Turning Old Food Favorites into Healthy Favorites

  • Does the mention of hamburgers, tacos, and spaghetti make your mouth water? Most likely your answer is “YES”, quickly followed by the little voice in your head that says, “What about your diet?”.  You can silence that guilty voice in your head by learning how to turn your old food favorites into healthy favorites.


    If you are craving a hamburger, you are not alone. With every street corner in America anchored by a business selling hamburgers, it is hard to resist these triggers of temptation. Instead of caving in for the full meal deal, why not try a healthier version. Going bunless is pretty painless. Those two pieces of bread might look innocent but they are not. The extra carbohydrates can convert into extra weight on you.  Meat with all the fixings and without the buns is a much healthier way to eat a hamburger. If you substitute that meat with a grass-fed meat, or better yet a vegetarian patty, then you are really making some healthy choices without neglecting your need for a hamburger.

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    Maybe what you really want is a taco. Having a meal that adds some south-of-the-border spice to you life is very appealing at times. Instead of tacos, some well-intentioned people opt for taco salads which can still be loaded with a lot of calories. Consider trying a veggie taco. By sautéing a mixture of vegetables in some of your favorite spices, you can have all the satisfaction without the guilt, especially if you do not add cheese.  Complete with healthy taco with your favorite salsa and you’ll have all the satisfaction of a taco without carbohydrates or calories you don’t need. (Check out my favorite family recipe for veggie tacos below.)  


    If hamburgers and tacos are not what you desire, then you are probably craving an Italian night. Spaghetti is on the menu. An Italian chef from Italy once told me that Americans notoriously abuse the pasta. Just look at the endless plates of pasta that come streaming out of restaurants and kitchens; all of those carbohydrates add inches of fat to the waist, buttocks and hips. In Italy, pasta is just a side-dish, not the main course, the appetizer and the desert. Besides trying some portion control, you can also try some healthy substitutions to create a healthier Italian meal. The sneakiest way to satisfy your spaghetti craving is to use vegetable noodles instead of grain-based noodles. Personally, I use squash like spaghetti squash or zucchini squash. A knife or mandolin can turn anything into a “noodle”. By adding some homemade tomato sauce on top, you’ve just turned this favorite Italian meal into a perfectly healthy meal.


    Hopefully, this discussion gets your noodle-brain thinking about other favorite dishes that could use a healthy makeover. Turning those old favorite foods into healthy foods is a perfect way to stick to your diet and satisfy your cravings.


    Veggie Tacos


    2 sliced green peppers

    4 small, sliced zucchini

    ¼ lb sliced mushrooms

    1 TBS oil

    4 green onions, chopped

  • ½ lb grated Swiss cheese

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    1 tsp. chili powder

    2 ripe avocados

    12 whole wheat tortillas


    In a bowl, lightly stir together onion, cheese and chili powder; Add chunks of avocados and set aside.


    Saute veggies in hot oil until tender. Salt to taste. Stir into cheese mixture. Spoon into tortillas. Serve with hot sauce or salsa. Enjoy.

Published On: June 29, 2014