Eating healthy is a commitment that requires discipline, but it also comes with a near-endless list of positive benefits for your fitness and wellness.
You can make it easier on yourself by not only replacing unhealthy meals with healthy ones, but by also replacing unhealthy ingredients. Here are eight healthy cooking hacks to help you stay on track.
8 Healthy & Tasty Food Swaps To Try
1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is considered a "go-to" fat when it comes to heart health. Use it as a substitute for butter, while olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon is the perfect substitute for creamy salad dressings.
2. Refried Beans
Look no further than refried beans if you're cooking Mexican food and looking for a great replacement for cheese. Cut the fat from your favorite dish by replacing half the cheese with refried or black beans. You can also put beans in enchiladas to get that same gooey texture.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is great on its own but it's also a versatile food that can be use as a substitute for many ingredients. Instead of sour cream, squeeze fresh lemon into yogurt instead. It's important that you choose plain, all-natural Greek yogurt, however, to avoid extra sugar.
Yes, avocado has a high fat content, but it's the kind of fat that's heart-healthy. Use avocado instead of cheese or mayonnaise on your sandwich. It's not only good for your heart, but it will provide the same creaminess you often crave.
5. Healthier Hamburgers
There's nothing quite like a good hamburger, but we all know what eating too much red meat can do to a healthy diet. But you can still make a great, tasty burger by substituting beans, oats and veggies while including just one ounce of beef. One recipe idea is to use a mixture of red beans, mushrooms, onions, oatmeal, and tomato paste (and the one ounce of meat).
6. Unsweetened Apple Sauce
Unsweetened applesauce is another great substitute for butter. Used with canola oil, it's a great butter substitute in many baking recipes. If you want to cut even more fat from the recipe, substitute flax seeds in place of the canola oil.
If you love your carbs and pasta, you can use squash instead of wheat pasta. Spaghetti squash is an excellent pasta substitute (as its name suggests), or you can use ribbons of zucchini. After it's cooked, prepare the squash just as you would regular pasta.
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They've been around for centuries, but chia seeds have only recently been recognized for their nutritional and health benefits. Native to South America, chia seeds were used by the Aztecs and Mayans as a source of sustainable energy and endurance.
What Are Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are a source of protein, dietary fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Incorporating chia seeds into one's diet has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce inflammation, as well as lowering the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Studies have also shown that chia seeds contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety because of their combination of fiber and protein. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber.
How Can Chia Seeds Be Incorporated in My Diet?
Chia seeds are a bit bland in taste on their own, but they can be added to a variety of foods. Unlike flax seeds, they don't have to be ground up. Here are ways to include chia seeds in your diet:
From yogurt and applesauce to smoothies and oatmeal, chia seeds can be added to virtually any dish. They will take on a gel-like texture after they mix with liquid, so sprinkle them on just before eating if you prefer a crunch.
2. Peanut Butter & Honey Chia Oats
Looking for ways to fuel up your day? This combination of peanut butter, honey, chia seeds and oats is the perfect morning kick-start.
Chia seeds can easily be used as a healthy and delicious replacement for bread crumbs. Blend them with finely ground nuts and your favorite spices as part of a gluten-free breading for fish, meat or vegetables.
4. Lemon Chia Seed Salad Dressing
Store-bought dressings can be high in calories and fat, but this easy recipe will add zest - and nutrition - to your favorite salad.
5. Salmon Rub
This simple and quick recipe will add a crunchy crust to your salmon. Mix chia seeds with olive oil, salt and pepper as a rub before baking or grilling.
6. Homemade Jam
Blend chia seeds with berries and Stevia sweetener for a healthy homemade jam. You won't need pectin to make the jam gel-up because chia seeds will do the job on their own.
Create an excellent dessert with this Pina Colada Chia Pudding recipe. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and is loaded with healthy ingredients.
Amarillo personal trainer, Ralph Roberts, can design a custom exercise and nutrition plan that best suits you, and will help keep you motivated and accountable. Contact Ralph Roberts today for a free personal training session.
There are so many advantages to meals prepared in a slow cooker - from saving time (you're only responsible for the initial prep), to reduced energy use, and even easier clean-up. It's also a great way to cook healthy, flavorful meals that can cut calories while not skimping on taste. Here's a look at eight healthy slow cooker meals that all weigh in at 400 calories or less.
1. Chicken With Carrots and Potatoes
All this recipe takes is 20 minutes of preparation and you'll have an excellent meal waiting for you later that is just 229 calories per serving. Use additional chicken broth if you'd rather not use wine as an ingredient.
