Variety is key to any balanced and healthful diet, including more colours, consistencies and textures into your diet increases the chances of your diet being nutritionally complete! A simple rule of thumb this may be, but it’s a great place to start. You see, the importance of nutritional balance is not only integral to ensuring you do not become micronutrient deficient (a major public health issue around the world), but it’s also important in avoiding a calorie intake that is surplus to requirements. Too much of anything (surplus to requirement) isn’t usually conducive to health and longevity, so sometimes a nudge in the right direction, or a healthy alternative to the usual calorie dense, and more often than not nutritionally poor foods, is what you need.
The following healthy alternatives are not necessarily replacing an unhealthy food every time, but rather offering a lighter, less calorific, lower fat, nutritionally balanced diversion from the usual!
First on the list is a Paleo diet favourite…Cauliflower rice. This is alternative to your usual white rice is very clever indeed, firstly it resembles rice to the extent that you can’t even tell the difference, second it doesn’t taste at all that dissimilar to rice (especially when mixed with a nice turkey mince chilli), and third it comes in at a fraction of the calorie count and hormonal effect that white rice does. Oh and it’s a novel way of getting your kids to eat their veg…give it a try by blitzing a few floret’s of cauliflower in a blender and see what you think!
Try swapping your regular high glycaemic index (GI) mash potato with Sweet Potato Mash for a low GI alternative. The lower the GI a carb source has, the slower the glycaemic response i.e. the slower the rate of absorption and blood sugar response is.
Consider diverting away from the regular beef mince and have Turkey mince instead. Beef mince is an excellent source of protein, iron and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12 delivering 35% of your recommended daily intake. However beef mince is relatively high in fat compared to turkey mince, consequently turkey mince is a low fat, high protein alternative to the red meat cousin that is beef mince.
Instead of using the classic double cream based cheese sauce into your ham and cheese pasta, or creamy cheese bake etc, try stirring Crème fresh or Philadelphia light in instead for a low fat, low calorie, calcium rich alternative.
Another great option suggested by a Paleo friend of mine is Courgette spaghetti, this high fibre vegetable delivers 30% of your daily vitamin C requirements per 100g serving and makes for another great pasta alternative. Low in calories, looks and feels much the same as regular white pasta but delivers less than a quarter of the calories and any excess won’t be stored as fat!
So if you’re in a quandary and not sure how you can further manipulate your diet in order to increase the nutritional density of your diet as well as minimise your calorie content, then try incorporating some of the above ideas and see how you get on!
Self Nutrition Data, (2013). Self Nutrition Data : Know what you eat. Beef, ground, 90% lean meat / 10% fat, loaf, cooked, baked [hamburger, ground sirloin]. Retrieved 7th October, 2013, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/6197/2#ixzz2h3OAZ3PU