Healthy Summer Food Swaps

Danielle Omar, MS, RD Calcium and Bone Health 6 Comments

Summer is the best time to lighten things up in the kitchen. Nobody wants to nosh on heavy, high-calorie foods when it’s hot, especially when engaging in sports and outdoor activities or while at the beach.

There’s no better way to lighten up your meals than with my top six healthy summer food swaps. That’s right, we’re replacing those salty, high calorie, sugar laden favorites with light and surprisingly delicious swaps that don’t sacrifice flavor or fun. Expand your palate and impress your friends and family with these easy, breezy subs.

Jicama for Chips

Image by T.Tseng

Image by T.Tseng

Instead of serving tortilla chips and dip, serve Jicama chips and dip! Grown in the Mexican Peninsula, Jicama looks like a potato, but it’s crisp, white, solid flesh is more like a turnip. Jicama is low in calories and a great source of Vitamin C and fiber. It has a juicy, crunchy bite that is the perfect vessel for scooping up dip, guacamole, or salsa. You can slice them into chips or chop them into sticks––however you decide you won’t be disappointed.

Kombucha for Soda

Image by GoToVan

Image by GoToVan

Swap out your soda with Kombucha, and reap the benefits of a boost in beneficial bacteria. From improved digestion to a rockin’ immune system, a balanced microbiome works wonders for your health. Kombucha is a fermented probiotic drink made with black tea, suga,r, scoby and a starter. It’s naturally carbonated by the fermentation process, so it tastes like soda, but without the added sugar, calories, chemicals, and artificial flavors. (The sugar in Kombucha is used up in the fermentation process so the final product has little sugar, if any.) It’s a healthy way to kick that soda habit!

Veggie Noodles for Pasta

Image by Kristin

Image by Kristin

Vegetable noodles are all the rage these days! From parsnips, sweet potatoes, and beets to zucchini and cabbage, you can transform almost any veggie into gorgeous pasta spirals. It’s the perfect way to get in more vegetables every day while still enjoying your favorite pasta dishes. This zucchini noodle bowl with spinach and pistachio pesto is delicious!

Tempeh for Ground Meat

Image by Stacy Spensley

Image by Stacy Spensley

I bet you’re thinking. What the heck is tempeh? Unlike tofu, tempeh is a dry, firm cake-like patty that can be cut into strips or chunks and marinated, or crumbled to resemble ground beef or turkey. It originated in Indonesia, and is made by fermenting soybeans. We know that fermentation is a good thing for our health (see Kombucha above), but it also makes the nutrients and protein in soy easier to digest. Tempeh is rich in minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium and phosphorus, and it contains fiber and protein (30 grams per cup). In the grocery store you can find tempeh made without grains, but most often tempeh is made with the addition of brown rice. I like to steam my tempeh for a few minutes before crumbling it into a pan with some seasoning. Then I can add it to salads (like this taco salad), chili, soups and any dish I would normally use ground meat.

Cauliflower for Rice

Image by Larry Hoffman

Image by Larry Hoffman

Cauliflower rice is super versatile and creates a delicious, healthy, low calorie twist on rice or grains. To make it, just chop up a head of cauliflower florets and process in your food processor until it resembles rice. Once ready, you can cook it, use it raw in salads or other dishes, or freeze it for use later. Even the most pickiest of eaters will enjoy this swap, it may sound hard to believe, but riced cauliflower is light, fluffy, delicious, and surprisingly rice-like. My favorite way to eat it is in fried rice, tabbouleh, or under a scoop of bean chili. Delish!

Frozen Bananas for Ice Cream

Image by Pinch of Yum

Image by Pinch of Yum

Turning frozen bananas into rich and creamy soft serve ice cream seems too good to be true, but trust me, it’s true––I’ve witnessed the miracle! All you need is a food processor (or high speed blender), a little imagination, and ice cream you will have. The first step is to chop and freeze your ripe bananas overnight. Once ready, throw the frozen bananas into your food processor and keep pulsing and scraping down the sides until the bananas transform into a creamy soft serve texture. Sure, you could eat it as is, straight from the processor to your bowl, but I prefer to add some delicious flavorings. My favorite add-ins are cocoa powder, cinnamon, peanut butter, and mint extract––but the options are pretty much endless. Here’s to delicious, low calorie ice cream greatness!

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