Most people think of eating healthy as having to give up their favorite foods, but that is not the case.  Healthy foods can still have great taste and texture; it’s a matter of finding substitutions and alternatives that work.  This week’s Focus Point will compare meal options to help show you how a small change can make a big difference.

Here is a great comparison between a typical sweet and sour chicken and fried rice recipe and a healthier sweet and sour chicken and cauliflower fried rice option:

 Typical recipe                                                                         Homemade recipe

Sweet and Sour Chicken Entrée (3oz)

380 calories

46 grams carbohydrates

12 grams protein

14 grams fat

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken (3oz)

225 calories

16 grams carbohydrates

21 grams protein

5 grams fat

Fried Rice (1 cup)

455 calories

71 grams carbohydrates

10 grams protein

14 grams fat

Cauliflower Fried Rice (1 cup)

115 calories

11 grams carbohydrates

9 grams protein

5 grams fat

Totals: 835 calories, 117g carbohydrates, 22g protein, 28g fat Totals: 340 calories, 27g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 10g fat


As you can see, the difference in total calories, carbohydrates, and protein are significant, and you are eating the same amount of food, leaving you feeling just as satisfied.

Here are some helpful tips to remember, both when eating out and at home:

  • Fried, au gratin, crispy, scalloped, pan-fried, sautéed or stuffed foods are high in fat and calories. Instead, look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted. The difference between grilled chicken (3oz = 135 calories) and fried chicken (3oz = 275 calories), as well as steamed vegetables (1 cup = 25 calories) and sautéed vegetables (1 cup = 115 calories) is truly significant.
  • High-sodium foods include those that are pickled, in cocktail sauce, smoked, in broth or in soy or teriyaki sauce. Limit these items. For example, look for grilled salmon (3oz = 50mg sodium) instead of smoked salmon (3oz = 665mg sodium) on the menu.
  • Have gravy, sauces, and dressings served on the side so you can control the amount you eat or skip them completely.
  • Even if they aren’t on the dessert menu, many restaurants can offer you fruit or sherbet (1 cup of sherbet = 215 calories) instead of high-fat pastries and ice creams (1 cup of ice cream = 375 calories).

As the holidays approach, it’s easy to give in to temptation.  Instead of avoiding your favorite treats, prepare them yourself by using recipe substitutions.  Try some of these swaps in any recipe for the same great taste and texture:

  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas for 1 tablespoon butter or oil (try this swap with our Chocolate Banana Applesauce Cake recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt for 1 tablespoon sour cream or mayonnaise
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk for 1 cup heavy cream

As you can see, small healthy alternatives can greatly improve the calorie and nutrient breakdown of the foods we eat.  Try the recipes provided in this Focus Point sometime soon and enjoy!


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