One of the biggest myths about eating clean is that to be healthy, food must be bland and boring.
This is ridiculous! Not only do healthy, whole, natural foods taste delicious and have tons of flavor, but there are also many other ways to add a little pizzaz to your plate without adding to your waistline.
My fridge and pantry are full of these “secret weapons!” Here are my top seven:
1) Sweet Leaf. This is the liquid form of stevia. It’s all-natural and 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has no carbs or calories! Just add a drop to your coffee or use in place of sugar for healthier baking. I swear by this for when those sweet tooth cravings kick in!
2) Non-dairy milk. Almond, soy and coconut milk are good options in place of sugary dairy milk. Most brands have fewer calories, carbs and sugar than milk and just as much calcium. They are also a great alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
3) Nut and seed butters. Move over peanut butter, there’s something better in town! Almond butter is higher in healthy fats, and lower in saturated fat than peanut butter. All nut butters tend to have close to the same amount of calories, but each has its own unique flavor so it is great to mix it up. Be sure you are buying the all-natural variety and look for one with just nuts on the ingredient list. For those like myself with a nut allergy or intolerance, seed butters are a delicious, healthy alternative. Remember to eat these in moderation. Even though they contain “good” fats, you should still stick to 2 tablespoons or less a day.
4) Nutritional Yeast. This stuff is amazing! It is a complete protein and low in calories. It actually tastes like cheese. Use it to sprinkle on veggies, popcorn or anything to add a little flavor. You can also mix it with water or vinegar and tahini to make a savory spread for salads or sandwiches.
5) Apple Cider Vinegar. This packs quite a kick (like regular vinegar) but a little goes a long way. Use it in place of salad dressing or mix with mustard for a tangy dip. Apple cider vinegar is great for digestion too- a shot in the morning can help with tummy troubles.
6) Chia seeds. These are known as a “superfood” because of their many health benefits. They are a complete protein and high in antioxidants. I buy the whole seeds, which when mixed with water form a jelly-like paste that can be spread on rice cakes or a sandwich. You can also add chia seeds to oatmeal and smoothies for a thicker consistency. I mix them with tofu, soy milk and cocoa powder and eat like a pudding.
7) Unsweetened cocoa. If you have a sweet tooth this is the product for you. Low in calories with almost no fat or sugar, unsweetened cocoa can be used in baking, oatmeal, smoothies, etc to add that chocolatey taste without the fat and calories. Mix a little with water and a few drops of Sweet Leaf and you have a healthy chocolate sauce! Be warned- it will taste bitter at first but over time your taste buds will adjust.
No more excuses! Get creative in the kitchen and healthy eating won’t be bland or boring.