Spice it up and keep the calories down

So often people think eating healthy means giving up flavor. I come across this all the time. When I talk with people about making better choices, the first concern I hear is that they want their food to taste good. I will be honest with you when I say that there will be some work required on your part. You will need to be open minded and give yourself time to adapt to the change. Just like you train your body to get in shape, the same goes for your taste buds.  I will give you a personal example. I love sweets, and over time I have learned that I can replace that craving with fruit. I like to call it nature’s candy. That said, I still believe there is nothing wrong with a splurge on special occasions. Here are some other tips to help you take those small steps. The goal is to make it a habit, and that can only be done over time. So let’s get started!

Hold the salt, pass the flavor!

Reaching for the salt shaker before you taste your food is automatic, especially in the South. I’m speaking from first-hand experience as a girl who grew up in Tennessee. Once I made the choice to change my life style, I had to train myself to hit the pause button. If you feel yourself reaching for the salt shaker before you taste your food, stop for a second and ask yourself some very important questions. Have I already tasted the food? What can I add other than salt to give the dish some extra kick? This method should also apply to cooking meals at home. The best place to start is in the spice aisle. Try some pre-mixed, low-sodium seasonings like Mrs. Dash and McCormick Perfect Pinch. You will find choices such as lemon pepper, garlic and herb, fajita and jerk seasonings that can take your healthy pasta dish from bland to bold.  And don’t be afraid to try different ones until you find the flavor profile that works for your taste buds!

Get oily with it!

Take a trip down the oil aisle the next time you’re in the grocery store. You will discover many different cooking oils that will take your dish to the next level. Besides offering great flavors, cooking oils can also add to better health. I’m a big fan of coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil and, of course, extra virgin olive oil. I love the nutty flavor that coconut oil adds to dishes. Experiment with different oils the next time you cook, but be sure to use them in moderation. By the way, feel free to add some of the oils to your beauty routine!

Different look, same taste

There are some great healthy alternatives you can try. For example, you might eat a baked potato for dinner tonight. Instead of that dollop of sour cream, go for a dab of plain Greek yogurt. You will cut calories while adding extra protein to your diet. Here is a more advanced switch: try a white sweet potato in place of a regular baked one. The look is very similar to a baked potato, plus it might also be a good way to introduce new foods to the family dinner table. White sweet potatoes are currently in season, so look for them the next time you hit the grocery store aisles.

I have not forgotten about my mayo-addicted crew. Here are the facts: a single serving of mayonnaise can set you back 90 calories and 10 grams of fat, while avocado will only cost you 47 calories with 4 grams of fat.  Next time try avocado with your meals. It works as a perfect replacement on sandwiches, salads and even your morning bagel.

Remember, you have an opportunity to make a small change in your life every day. Habits are not created overnight, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall along the way. Just pick yourself up and get right back on track.

Next week, get ready to sweat with another great workout you can add along with your life style changes.  For daily tips, follow me on Instagram at @MadisonJames404 and on Twitter at @MadisonJames.  Small changes turn into big changes!