Fall’s here and you want to make your — and your whole family’s — healthy-eating, summertime habits stick past the first snowfall.
Smart move, because surveys show that adults tend to gain five to seven pounds during the winter months because of more munching and less moving, according to Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.
But, when outdoor temps dip, and dusk descends before dinnertime, the thought of digging into a cold, crisp salad just isn’t as delectable as it was in the warm summer evenings of July. ’Tis the season for craving comfort food, right?
Well, go ahead and have it! Just swap out high-calorie carbs and fats with these nine healthier alternatives that taste so good you’ll never miss the originals.
Substitute: Oatmeal and cottage cheese for pancake mix; try applesauce as a topper instead of syrup.
Pulverize a half cup of old-fashioned oats in a blender. Add a half cup of lower-fat (2%) cottage cheese, two eggs, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a quarter teaspoon each of baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Blend until smooth.
Cook like a regular pancake and serve with unsweetened applesauce or fresh berries with a little pure maple syrup for a protein-packed gourmet treat.
Substitute: Indulge in those that aren’t cream based.
Eating broth-based soups loaded with lean proteins, legumes and veggies is a time-tested strategy for staying svelte.
Avoid cream-based soups, unless you make them yourself and can puree some cooked legumes or a veggie like butternut squash to create a “creamy” substitute for the cream in a recipe.
Substitute: Napa or Chinese cabbage for bread; hummus or avocado for mayo.
Slap your favorite deli turkey, ham or roast beef onto a leaf of cabbage and roll it up with some spicy mustard. Substitute hummus or some smashed avocado for mayo. And hold the cheese.
Substitute: Zucchini slices for lasagna noodles.
Slice four to five medium-sized zucchinis lengthwise into half-inch-thick strips. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the strips, place them in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 400° F for 10 minutes.
Use in place of lasagna noodles to assemble your favorite lasagna recipe with part-skim ricotta and cheese.
Mashed Potatoes/White Rice
Substitute: Cauliflower for potatoes (and Greek yogurt for sour cream) or rice.
For mashed, steam some fresh or frozen cauliflower until tender. Drain off water and spray on a butter substitute. Add a splash of nonfat half-and-half (or your favorite milk alternative) and puree in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, chopped fresh chives or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for added protein.
For rice, grate cauliflower and steam until just tender.
Substitute: Oven-baked sweet potato “fries” with root veggies.
Heat oven to 450° F. Peel potatoes, parsnips and beets. Cut into strips or cube. Spray a rimmed baking sheet lightly with oil and evenly distribute veggies. Spray veggies with oil and sprinkle on some sea salt.
Bake 10 minutes, stir, bake another 10 minutes (some veggies will be crisper and some softer).
Enjoy as a vitamin- and fiber-packed side or a satisfying snack.
Macaroni and Cheese
Substitute: Diced vegetables for half the macaroni.
In a rush? It’s OK to cook up some tasty all-natural, boxed mac and cheese and substitute in two cups of frozen mixed vegetables for half the uncooked macaroni.
A dusting of freshly grated sharp cheddar mixed in will satisfy most mac-attacks. Add some leftover roast chicken for a fast, complete meal with protein to keep you hunger-pang free for hours.
Substitute: Portobello mushrooms for pizza crust.
Cut the gills out of the inside of the mushroom and then place the mushroom on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes so it dries out slightly.
Top with pizza sauce, part-skim mozzarella, chicken sausage, some pepperoni, or other toppings and broil until the cheese melts.
Substitute: Veggies for chips
For crunchy snacks, try some kale or jicama chips. Keep cut-up, raw veggies in the fridge, ready to enjoy with hummus (yes, even in winter).
Substitute: Fruit for candy
Slice a cored apple into thin rounds and smear it with a tablespoon of almond butter. Stuff a date or two with raw almonds or cashews. Keep cinnamon and vanilla extract on hand for a flavor boost to plain yogurt, hot coffee or tea.