You have your list of favorite foods but you’ve decided to make a change for the better. You’re going to eat healthy. It’s going to be a change, so what’s the secret to making healthy food taste good?
People tell me all the time that they want to eat healthier, but they just can’t get over their cravings for unhealthy foods. They love their pizza, pasta and ice cream. They go weak in the knees when a taco dip enters the room at a party. A life without cheese seems like no life at all.
Trust me, I get it. I’m not perfect – I want to eat all of those things too! And *spoiler alert* I DO. The difference is that my pizza is probably a little different from yours. Here’s why:
Since focusing on eating a cleaner diet, I’ve learned a few tricks about making healthy food taste good.
Understand Time is Not the Enemy
“I don’t have time to make meals from scratch.” I get this one a lot.
Yes, healthy eating can sometimes be more time consuming. But if you want to commit to a healthier lifestyle, time is part of that commitment. Let’s use veggies as an example. If you microwave frozen veggies with a tablespoon of water you’re looking at a bland, boring and tasteless snack. And, admittedly, you might be reaching for that processed bag of chips. On the other hand, if you buy fresh, in season produce and take the time to season, blanch, roast, grill or stir fry – you’ve got a delightful vegetable medley that you’ll want to eat again and again. Bottom line – cooking healthy foods takes more time than eating out or heating up a frozen meal. But which has the better benefits?
Time saving tip: Make ahead meals!
Make Spices Your Friend
Three years ago I would put salt on everything, completely oblivious to the fact that most store-bought or restaurant ordered foods were already plenty salted. Now, I’ve completely ditched the salt when it comes to adding flavor to my favorite healthy foods. Pass the paprika, cayenne, oregano and garlic powder! Spices like these add instant flavor to any dish, without added calories or sodium. My favorite blend is homemade taco seasoning. Get the recipe here and check out more DIY spice blends.
Reduce, Not Eliminate
I love cheese. Don’t you? You’ve probably heard mixed reviews about cheese and whether or not it’s “good for you.” The answer is simple: everything in moderation – even cheese. Just 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese can bring life to an otherwise “boring” plate of steamed vegetables. But of course cheese isn’t the only thing we like to top our favorite meals with. Ketchup, mayo, ranch dressing and a slew of other condiments also top the list. When it comes to condiments and sauces, homemade is always best. But, of course we don’t always have the time or resources. In that case, cut back. Get in the practice of actually measuring your portions. You might be surprised to learn you were using 4x the recommended serving size! Once you get in the habit of reduction, you’ll crave less and start seeing positive changes.
Learn Healthy Food Swaps
Want to have your cake and eat it, too? You can! One of my favorite ways to cut calories and eat a cleaner diet is by replacing less-than-perfect ingredients with a healthy alternative. For example, applesauce in place of vegetable oil for baking, or avocado spread in instead of mayo on a sandwich. Trust me – you will be surprised by how much you don’t even miss “the real thing.” There are tons of options when it comes to food swapping. Check out these articles for more examples:
Photo Credit: GuiltyKitchen.com
Ease Into It
So you tried a cauliflower pizza crust and you didn’t dig it. Or you baked your first spaghetti squash and didn’t get the hype. That’s okay! If you’re used to eating a certain way and all the sudden change it, your tastebuds might be in shock. Slowly incorporate clean ingredients into your diet instead. Diving in head first could be the perfect recipe for a relapse. Additionally, don’t get down on yourself if you’re not super jazzed about these new foods right off the bat. Experiment with foods and flavors that work for you. Keep what you like, and change what you don’t. The more you eat better foods, the more you’ll actually enjoy it.