I am constantly looking for new ways to incorporate healthy ingredients into my meals, and that does not have to mean creating boring, uninspired dishes. I decided to challenge myself to take some good-old staple ingredients I use in several recipes and swap them out for more exciting and often more nutritious picks. The result was fun, tasty and oh-so-good spins on traditional dishes. Here are my top 5 swaps:
1. When breading fish, chicken or meat use ground nuts or seeds instead of breadcrumbs. The result is a nutrient-rich topping so packed with flavor the breadcrumbs should be jealous.
2. If I’m feeling tired of traditional pasta, I grate ribbons of vegetables like butternut squash, zucchini and carrots and flash steam or boil before shocking them in ice water. The result is a colorful, flavorful noodle that is rich in antioxidants. Your kids may be begging for seconds!
3. Growing up in an Italian family I have always been a fan of stuffed peppers, especially in the winter. Once when craving comfort food, I had planned to whip up a batch but soon found I was out of rice. No worries–I swapped out the rice and opted for cooked quinoa and it was a hit.
4. Speaking of comfort food, meatloaf made with ground bison or turkey is a staple meal for my clients, athletes and family but with so many gluten-free clients, I decided to ditch the breadcrumbs (again!) and used cooked millet (or quinoa) instead. Grains add a hearty texture that makes the meatloaf more satisfying than ever.
5. I love adding crunch to my salad but chow mein noodles and crispy onions downgrade the goodness factor quickly. Quick fix: I pop up some amaranth and use it as a topping for salads and veggies. The amaranth, along with the addition of ground nuts and seeds makes everyday veggies much more exciting.
Popped Amaranth: Warm a dry skillet over high heat. A spoonful at a time, put the amaranth in the skillet until the tiny seeds pop (15-20 seconds). Remove the popped seeds and repeat.
What are your favorite healthy swaps?