To be your healthiest, you want to eat a balanced and varied diet: rich with vitamins,

minerals and fiber and low in fat and sugar. While most people want to be healthy and fit, they don't want to sacrifice taste or their favorite meals and comfort foods.

So here are some tasty substitutions for some American classics:

For high protein foods- look for ways to reduce the fat:

  • If you like hamburgers, use the leanest cuts of beef (loin or round cuts) or substitute turkey burgers or veggie burgers.
  • Use ground turkey, turkey breast or veggie crumbles in recipes that call for beef to make favorites like tacos, sloppy joes, chili or pasta sauce.
  • If you like lunch meat, avoid processed meats like bologna, salami and pepperoni.  Switch to low fat varieties of sliced meats, like lean turkey, chicken, and roast beef.
  • Choose tuna in water vs. in oil and mix with low fat or non fat mayo or salad dressing.
  • Substitute low fat or non fat dairy products for regular full fat varieties:

                •Milk- skim or 1%

                •Cheeses- 50% or 75% reduced fat varieties

                •Yogurt, ice cream or frozen yogurt - low fat or non fat types

For high carbohydrate foods - read the labels and look for low fat & low sugar alternatives:

  • Shredded wheat, oat & wheat squares, oatmeal, oat bran, raisin bran vs. sugary or sugar coated cereals.
  • Whole wheat or multigrain pastas vs. white pasta.
  • Brown wild rice vs.white or fried rice.
  • Substitute low fat potato chips, tortilla chips or pretzels for regular, full fat chips.
  • Dip in salsa or hummus, or make dips with plain, non fat Greek yogurt, or non fat or low fat sour cream vs. regular high fat dips.
  • Choose flavored rice cakes or soy cakes or low fat popcorn for a crunchy snack.
  • Look for low fat and low sugar varieties of baked goods.

For flavorful foods, some fat in the diet is necessary.

For higher fat foods- consider these lower fat substitutions:

  • Instead of bacon -choose ham or Canadian bacon.
  • Try light butter or non-trans fat margarine instead of regular butter.
  • Use reduced fat salad dressings or dilute regular dressing with vinegar, non fat yogurt or nonfat or low fat sour cream.
  • Choose nuts & seeds, natural nut butters, avocado or hummus as spreads or in appetizers vs. full fat cheese or processed cheeses and meats.

With these simple changes, you can still enjoy your favorites.....only healthier!

Written by:  Mary Jo Parker, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Consultant to Personal Touch Food Services, Inc.