Are you on a quest to make your dinners healthier? It can be challenging to think of new things to cook—especially if you’ve got any picky eaters on your hands who are accustomed to taco Tuesdays or spaghetti Sundays. I’ve incorporated these four food swaps into our dinner routine over the past few years and it’s our new normal. (Spoiler alert! You can keep your taco Tuesdays and spaghetti Sundays with just one minor ingredient swap.)
- Greek yogurt. A few years ago I tricked my husband and used Greek yogurt in our favorite buffalo chicken dip recipe (in lieu of ranch and half the cream cheese). I didn’t tell him about this swap until the dish was nearly empty—he loved it! Try Greek yogurt instead of mayo next time you make chicken salad, a veggie dip, or anything that involves mayo or sour cream. Even if you despise the taste of Greek yogurt (like my husband AND my mother), give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, I promise.
- Lettuce wraps. Skip the bun next time you enjoy a hamburger and try it wrapped in lettuce. Tacos or fajitas? Try lettuce cups and ditch the tortillas. My fave is Boston Bibb lettuce. It’s easy to wrap around anything and tastes great. Collard green leaves and romaine work great too.
- Cauliflower. From pizza crust to rice to macaroni and cheese… you can use cauliflower for just about anything. You can buy cauliflower rice fresh or frozen (or you can make it yourself, of course). I recently discovered a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe that uses cauliflower in lieu of noodles and it. Is. Amazing. You may or may not see the recipe featured in a future issue of Forsyth Woman!
- Zucchini. This is probably my favorite swap of all. I love zucchini. Use a mandolin slicer to thinly slice zucchini to be used for lasagna style “noodles,” or use a spiralizer to make zucchini spaghetti “noodles,” (AKA zoodles). Zucchini lasagna and zucchini spaghetti are two of our go-to dinners to cook at home. Once you go to zucchini, you won’t even want to go back to using regular noodles! On a side note, a spiralizer is a great investment. Not only for zucchini, but for apples, beets, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes—the list goes on!
In addition to these swaps above, consider these tips:
Make it a bowl! Rather than making something into a sandwich or adding a wrap, add some lettuce and toss it all in a bowl! I’m hooked on chopped salads these days. I have a giant stainless steel bowl and add lettuce, whatever toppings and meat I have on hand, and use my salad chopper to chop it all up. If you are struggling with what to cook for healthier side dishes, consider roasted veggies. Beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, asparagus, etc. Roasting gives veggies a whole new (amazing) flavor. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth like I do, try fruit and/or dark chocolate to satisfy your craving. I keep a bag of Dove chocolate in my pantry and typically have a piece or two after dinner every night. If ice cream is your go-to dessert, try a healthier alternative like Halo top. The peanut butter flavor is fabulous and another go-to dessert choice of mine.
Best of luck on your quest for healthier dinners for you and your family!