Spring Clean Your Recipes for National Nutrition Month

Ten healthy food substitutions offered by CTCA dietician

Eating healthy is an important for everyone, especially those recovering from illness. But beyond that, health experts including those from the American Institute for Cancer Research, recommend eating a plant-based diet and maintaining a healthy body weight.  They say the move can eliminate certain types of cancers and other disease.

That’s why for National Nutrition Month Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, has created a list of the top 10 healthy food substitution tips to help spring clean your recipes.

Amy Musselman, a registered oncology dietitian at CTCA believes that March is the perfect time for spring cleaning in the kitchen, and with a little bit of willpower and proper education, a person can make healthier meal choices.

CTCA dietician. musselman-amy
Amy Musselman, an oncology dietician at CTCA in Zion gives tips to eat healthy.  – CTCA photo

“It is important to limit processed foods and move towards a plant-based diet,” said Musselman. “Diets high in plant foods contain fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. This may reduce the risk of certain cancer types and recurrence.”

Musselman offers 10 healthy food substitutions to consider as the spring season draws near:

Move to leaner meats. Eat more chicken, fish or turkey. For chili, which already has a healthy base of beans and tomatoes, try using extra-lean turkey instead of ground beef.

  1. Use veggies in place of main ingredients. A great way to incorporate more veggies is by using them as a baking substitute. For example, use cauliflower as the main ingredient for a pizza crust or riced cauliflower in fried rice.
  2. Freeze fruit for dessert. Grapes, bananas and orange slices are wonderful alternatives to ice cream and other frozen treats.
  3. Substitute baking fats with applesauce, avocados, yogurt, bananas, beans or dried fruits blends. Some items such as puff pastries, pies or Danishes cannot be made without baking fats. For goods that can be substituted, increase the amount of leavening agents (i.e.; baking soda).
  4. Replace refined flours in baked goods with whole grains (quinoa, oats, barley or rice), beans or starches (tapioca, potato, rice or corn).
  5. Limit added sugars. One can of soda contains approximately 39 grams of sugar. This is equivalent to nine teaspoons of sugar! If you need to use a sweetener, use one derived from natural sources, such as Stevia.
  6. Use low-fat ingredients for loaded baked potatoes. Top your potato with broccoli, salsa, low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt rather than sour cream, butter and cheese.
  7. Swap out maple syrup on waffles or pancakes. Fruits or applesauce can still give a sweet flavor, but greatly reduces the amount of sugar.
  8. Reduce empty calorie intake found in juices, punches and alcohol. Flavored or infused waters and tea are good alternatives. Berries and citrus can perk up water.
  9. Remove processed foods from your diet, such as refined grains, chips, cookies, candy, soda, canned goods and pre-packaged meats. Replace these with fruit, vegetables, nuts, nut butters, beans, trail mix, popcorn, guacamole and low-fat cheese.

Eating a plant-based diet may help improve overall health and possibly reduce a person’s risk for cancer and other diseases. In addition, it may improve energy, help with weight maintenance and possibly improve overall appearance (i.e., brighter eyes or stronger nails). It’s also important to watch portions and eat slowly, savoring each bite. Lastly, couple a healthy diet with roughly 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

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