With Spring Break approaching and bikini season looming, the big question is this: What can you do, besides hitting the gym, to get your sweater-season stomach into bikini-season shape? Here’s one solution: Just keep doing what you’re doing, just a little bit healthier. So, for example, when you’re craving a hearty pasta dish (In my case, like, always), opt for zucchini pasta instead. And when you make a stir-fry, throw it on top of some cauliflower “rice” instead of plain ol’ white rice. Easy, right?
Here are six of my favorite everyday ingredient swaps to seriously slash calories. So get to cookin’, Be Wellers!
Ringing in at just 100 calories per cup, applesauce is a seriously smart swap when it comes to replacing sugar, which has a whopping 762 calories per cup! When baking dishes like cakes, cookies and breads, simply replace the recipe’s suggested amount of sugar with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce, and voila! Sugar overdose averted.
And don’t worry, this method has been tested: I’ve substituted applesauce for sugar countless times when making banana bread. The result? Perfectly sweet, moist, banana-bread heaven.
Sour cream is like ranch: No one eats just two tablespoons. To avoid topping your baked potato off with a spoonful of empty calories, opt for non-fat greek yogurt instead. In making this switch, you lose 75 percent of the calories plus, you get three times the amount of protein per serving. Good deal, right? This swap works great with your favorite dips, too.
This old vegan trick is great for everyone when it comes to slashing calories. Just combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water and let the mixture sit for a 5-10 minutes. And boom: You’ve got an egg substitute with half the calories. This swap is perfect for baking goodies like breads, cakes and muffins. Plus, after the switch, your vegan friends can enjoy whatever you’re whipping up!
Recipe for chia seed “egg” here.
Just two tablespoons of mayonnaise rings in at nearly 200 calories. So, if you’re going for a light lunch, skip the mayo and spread a quarter of an avocado onto your bread. At just around 60 calories, this creamy spread is a steal. And swapping avocado for mayo isn’t just for sandwiches: This trick works for just about everything. My favorite swap? Avocado tuna-salad. It is seriously addictive.
This is a super healthy and surprisingly simple dinner swap: Just throw some cauliflower into a food processor, then put it in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. A few minutes later you’ve got yourself a bowl of low-carb, nutrient dense “rice.” And with just 155 calories in an entire head of cauliflower versus over 200 calories in just one cup of cooked rice, trading cauliflower for rice helps you save big in the calorie department.
Recipe for cauliflower “rice” here.
Swap: Zucchini ribbons for pasta
At just 32 calories for a medium zucchini, zucchini ribbons are the perfect stand-in for the usual calorie and carb-dense fettuccine. With upwards of 150 less calories per serving, you can truly enjoy your pasta, guilt-free. Simply shave the zucchini, sauté with olive oil, salt and pepper, then top it off with your favorite tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Or, if you’re really dying for pasta, go half and half: Half pasta, half zucchini ribbons.
Recipe for zucchini “pasta” here.
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