This Not That: Healthier Alternatives to Unhealthy Favorites

This Not That:  Healthier Alternatives to Unhealthy Favorites

When some people think about eating healthy, visions of crunchy bitter greens, steamed flavorless sides, and unrealistic phrases like “a small handful of nuts” may come to mind. But rather than completely depriving yourself, a few simple swaps throughout the day can help you reach your nutrition goals without wilting your taste buds or sacrificing flavor.

this_not_that_zoodlesInstead of Spaghetti noodles try Spaghetti squash or “zoodles” (zucchini noodles)

You might be avoiding pasta, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your family’s secret sauce recipe that you shared with your mother-in-law to get on her good side. (Tip: If you’re new to vegetable noodles, try replacing half of your regular pasta portion with them and working from there.)


Instead of Ice cream try Banana “nice” cream

This is one of those things that seems too good to be true until you try it. Blend a frozen super-ripe banana for the cold treat dubbed “nice cream.” (Tip: Throw a few toppings on if you really want to fake it, and you won’t know the difference.)

this_not_that_lettuce_wrapsInstead of Buns, tortillas, or wraps try Lettuce wraps

When you think about it, buns, tortillas, and wraps are mostly just the vehicle we use to drive their delicious fillings into our mouths. Ditch them and you’re left with more wiggle room for dessert – ahem, your brussels sprouts.



Instead of Chocolate chips try Cacao nibs

While they should still be consumed in moderation, cacao nibs are just your favorite chocolate chip in their purest form. Because they’re made of 100% cacao, they have zero grams of sugar and offer antioxidants, fiber, iron and magnesium that have been processed out of the chips you find in the baking aisle.


While some swaps are easy to make, replacing entire favorite recipes is another task altogether. We asked Beth Smith, Production Kitchen Supervisor at Rodale and certified wellness chef, to give a few delicious guilty pleasures – ones that are typically loaded with oil, mayonnaise and sugar – a nutrition makeover so they can be enjoyed on a regular basis instead of as just a treat.

Instead of Brownies try Flourless Crimson Brownies

• 1 large or 2 small beets, roasted
• 3 eggs, separated into 2 yolks and 3 whites
• 1/4 cup rapadura*
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 7 oz. dark chocolate (not unsweetened)
• 6 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Peel the roasted beet and puree it in a food processor with the water. It should be thick and smooth with no chunks. After the beet puree cools, measure out one cup of it into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, rapadura, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Whisk together to combine.

In a double boiler set over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter. While the chocolate is melting, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.

Once the chocolate and butter mixture has melted, remove from heat. Gradually mix the melted chocolate into the beet mixture, adding a little at a time until it is fully incorporated.

Fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate/beet mixture and pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle has some crumbs stuck to the toothpick, but is not wet.

*Rapadura is unrefined cane sugar that can usually be found at health food stores. It is not as heavily processed as white sugar and is slightly richer in some nutrients. Rapadura can be substituted for white sugar in a 1:1 ratio.

Instead of Fried Chicken try Gluten-Free Oven Baked Chicken

• 3 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces with skin
• 2 cups almond flour
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 3 teaspoons sea salt
• 2 teaspoons garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a grill rack on top of a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the grill rack with olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.

In a small bowl, mix together all the dry seasonings, then divide in half.

Take 1/2 of the seasoning mix and toss with the chicken pieces. Set aside.

Combine the other 1/2 of seasoning and mix with the almond flour.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk and eggs. Dip each chicken piece, one at a time, into the egg mixture, then into the flour mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes. Coat each chicken piece again into just the flour mixture.

Arrange chicken on the grilling rack. Drizzle each chicken piece with olive oil and place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

Instead of Tuna Salad try Tuna & Chickpea Salad 

• 6 oz. canned tuna, drained and broken into chunks
• 14 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1/4 red onion, finely diced
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the tuna and chickpeas, red onion and tomatoes in a mixing bowl.

Combine the rest of ingredients into a screw top jar and shake well to create the dressing.

Toss the dressing with the tuna and chickpea mixture and enjoy!

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