Cooking healthy meals is no rocket science. Unfortunately, due to habit or lack of experimenting, we often fall into a rut with cooking methods and staple dishes. Additionally, our tastebuds are wired a certain way and we can't go two days without craving for the very foods we need to banish from our lives. The key to moving from size 14 to size 8 lies in being able to control these cravings. Simple substitution is a great way of ensuring that you feel fulfilled with an old family favourite recipe, and yet are content in the knowledge that you're eating healthy. Here are some simple substitutions that will make meal times healthier, while giving you what you want.
Substitute cream with yogurt
Most Indian curries call for cream to thicken and enhance the spices, and flavours. But have you ever tried whole milk yogurt, or better still - skimmed yogurt? You can begin with halving the cream content and replacing the remaining half with yogurt. Then reduce the cream each time you cook the dish. Before long, your tastebuds will find the yogurt-based curries just as delicious, if not more. In fact, whether it is a healthy dessert, a quick evening snack, or a curry base, yogurt is your best friend in a healthy diet.
Substitute refined flour with whole grain flours like soy, millet, corn or barley
Whole grain comes packed with dietary fibre, protein and other essential nutrients. Begin with substituting your regular roti dough with these flours, and move on to cake batters, cookie doughs and pastas. You can even use whole wheat as a great thickening agent instead of cream or refined and processed flour.
Substitute cashew nuts with almonds
While cashew nuts are perfectly okay by themselves, they aren't as healthy as almonds. So when you add them to desserts and dishes, just replace them with soaked almonds. Several Indian recipes call for cashew nut garnishes or pastes. Cut down on the quantities, and simultaneously introduce almonds to the recipes.
Substitute ice cream with frozen and blended banana
If you've got a sweet tooth that hankers for ice cream every single day, then keep a reserve of chopped, peeled and frozen bananas in the freezer. When the craving kicks in, simple blend these frozen pieces of bananas, and add any flavour you want. The result will be a smooth, creamy, almost-ice cream like texture. You can add peanut butter, nuts, honey, cinnamon powder, even a single ice cream scoop to this dessert and satisfy your sweet craving.
Substitute mayo with butter or mustard
No ingredients substitute list is complete without this one. Due to our love for junk food, a lot of us are hooked on to the mayonnaise taste that unhealthy burgers, potato wedges and zero-nutrient sandwiches have. This worrisome association with 'fun' food and 'mayo' enter our kitchens and before long you're eating 1-2 teaspoons with store-bought mayo with every breakfast. Curb this habit by substituting mayo with butter or mustard, both perfectly healthy sandwich, burger and toast additions.
You will need to make some sacrifices on the road to fitness. But these healthy substitutes will help you realise that you really don't need to compromise on taste to get what you like on the table. And don't stop here - experiment with more foods. Conjure up your own healthy substitutes for recipes, and tell us what you found!
Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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