2. Low Calorie Sweet and Sour Chicken
Instead of ordering from your favorite takeout place, try this healthy version of sweet and sour chicken instead. It's only 350 calories per serving and packed with 48 grams of protein. Plus, it will help satisfy your craving for Chinese food.
3. Slow Cooker Beef Adobado
The dried chilies in this recipe add heat and smoke, as well as a depth of flavor that's difficult to get with canned sauces or fresh peppers. They're just part of an incredible sauce that the brisket will cook in for hours. And it's only 249 calories per serving.
4. Chorizo Spiced Pulled Pork
Lean pork tenderloin and chicken broth is substituted in this recipe to make a leaner - yet no less delicious - version. It's ideal for tacos and sandwiches.
5. Easy Chicken Fajitas
This easy recipe needs only five ingredients and it's a perfect low-calorie meal (233 calories per serving) for busy weeknights - or anytime. It makes four servings each.
6. Chinese Pork Tenderloin Noodles
Another delicious medley of Chinese flavors that's a great alternative to takeout, this recipe is only 303 calories per serving with 28 grams of protein. You can add lime wedges for a zesty flavor.
7. French Country Beef Stew
This is a classic French recipe that's made with beef, vegetables and red wine. The slow cooker melts and softens the connective tissue of the lean beef shanks to produce delicious results. You can substitute non-alcoholic wine if you prefer, and can serve with barley to soak up the tasty sauce.
8. Coconut Basil Chicken
This sauce can be used on almost anything, from noodles, to brown rice, and veggies, but is especially delicious in this slow cooker chicken recipe. You can add green curry paste to suit your taste, or brown sugar or honey to make a sweeter sauce.
Working with a personal trainer like Ralph Roberts will help you reach all of your health and fitness goals. Contact Ralph today for a free personal training session.
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Leading a busy life shouldn’t be an excuse for an unhealthy lifestyle. Many of us find it difficult to eat healthy when there are so many unhealthy choices out there and so many excuses to hit your favorite fast food drive through.
Wraps can be a delicious and healthy alternative when you need a quick meal. There are tons of wrap recipes out there for breakfast, lunch and dinner that can be made with minimal effort. They’re also a great way to get those extra veggie servings in, especially for kids or picky eaters. Try a few of these delicious wrap recipes to get started!
Tangy veggie wrap – This wrap from HurryTheFoodUp is packed with protein and veggies giving you the fuel you need for your busy life. Lemon, ginger and a little Dijon mustard provide the unique flavor.
Peanut butter banana wrap – This wrap from My Recipes is an excellent choice for a grab and go breakfast or as an alternative to your average PB&J lunch. Adding some fresh berries or substituting them for the dried apricots is a good way to up the antioxidants.
Turkey sausage mango wrap – Another yummy meal from My Recipes. The sweetness of mango goes wonderfully with turkey or chicken, making this a low-fat, low-calorie meal with plenty of flavor.
Quinoa veggie wrap – This vegan wrap from The Nutty Scoop is very simple and would be a good use for extra quinoa if you have it leftover from another meal.
Pineapple chicken salad wrap – From Skinny Mom, this recipe makes enough for the entire family and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Substituting Greek yogurt for half of the mayo results in lower fat and calories than traditional chicken salad.
Grilled zucchini hummus wrap – There’s just something about grilling veggies that makes them extra delicious. This recipe from Maebells adds hummus for protein to satisfy your appetite.
One of the best things about wraps is that they are versatile. You can modify them to fit almost anyone’s tastes or nutritional needs. If you suffer from a gluten-allergy or intolerance, use gluten-free, whole grain, multi-grain, or vegetable based wraps, such as spinach or tomato. You can even use a lettuce leaf to wrap up your fillings. If you have difficulty digesting dairy, simply cut the cheese from your wraps.
These six wrap recipes can certainly help you eat healthy, but that’s only part of living a healthy lifestyle. Hiring a personal trainer can be a good idea to keep on track with your health and fitness goals. Whether you need a new work out, some extra motivation, want to lose weight or are just starting your fitness journey, contact Ralph Roberts today and schedule a free personal training session.
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School’s out, summer’s in. Imagine you’re on the tropical adventure of a lifetime — one you’ve saved for, waited for, and (most importantly) dieted for. You’re excited to lounge on the beach, take a dip in the pool, and have a few drinks at the oceanfront bar.
