballs instead of beef for a tasty party app.
Recipe to try: BLT Turkey Meatball Skewers
10. Frozen Bananas instead of Whole Milk
This is a fabulous way to enjoy a favorite treat with hardly ANY guilt! Freeze bananas and mix in healthy (or not-so-healthy) ingredients in the food processor for a dreamy treat!
11. Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream and Mayonnaise
Enjoy the creamy texture without the high-fat ingredients, plus boost the protein in any dish! I love using Greek yogurt in dips, pasta sauces, dressings and more.
Recipe to try: Southwestern Yogurt Chicken Dip
Katie Harding is the publisher of Forks and Folly. A self-taught cook and die-hard foodie, Katie lives in Charlotte with her husband and three boys. Besides cooking and eating, she loves craft beers, running, and the oxford comma