Written by: Paige Whitmire and Julia Warren

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

Sweet and Sour Chicken Entrée (3oz)

227 calories

12 grams carbohydrates

21 grams protein

5.5 grams fat

Fried Rice (1 cup)

454 calories

70.5 grams carbohydrates

10.5 grams protein

14 grams fat

Cauliflower Fried Rice (1 cup)

108 calories

14 grams carbohydrates

9 grams protein

5 grams fat

Totals: 834 calories, 116.5g carbohydrates, 22.5g protein, 28g fat Totals: 335 calories, 26g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 10.5g 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 foods. The difference between grilled chicken (3oz = 135 calories) and fried chicken (3oz = 273 calories), as well as steamed vegetables (1 cup = 25 calories) and sautéed vegetables (1 cup = 115 calories) is truly significant.
  • Limit high-sodium foods such as those that are pickled, in cocktail sauce, smoked, in broth or in soy or teriyaki sauce. For example, look for grilled salmon (3oz = 52mg sodium) instead of smoked salmon (3oz = 667mg 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 = 213 calories) instead of high-fat pastries and ice creams (1 cup of ice cream = 377 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 the Chocolate Banana Applesauce Cake recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt for 1 tablespoon sour cream or mayonnaise
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk for 1 cup heavy cream
Classic Chocolate Cake

(2” x 2” square)

Chocolate Banana Applesauce Cake

(2” x 2” square)

514 calories

76 grams carbohydrates

8 grams protein

20 grams fat

254 calories

53 grams carbohydrates

4 grams protein

5 grams fat

As you can see, small healthy alternatives can greatly improve the calorie and nutrient breakdown of the foods we eat.