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5 Healthy Food Swaps

Cutting excess calories doesn't have to mean sacrificing flavor. Here are some easy substitutions that allow you to enjoy the same foods in a healthier version.

Starting with breakfast, quick breads and muffins are a great chance to cut fat and calories. A typical batch of muffins calls for ½ cup butter or margarine. That adds about 800 calories to the batch.

· Swapping out the entire amount of butter straight across for greek yogurt or applesauce saves 700 or 750 calories respectively. That means 60 less calories per muffin. It makes for a moister, cake-like consistency so it works well in quick breads, muffins and cakes. Beware of substituting in cookies as the consistency changes dramatically.

Perhaps pasta is on the menu for lunch. 1 cup regular pasta contains 200 calories and only 2 grams of fiber.

· Swapping it for whole grain pasta gives you the same amount of calories but increases the fiber to 6 grams.

· Substituting 1 cup spaghetti squash for 1 cup of pasta equals only 42 calories and 2 grams of fiber. So you could enjoy twice as much volume with half as many calories.

At the summer cookout there are many ways to cut calories by substitution. A hamburger patty (85% lean) provides 213 calories and 5 grams saturated fat.

· Substituting for a veggie means about 100 calories and only 1-2 grams saturated fat. That means a savings of over half the calories and fat.

· For the more adventurous swappers, try a 30 calorie grilled Portobello mushroom cap instead of a hamburger patty - sparing you 183 calories and all the fat.

The dip for the chips or veggies is an easy place to save calories. Swapping out low-fat mayo for regular mayo cuts the calories in half.

· Better still, substitute non-fat greek yogurt for the mayonnaise or sour cream and save 80 calories per 2-tablespoon serving.

Ice cream sundaes are another treat that doesn't have to be eliminated, just tweaked a little.

· Swap out non-fat frozen yogurt for regular ice cream and save 50 calories per ½ cup serving. Instead of hot fudge, use chocolate syrup for a 20 calorie savings per 2-tablespoon serving.

· Better still, make your own chocolate syrup and save 60 calories.

· Instead of strawberry topping, toss some fresh or frozen berries with honey and save 70 calories per 2-tablespoon serving.

Total savings for the day: 661 calories. So don't overlook the small changes and minor substitutions since they really do make a difference.

Homemade Chocolate syrup:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
dash salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, whisk together the cocoa and sugar. Add the water and salt, whisking over medium heat until boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Store in refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 cups (16 servings)
Serving size: 2 Tbsp. 60 calories, 1.8 g fiber, 12.6 g sugar

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