Eating healthily doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy your favorite comfort foods once in a while. Even better, there are plenty of straightforward and affordable ways to transform junk food classics into healthy, nutritious meals and snacks. Below, you can find out how to give five popular junk foods a healthy makeover.
Takeout pizza may be delicious and convenient, but it also packs a serious punch in terms of calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. Fortunately, you don't need to forgo pizza entirely when you're trying to eat healthily.
You can make your own lower-calorie pizza by topping a soft tortilla wrap with premade pizza sauce and low fat mozzarella. Bake your pizza in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Adding diced fresh vegetables and opting for a whole wheat tortilla can add extra vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber to your meal. You could also add a lean protein source like chicken or turkey sausage if you're a meat feast fan. This recipe is ideal for making with visiting grandchildren, and you can have it cooked and on the table far faster than it takes to get takeout delivered.
Sweet potato fries are a great swap if you're craving the savory crunch of regular French fries but want to stick to nutritious whole foods. Sticking to a serving size of one medium sweet potato per person lets you control your calorie intake while getting 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C. These colorful vegetables are also packed with phytochemicals like beta-carotene that could help protect against various health problems.
You can make healthy sweet potato fries at home by peeling and cutting a sweet potato into fries, sprinkling with salt and olive oil and baking in the oven for around 25 minutes. Residents of the Viewpointe assisted living community in Colorado Springs can also find sweet potato fries on the menus of many nearby eateries, including the popular downtown restaurant Bingo Burger.
If you're craving the creaminess and sweetness of ice cream, consider delicious frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative. This sweet treat usually contains around 25 fewer calories per ounce and less than half the saturated fat of ice cream. However, frozen yogurt may still be high in sugar, so it's essential to check the packaging and stick to the recommended portion size.
A trip to the ice cream parlor doesn't have to be off-limits when you're trying to eat healthily, and Colorado Springs is home to several frozen yogurt cafes. Lulu's Frozen Yogurt's delicious range contains gut-friendly cultures and is low in fat, and you can make your dessert more nutritious by swapping candy toppings for fresh fruit.
Burgers can stay on the menu when you're focusing on eating a nutritious diet with a few clever tweaks. First, consider ways to make your patty leaner. Cooking your burger on a ridged griddle pan or grill allows some of the fat to drain from the burger to reduce the overall calorie content.
Alternatively, consider making your own patties from 93% lean beef or turkey mince to cut back on saturated fat. Some meat-free burgers also contain significantly less fat than meaty alternatives. However, it's important to check the nutritional information on the packaging because ingredients can vary significantly between brands.
Finally, look at ways to make your burger accompaniments healthier. Cutting out the burger bun altogether can make your dish lower in calories, or you could switch to a whole grain bun to build some slow-release fiber into your meal. Swapping your fries for fresh, colorful veggies or salad is another excellent tweak to get some extra vitamins and minerals while reducing saturated fat.
Sometimes, only the satisfying crunch of potato chips will do. However, switching to baked chips instead of regular deep fried snacks could be an effective way to make this perennial favorite a little healthier.
Baked potato chips generally contain less fat and fewer calories than deep fried versions because they are prepared with no, or very little, oil. However, some baked chip brands still contain as much sodium as regular chips, and sometimes even more, so it's worth checking the package information.
Making your own baked potato chips is straightforward and lets you control the amount of sodium in each serving. Simply slice potatoes finely using a mandoline, toss them with a small drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and lay them flat in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake the chips for around 10 minutes at 450 degrees F until they turn golden and crunchy. Allow the chips to cool before serving.
You can also use this technique to make healthy chips by substituting the potato slices for fresh kale. Kale is naturally high in vitamin A, which helps support a healthy immune system. It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that promote eye health and could help reduce the risk of cataracts. Kale burns more easily than white potatoes, so turn the oven down to 350 degrees F to bake crunchy kale chips.
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