But be careful. Those yummy drinks could be loaded with hidden calories.
Spring Break Drinks that Won’t Ruin Your Diet
You don’t want a bloated belly while you’re strolling down the boardwalk or playing beach volleyball. But you do want to kick back with a tasty cocktail. Here are five delicious drink options that won’t blow your daily calorie allowance.
1. Tequila and Soda
Margaritas are the go-to drink choice for spring breakers on the beach. The combination of lime, sugar, and tequila makes for a sweet and sour cocktail that’s sure to bring the buzz — and the calories. To keep your body bikini-ready, ditch the sugary margarita for a “viva la tequila” on the rocks with club soda. Squeeze some lime into it and you’ve got an awesome margarita alternative for only 100 calories.
2. Sour-Apple Martini
Some martinis have upwards of 250 calories. There’s no way to keep your waistline in check while downing a few of those every night. But that’s doesn’t mean you can’t sip a sophisticated martini or two. Go for a sour-apple version and save almost 100 calories.
3. Vodka and Diet Sierra Mist
This drink may not elicit any looks of awe-inspired admiration, but it gets the job done. Its simplicity is one of the reasons it’s so great for keeping your weight under control during spring break. With less than 100 calories, this cocktail refreshes and delights your taste buds.
If you’re a fan of sweet cocktails, you probably enjoy the occasional white Russian. But you might as well have ice cream. The succulently sweet mudslide, on the other hand, satisfies your sweet tooth for only 184 calories. That’s what we call a double dose of sugar.
5. Sea Breeze
What better drink than a vodka-cranberry to sip while gazing out at the roaring ocean waves? Unfortunately, it’s not the best choice for your diet. If you love the taste of a vodka-cranberry but you’re concerned about calorie count, opt for a sea breeze instead. This tangy combo of grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and vodka will only cost you 180 calories.
*Calorie estimates for single servings.
With low-calorie drink options, you don’t have to forgo alcohol during spring break. However, if you do put on a few vacation pounds, don’t worry. Contact Ralph Roberts Personal Training and schedule a free personal training session.
Not quite in the shape you want to be for your vacation? Download Ralph Roberts' FREE Summer Slim-down Workout Package you can do at home or the gym.
It's easy to get trapped into thinking that if you're eating a salad, it must be healthy. While salads can be part of a healthy diet, they can also be no healthier than a fast-food cheeseburger if you aren't careful about what you put on it.
Here are some ingredients to be to moderate or even avoid as well as healthy alternatives to make sure your salad isn't just a leafier version of a Big Mac.
It's not that all cheese is bad. Three to four daily servings of low-fat dairy products can give a boost to your body's fat-burning potential.
The problem with cheese comes when you pile it on something, like your salad. The good news is that some cheeses are more nutritious than others, and you can add them to your salad in healthy ways. Feta cheese is one good alternative because of its lower fat, as is string cheese. Take one piece of string cheese and chop it into your salad.
Salad dressing, like cheese, should never overpower your salad. Don't douse your greens with it. Dressing is a surefire way to take your salad from healthy to fatty.
For example, one tablespoon of creamy ranch is on average 100 calories. Even a tablespoon of your favorite vinaigrette is about 80 calories. Always order your dressing on the side when you're dining out and, whenever possible, choose light, low-calorie or low-fat options. Better yet? Make your own so you know exactly what is in your dressing.
Croutons add that extra "crunch" to your salad and taste so good. The problem is, they add refined carbohydrates. Popular brands are about 30 calories for just six pieces. They can also have high sodium levels. If you're craving something bread-like, then have a piece of whole wheat on the side, and don't force yourself to finish it.
While nuts provide healthy fats and can be a tasty and healthy addition to your salad, never use ones that are glazed with sugar. You can often find glazed walnuts and pecans sprinkled on salads in restaurants. They might not be the worst ingredient for you, but they're not all that healthy, either. Try raw nuts or ones seasoned with a tad of sea salt.
5. Fried Foods
It's so tempting to add fried shrimp or chicken to a salad to give it that "something extra." Yet, they're packed with unnecessary calories and loaded with sodium. Anything fried food falls into this category and can turn a healthy salad into an unhealthy one. Add grilled items instead, or healthier protein options like tuna or egg whites.
You don't have to eat like a rabbit to enjoy a salad. They can be full of nutritious, healthy and filling ingredients. Calling on the experience and know-how of a professional trainer such as Ralph Roberts can have a positive impact on your fitness and wellness program. Contact Ralph today to sign up for personal training.
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