It might not be so easy to switch from potato chips to kale chips or to trick yourself into believing that chia seed pudding is just as delicious as chocolate mousse, but some swaps and tricks–like the ones below–are so easy and sneaky that’s it’s pointless not to try them. These “nutrition hacks” focus on cutting out unnecessary calories, unhealthy fats, and refined carbs; look out for the next set of nutrition hacks, which will focus on adding vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and boosting their absorption!
1. Replace mayo, sour cream, or cream with Greek yogurt in both sweet (banana bread, muffins) and savory (tortilla soup, chili, spinach artichoke dip) recipes to slash saturated fat and boost protein. Or go above and beyond and try Greek yogurt in cupcake frostings, marinades, and French toast.
2. Swap half of the ground beef for mushrooms in burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, and taco meat. Mushrooms have a similar meaty taste and texture in addition to valuable nutrients like vitamin D, niacin, copper, potassium, and antioxidants.
4. Add equal amounts of potatoes and cauliflower to your favorite mashed potato recipe to cut calories and add glucosinolates, a type of antioxidant that helps in the detoxification process, as well as anti-inflammatory vitamin K.
5. Use hummus or avocado in place of mayo or butter as a spread in sandwiches or toast to add healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to boost satiety and heart health.
6. Swap half of your favorite cereal for a low-sugar, high-fiber cereal (try Nature’s Path Multigrain Flakes, Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls Multigrain, or Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs) to cut sugar and calories and boost fiber. You’ll be able to enjoy a bigger and just-as-tasty bowl of cereal for a similar amount of calories and more nutrients.
7. Use fresh fruit instead of dried fruit in salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal: one cup of fresh apricots totals 76 calories, while one cup of dried apricots adds 212 sugar-packed calories.
8. Skip the sugary syrup in your morning latte, and add flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder. A regular latte made with 2% milk contains 190 calories and 17 grams of sugar, compared to a flavored latte 250 calories and 35 grams (8.75 teaspoons!) of sugar.
9. Substitute riced cauliflower for rice in stir-fries, curries, pilafs, and burritos to cut down on refined carbs.
10. Skip the pizza dough and pile your choice of toppings on a portobello mushroom cap or eggplant slices.
11. Serve your food on 9-inch plates as opposed to 12-inch ones: in a recent study published in the journal Appetite, diners ate 48% fewer calories (up to 275-350 calories!) when they ate off smaller plates.
12. Buy a good non-stick pan; the oil you use to prevent sticking adds 120 calories per tablespoon. The flavors of oil disappear during the cooking process anyway, so if you’re looking for flavor, add a light drizzle after cooking.
14. …or, instead of using oil for flavor, use vegetable or chicken broth to prevent vegetables, chicken, and fish from sticking to the pan.