Alternative Menus: a Healthy Way to Substitute Our Favorite Foods
One of the hardest things about dieting, or trying to eat healthier meals, is having to give up many of the foods we enjoy. For many of us, the thought of life without pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, or cheesecake, is more than we can bear. I for one love these foods, and find that world without them would be a bland, barren and hostile place. Call me a drama queen, if you want, but let's face it, we all need a little comfort food, now and then. Unfortunately, the Western Diet is not the healthiest diet there is. It is responsible for most of the health issues today. So how do we keep our meals satisfying, while staying relatively healthy? The answer of course, is to substitute.
I will give you several examples of old time favorite and some really smart food makeovers, that way you can stay healthy and still enjoy life.
Food Substitutes verse Old Time Favorites
- Hot dogs: These are usually composed of a pork meat wiener or bratwurst on a white bread bun. This is unhealthy for obvious reasons. First of all, the pork meat is mixed with fillers and fat. It is loaded with nitrates and many impurities. I remember in one episode of You Are What You Eat, Dr. Gillian McKeith showed one of her patients the contents of a hot dog and the girl had to vomit from what she saw. The bread used for wrapping this pork monstrosity, is usually made of white flour, which turns into sugar the moment it enters the bloodstream. White bread is also very low in nutrients. It is a great source of empty calories.
- Replace the pork wiener with a kosher all beef wiener, such as Hebrew National, or if you are concerned about nitrates, you may want to try all natural beef wieners, that are nitrate free from Maverick Farms. These are a tad more expensive than conventional hotdogs. The benefits to your health and the taste are well worth the expense. As to the bread, you can try a whole wheat bun, or a multi grain hot dog bun. This type of bread will provide you with more nutrients than traditional white bread.
- If you are a vegan. You may want to substitute by using a Smart Dog to replace the traditional pork wiener. They are made of vegetable protein and are very tasty. As to the bread, you can have either a multi grain bun or a bun made from whole wheat bread. On the other hand, if you are gluten intolerant, you may want to substitute by using sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel 4:9. As to the taste, well vegans often have to use their imaginations, because to tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter how much you dress it up, it will never taste like a real hot dog. If you really want a hot dog and keep with your eating principles at the same time, this is a good way to substitute.
- Hamburgers: These like their counterparts are not the healthiest. The traditional hamburger is usually made from cheaper cuts of beef such as ground chuck. It is high in fat. The buns are normally white flour.
- Instead try using a better quality meat. Try free range ground sirloin, which is low in fat and free from steroids and hormones. It is also wise to use a whole grain or multi grain bun. To make your hamburger super healthy add some lettuce and tomatoes. Use quality ingredients.
- If you are vegan: Try a Boca Burger or one of the many burger varieties from Morning Star Farms. These are very tasty and often resemble the taste of meat. I also recommend a multi grain or whole wheat bun. For those who are gluten intolerant, sprouted grains or breads labeled gluten free, make for an excellent substitute.
- French Fries: Another favorite of ours is French Fries. The typical fry is cooked in a ton of low quality oil or animal fat and that make for a very fatty food loaded with cholesterol.
- A great way to substitute these potato wonders is to use sweet potato fries instead. Instead of frying consider baking. You will find that you can have all the flavor with a fraction of the fat contained in conventional French fries.
- Pizza: I for one love pizza. Normally pizza consists of a white flour crust, loaded with gluten. On top of most pizzas are about two or three cups of high fat cheese, low quality tomato sauce and pepperoni, which mainly consist of pork. Other topping are equally unhealthy on most traditional pizzas.
- Instead try using a gluten free crust. You can make your own by buying gluten free flour and following the direction on the package. Another option is to consider using whole grain flours to make your crust. You can also go to your local health food retailer and see if they sell ready-made pizza crusts.
- For the cheese, you can either choose among many of the low fat cheeses sold in most markets. If you are vegan you can substitute by using rice, soy or almond cheese. These cheese innovations taste just as good as the real thing and actually melt like real cheese. You can find vegetable cheeses at most health food retailers.
- Toppings: Instead of traditional pepperoni or sausage, you may want to try a healthier meat, such as turkey sausage or free range ground turkey. You may even opt for a vegetarian pizza to go with your vegan cheese. Pizzas is a very flexible type of dish, so be creative.
- Cheesecake: Well we must not forget dessert. Cheese cake is an all time favorite of many. Unfortunately most cheese cakes consist of high fat cream cheese, sugar, butter, and white flour. Sounds like a great way to add volume to your hips, thighs and abdomens. There are ways around this dilemma.
- Virtuous Cheese cake, I found this amazing recipe that gave me a way around the cheese cake dilemma. Instead of full fat cream cheese, you use non fat cream cheese, or if you still want a little bit of fat, use the cream cheese that is 1/3 less fat.
- Instead of sugar, I use a product called Stevia or Truvia. This is a natural sugar substitute that is also calorie free.
- As to the flour, I would consider using whole wheat flour.
- Use non fat sour cream instead of full fat sour cream.
- Use egg substitute, instead egg whites.
- Instead of canned strawberries consider using fresh strawberries.
Staying healthy is often a challenge in our western culture. If you are creative you can find ways to get around unhealthy food choices. You don’t have to put your health in danger for the sake of enjoying your favorite foods, if you're willing to substitute. Like everything else in life, compromise is the key, to enjoying tasty foods without it being detrimental to your health.