Healthy food swaps you’ll barely notice

December 19, 2016 | by Alanna Elliott, RD, LDN
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

There’s no more comforting food on a winter day than a big helping of creamy mashed potatoes or a plate piled with steaming hot pasta.

Comfort food is a go-to dinner on a cold night. I get that. The only problem is that most comfort food will leave you feeling uncomfortably stuffed full of high-calorie sugar or fat.

Don’t despair! You can still enjoy your favorite foods without as many calories or unhealthy fat. By replacing some of the ingredients with healthier options, you get the same meal with much better nutrition.

Take a look at some of these easy swaps:

  • Cauliflower. Cauliflower is full of fiber and vitamin C, is low in calories and carbs, and tastes very similar to potatoes. It’s a great substitute for mashed potatoes, which are high in carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugars quickly. You could also use mashed cauliflower instead of cream in cream-based soups, sub it for rice, or mash it into pizza crust! When you use mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and use low-fat milk instead of cream and butter, you save over 150 calories and about 35 grams of carbs per cup.
  • Zoodles. Zucchini is a great source of fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C.  And the fiber in zoodles helps keep you fuller longer and regulates your blood sugars. Creating noodles out of zucchini – “zoodles” – to replace pasta can slash more than 160 calories and 35 grams of carbs per cup. Zoodles can be used instead of noodles in almost any recipe, even lasagna (sliced into long thin strips). A spiralizer tool, available at most large stores or online, easily creates zoodles from veggies.
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt. It tastes so much like sour cream, you won’t notice the difference in your taco, holiday dip or soup. What’s even better about this swap is a half cup substitution saves you more than 220 calories, 22 fat grams and 13 saturated fat grams.
  • Unsweetened applesauce (or mashed banana). This swap is all about the calories. You can cut a whopping 900 calories and 109 fat grams per half cup by using unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas in place of olive or canola oil in your baked goods.


These recipes feature healthy swaps: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps, which swaps lettuce for tortillas, and a Chicken Taco Bowl, which swaps Greek yogurt for sour cream.

What should I eat? Nutritional guidelines seem to always be changing. You want to make healthy choices and improve your eating habits, but the recommendations and choices can be overwhelming.

Join us on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at Elmhurst Hospital Arboretum Conference Center as Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN, naturopathic health coach with the Integrative Medicine Clinic at Elmhurst Hospital, discusses healthy dietary options and how to incorporate them into your meal planning and daily lives. Register now.

Have you tried these swaps? Share your thoughts (and recipes) in the comments!

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