1. Quinoa instead of rice or pasta
White rice and pasta are “bad” or simple carbs--you know, the ones that don’t provide much in the way of nutrition. But quinoa! This amazing ancient grain not only acts as a perfect platform for soaking up sauces, just like pasta and rice, but also it’s a complete protein, which means it delivers all nine of the essential amino acids.
Quinoa - One of Nature's Healthiest Complete Proteins
2. Shaved zucchini instead of pasta
Another magical swap, shaved zucchini (created by shaving zucchini into strands with a vegetable peeler) can carry sauces from the plate to your palate--and add a serving of veggies to your dish to boot. Bonus: You don’t even have to cook it and it’s a refreshing way to serve saucy dishes during summer’s heat!
3. Coconut water instead of Gatorade
Unless you’re a serious athlete, you don’t need the kind of potassium and electrolytes found in Gatorade anyway; gulping down a good amount of water will more than do the trick for the average gym goer. But coconut water, or the water harvested from inside young coconuts, does provide additional nutritional value over water--without the additives found in sports drinks. Expect great, refreshing, even sweet taste plus about as much potassium as you’d find in a banana.
Forget About Gatorade: Coconut Water Matches Carb-Electrolyte Sports Beverages
4. Spinach and tomato sauce instead of spaghetti with sauce
Let’s be honest. Pasta’s main purpose is to be a vehicle for sauce. So why not drive your favorite pasta sauce into your mouth via a more healthy vehicle? Cooked spinach can be a perfect partner for tomato sauces--not to mention a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which are known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.
5. Kale chips instead of potato chips
We don’t need to tell you how unhealthy potato chips are. But you might like to know you can enjoy similarly crisp, greasy flavor and eat healthily if you reach for kale chips. There is a catch--you’ll need to make them yourself. But on the upside, all you need to do is de-stem kale leaves, spray them with a tiny bit of oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them for 10 to 15 minutes at an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you ate an entire bunch, you’d have satisfied your greens requirement for the day and only ingested about 200 calories!
6. Cauliflower instead of potatoes
Taste aside, there’s not much good that comes from mashed potatoes. But substitute even half of your spuds with cooked and mashed cauliflower and you’ll cut calories and add protein to your favorite rib-gripping side dish. After all, pound for pound, potatoes have nearly four times as many calories as cauliflower.
Related: Forget The Mashed Potatoes: Try This Very Healthy Alternative