Just as a few degrees in the navigation of an airplane significantly changes the flight's destination, so can a few tweaks to our nutritional habits lead us to the health outcomes we desire down the road.
• Choose wisely when it comes to cereal. In all honesty, cereal is one of the main go-tos not only for breakfast, but snacks and other meals as well.
Swapping out your cereal for a higher fiber, lower sugar version is a simple way to get more bang for your buck nutritionally. Aim for at least 3 grams fiber and 9 or less grams of sugar per serving. If you have some cereals that you are loathe to abandon, try mixing them half and half with a healthier cereal.
• Whole Wheat Pastry flour: We know that whole grain is better, but swapping whole wheat flour into some recipes just doesn’t turn out the way we intend. Whole wheat pastry flour comes to the resuce.
It provides fewer calories than white flour, and 4 grams of protein, compared to white flour’s 1 gram. Because whole wheat pastry flour doesn’t contain as much protein, it doesn’t work as well for yeast breads, but it is perfect for any baked product using baking soda or baking powder as leaveners. Cookies, muffins, waffles, quick breads all benefit from this simple, swap and because it has a fine texture and doesn’t have the same “wheat-y” flavor, it doesn’t alter the finished product.
• Dairy swaps:
- Greek yogurt for sour cream: using plain greek yogurt instead of light sour cream gives you half the calories and twice the protein
- Sharp cheddar for mild. This is a simple swap, but one that I love because I’m all about increasing flavor and food satisfaction. Using sharper cheeses means you get more flavor while using less. For example, a casserole that calls for 1 cup of mild cheddar cheese would taste just as cheesy and less greasy with 2/3 cup sharp cheddar.
- Flavor your own yogurts: 6 oz lowfat, plain yogurt with 1 tbsp. jam (tip about reduced sugar pectins) provides 35 fewer calories and added sugars plus more protein, calcium, & B12 than 6 oz fruit-flavored lowfat yogurt
• Bacon. Yes, we should definitely address the topic of sausage, bacon, and other breakfast meats that some may consider more of a dietary liability than asset.
Compare bacon, sausage and Canadian bacon (fat, calories & sodium). Generally the best solution is go with thinner slices of either bacon or Canadian bacon instead of sausage. Or for every slice you eat, you have a serving of fruit to keep things in balance.
The last two tips are more swaps of habits than of specific products, and in all honesty will add more to your health long term because it involves a healthy pattern.
• Swap a processed snack food in your grocery cart for a produce snack food.
This way you can keep your grocery bill the same, but improve your nutrition significantly.
• 5 minute post-shopping, pre-portion. Planning 5-10 minutes at the end of your grocery shopping trip results in some of the best health benefits all week.
Make the healthy choices convenient so you actually end up eating them (produce, nuts, cereals) prepped and visible, while putting the sweets and once-in-a-while treats more out of the way (freezer is a great place to store things like chocolate, cookies, etc. since you really have to search it out, and wait for it to thaw, it makes the decision to eat it more conscious instead of mindless grazing).