1) Use plain Greek yogurt as a substitute to make recipes healthier. This is such a simple fix and one that you will hardly notice. Greek yogurt can be used in dishes where you would normally use sour cream (like in my sweet potato carrot soup) or cream cheese. Swap it for mayo in recipes like chicken salad. It is also great for baking. Replace 1 cup oil with 3/4 cup Greek yogurt and/or 1 cup butter with 1/4 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup butter.
2) Make your own salad dressing. Most store bought (and restaurant) salad dressings have unhealthy oils, sugars, additives, etc. I've been making my own for years. This is an easy way to be more health conscious and also saves you some money. A classic vinaigrette has a ratio of 1 part vinegar or other acid (lemon juice) to 3 parts oil. Make a batch of balsamic on Sunday so that you have it handy for salads throughout the week! When in a pinch, you can always add a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar or squeeze fresh lemon juice over your greens. Don't be tempted to forgo the olive oil. Your body needs it as certain nutrients in your salad (Vitamins A, D, E and K) are fat soluble (your body can't absorb and use them without fat present).
3) Replace soda, juices, etc. with water. What if you swapped 1-2 sodas or fruit juices for water each day? You would save calories, reduce the amount of sugar (and other artificial sweeteners) in your diet and hydrate your body, which can lead to better looking skin among other benefits. If you're consuming a lot of these beverages this one change can have a significant impact on weight loss helping to catapult you down the road to a healthier lifestyle.
4) Try swapping Bragg's Liquid Amino's for high sodium soy sauce or Tamari. A simple stir fry is a quick and healthy option for a weeknight dinner. Grab and slice a few veggies, stir fry in a healthy oil and toss over some brown rice, quinoa or other grain of your choice (if you're not eating vegan you could even toss in a scrambled egg, shrimp, chicken, etc.). Instead of seasoning with soy sauce and sending your sodium intake through the roof reach for liquid aminos. You won't notice a difference in taste, but your ticker will thank you for this low sodium option.
5) Don't hesitate to speak up at restaurants. Ask what kind of oil they use to saute vegetables. Is there cream in the butternut squash soup? Does the salmon come dressed in a heavy, fattening sauce? Ask for what you want. Request your veggies be sauteed in olive oil. Avoid the soup if it is cream based and ask that the salmon be grilled or baked and served sans sauce. Opt for a side salad (dressing on the side) or second helping of veggies if your dish comes with fries. Nowadays, restaurants are more than willing to accommodate requests. Who cares if your friend looks at you sideways as you make adjustments to the dish. You're health is worth it!
6) Eat fast food. Does it get any faster than reaching for a piece of fresh fruit? It is certainly faster than driving to McDonald's, placing your order, waiting in line, paying and then getting your bag of greasy, artery-clogging food. Save yourself some gas and reach for that apple instead. Keep a big bowl of fresh fruit in your kitchen and fill it with a variety of different fruits in numerous colors to make it visually appealing. This will help you notice the bowl each time you walk into the kitchen and serve as a reminder to get your recommended daily intake of fruits.
What efforts have you made lately to clean up your diet? Which of the above tips can you start practicing this week?