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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?
The old butter verses margarine controversy is back in the spotlight. With many folks favoring wholesome, natural foods, margarine has now taken a backseat to butter. But can this full fat delight be part of a healthy diet?